Having been taught in religious schools for the most part of my academic career, I’ve never actually been on the receiving end of a sex education lesson. Not only is this worrisome, as I’m now about to be 17 years old, it’s also eye-opening. Sex has often been a subject matter of taboo within Catholicism. The hush hush culture of it all has had its significant backlash and yet there continues to be an uncomfortably grimacing silence on it. This could lead to the question: How does one openly discuss sex without wanting to shrivel up into a ball of inflamed embarrassment?
Since abstinence has proven to not work, (when has denying a teenager something ever ensured they don’t do it?) the first steps would be to talk about contraception. I never so much got even a talk about condoms – how to use them, where to get them. Thank goodness for the Internet. But perhaps that’s where the issue stems. With so much information available to everyone, at all ages, at all times, people (adults) have begun to think the sharing of such information is redundant. Well, I can assure you that’s not the case. As a young boy researching sex and finding anal bleaching and buttplugs, the Internet only led me down a more confusion-inducing phallic-shaped rabbit hole. I’m pretty sure my parents were relying on the National Curriculum or the bravery of a fifteen-year-old with a concerning search history to ask them. Neither worked in their favour. Hence, the aforementioned Internet.
But is it perhaps possible to learn too much too fast? With no one controlling my information intake, I quickly became aware of lube, slut-shaming, polyamory, STDs, the spectrum of gender and sexuality, and a whole load of other sex+ related topics. Of course I’m still learning today, just recently I became aware of full-body orgasms, but the more I found out the more I was eager to learn. There was an odd epiphanial moment where I realised I needed to learn more about LGBTQ+ stuff and safe sex… which led me back into a 180 degree spin to the Internet, since that was my only real source.
I’m not discrediting the Internet as a good tool for learning, I owe it my full pseudo-sex education to this day. What I’m proposing is a wider conversation on sex, its stigma and everything we need to learn to be safe in contemporary society. More people are having premarital sex than waiting nowadays, but the standard of education is not meeting this changed norm. In the age of so much over-saturation of social media narcissism with perfect bodies and nude selfies, somehow sex ed. and health is still protested against being taught in schools. Here’s to the importance of better sex, safer sex and (in mine and many other LGBTQ+ people’s cases) queerer sex education where we can talk about these matters and not be forced to feel shameful. After all, knowledge is power and I’d much rather know about something before hand than have to find my way along down the road. *cough cough douching*