The Great Sex Education Debate

So, my dear readers. You’ll have deduced by now that I’m completely passionate about sex and sexuality. You may also not be surprised that I’m keen on getting sex education right for the next generation. And for the current one, for that matter.

I believe that all education is important. And it should be done in a clear way, without any taboos or shame, so that our kids and their kids and any kid to come has a healthy basis to start adult life with. Education should be a constant in life. This is especially true about sexual education. In fact, I strongly believe that not only children, but adults and seniors should be taught about sex in this day and age.

I’ve come to the conclusion that sex education today is severely lacking. Heck, it was already lacking when I had it, ten years ago. Or when my mum had it in the sixties. Or when her mum had… well, none.

And even if sex education is on the school curriculum, it’s a spec of taboo dust in the great book of life. The US is particularly skilled in this, with some people claiming that sexual education actually leads to higher teen pregnancy and STI rates. It is a controversial topic, and there is an ongoing debate about just how much we should reveal to our children and about what we should talk. Basic human sexual behavior, like safe sex and masturbation is being ignored. Instead, they choose to teach about abstinence, and purity.

The quality of what these children are learning is abysmal. Wilhelm Reich once commented that the sex education in his day was a work of deception, focusing only on biology instead of excitement and arousal, which is what people are interested in. 

It’s interesting to see the various approaches of different countries. For example, in Japan, sex ed is mandatory from the age of 10/11. In Sweden, it’s been on the curriculum since 1956 and starts from the ages of 7-10. 

In my opinion (your mileage may differ, of course), the worst approach is in the state of Texas. What follows are the criteria that schools must abide to when putting sex education on the curriculum.

 

  • present abstinence from sexual activity as the preferred choice of behavior in relationship to all sexual activity for unmarried persons of school age;
  • devote more attention to abstinence from sexual activity than to any other behavior;
  • emphasize that abstinence from sexual activity, if used consistently and correctly, is the only method that is 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, infection with human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and the emotional trauma associated with adolescent sexual activity;
  • direct adolescents to a standard of behavior in which abstinence from sexual activity before marriage is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and infection with human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome; and
  • teach contraception and condom use in terms of human use reality rates instead of theoretical laboratory rates, if instruction on contraception and condoms is included in curriculum content.

Additionally, school district may not distribute condoms in connection with instruction relating to human sexuality. (source: wikipedia.com)

To me, this is doing more damage to kids than the teachers will ever know. Shaming and fear are regularly used in these lessons, as well as promoting gender stereotypes and blatant factual errors about things like birth control. A while ago, I watched a documentary about the sex education system in Texas, and listened in horror as a young child (maybe ten years old) was quoted as saying that she learned from her local “priest/sex educator” that there aren’t enough fibres in condoms to form a good barrier against the sperm.

Can you see why I’m getting on my high horse about this?

If you wondered what caused this post, you can blame that squarely on one woman, namely Caggie Dunlop from tv’s Made in Chelsea. I was tinkering my Tumblr yesterday, when my gorgeous friend Rubyyy Jones alerted us to Ms Dunlop’s column in a newspaper (with the incredibly creative title “Laid in Chelsea”…. ).

“I’m a romantic girl at heart-…….” she states- “but I would much prefer the little bother of being wooed by a real man- one that’ll treat me to dinner, send me flowers and give me a cuddle at night. Nothing that a Pink Rabbit is going to do.”

You might think that this has nothing to do with the past 600-odd words. But on the contrary. This is a form of modern sex education. One television star thinking she’s the next Carrie Bradshaw is hired by some newspaper to write a story that frankly gets on my tits. And everybody reads it, because she’s famous. And they take her word for it. Soon, women will become apprehensive about buying vibrators because it “can’t replace a good man”.

Vibrators are not made to replace men. They are made to enhance sexual pleasure, whether exploring alone or with your partner. Ask any qualified sex educator and they will tell you that they are all for it.

So please, listen to actual , qualified sexual educators. It will do you a world of good at any stage in life.

