Canny questions from girls on the sexual cusp

(No.10, Vol.1, Dec 2011 Vietnam Heritage Magazine)

The room was very small. All chairs and tables had been neatly arranged aside, and 4th- and 5th-grade girls sat on a paved floor, nearly 100 ten- and 11-year-olds with round eyes, greeting me as if I were coming down from the heavens. I decided to talk instead of lecture.
I asked, ‘How is a girl different from a boy?’ A dozen hands were raised. I invited one girl to give the answer. She said very clearly, ‘Ma’am, a boy has a beard, a girl doesn't.’ I smiled, ‘Do boys in our school have a beard?’ Everyone answered simultaneously, ‘Not yet.’
Another girl raised her hand and said, ‘Ma’am, a boy has short hair, a girl has long hair.’ I said, ‘Nowadays, girls also wear their hair short, don't they?’ A girl sitting in the middle of the room stood up straight and said, ‘I'm in the 4th grade, but I know a girl is different from a boy in her sexual organ.’ I was puzzled, looking at her, and asked, ‘Who in this room agrees with that answer?’ Everybody clapped loudly.
I showed a slide of a female sexual organ and then talked cursorily about each part. After a while, I asked, ‘According to you, which part is the most important?’ One girl replied, ‘Ma’am, the uterus is, because it holds the baby.’
The mothers in attendance didn't believe this and neither did I or the principal.
Several other hands were raised. I passed the microphone to a tiny girl, who said, ‘Ma’am, the ovary is the most important.’ I asked,‘Why is the ovary the most important?’ She answered, ‘Because the ovary lays eggs.’
I continued asking, ‘For us to boil them like chicken eggs or duck eggs?’
Puzzled, the girl answered, ‘For a baby to be born.’ She knew more than I had thought.
During the time for free discussion, the principal and I were surprised. One girl asked, ‘How do we use a condom?’ I had to explain the coming together of the egg and the sperm and the role of the condom.
I thought the matter would have been settled, but another girl asked, ‘How can the egg that is so far away meet with the sperm?’ So I had to tell them about how the wedding was arranged, the couple was married and then what was happening between the husband and the wife.
A girl then asked, ‘Let me ask you what the hymen is, and does a girl lose her virginity once she is engaged in a sexual act?’ Then I explained the clinical reality and said sometimes a girl was judged according to whether she was a virgin. Then I taught them how to protect themselves.
I asked, ‘Who among you has reached the age of puberty?’ About ten hands were raised. One girl asked, ‘When the mucus comes out, how soon do we reach the age of puberty?’ Then, ‘Is that right that we girls have to wear brassieres to protect ourselves from being seen by boys?’ Another girl asked, ‘Is there any medicine to keep girls from dreaming?’
I had to tell them that a hormone from the ovary affected the psychological system, which made them dream and become romantic. ‘Go ahead dreaming, but don't go too far.’
*Dr Le Thuy Tuoi has 40 years’ experience of teaching medicine and working as a doctor. n

By Le Thuy Tuoi*
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