“Bridgerton” Sex-Talk Scenes Are All Too Relatable For Those Who Lack Sex Ed


In this op-ed, Zainab Onuh-Yahaya explains why she could relate all too well to the lack of sex education in Bridgerton.

What’s not to love about the new Netflix adaptation hit series Bridgerton? From the steamy plot and witty conversation, to the aesthetics of high society décor and style, to the ‘from pretend lovers to real lovers’ trope we’ve shipped since 10 Things I Hate About You, it is both a re-imagination and visualization of books many of us have read and adored since 2010.

It’s not often that one can relate to the lives of characters from Regency London, yet Bridgerton had a shockingly relatable sex education storyline that hit way too close to home.

In Episode 2, Marina Thompson, played by Ruby Barker, was discovered to be pregnant, launching the Featherington household into a frenzy. Lady Featherington promptly confined Marina to her bedroom, refusing to acknowledge even the merest mention of the pregnancy in the house. When a confused Penelope (who figured out Marina was pregnant) asked why Miss Thompson had to be kept away, Lady Featherington said it was because her condition was “catching.” Like every teenage girl who’d ever been faced with a baffling problem, Penelope turned to her best friend, Eloise, to make sense of it. Even when they put their heads together, the pair had no idea how someone could be pregnant if they weren’t married. Burning with the need to find an answer to this question, Eloise confronted her mother: “How does a lady come to be with child? I thought one had to be married? Apparently, it is not even a requirement.”

 Lady Bridgerton shut her down immediately in the same manner that Lady Featherington had done with Penelope, stating that it was an “improper topic of conversation.”

As I watched that scene, the girls’ confusion was so palpable, so understandable that it reached out across the screen. Like Eloise, I too for the longest time had no idea just how someone got pregnant, even though the better part of my childhood and teenage years were spent in a large family that was in a constant state of procreation.

When I was 8, my baby cousin was born in the upstairs bedroom. I remember returning from school and finding an infant that had certainly not been there when I left that morning, and my aunt’s stomach not quite as big.

“Babies come from the baby factory,” my aunt said, smiling indulgently when I had asked how the baby had come to be there. “You go to the factory when you’re all grown up and married and they give you one baby.” It seemed like a perfectly reasonable explanation to 8-year-old me.

Later, I had just turned 11 the year my 16-year-old cousin got pregnant. It was one of the last summer holidays we would have at grandma’s farm and I wondered why she slept so much, why she no longer climbed the guava tree, and, above all, why her stomach was as big as aunt’s had been when she went to the baby factory. This pregnancy was against everything I had believed was true – that you only got babies from the baby factory when you were old and married. And she was neither of those things. That summer, I learned that it was possible to get babies from somewhere other than the baby factory, but that it was wrong. If I was clueless, it was because I was never allowed to be anything else.

“It is like a math equation,” grandma said at the time. “You might use some other formula to get to the right answer.” I told grandma I was terrible at math and had gotten a D the previous term. She sighed and that was the last we ever spoke of the issue.



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