Why Doesn’t Sex Ed Teach About Pleasure?

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There’s a lot wrong with sex education in the United States. Many programs push an “abstinence until marriage” agenda geared only to cisgender heterosexual people. If youth are really lucky, they might learn about birth control and HIV prevention. Honestly, though, shouldn’t sex be presented as more than the potential for pregnancy and infection?

“There’s no doubt that our sex education is woefully inadequate — not just in terms of its delivery, but its substance,” says Lea Rose Emery in Collective. “Though we need to have comprehensive education for all children covering anatomy, sexuality, gender, and reproductive health, as we look at 2019 it’s time to dream a little bigger — and to start including pleasure in the conversation.”

Emery suggests the following ways to improve sex ed:

  1. Teach that sex is more than pregnancy and STIs
  2. Teach that wanting pleasure is natural
  3. Teach that all pleasure is equal
  4. Teach that consent is essential to pleasure
  5. Teach how sexual pleasure plays into larger relationships

Learn more: 5 ways we need to teach about pleasure in sex ed.


One Comment

  1. At the time of my high school graduation, circa 2008, in Pennsylvania, the “sex-ed” curriculum was of the abstinence-only-until-marriage variety.

    The class was mildly informative, but only mildly.

    Was like a sex-version of the “Just Say No!(TM)” Regan-era DARE propaganda we were exposed to throughout the late 90s-early00s era public schooling wherein the “all drugs are bad m’kay” message went as far as to, and I’m not making this up, equate coffee with cocaine and alcohol with heroin because “both are examples of stimulants and depressants (respectively) just different degrees there-of”.

    Everything was presented in black-and-white terms, with zero nuance.

    I often wonder how many uninformed people, as a result of those types of programs, went on to make bad personal decisions when they realized the programs contained more lies, whether blatantly, by omission, or de-facto by hyperbole, than they did factually correct information.

    One can imagine a kid, upon actually doing XYZ “bad thing”, discovering that it wasn’t as it was presented (i.e., the “Trusted Authority Figures(TM)” were lying) by the programs, and then going with the line of logic “well, if they lied about X, maybe they lied about everything”, and then going on some kind of dangerous binge under the assumptions that everything which was said to be evil/unsafe/etc was actually perfectly fine to engage in with wanton abandon.

    We can easily imagine a similar sort of ignorant or hyperbolic attitude as existing hundreds or more years ago in regards to “the occult”– i.e., “I saw Mary nail an upsidedown horse shoe above her front door, she just be a witch in league with the Devil, have her burned at the stake!”. It would certainly explain a lot of the various moral panics that have swept entire towns, provinces, nations, and even whole continents in days of yore– and on into the present day.

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