One thing you may not know about Eve Medical is our unofficial office policy: the further you can delve into a topic related to sexual health, the better. This has the unfortunate side effect of causing many of the Eve staff to forget that not everybody else overshares about all things sex and health all the time. We try our best to reduce stigma anyway, and we try to make these conversations as fun and approachable to as many people as possible.

To put our money where our mouth is, we talked to our mothers about sex 😱 (This may or may not have been the first time some staff fully explained what they do at work to their mothers.)


Meet the mothers:

Ms. Lee, mom of our Director of Market Development
Mrs. Ching, mom of our Co-Founder & CEO
Mrs. Chan, mom of our Product/Operations Manager
Anna, mom of our Research & Partnerships Manager



Hey, mom. Did anyone teach you about STIs when you were in school?

Not from school but from overhearing conversations between the adults / older women at home.

No. My mom was sick when I was younger and was often away for treatments. She died when I was 13. So there was no opportunity for anyone to teach me. My older sisters taught me about menstruation, but nothing about sex. They just said that you would automatically learn everything you needed to know when you got married.

Not even in Canada, definitely not in India. We didn’t really have a sex ed, or talk about sex ed in school. This must have been '76 or '77. Maybe they changed the curriculum right after I was in school?

No. It was back then, it was taboo, no one talked about it. The first time I talked about it was in high school. We had classes that we called “Family Studies” and it talked about physical contact between boys and girls, only. I didn’t even know how to make babies, and if a boy touches or kisses you, then you’d get pregnant. There was a movie that came out called “Helen" (I think, I don’t remember) and everyone was talking about the movie so I asked my father is I could go see the movie. The movie was about sex, how to get pregnant, how the sperm travels etc, because we didn’t have that in school in Jaslo, Poland. It was an educational movie that was shown in theatres because they weren’t teaching it in school.

[Editor's note: We looked for a movie in the 1970s called "Helen" that had sex in it. We couldn't find one.]

 

Did you and your friends ever talk about STIs? What about with your parents?

I can’t remember discussing it with friends but it was probably rare. Never discussed it with my parents.

No, no one talked about it. No one knew anything. When my sister got married, the groom joked that they were going to go “play”, and she really thought they were going to go somewhere fun. She had no idea what he was talking about.

No. Never. No, like in those days, we never talked about it. Even in my circle of friends, we were all geeks, math club, you know. [...] We didn’t have cell phones or anything, no easy access to data or quick chatting. We had to actually pick up the phone, the rotary dial phone, or go visit someone, hang out at school. Usually the time we would socialize would be during lunch time. Maybe the closest we got to do with anything personal was hair, nails, weight. We didn’t talk about body parts or anything. And definitely never with my parents. It was hard enough to get a hug! With family, it was cultural.

No. Because we didn’t know that stuff like that exists. Nothing about protection. Are you kidding me - I could just talk to my mom, but she would tell me about periods. My father wouldn’t even let me watch movies where there was kissing involved, we would have to go to sleep.

 

Did you ever wish you could talk more about sex or health with anyone?

I got the info from siblings/ magazine. During my time, if someone ever wanted to talk to me about these topics, I would probably be suspicious of their motives.

No. I learned about it when I got married.

Yeah, in university in Canada, when my circle of friends was not as geeky. [...] I think the only time we talked about anything close to it was after we graduated when we hit the clubs, in the 80s. 'Don’t drink from anyone’s cups'... we didn’t really talk about any details, we would just approach it but not really talk about it. Nothing really hardcore, just cutesy, implied, but we never really talked about it. And of course like it depended on how much dating you were doing, and with people who were experienced. I think when I was dating it would come up with the guys, but never with my women friends. Guys would say “oh are you healthy?” and you would say, “oh, are you healthy?” During dating, there was more relevance for this conversation.

Yes because I didn’t know nothing about it and I think it is good when you talk. 

 

 

How hard was it to buy things for safer sex?

Not hard.

Do you know why your grandpa had so many kids? Because there was no such thing as condoms. They weren’t invented yet! I didn’t know of anyone selling them.

[Editor's note: condoms were invented thousands of years ago! But we do appreciate the salient point being that they may as well have not existed in some regions at some times.]

