Scorpio Risen

Blogging FOR Sex Education

Posted on: 4 June, 2007

Nevermind the bollocks, here’s sex education!

Check out my shitty editing 😉

OK, so today’s Blogging For Sex Education Day! Huzzah! Ooo, I feel I should use the proper, official, shiny logo for it:

I’m afraid I’m going to be a bit anglocentric in this here post, ‘cos I’m English.
Plus, I do have some stats on hand from when I did my mini research project in Sociology for the Methodology Unit, since I chose to do mine on sex education. Unfortunately, we were only allowed to survey 10 people, so it’s too small a sample, and, anyrate, it would hardly be representative, given that they all lived in the same county as me, and were from a small selection of schools etc etc etc. But I will refer to my research, because it’s my blog, so I can.

Y’know, I’m really not sure what I want to say in this post. I have some ideas – and here’s stuff you can look forward to, folks – such as:

  • What sex education should/could include

  • My experience of sex education

  • A brief rant about Lads Mags/pornography as “tools” for sex education

  • Abstinence only programmes

  • Some statistics

And then some.

 In no particular order, here’s what I think sex education should be about, should teach people:

  1. The basics of sexual intercourse and sexual acts

  2. Exploring attitudes about sex, sexuality etc. And when I say exploring, I do mean exploring, I mean examining popular attitudes and evaluating them.

  3. Emphasis on practising safe sex. I do not believe that throwing condoms around encourages people to shag. I think people should be a whole load more open about contraception, and be more accepting of it. It is not a taboo subject. It should not be treated as such. In this country, we have parents and guardians who get all up in arms about nurses offering contraceptive pills etc. The nurses damn well should do that. We should fuck the stiff upper lip, and be open and less repressive about sexuality.

  4. I think there should be frank, open discussion about the media’s representation of sex and sexuality. Especially the more pornified representation. Ask the kids how it makes ’em feel. It’s thrown constantly in their faces all the time, and it can be confusing. Also, the media is a factor, I believe, contributing to making some people feel like losers if they haven’t got laid. It’s not fair. These are issues which should be discussed in sex education just as much as sperms and eggs and shit.

  5. The clitoris. Orgasms, particularly the four stages of orgasm. There should be frank and open discussion about sex as something pleasurable. Let people share opinions, maybe even experiences. Trust me, no harm can be done through such openness. Also, it should encourage a healthy, sharing, mutually respectful attitude towards sex/pleasure.

  6. Masturbation. This should not be a taboo. This should be another topic which should be openly discussed. I sometimes feel as if female masturbation is stigmatised. Ever heard anyone ever say “eew girls masturbating – that’s just dirty!…Well, it’s OK if guys wank!”? And for that matter, vibrators should also be discussed. Masturbation helps to release any pent up sexual feelings, and shouldn’t be seen as “wrong” or anything of the sort.

  7. I think there should be a huge emphasis on girls self esteem, teaching them how to say “NO!”, tell them not to be so shy or so coy. Tell them that just ‘cos a guy’s got his cock out, doesn’t mean you have to suck it. I’m being serious. I think they should have whole workshops based on this. Teaching boys that “No” means “No”.
    Going with this theme, I think people should be educated about the different scenarios a rape could occur, teach them that no, it is not ever a the rape victim’s responsibility. Once someone says no, you should step back, and not try to coerce or force them into anything they are clearly not happy with.

  8. Workshops teaching pupils about respect for one another and for oneself. This includes telling people that it’s not OK to call some girl a “slag” just because she sleeps around, since this maintains double standards.

I could probably think of more, but not at the moment.

It hasn’t been so many years since I received sex education, but my memory – I’ve gotta confess – is a bit dodgy. Although I do vividly remember back in the good ol’ days of year 9, the morning when some woman came in with the polystyrene penises and made us put condoms on ’em. She made me laugh, because I remember her telling us that teachers always seemed embarrassed during this, and she said “It’s OK madam, it’s only a penis!”
We were also given the chance to ask some anonymous questions, one of which was something along the lines of “Is it OK to brush your teeth before giving a boy a blow job?” The answer was, no, it’s not OK, because in your excitement or nervousness, you could cut your gums, which would make it easier for STIs to get into the bloodstream. Oh, and we were told not to gurgle with the spunk: spit or swallow, never gurgle. Which really, really, really made me laugh ’til I was red in the face, because I have a vivid imagination, and I was imagining gurgling ‘Mary had a little lamb’.

