Do you remember those awkward sex ed classes where some squirming teacher stood at the front of the class pointing to diagrams of fallopian tubes while fending off embarrassing heckles from the naughty kids in the back row?
Illustration via (no, we’re not kidding) The Christian Post.
My memories are made more ridiculous by the fact that the class was led by a nun!
The woman wouldn’t have known a penis if it jumped up and tea-bagged her in the face. The black-and-white diagrams were as sexy as that old woman was ever going to get.
No wonder I became a promiscuous little slut.
It was all her fault. If she’d managed to do the job properly, I wouldn’t have needed to do so much field work. (Nikki’s book One Way or Another – The Story of a Girl Who Loved Rock Stars documents her schoolgirl dream of losing her virginity to the boys in the band – Ed.)
Unfortunately, while technology, communication and industry have made huge strides in the world, sex education is still a flaccid, boring and inadequate subject that is not making any headway.
Teenage rates of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy remain high and kids are experimenting in more and more extreme ways and earlier.
In fact, Australia rates poorly against other developed countries when it comes to teen pregnancy and STDs. There is no national curriculum for sex education and it is not a mandatory part of our education system and even if it were I suspect it would be as dry as my old nun’s …
Kids need more than frigid diagrams and a cautionary delivery of all the perils of ignoring condoms.
I’m not advocating teaching them how to roll a condom onto a banana with their mouths, but in order to get the message across that sex is healthy, fun and also something that demands a great deal of respect, we need to spice it up and make it real.
Kids figure out very early, whether we tell them or not, that sex equals babies. You can learn that from watching even the most G-rated television programs and listening to other kids on the bus. But sex isn’t really about making babies even though the nuns tried to make it so.
Sex is more about embracing yourself as a man or woman.
It is about who we are. It is about connecting with others, having fun, worshipping the power of our own humanity.
If we had a baby every time we had sex, the planet would be in trouble. Only a very small percentage of sexual encounters end in pregnancy. Sex is primarily about having fun with a friend.
Sex education doesn’t have to be rigid and bland.
It should first of all be delivered by an educator who has sex, enjoys sex and is comfortable enough to dive in and tackle subjects that kids want to know about.
There is little point teaching boys about erect penises and masturbation. That much is self-explanatory.
They want to know whether it’s normal to have homosexual feelings, how much porn is healthy, do girls really like anal sex, are pimples on the penis normal?
Girls want to know what the best way to orgasm, are they supposed to like anal sex and is it normal to have lesbian feelings toward their friends?
They all want to know if it’s okay to have sex when you are 14, how many partners make you a slut and how much does an abortion cost if you stuff up ?
Sex education needs to be about more than cartoon ovaries and labia minora and majora. Stick-figure diagrams are stupidly useless against the giant internet porn machine. I’m not suggesting we get out the Ron Jeremy DVDs for class but some real images need to be available to students.
I’d been given the birds and bees talk, but when I saw my first penis I was gob-smacked at how big and angry it looked.
The most important aspect of sex education must of course be about everything but the physical because sex, contrary to popular opinion, starts in the brain. It is about hormones, desire, attraction. It is about people.
We need to teach children how to respect their sexuality and that of others. Don’t bonk drunk girls or boys. Don’t push yourself on someone who seems reluctant. Don’t film someone without their consent. Don’t use sex as a weapon or as revenge. Don’t use sex as a bartering tool.
Do enjoy learning what turns you on. Do understand that pornography is theatrical and rarely reflects normal sexual activity. Do realise that pubic hair is normal and that shaving it results in an itchy rash. Do wear condoms because herpes is a lifetime affliction. Pregnancy can happen even if you pull out. Don’t go back to a footballer’s hotel room by yourself. Gang-banging is never cool. Anal sex can lead to haemorrhoids. Erotic asphyxiation can kill. Homosexuality is normal and healthy. Masturbation is fun. Cheating with your best friend’s boyfriend will lead to heartache all round. Respect yourself and respect your sexual partners. Childbirth is extremely painful and so are babies.
Condoms. Condoms. Condoms. They are funny-looking, gross after use but absolutely necessary.
Sex education should explore real issues, allow kids to feel safe enough to ask any question.
It should be fun and informal. There should be real and graphic images that explore real and graphic subjects. It should be delivered without judgment.
And nuns should not ever lead sex education classes. Just look what happened to me!
Where did you learn about sex? Can you remember your sex ed classes at school?
*Nikki McWatters has had a varied career, from film and television acting to teaching to legal counselling. She lives in Queensland with her husband and children. One Way or Another: The Story of a Girl Who Loved Rock Stars is her first book. It was shortlisted for the Emerging Author Award in the former Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards and is published by Black Inc.