I was not sexually active. Some dates, we would go to the store, he would buy them but I would say “oh okay but we’re not going to use it”... without giving you too much information, hehe. You had to scope out the place first, see if anyone was watching you buying it. They didn’t have good signage for it back then. Now you just look for the aisle... Oh, and you always sent the guy in there to look for it.

Very difficult, no one would do it. How can you go and even look for it. Even when you would get a period, you would hide it so no one would know about it. There may have been things for safer sex available, but to be honest with you I don’t know because no one would look for it.

 

What did you decide to teach me when I was younger about sexual health? How come?

I never taught my children about sexual health. I didn’t know how to handle this; and left it for school to teach.

I never taught you anything, did I? I thought you would learn about it from school. I saw in the newspapers then that they were teaching about sexual health at school. I didn’t really have good knowledge and I didn’t want to teach you the wrong thing, so I thought it was better for you to learn at school.

I don’t think I taught you anything about sexual health. The only thing was, don’t get pregnant. And don’t get any long-lasting life-threatening diseases. I think it came up with you, though, where I’d ask about how it’s going, and you would say, "oh yeah I’m getting tested." It was like, "oh, okay." It was shocking in the beginning, but then I talked to your dad about it and it was like, "oh, I guess that’s the reality of it." It wasn’t like when I was growing up when it was more about abstinence.

So the first time I taught you about sexual health was when you asked about my tampons in the bathroom, you were five at the time. And instead of lying or not telling you about it, I told you what they were, and that one day you will use them too. You were really good about it and were like okay and took the information very maturely. You even taught my grandma the information you learned about periods and using tampons. My grandma even said that she wished back then that she wished she raised me that way and not lied or tell weird fairytales, that it was good to just tell you the truth. And then after when you started going to school, I made sure to enforce to you that people shouldn’t touch your private parts without consent. That if someone is asking to see it and you are not comfortable to not show it and if anything happened to let me know, if you don’t feel comfortable to tell your teacher. I was adamant in teaching you this to avoid any potential incidences.   

 

What do you think has changed in the past 30 years about the way people talk about sex and sexual health?

No longer that conservative, people are more liberal.

When you were young, everyone was talking about AIDS. But I thought it was only an issue in North America. Then when we moved to Malaysia, I saw a verrry big billboard with a witch with long fingers that was supposed to be AIDS. Then I realized not only were people outside of North America talking about AIDS too, they even made the ads bigger! I don’t know what people are saying today, I don’t pay much attention anymore.

Acceptance of many other, you know, society doesn’t hide, like, the LGBTQ, so… And then also the curriculum is much more in-depth now. But I think I kind of repeated the silent cycle, like my parents, in not talking too much about it. I don’t know if you’ll be different with your kids. But I guess with you asking me these questions, we’re already pretty open about it.

[Editor's note: just for context, the willingness to bring up her daughter's queerness has come leaps and bounds in the past few years. ]

Huge change. Right now everything is open, no secrets, nothing. People openly talk about it. Kids know more now than I knew in the past. There is not much stigma, and everything is in the open.

 

What do you think young people today should know about sexual health?

It is good for young people to know.

I think it’s good for young people to know about sex and sexual health, but I don’t know how I would teach them.

That there’s good information and there’s bad information. You can observe other people’s sexual health experiences, those kinds of testimonials. From my perspective, from a non-science background, sexual health is a lifelong learning/development. It’s not stagnant. Your body changes, your mind changes, and your relationships change. You have to adapt, and not let your mental health get eroded while going through any of it.

They should know about all the sexually transmitted diseases and how dangerous it is. Back then people didn’t realize that you  could get anything from having sex. The only thing they said is that if you had sex you would get pregnant. I think it is good for people to know that you could get diseases that affect your life and heath. It is good to educate people to know if that something happens you can get help, but it is better to educate to prevent before these things could happen.

 

Enjoyed this interview? Consider gifting the mother figures in your life with an Eve Kit (or, if you want to try to ease into those conversations first, start with something from our merchandise collection!). 

Vagina Sketch Tank Top. Available on the Eve Kit store.