During my summer holidays, due to lack of funds I’ve been writing loads and watching lots of random TV. Woo summer!
So a couple of weeks ago, I decided to watch a documentary on Channel 4 called “Sex In Class”. I’d seen countless adverts about it but had not really been interested in the trailers.
The documentary is about Goedele Liekens from Belgium who comes to England to teach a group of teenagers about sexual pleasure and the difference between realism and idealism. She is also proposing a change to the national curriculum so that more sex education is taught in schools across the country and the end goal will eventually be students sitting a GCSE exam.
As a Christian, most would assume that I would be 100% opposed to this proposal.
However I’m not.
There were some moments while watching where I was squirming in my seat, however it’s overt directness only proved that we do in fact need more adequate and effective sex-ed in schools here in England. It’s not enough to teach safe sex and nothing else. Some schools aren’t even required to teach about sex at all let alone safe sex if they fall into the academy, free and faith school categories.
There is a common misconception that if we talk about sex then we are only encouraging it. However we cannot ignore the facts:
- Teenagers are having sex before they even understand what it is they’re actually doing and by then they’re probably already pregnant which is why we have some of the highest numbers of teenage pregnancies in Europe.
- Men are growing up thinking that they have a right to do whatever they want to women. “If she’s given me consent to have sex with her then she’s given me consent to do whatever I want to her” is a direct quote from on the 15 year old boys involved in the experiment in “Sex In Class.”
- Women are growing up thinking that sex is about being submissive to men – to let them do whatever they want regardless of whether or not they want what is being done to them.
We’re growing up with porn as our sex education, which is planting unhealthy ideals into our minds.
Being a Christian doesn’t protect you from this either. Pornography is available regardless of your upbringing and beliefs. Sometimes home cannot always be a safe place for a healthy education. Children who are being sexually abused need to be given the opportunity to know that what is happening to them is not normal and to be given an avenue to change what damage has already been done to them.
When girls know about their own bodies, they begin to feel a sense of value and henceforth respect for their bodies. We always say that this comes with age, which I can testify to myself, however why should girls have to wait until their mid-twenties to begin to value themselves and feel empowered to say no to anything which disrespects them, or devalues them? Sex is all around us regardless of our age. When a teenage girl feels pressured into sex, she needs to understand that her body belongs to her and she has consent over what happens to her body.
And boys need to know that they do not hold claim to any other body than their own! Furthermore they need to know that they don’t have anything to prove; that they don’t have to strive towards unrealistic ideals.
Another documentary I recently watched on Channel 4 was “Revenge Porn” where Anna Richardson looks into a world where private images become public property – known as Revenge Porn. Disgruntled ex-partners (and BFFs in one case) take pictures only meant for their eyes and upload them onto websites designated specifically for revenge purposes. Many of the men interviewed stood by the notion that if a woman takes pornographic pictures of herself and sends them to somebody else, she is henceforth releasing all consent and authority over those images and the recipient can henceforth do whatever they choose with those images. One victim described her pictures going viral and commented on as feeling like she was being raped over and over again.
Most of the comments made online about these pictures were lines blatantly taken from porn films. Pornography teaches that woman are property to be taken, used and discarded once you have done whatever you wanted to do to her.
Some girls take these pictures of themselves because they believe that they are doing something special for the person they love and who loves them back. However, some girls feel pressured into taking these pictures. They feel obliged to because they believe that their partner has a right to make such a request. And why should you have to take demeaning pictures as a sign of your devotion?
In “Sex In Class” Liekens is proposing a GCSE in Sexual Pleasure. God created sex for procreation, however he also created it for pleasure. He did not create it as a tool for submission and abuse. I believe that when you come to understand the value of sex you then come to treasure it. Unfortunately we cannot stop teenagers from having sex, however we can teach them to value it. I dare to propose what you may think of as a naïve notion, but perhaps if we all come to know the value of the action as well as the value of our own bodies, it will change perspectives – particularly amongst teenagers and perhaps even stop them from rushing into jumping into bed and a web of fatal consequences.
If you fancy checking out these documentaries yourself then check out the channel4 website where you can watch them on demand.
I also found this rather awesome article:
Written from the perspective of a young woman who was taught sex ed in school and her thoughts around its effective relevance in education.