I would like to know what you think of this, dear reader. Spark the debate. Have your voice heard and tell me what you think.

And for fuck’s sake, don’t buy a Rabbit.

(sources: wikipedia.org, rubyyyjones.tumblr.com)

Leave a comment

14 Comments

  1. Well, yeah. Sex-ed in the US isn’t perfect. But be assured, MOST kids in the US aren’t getting abstinence-only education. We do have a long way to go but it’s not quite as dismal as the state of Texas.

    Reply
    • But this is the image people abroad get presented by the news. The US is largely portrayed as conservative about sex, and people don’t see the other side. I for one am chuffed to bits that there are states that don’t touch abstinence with a barge pole. But we only see the ones that do, be it on the news or in documentaries about the subject.

      Thanks for sparking the debate 🙂 xx

      Reply
      • The ignorant always speak the loudest, unfortunately. I for one like to fight the fight from the inside.

      • Well, with small steps, we could make a difference, I think. :)x

  2. Thank you for writing this! It’s a really important issue and we need as many voices as possible calling bullshit on abstinence focused sex ed programs. Institutionalized education programs are designed to pass on “values” (and stigma, stereotypes, shame) to the next generation. Reinforcing taboos around sexual pleasure doesn’t just make it tougher for people to have healthy, happy sex lives – it often creates deeply rooted shame and fear that pushes people to condone or participate in violence.

    Reply
    • It’s been on my mind all day and I just felt like I had to write it. You’re so right when you say that the reinforcing of taboos makes it so much tougher. It’s hard to believe that in 2012, this is still happening.

      Thanks so much for commenting and being a little spark under the ass of this debate 🙂 xx

      Reply
  3. Rory

     /  April 11, 2012

    At my school we got the so-called ‘abstinence-plus’ routine, which means that although they do present abstinence as ‘your best bet’ we were also taught about condoms and other contraception (and I attended an American school).

    It’s true that a lot of schools teach abstinence, mostly because they get federal funding for it, but it’s not like all American schools stick to the ‘sex is death, don’t do it’ spiel.

    My main objection would be that they don’t start soon enough. We were sixteen when we got The Talk at school, and by that point most of the kids were no longer virgins. I talked to a Dutch girl the other day and she told me that they were slowly led into it from the age of 12. That, to me, makes much more sense. Considering Holland has one of the lowest teen pregnancy percentages in the world, the stats seem to back up their approach.

    Reply
    • Would you say that you had sufficient sex education to prepare you for later in life?

      Yes, I’ve discovered that it’s mostly Texas who keeps to this spiel. It’s not that shocking, but still, it’s dissapointing.

      I think that there should be a general concensus about when to start… but that’s just me. Holland seems to be getting it right, I think. x

      Reply
  4. I am not sure where to start with this one apart from to say as parent of a boy and a girl I plan to make sure that they get a good sexual education…. by providing it myself. I think schools need to do a better job to be honest but I also think parents need to take some form of responsibilty as I have found from many people’s stories that it is often parents who deliver the most shaming messages of all.

    Mollyxxx

    Reply
    • Absolutely bang on. That’s why I hope that I can deliver the right message to my children, if their schools are lacking.

      Thank you for commenting! xx

      Reply
  5. Cath

     /  April 15, 2012

    To be honest I don’t really think a reality TV star having a lighthearted rant about rabbits is really the same as a religious group spreading lies about condoms having holes in them, and I think that even if a woman isn’t a qualified sex educator, she can still talk about sex.

    Reply
    • I’m not denying Caggie’s right to talk about sex, I just regret that this is regarded as education on sex. Hey, if she’s got something to say, spill it.

      Thanks for commenting. xxx

      Reply
      • Cath

         /  April 17, 2012

        I don’t think it would really be regarded as sex education any more than a newspaper publishing a nice Delia Smith Christmas cake recipe would be seen as dietary advice.

      • The point is that it triggered me to do this post. It was something I had in mind for quite some time.

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