One of my other My View posts on plastic surgery got me thinking about the sex education system in America, or lack thereof…
Sex education in the United States is nothing short of abysmal, with over half the states stressing abstinence and only 13 states require medical accuracy [this document is frankly terrifying]. To nobody’s surprise, the United States not only has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy, but also normalizes and even glorifies it in the media. I remember my sex education being very one-sided and abrupt, both in school and at home. I was talked at for a bit, the words went in one ear and other the other and it was over forever.
The current American sex education system devalues those who have had sex, particularly women (bloody patriarchy). I remember before I started middle school, my mom told me that I was like a water balloon and every time I was with someone, it was like poking a hole in the balloon. According to this metaphor, after time, I’ll have nothing left to give to the right person. Excuse me, but I’m not a water balloon, I’m a human being.
Proper, uniform sex education should be taught in school because what little sex education that does exist varies widely, proper education clearly isn’t being taught at home otherwise, sex education is something you will need and use for the rest of your life and clearly, “don’t do it” doesn’t work.
If it were up to me, here is what would be taught in school…
Consent: even for college students, consent can still be a gray area, but consent is black and white: it’s either “yes” or “no”. You don’t “maybe” have sex. Consent must be sober, enthusiastic, verbal and ongoing.
Gender and sexual orientation: schools should also teach about gender identity and how gender exists on a spectrum rather than a binary. They should consider briefly covering transgender and intersex people as well as sexualities such as gay, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, queer and more. At the moment, some school can can only speak negatively about hmoosexuality, which is grossly outdated now that gay marriage is legal in the United States. Sex isn’t just penis-in-vagina, that idea is heteronormative and makes penis-in-vagina sound like the endgame of all encounters where in reality, any sex act is sex and are all equally valid.
Birth control: show both girls and boys several different methods of birth control. Girls should know how to put a condom on and boys should know how birth control works. Here, schools can cover abstinence as the most effective form of birth control and personal choice, not as their only option.
Reproductive basics of both sexes: both boys and girls should know about the anatomy of both the vagina and penis. They should be told that genitalia come in all shapes and sizes and they’re all perfectly normal.
Personally, I would also like to cover objectification, getting tested, a crash course in sexism, masturbation, sex in the media, and more, but this is a good place to start. Sex education should be a conversation, not just a lecture, starting at a young age with appropriate lessons.
I was hesitant to speak about this because primarily, my family and family friends read this, but then I realized that anyone who has a problem with simply talking about sex is part of the problem and this is something that I care deeply about. Sex is not a shameful or dirty thing, it’s natural, and odds are every human reading this has had it (hell, I’m here because some of you had sex!).
To end this on a good note, if the topic further interests you, watch the John Oliver episode on sex education, which basically recants a lot of what I’ve just spoken about but in a significantly funnier way and in a British accent.
As always, feel free to post your comments.