****Content Warning: In the audio you’ll find general discussions of sexual assault and false rape allegations, and misogyny*****
Where, exactly, do we get our sex education from?
Most people would say that they learnt something at school. But when we think about formal sex ed lessons, we are often talking about the biological aspects of reproductive sex – e.g. how people get pregnant, or how to avoid pregnancy.
The messages about sex that we pay attention to – what it is, what makes ‘good’ sex and what a sexual relationship is meant to look like – come from all sorts of places other than the classroom. From rumours and ‘dirty’ jokes that circulate on the playground, to the bizarrely genital-less sex scenes from PG rated films.
In this week’s Conversation Starters, I think about where our sex ed can and does come from, looking at things like:
- How do we learn what sex actually is?
- What are these messages – what does ‘good’ sex look like?
- Are some types of sex or relationships seen as more valid than others?
- Where can we look to for reliable information if we have questions about sexual health?
Listen to this episode of Conversation Starters to find out more…
Phallocentric: focusing on a phallus (i.e. penis), especially as a symbol of importance and dominance.
Heteronormative: a view or assumption that heterosexuality is the ‘normal’ or only important sexual orientation.
PIV sex: a specific type of sex act, (penetrative) penis-in-vagina sex!
Sexwise from the FPA contains loads of resources (generally aimed at young people) on topics like contraception, STIs and unplanned pregnancy.
The School of Sexuality Education has a website, which features blogs, information and also links to the Teachable Moments project, where you can find worksheets to accompany programmes such as Netflix’s Sex Education, the BBC’s Noughts and Crosses, and Disney’s Hercules.
The Amaze.org website has a whole host of videos, each one about a different sex ed topic. Examples include ‘Porn: Fact or Fiction’ and ‘HIV and health disparities’. These are aimed mostly at pre-teens. They are English language and made in the US, so some of the references (e.g. to the healthcare system) might need a bit of contextualising and explanation.
Everyone’s Invited is a web-based project that encourages young people to talk about their own experiences of sexual harassment and violence in schools and universities.
The 2016 NSPCC report on children and their experiences of and attitudes towards pornography, ‘I wasn’t sure it was normal to watch it’.
Lisa Lazard, a Psychologist with the Open Unversity, writes an article on false rape allegations – ‘Here’s the truth about false accusations of sexual violence.’
The Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) curriculum came in to effect in September 2020 and the DfE’s guidance on implementing it can be found here.
If you have any questions or suggestions about this episode, please email at firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Conversation Starters’ in the subject line.