WHEN I’m home, I find myself watching my cats. I tell myself that it is because they are everywhere (once, the kittens dragged in a bit of tail and delicate pink ribbons of entrails while I was thinking about the Dalai Lama in the garden).
But if I were to be brutal, I will admit that my attention on the cats is selfish: I feel more in control worrying about their sexual lives than the future proclivities of my sons.
My sons are aged 12 and seven years. The oldest cat, Frodo, at three years, is already a grandmum. He’s a she, a fact we found out when she got impregnated (“raped,” my mother contends, because the irresponsible male never showed up, neither whisker nor honorable intentions).
You know you’re a parent when sex no longer titillates but worries you.
I agonize over my boys’ sex education—whether I should start now or defer, serve this raw or embellished with wan parental humor, make it short or be as detailed-as-a-manual-leaving-nothing-to-the-imagination.
If I don’t write about it, it’s because I can’t. My eldest still howls “sexual harassment” after I wrote in this space about his grade 3 circumcision. As a word lover, I should have argued about the misuse of the term. As a mother, I kept my mouth shut and my pen, sheathed.
So where were we about the cats?
On the pile of lumber outside our window, the cats lounge all day long, watching TV and absorbing no end of sexually suggestive material. I don’t blame media though for getting Frodo confused, promiscuous and prolific.
When we mistook her for a male, we were revealing our bias: a tom, we thought, will wander to copulate but not saddle us with progeny. Reckless and irresponsible as a cat companion (no such thing as a “cat owner”), I should have thought of neutering Frodo before he turned out to be a she and discovered the joys of guiltless kitten-making.
For guilt works only for Catholics; it has no effect on cats. When I bring another blind, mewling kitten Frodo has sat on to latch on to her teat, she blinks but seems otherwise unmoved by my litany about the absence of cat condoms or the feline fetish for concupiscence.
Female or male, a cat is cool if it knows about sex and its responsibilities. Among my students who have had to interrupt their studies because they found themselves pregnant or had to give birth, there is a recurring pattern of myth-fed “accidents.”
For instance, couples get surprised when withdrawal does not work as a birth control method. Just listen to the nightly yowling of cat courtships, and tell me that there’s a male shooter out there who has the iron control and precision to know when to exactly pull out. Just a drop of healthy semen has a gazillion of sperms; it just takes one to fertilize an egg.
Girls or gurrrls spend a lot of time examining a man’s love when they should be paying equal attention to his penis. When erect, a penis can secrete “pre-ejaculate fluid” at the tip. You can get pregnant even before your partner beats a retreat.
Or take condoms. You can insert it inside out or leave no space at the tip to hold the ejaculate (hence, the myth of condom holes or leaks). Better to sheathe yourself or put a condom on your partner when you’re not too much blinded by lust. No use blaming the product nine months after on “factory defect.”
Keeping condoms in a hot place, like in the wallet or glove compartment, weakens the latex and makes it tear. Latex condoms are the best protection against sexually transmitted disease; lambskin condoms, with tiny pores, are not.
But next to being knowledgeable about your body, not having sex still offers 100-percent protection from unanticipated pregnancies. A cat’s “meow” can mean “no,” not just “now.”
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