Quick disclaimer before I delve into what I have to say. The sex education in focus here is not the show but the sex education usually taught in school when we are teens or pre-teens. Good, now let’s begin.
I don’t know how your sex education went but here is how mine played out. First, they separated the boys and girls and put us in different rooms. The session somewhat resembled a biology class with technical terms being used that usually went over my head. For some reason, at such ages, we tended to find these talks pretty funny and it usually resulted in giggles especially when the male reproductive system was mentioned. We learned how the sperm swims to the egg with a hurried explanation of birth control and a detailed explanation of how we can get STIs. Oh and the good old faithful! Girls need to be careful of what they wear because we may tempt the boys (meaning no short skirts, crop tops, booty shorts or spaghetti strap tops). Afterwards, we are begging the boys to tell us what ensued during their session and vice versa. That’s a concise description of how my sex education unfolded.
How do I wish my sex education was conducted instead?
To begin the discussion, an opening line such as “Sex occurs when two people consensually agree to have sex with one other, granted they are of the legal age of consent. ” Emphasis on consensually. I want the notion of consent to be drilled and hammered into the heads of every single student so that the number of rape incidents would drastically decrease. Not simply consent before the act but honouring a person’s refusal during sex although they initially agreed. Another emphasis should be placed on the individuals being an age which is legal to have consensual sex. In Ghana, the legal age to have sex is 16 and varies in different countries. Individuals should adhere to these ages to ensure that sexual intercourse is not conducted with minors.
Next, I would have liked to be told that sex is not what is seen on porn or how it is romanticized in movies. In real life, there are many awkward moments such as queefing, funny noises and faces, unexpected fluids and slippage. Both parties do not always orgasm at the same time and a woman’s makeup does not still look flawless after coitus. Sex can result in laughter due to all these and it is not always ‘picture-perfect.’
Moreover, I wish I learned that sex does not only occur between heterosexuals. Each explanation of sex was centered on vaginal penetration by a penis with no mention of any other kind of sex. The LGBTQI+ community also enjoy sex as much as straight people do. It may take the form of anal penetration, fingering between lesbians, oral sex or other forms. Apart from just learning this, it would have been helpful to emphasize that it is normal and acceptable for non-heterosexual sex to occur and that no judgment is needed.
As a woman, I believe sex education should explicitly state and explain a full range of birth control options and how effective each one is. Not only a discussion on the condom or pill but knowing short-term contraceptives to life term options including vasectomies and tubal ligation. This would go a long way to avoid unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and can reduce the risk of ovarian cysts.
I would have liked the reassurance that masturbation is a normal practice for both males or females (unless it is restricted by a person’s religion). It can be a particularly pleasurable activity for individuals who wish to abstain from sexual intercourse. It is also allows an individual to explore their body and know what is erotically pleasing to that person which can be shared with their partner. It releases sexual tension but may be a problem if it hinders sexual intimacy with your partner.
Not necessarily sexual, but it would have been educative to learn the difference between sex and gender. Granted, these two words are often used interchangeably but it has now become common to distinguish the difference between the two. Sex is the biological differences between male and females such as the genetalia and genetic differences. On the other hand, the World Health Organisation defines gender as “the socially constructed characteristics of women and men, such as norms, roles, and relationships of and between groups of men and women. It varies from society to society and can be changed” (1). This would have paved the way for an open conversation about gender identity and expression.
Lastly, I wish this could have been blared from a megaphone: A person’s value is not measured by their sexual history. I guess this phenomenon affects women more than men, generally speaking. There is no need for slut-shaming and it is absolutely natural for women to enjoy sexual activities just as much as men do. People have skills, intellect, and talent which they can offer and that does not diminish based on their sexual encounters.
I hope that in future sex education sessions, the aforementioned topics would be included to allow teenagers to have a more comprehensive and insightful discussion. At the end of the day, it is acceptable to be a virgin, celibate or sexually active but that does not negate the need for each person to be educated about sex. This is how my sexual education experience was. How did yours play out and what do you wish was different?