Sex Ed: Prehistoric as the Dinos
Have you ever taken a formal “sex ed” class before? And if so, when was it exactly? Were you 10 years old? 13? 17? My guess is that the majority of us have taken at least one sex ed class in our lifetimes, but it has been a tragically long time since...
Personally, my sexual education came in two graphic spurts, both of which took place in grade school when I was about nine or 10 years old. The first involved an entire co-ed class of hormonal pre-tweens watching an unedited video of a woman giving birth. I remember it as though it were yesterday. The instructor came into class, told us that we were going to witness the “miracle” of childbirth, turned off the lights and hit play. I recall feeling two very specific things as the video ended and I looked around at my peers, all of whom had their mouths wide open in shock. First, I felt nausea. And second, I felt complete and total horror. In hindsight, I believe this was our teacher’s way of saying, “if you have sex, you will go directly into this painful act of childbirth; bottom line...don’t have sex.” My 10-year-old mind was swirling with confusion and I couldn’t even stomach lunch that day.
My second stint of sex ed came in the form of a field trip. Fun? More like terrifying! We loaded up the yellow school bus and made our way to a facility that “specializes” in sex education for youth. During this trip, we split up into two groups; girls funneled into one room, boys in the other. I can’t speak to what happened in the “boy’s room,” but in the girl’s room we talked about things that happen when we become adults like getting our periods, growing pubic hair and developing breasts. We talked about how girls can become pregnant after they get their periods and briefly touched on the importance of condoms and how they work. We lightly went over other forms of contraception like birth control pills and the IUD. I can’t say I remember everything verbatim at this point (it has been a long time), but I do recall that plastic dummies were somehow involved, as well as a red laser pointer. (Come on, I was 10...of course I remembered the laser light!) I also remember that we didn’t learn anything about what the boys were discussing next door.
My personal experience of “formal” sex ed concluded with those two encounters. So, as I inevitably aged and went off to high school and then college, I left the rest of my education to things I learned via pop culture, my parents (minimally), my friends, porn and even...trial-by-error. What I’m saying is that I never learned about sex ed again, formally, after age 11.
What’s insanely interesting to me (and hella frustrating at the same time) is that things haven’t changed much in the past few decades, even though the world in which we live has changed tremendously since I was a pre-teen. Sex educators are still placing the majority of emphasis on topics like abstinence, contraception, and childbirth, while totally and completely ignoring subjects that are extremely important and relevant in today’s society like consent, sexual harassment and gender identity. Sex Ed as it stands today is horribly outdated. It’s more prehistoric than the dinos!
Don’t get me wrong, I still think that abstinence, contraception, and childbirth are important topics to discuss with youth, but perhaps we shouldn’t be limiting ourselves to just these few. Perhaps we should broaden our scope to include additional topics and continue our sex education well into adulthood. Yes, adults need sex ed, too! In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by CalExotics, approximately 70 percent of adults say they would benefit from a sex ed class now. And can you blame them? With my sex ed history, I could use one myself!
Imagine if all adults today had repeatedly and consistently learned about a spectrum of sex topics like sexual misconduct, consent, body image, LGBTQ lifestyles, abortion, sex positivity, masturbation and more from nine years old well into adulthood. My guess is that we’d have a more mature society who collectively understands sex on a whole new level, minimizing the mass ignorance we see today almost every single day in the headlines. Let’s force our current sex ed standards into extinction! Because just like the dinosaurs, their time has long passed. It’s time for a new, updated generation of sex ed.
~ Miranda Buzzlove