The call for improved sexual education for people of all ages can feel like a broken record. But it really isn’t. This is a rallying cry; an activist song. A chorus that could change the world. This week's Sex Stories We Love is all about sex ed, whether it's for kids, adults or anyone in between.
Sex Ed Ain't Voldemort
The state of sex education in North America is a travesty. This has been well-discussed but, somehow, it isn’t changing. Sex ed remains one of the most divisive topics out there, which has the direct effect of leaving a lot of kids and adults with a fundamental gap in understanding their own bodies, the bodies of others, and the ways all of these bodies can interact. The fact remains that folks with more conservative sexual education views keep needed information from the rest of us. Even in jurisdictions where sex ed is permitted. Even if an educated teacher or outside speaker is allowed to discuss sex freely in a classroom setting, they can still be restricted in specific words, phrases, or themes. (In this case, a sex educator was asked to avoid using the word "clitoris.") Well, it happens. All. The. Time. Imagine not being allowed to discuss the term "variable" in a math class? I mean, by definition, a variable is “a quantity that may change within the context of a mathematical problem or experiment.” I don’t know, that sounds pretty queer to me! No more talk of these variables! Ridiculous.
Don't Get Stuck in a Rut
Of course, even if sex education is permitted, there is no guarantee the information is going to be correct. There are still agendas out there, some overt, some subtle, that put specific idea about sex front and center while ignoring realities. Take penetration. Yes, penetration of various types can be a nice part of sex. And, for some folks with penises, sure, it might be the apex of a fun time. But it isn’t the be all-end-all (literally) that we are taught in sex ed and in media. Penetration as the goal of a sex situation can often ignore the needs - both physical and emotional - of someone involved. It has also been used to invalidate some forms of sex. Let’s reconsider penetration. Let’s bump it down to what it really is: just another variation of the wide spectrum of human sexuality.
At Home and More
There is no denying that families should play an important part in a child’s sex education. It would be great if families had open dialogue about bodies and changes and feelings and all of the good, bad, awesome, and ugly that can go into sex. But, more often than not, two other extremes are more likely to emerge. Either there is no talk or parents impose their own views on kids that are not entirely conducive to a positive sexual outlook. Comic Aparna Nancherla shares stories of her sexual upbringing that fall a bit more into the quiet zone than they do the parent trap. However, both situations can lead to the same scenario: navigating those waters on your own as a young adult - and bumping into other ill-equipped swimmers along the way.
A Kiss Is Just a...
Sex education can vary widely in how it is interpreted and applied in classrooms, but at the heart of good sex ed is the need for more sexual research. Somewhere along the way, the idea of researching sex and our relationship to it became verboten. How the hell are we supposed to understand something if people cannot become experts in and then study it? And there are some basic things we really don’t know the answers to. Like kissing. Why do some cultures get all hot and bothered by kissing while other cultures do not practice this act at all? In North America, kissing is the entrance point to exploring sexuality. Are we compelled by an intrinsic desire or have we all seen too many make-out movies? Inquiring minds want to know!
All Together Now
The thing is, our inquiring minds do not stop at kissing. From kissing we start to think of touching and licking and proceed from there. In other words, sex ed is a lifelong pursuit. Yes, we need to start with the basics and we need a solid foundation, but I don’t know of many houses that are just four walls and a roof sitting on a cement block. Every house has different embellishments and features, nooks and crannies, decorations and necessities. And that is what our sex lives are like. If we build a base with rooms for understanding, empathy, compassion, and care, we can then build additions for the fun we want to have in there, such as group sex! That room itself isn’t always an easy one to make your way into because there are many misconceptions about group sex floating around out there. Fortunately, great sex educators, such as Luna Matatas, are here to help us explore.
For the Right Type of Reaction
Finally, as much as including sex examples in science class would be a good way to incorporate sex into everyday language, we’re going to have to work on the previous ideas first, so as to not explode too many heads.