Sex education in schools across the UK is notoriously inconsistent – some students get the comprehensive “condoms-on-bananas” curriculum, while others are left to figure everything out for themselves.
Now Jess Phillips, MP for Birmingham Yardley and a member of the Women and Equalities Committee, has said that the sex ed curriculum should also include lessons on the female orgasm.
Phillips, who has two sons, has been calling for compulsory nationwide sex education to be introduced to secondary schools by 2020 and says that pleasure should be a focus of lessons for schoolgirls.
“I’m not suggesting we teach children how to masturbate,” she told Grazia magazine following her raising of the subject on The Hotbed sex and parenting podcast.
“I’m suggesting we talk to them about the things they’re doing anyway. Women’s expectations should be greater. We have to start demanding more.”
Phillips calls come after researchers from the Kinsey Institute found 95 per cent of heterosexual men said they “usually or always orgasm” while being sexually intimate but only 65 per cent of straight women said the same.
This points to an undeniable gender pleasure gap, but what do women actually think about teachers sitting teenagers down to talk about sexual satisfaction? Would it be horribly awkward or potentially useful to hear unbiased information from a trusted authority figure?
“It would definitely be a good thing”, Ela Guler, 18, a student from Norwich, told HuffPost UK. “People definitely need to learn about this. I mean all you hear about is the male side.”
Although Guler was generally supportive, she said that talk of orgasms would have felt very alien at her school where there was a distinct lack of any sex education. “There was a little bit about STDs,” she said, but never any focus on pleasure, even though it might have been useful to hear about.
“I would have pretended to be embarrassed [when it was being taught], but secretly would have wanted to know,” she added.
Sarah Crowley, 19, a student from London, agreed: “I learned more about sex in primary school than in secondary school – there was nothing. That might have been something to do with it being a Catholic school.”
Although she missed out during her education, Crowley said she would support it being taught to young girls now, and that it was an important topic.
Meanwhile, Lucy Milton, a 34-year-old mum from Surrey, didn’t disagree with the female orgasm being taught in schools but does worry about the implications for individual teachers responsible for teaching the curriculum.
“Back in my day teachers found talking about anything to do with the body totally agonising,” she said. “So I can’t imagine this would have gone down very well – especially with male teachers. Having said that, I do worry about kids learning [about sex] only from porn now.”
Barbara, 59, who did not want to give her surname, said she would support the lessons for one simple reason: “If it saves me the awkward chat with my sons about what they should be doing!”
Changes by the Department for Education will make sex education compulsory in all secondary schools from September 2020, covering sexual health, intimate relationships, issues of consent and LGBT issues. There has been no suggestion by government bodies this will include the female orgasm.
The proposals will be the first update to current PSHE curriculums since 2000.