Recently, I found myself rather reluctantly reading an exclusive front page story in The Sun. Usually I like to steer clear of tabloid newspapers, due to my indifference towards their publication tactics. I can be rather bigoted in the way that I imagine such news platforms to promote propaganda instead of publishing real news to the public, but today I renounced my title as the White Bitch of the West and skipped through the article on the ordeals that a young girl faced when she became a mother at only 12.
Although her name has been plastered across recent tabloid press, I won't repeat it here, for the sake of her liberty. Reading her story, however, shocked me into thinking about the nature of the sex education (or, quite pointedly, the lack of it) that is being offered to the children of today, and what the government, and what schools can do to prevent history from repeating itself.
This news alone is society's worst fears confirmed. It is quite often we may see a young girl of only a few years herself, pushing a toy buggy with the doll of a baby inside it as she walks alongside her mother. It is alarming and worrying to think that in 7-8 years, this girl could be pushing a real buggy, with a real baby inside it, playing the role of a real mother.
Britain's Youngest Parents are 12 (mother) and 13 (father), so with respects to sexual education, they are either being taught the wrong things completely, or they are being taught nothing at all. I'm not entirely sure what kind of system is currently being followed by schools with regards to their sex education, but I remember being 10 years old when a nurse came into our primary school to give an assembly on the changing of our bodies and what to expect when we begin having our periods. It was informative enough a ceremony; we were told the basics of what happens during the course of our menstrual cycle, as well as being shown the basics of using sanitary towels and tampons.
Again, 4 years later, we were called to assembly in secondary school to talk about sexually transmitted diseases. Perhaps to my own fault; I don't remember much of this seminar. I remember being asked to name any sexually transmitted diseases that we may have heard of, and I do remember naming one, and then getting the piss taken out of me by one of the boys sitting in a row further back from me (I'll never forget you, Dean). This was 8 years ago, and during this time it was still considered uncool to be smart or informed about anything they taught you in school; sexually transmitted infections included. Whilst I cannot accurately recall anything else from that sex education lesson (apart from the similarities between the feel of a vagina and the feel of the inside of your mouth. It's uncanny - try it!), it would be improper for me to claim that any real, or proper information was omitted by those teaching the lesson. Much more than this, because I no longer attend school (thank FUCK), I cannot say that the nature of sex education has undergone any stratospheric changes; but given that we have begun reporting on children having children, I think it's safe to say that perhaps not enough is being done.
Now for all the legal mumbo-jumbo.
You can legally buy condoms at any age. One would hope, however, that if a 10 year old boy wandered into a pharmacy and tried to purchase a pack of Durex, the sales assistant would be prompted to ask a couple of questions before allowing the sale. Much more than this, condoms are fucking expensive. I think I once paid £12 for a pack of 11 condoms, and that was a squeeze, even for me, a full-time working adult, so I hardly expect that any job-less child would be able to afford to invest in something as pricey.
Strictly speaking, you can also go to your GP or a nurse at a family planning clinic and be given contraception, even if you are below the age of 16. If your GP or the nurse thinks you are responsible and mature enough to make your own decisions on the premise of sexual exploration, then they will offer you contraceptives without telling your parents. If they don't, however, they have all the rights that they need to contact your parents and let them know that you tried.
Sex education is often emulated on television by the initiation of a rather awkward, uncomfortable conversation between parent and child about the birds and the bees. The media allows a stigma to be attached to the act of educating our children about sex; and it is treated like a taboo subject that is only meant to be touched upon when absolutely necessary. Is it proper for us to assume that "don't ask, don't tell" is a suitable way of educating our nation's youngsters about sexual experimentation? Especially seeing as there is a multi-billion pornography industry that is lurking quietly behind the scenes, waiting patiently to fill in the gaps that we are omitting.
After all, if sex education lessons were as useful as we would hope, then one in three 16-24 year olds wouldn't contract chlamydia. If sex education lessons were proving to be making a difference, then we wouldn't be seeing mothers of only 12 plastered on the front of tabloid newspapers.
Anyway. I digress. The porn industry is... Well. It's vile. Pornography presents to us a type of fantasy fucking that a) isn't even close to being relateable to and b) does absolutely nothing to teach us about the true nature of sex. Pornography teaches children and adults about "hands free fucking". There is no sensuality, no kissing, no laughter, and no mutual respect. When we are young, we don't first fantasise about being able to fuck someone without even touching another part of their body. We don't postulate on the action of facials, double penetration, or rim jobs. But, as I have already stated, we are left at the tender age of almost 15 with no further formal sex education; and with porn being readily accessible on any Smartphone, tablet or computer, it's not surprise as to why young people are turning to it for a more informal education, and that such problems are occurring. The feminist in me wants to bleat on about the subordination of women in porn. So, erm, yeah. That's exactly what I'm going to do.
Porn focuses quite frequently on the sexual gratification of men (the generic kind, this is, as I'm more than aware that there are specialist types...). I could probably count on one hand all of the times I have heard a female orgasm, in all of the hundreds of times I've watched industry pornography. And what's worse is that - being the simple, easily misguided beings that we are - people are subconsciously being brainwashed into thinking that this violent fantasy world is one we wish to co-operate in. When anal pounding, cum shots, and big titty teens that get fucked by daddy, are being thrown in our faces, the more indulgent of us are genuinely starting to believe that this is arousing. We allow this belligerent, subordinating culture into our personal fantasies, and we allow ourselves to be coerced into thinking that this kind of sexual activity is normal. And, thus, it is normalised.
The problem with the sexual education that is being offered today is, fore-mostly, that it doesn't cover nearly as much as it needs to, and that it often focuses too much on the wrong topics.
We live in a society in which nuclear relationships are dissipating. Sociological studies show that the nuclear family is in decline. We're beginning to engage the idea that there are several different types of relationships, and rightly so, we are also beginning to loosen our grip on strict binary concepts.
Monogamous relationships. Casual relationships. Homosexual relationships. The ship has sailed, my friends, and it's about time the government caught up with our level of social advancement, and changed the course of sex education.
I have spotted consistencies and inconsistencies within the sex education spectrum. We're being told not enough of all the same things. Where is all the information about alternate sexualities? What about friendship, mutual respect, and sensuality? What about pleasure? Pleasure is the most under-theorised facet of sexual education, so it comes as no surprise to me that women and men are left long into their 20's before they understand even the basics of sexual pleasure (sorry fellas, you're fab, but it's true). And what about masturbation? Self image? We do little to engage youngsters or allow them the confidence to try and understand themselves, before they begin to explore acts of other sexual natures. I understand that it may seem a little controversial to undertake education of such a nature; but if we are already beginning to plant ideas about child birth into the flourishing, intuitive minds of our youngsters, then why can't we also make such an addition to their learning process? Sociologists have postulated that we are at our most susceptible when we are young; our ability to learn is almost uncompromised when we are at a young age, and we need to take a definitive opportunity to utilise that fact.
I explore this issue in more depth on my personal blog, so click HERE to view the full, unedited version of the article.