I wouldn’t say that my sex education was bad. There wasn’t an emphasis on abstinence, we were told about various forms of contraception and EC, and we were taught about STIs and pregnancy, and adviced to go to a GUM clinic or Family Planning clinic if we had unprotected sex, and we were encouraged to discuss in small groups about shit, and we did an exercise about what was important in relationships.

But, then again, this was at a single-sex private school with small class sizes. We had pretty much grown up with one another, so we could feel able to talk about sex stuff. We didn’t have to rigidly stick to the national curriculum.

Yes, some of the girls were sexually active by the time they left school (and, as far as I know, largely practising safe sex). Yes, some of them had had STI/pregnancy scares, at least one had been rumoured to have had an abortion, and another rumoured to have had a miscarriage, and yes, one of the ‘old girls’ is now pregnant. Clearly, there are gaps. However, we all had had the same sex education, which I think was pretty rounded.

But, away from my own personal experience, let’s look at a couple of facts:

  • A study of (100) teenagers using condoms found that “Of the 74 who said they had used a condom, 31% had put it on after penetration had already occurred”.

  • There were 41.4 conceptions per 1,000 women under the age of 18 in 2005 – just 2.9 per 1000 lower than in 1991 (in Britain)

  • Julia Margo, IPPR senior research fellow, said: “Over the alst 50 years, the average age of first sexual intercourse has fallen from 20 for men and 21 for women in the 1950s to 16 by the mid-1990s. The proportion of young people who are sexually active before the age of consent has risen from less than 1% to 25% over the same period.” Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/l/hi/education/6075860.stm

  • “Over the last 10 years levels of genital chlamydia rose by 508% in teenage boys and 238% in teenage girls and genital herpes rose by 52% in teenage boys and 38% in teenage girls…Meanwhile, levels of syphilis had increased significantly in teenage boys and girls.” Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/l/hi/education/6075860.stm

  • According to the IPPR report, in Britain there were an average of 26 live births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19 – nearly a fifth higher than Latvia, the country with the next highest rate, and more than four times the rate of Cyprus, Slovenia, Sweden and Denmark. Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/l/hi/education/6075860.stm 

Why?

Why are the rates in Britain for STIs and pregnancies and live births so high? Why are they higher than most other European countries?

I don’t believe it to be monocausal. Obviously, it would be foolish to pin all the blame on sex education. Like I have already pointed out, I feel the sex education I received wasn’t bad at all. But, but, but, but…there were examples from that tinsy tiny sample of 30 girls of STI/pregnancy scares, at least one abortion, at least one miscarriage, and currently one pregnancy. I believe that in these cases, there were other causes and factors.

But, to stand away from that for a moment or two, I would like to take the opportunity to address a gripe of mine.

Ofsted. Now, I’m not entirely sure, and I can’t think at the moment, what the hell it stands for, but basically, yeah, they’re the organisation of school inspectors. They pissed a fair few anti-porn fems, such as myself, off a few months back, for praising “Lads Mags” (Dear lord) for – get this – “‘for providing useful advice, even though they might be explicit and sexist”.

“Even though they might be explicit and sexist”.

Are they off their bloody nut or what?!

Clearly, sex education must be pure shite if Lads Mags are going to be praised for their role in shaping up and educating boys on attitudes to sex and, just, general sex.

After all, Lads Mags portray women as empty headed, sexualised commodities who only exist to sexually service any available male. Nuts and Zoo also promote male sexual violence against women and girls whilst claiming it is just lighthearted fun. That doesn’t sound like decent sex education to me. It does not appear to be educating the readers on a healthy sexual attitude; rather, a misogynistic, phallocentric sexual attitude. And, that, my friends, is not on.

