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Holland, Sex Ed and Porn

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Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die! Don’t have sex in the missionary position, don’t have sex standing up, just don’t do it, OK, promise? OK, now everybody take some rubbers.

- Coach Carr (from Mean Girls)

Late last year, Time Magazine published an article talking about Holland, where the teen birth rates and HIV transmission rates were a tiny fraction of what they are in the U.S., and discussed whether there was something to learn from them and the way they talk (and teach) about sex.  While both countries talk about sex organs, STIs and pregnancy, dutch kids can also expect to be talking in class about relationships, prostitution, the significance of “your first time”, and the seriousness of sex in relation to consent. Meanwhile, on this side of the Atlantic, not many people are used to having such open conversations about sex, even between friends or with family.

And maybe it has to do with the fact that often when the subject of sex or drugs comes up over here, the “education” about it seems to be based around the things that you don’t want… or maybe even that you fear.  STIs… unwanted pregnancy… addiction… alcohol poisoning… All the parts of sex and drugs that you should be afraid of or avoid, rather than being able to talk honestly about what sex is, why people do it, how do they do it and with whom.  Those may sound like daring topics, but unless we want the conversations about sex to get stuck at “JUST SAY NO” like the conversations like drugs have, they’re topics we probably want to take on. (we actually wrote a whole other entry about this last February)

 

The reason I mention porn is because for a while there, the media was all over this idea that “zomg our kids are learning about sex through porn”, from blogs to newspapers, to probably the most controversial and widely debated TED Talk presentation ever.  At some point someone realized that sometimes kids get a hold of porn and that in the absence of proper education around sex, sexuality and sexual relationships, that they might get the sense that facials, group sex and bondage are actually the norm.  But I guess the first question is “So is that really the sense you got?”

Being a little nerdy, I like Venn Diagrams… So if you wrote one with two circles, one for “things that happen in porn” and another for “things that happen in real-life sex“, what would go in each circle?  What would go in the overlap?  And do you think everyone would agree with you?  But the important thing isn’t knowing which goes in each, but having the opportunity to discuss why you would or wouldn’t want things in your “real-life sex” circle (or your porn circle too, I suppose)… or talk about “what people think” versus what reality might actually be.

Now imagine if that were the kind of content that went into your sex ed class.  Could I convince you to go?

It’d certainly be simpler than googling “sex education about porn”… needless to say that turned up about fifty bazillion results I wasn’t allowed to see on the centre’s computers.  And hopefully this entry won’t get this site banned from your school computers.