Warning: This post contains discussion of sexual subjects
Recently I have been reading ‘Yes Means Yes‘, a collection of essays which talk about female sexuality and consent and how stereotypical visions of female sexuality contribute to a rape culture. It’s a powerful book. I had planned to get to the end and then talk about it overall as I would do with a book normally, but recently some of the articles have really been getting in my head and I feel like it might be better to write down some thoughts specifically on those articles. I probably won’t do this for every article but it seems like a better way to look at it, and I will do a sort of summery post when I’m completely done.
This is my fourth of these review/thought posts for Yes Means Yes, you can read the first here,the second here and the third here
Real Sex Education
In her article Kulwicki talks of what she thinks is an ideal sex education. She says that yes it should include those things a classic sex ed should include; information about STI/Ds, information about safe sex, birth control and pregnancy; but it should also include topics like consent and what makes a healthy sexual relationship- that is consent and pleasure for both parties. She says it should include different types of sexual intercourse than just standard hetrosexual penis in vagina type sex. It should include gay sex, oral sex, masturbation.
Initially this idea sounds a bit like encouraging sex, but actually when you read more you realise that it doesn’t encourage sex as such but physically and emotionally healthy sex lives. It says you shouldn’t be ashamed of exploring your sexuality and of seeking sexual pleasure. Sex is a way of giving and receiving pleasure as well as a way of connecting with someone else, and as a way of creating life.
It also encourages openly talking about sex, which makes it easier for those participating to talk about what they like and don’t, and makes it easier for questions to be asked. It means people shouldn’t feel ashamed about buying condoms, or asking about sexual health concerns, which will promote better physical sexual health.
Shame of sex only breeds the sort of culture where a raped woman can be blamed for her rape, whilst a boy can be forgiven because his sexual urges got the better of him. Where it is understood that everyone should be enjoying what is happening then the idea that a girl who gives no consent is ‘asking for it’ shows that there is no healthy sexual relationship there. It won’t stop rape, but hopefully changing the culture around sex can make it be less excusable.
Reading this chapter made me think about my own sex ed. at school. I went to an all girl’s catholic school (almost 20 years ago) so my experience of sex ed. is probably particularly bad for the time but I do remember it being more or less non existent. I remember learning the very basics of mechanics in science, which was more conception than sex itself, I remember seeing a diagram of intercourse in the science text book- but I don’t actually remember it being mentioned (almost as if sperm just magically appears in your vagina!).
I also remember a talk about contraception. It was given by an unmarried female RE teacher who had taught my Mum when she (Mum) was a teenager. Let’s just say as a group of teenagers we couldn’t imagine that she had any sexual experience (of course now I know that presumption may well be untrue but it meant that the likelihood of us going to her with questions was next to nothing). In the talk she basically listed the different types of contraception, what they did and didn’t do, and told us that ‘The Catholic way’ was the best (i.e. don’t have sex until you’re married then have lots of babies). I can’t imagine Kulwicki’s ‘Real’ sex education ever going down well in schools like mine, but I do think that it may actually be more important there because the girl’s knowledge came from unreliable sources like magazines, and other teenagers, maybe we got the information, but we didn’t get the emotional education, and if parent’s were ‘ultracatholic’ then they wouldn’t feel comfortable asking their parents either.
What do you think should sex ed be changed this much? Does it encourage sex? If it does is that a bad thing? How does this type of sex ed line up with your own experiences?