And pornography as a “tool” for sex education? You’ve gotta be kidding me. OK, I’m biased – I’m anti-pornography. But, it’s pretty damn one-dimensional, and – practically speaking, not politically – I hardly think that it focusses on what kinds of STIs there are out there, or which is the most effective contraceptive etc.

However, short digression over, and back to the question.

Why are the rates in Britain for STIs and pregnancies and live births so high? Why are they higher than most other European countries?

Given the stats about 31% of teenagers in that particular study – admittedly only just over 100 teenagers were studied, and I’m not sure how representative these teens were, but, it’s a case in point – not knowing quite when to use a condom, it is highly suggestive that there are gaps in sex education, in some schools at least.

However, as I have already stated, I think there is some media influence here. ‘Cos the media is almost all sex, sex, sex, sex, sex. It’s not good, it’s not healthy.
And films like the first American Pie where the plot (!) is centred around a group of guys trying to lose their virginity before prom night…well, it kinda tells ya, that if you haven’t got laid…mate, you’re a loser.

Nice.

Y’know I feel sorry for the kids in those states in America where the only educational policy is abstinence. I mean, dayum, that’s heaping a whole load of guilt on those teens who just can’t keep it in their pants – and who can blame ’em, given the constant bombardment of sexual messages from the media. Confusion and mixed messages, plus a teenager’s hormones? Fuck. That’s a recipe for disaster. Because, oh, yeah, let’s not leave hormones out of the equation. Y’know – and I’m gonna go a bit personal here – I’m still a virgin, but damn, it feels like my body wants me to leave the V club. And I’m not the only one, a mate of mine feels the same. And another mate of mine feels like she’s a loser ‘cos she’s almost 18 and still a virgin. See what I mean?

I’m not going to blab on too much about abstinence-only education policies, because I haven’t experienced them. But they are totally setting up teenagers completely inequipped to deal with sex, hormones, and what the fuck happens. It’s ridiculous, it’s irrational, it’s repressive, it’s confusion, and it messes with a teenager’s head. Hey, there’s nowt wrong with saying – “Hey, if you want, stay a virgin til whenever the hell you want. ‘Til you’re good and ready. If you do choose to have sex, please, use some form of protection such as X,Y or Z. There’s nothing wrong with choosing to stay a virgin, particularly if you’re religious. But don’t feel guilty, don’t feel pressured, just feel happy with choosing whichever.” Bla bla bla bla bla.

 I mean, sure, we can’t blame the media and sex education – no matter how well rounded or shoddy – for what teenagers get up to. I’ve already mentioned the hormones. But there’s also issues such as low self esteem, lack of confidence, lack of assertiveness, peer pressure, wanting to stay in a relationship (so, I guess we could call that relationship pressure).

 In fact, as I’d found in my mini research (involving 10 people – small sample, I know, making it unrepresentative, but they are the experiences of people I know, experiences of young people):

I found that while my respondents generally weren’t influenced whether to engage or refrain from sexual activity by their sex education, there may possibly be more important factors such as personal choice, hormones and media pressure.  

What does that mean for sex education?
I hardly think it is socially responsible to say “Ah well, if kids aren’t affected by sex education, it’s not an issue.” I believe that sex education should be a more useful tool in shaping up teenager’s attitudes to sex and sexuality, that it should help them gain access to more balanced and healthy representations of and attitudes to sex and sexuality, enabling them to have more balanced and healthy attitudes to and experiences of sex and sexuality than, for example, media messages and pornography, and even major religions.

 

P.S. Hats off to Ren for the idea of BFSE day. She may be pornalicious, but I think sex education is an issue most people – whether pro or anti porn – can think about, especially if they have or are teenagers, and I know that she does not agrr with people using pornography as sex education.  

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1 Response to "Blogging FOR Sex Education"

Amy: Thanks for participating…and…

“And pornography as a “tool” for sex education? You’ve gotta be kidding me. OK, I’m biased – I’m anti-pornography. But, it’s pretty damn one-dimensional, and – practically speaking, not politically – I hardly think that it focusses on what kinds of STIs there are out there, or which is the most effective contraceptive etc.”

Even being pornalicious, I agree with you 100% (trust me, I shall be ranting on about that myself whenst I do my post tomorrow…er…Monday here stateside…)

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