A recent journey into uni on the bus completely enraged me: “I don’t understand what she’s doing; she’s nineteen and she’s not on the pill yet.” Having “pr
A recent journey into uni on the bus completely enraged me: “I don’t understand what she’s doing; she’s nineteen and she’s not on the pill yet.” Having “preyed on” and “conquered” some poor unsuspecting fresher the night before, this lad behind me went on gloating to his friend about how good-looking she was, but not before berating her for not permanently being ready for sex and totally un-fertilisable for his convenience.
That was it, seizure, breakdown, embolism, whatever was happening in my head as I heard those words I don’t know, but I do know—the need for change is crystal clear.
I remember my sex education classes when I was 11, and the painful truth was that I learnt absolutely nothing, if anything I was just more confused. My science teacher stormed in, with so many condoms you would have thought she’d been raiding Gene Simmons’ house.
More than anatomy
We then proceeded to learn en masse, how to put condoms on what seemed like a ninety foot blue penis and more importantly, how best to get condoms on your head without suffocating (I should probably mention, this was not on the syllabus, but is a difficult challenge to turn down). Next on the agenda was the “moral lesson,” namely abstinence (hooray…) and that marriage was the proper place to get your jolly’s.
With the average age of marriage for women in the UK hitting 28.9 and a third of us having sex before the age of 16, abstaining till marriage, in reality, just sounds like at least 13 years of some pretty severe sexual frustration. What needs to be embraced is the fact that people want to have sex and that is not a crime.
In actual fact what needs to change is the sex education we provide to our young people. What sex education needs, desperately, is to focus far more on the changes to a person’s anatomy and to their mental state as they progress into sexual maturity.
Presenting a larger than life rubber vagina to an 11 year old boy and expecting him to understand that it isn’t just a funny looking pug is totally unreasonable. Indeed, the fact that a 2013 poll about men’s’ understanding of menopause revealed that most men believe women use it as “an excuse to be bitches to guys” shows that there is something terribly wrong with what we are teaching.
More than ‘making love’
Good quality sex education should not merely be centred around the physical act of sex, it should be centred around how our bodies work, understanding differing sexualities, menstruation, menopause, mood swings (for everyone), unexpected erections, conditions such as PCOS, fertility issues, erectile dysfunction, thrush, and the emotional changes people go through due to changes in their body and changes in sexual practice.
It is essential also, that these lessons in understanding should absolutely be taught at an age where it is relevant. Sex and health education should be provided to a comprehensive standard to all Year nine, ten and eleven students, male and female—everyone should receive the same teaching.
An understanding of how bodies work, how emotions differ and what different people have to cope with would be far more useful than, shoving a video in the VCR and hoping children will benefit from an entire program called “Making Love.”
It is imperative that we get rid of the fluff, stop pushing abstinence and start pushing understanding for young people at an age where it is relevant. In no other lesson would I expect to be taught a certain moral leaning, why this one?
Evidently we need to dispel the stereotypes about certain bodily functions. No more women having bad days need to be asked if they’re on their periods. Girls are just the same, whether the whole blue penis affair scared them or not, so few girls actually know what’s going on with their bodies, they can convince themselves there’s something wrong or that they are depressed, purely because they have received no teaching to the contrary.
There is no better time than now to completely overhaul our current sex education system. Scrap the notion of “sex education” for starters—let’s have “Sex and Health Comprehension” instead. An improvement in the standards of sexual education for young people will help to ameliorate the problem of sexism that still remains in young people today, understanding of all genders for all genders is vital.
Get rid of the puritanical notion of pushing abstinence and shaming sex and instead teach young people how bodies work, how emotions change, how differences don’t mean faults and rather than teaching a moral code or messing about with massive rubber genitals for an hour introduce an explicitly, fearlessly informative Sex and Health Comprehension.
What do you think about the current state of sex education? Have your say in the comments section below.