Our Guest Poster is Queen of Thorns, and this post is part of our Summer Slowdown repost series (originally published September 20, 2011 at Ideologically Impure)

Clearly the media meme of the month is “won’t someone think of the children, and the imaginary innocence we ascribe to them in order to justify our lack of openness about basic anatomy because it’s ~icky~?”

First up there’s a lovely example of modern journalism at work, where Elizabeth Binning decides to take the story of a young woman who was given good, comprehensive sex education with an emphasis on consent and full information about alternatives to cock-in-vag intercourse, who was then “taken advantage of” by an older man while drunk …


Students may wish to pay special attention to the interesting line Elizabeth Binning wants to draw between some mythical, pure “sex education” and the Disgusting Filth That Is Indoctrinating Our Children, particularly with the use of this quote:

When my mother signed the consent, she thought it was signing her way to her child knowing about reproduction and the actual human anatomy side of reproduction, not the methods on how it’s done.

Forgive me if this is a little TMI, but in my household, “actual human anatomy” and “how [sex is] done” are pretty much intertwined.

This is the panic: that we’re no longer presenting Innocent Children with sterile, confusing, infantilizing and denn da man puts his peeeenis into da wumman’s va-jay-jay and denn da babby comes out* “education”.  We’re actually acknowledging that they have bodies and that doing certain things with their bodies feels good and that there’s a fuckload more to it that some disembodied cock in vag in a vacuum = babies.

Fuck me, so to speak, it’s almost like we’re acknowledging that puberty is a thing where, in general, hormones do shit and incite emotions and things get a bit confusing, and maybe we can help kids through that by being simply honest about the reality of sex.

[And just to restate the obvious, that bland, safe “sex education” that we’re apparently missing?  Doesn’t do sweet fuck all for trans kids, kids dealing with same-sex or bisexual attraction, etc etc.]

Elizabeth Binning was clearly in the “middle-class outrage stories” seat this week because yesterday the story was all about the tragedy of a father discovering his son had been taught about … the clitoris.  Why, the class went so far as to insinuate that playing with a person’s clitoris can be a fun thing for both parties! [Though as LadyNews points out, it’s not *all* good.]

The high point of that one is lumping together “learning that oral sex may not always lead to intercourse” (gasp, faint), “learning that anal sex is an option” (when we all know the anus only has nerves because God wants us to be reminded of our disgusting biology every type we poop) with this particular horror:

Students also lay on the floor together with their eyes shut imagining the world was predominantly gay.

Followed immediately by the sentence:

The father said his son was too young to be given such graphic sex education and had come home upset.

Yep, that’s graphic all right.  Challenging society’s rampant heteronormativity by getting the kids to visualise, probably for all of a minute, a world where the hets aren’t in charge.  Truly, that’s some scary stuff right there.

Cue the entirely-coincidental Kiwi Party press release:

“Do you want your 14 year old daughter or grand-daughter to be taught in our schools how to apply “yucky and sticky condoms to a black plastic penis?” asks outraged grandmother Simonne Dyer deputy leader of the Kiwi Party after reading the lead story in this morning’s Herald.

One merely raises a sardonic eyebrow at the specificity of the black “plastic penis” (normal people call them “dildos”).  And I’ve got to say, I share some of this outrage.  The boys can bloody well learn how to put on condoms too.

You can guess how it goes from there, permissive society, parents’ rights, yadda yadda.

But these are simply the facts:

Teenagers are going to fuck.

Teenagers who fuck have every right to be aware of their options to protect themselves from sexually transmitted disease including and unplanned pregnancy.

Teenagers who manage to get to the fucking stage without already having absorbed ideas about their bodies being disgusting and their pleasurable feelings being evil?  Deserve a pat on the fucking back along with their comprehensive sex education.

And when teenagers like the young woman in the first story are taught about the importance of consent, and then are “taken advantage of” by older men who presumably didn’t get that memo in high school, I don’t think it’s her attitude I’m going to have a fucking go at.

Oh, and “grubby dad”?  Your son thinks girls are “yuck”?  I can’t imagine where he picked up that attitude.**


*Simmer down, quiltbaggers, only heterosexual cisgender people have intercourse.

**QoT has no fucking time for the notion that boys and girls are naturally repellent to each other during puberty.

Homework:  consider the links between the idea that we should never discuss icky sex with our children, and the continual refrain of “save families from filthy prostitution” from the same wankstains.  Sex: to fundies, just acknowledging it happens a lot (or at all) makes you a big fat sinner.

Categories: culture wars, parenting

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17 replies

  1. By the time we got to the ‘fun stuff’ in Yr 10 lots of students had already done the practical…

  2. Frankly I would have been shocked, disturbed and upset to have received graphic sex ed at 14. But I don’t go around claiming the majority of kids are like I was. Even my sheltered self knew people in my year that had had sex, were even doing it regularly in the bathrooms at school. And I sure could have used some information on how to navigate consent and relationships.

    • Katherine, I’m sure that the “graphic sex ed” doesn’t just unexpectedly appear, as far as the students are concerned. I have absolutely no doubt that quite a lot of introductory information to ‘set the scene’ will have happened in the previous weeks/months of classes, which will have made seeing some more detailed illustrations/model demonstrations seem a relatively natural progression for the class.
      However, from the parent’s perspective, no doubt it seemed that “suddenly” their sprog’s class went from discussing things in books to passing around bananas and condoms. We need to always remember that the parents weren’t actually there, and also that the sort of parents who might get really agitated about this sort of education might also be the sort of parents who don’t necessarily actually listen carefully to what their kids are actually saying about what happened in class – they’re just getting the edited higlights second-hand, spotlighting the stand-out moments with their own hangups and then riding their “think of the children” hobbyhorse deep into the heart of Projection Town.

  3. Why do you have to go straight to the clitoris, boy? What’s wrong with starting with a nice kiss?

  4. Nothing about that sounds gratuitously graphic to me. I’ll be honest, I get a little unsettled thinking about my little girl (who is still only a tiny baby) learning all the details about sex. But I’m much more unsettled by the idea of her having an unplanned teen pregnancy, getting an STD, or being in an emotionally unhealthy relationship. I’m much more unsettled that she might think that anything about her body is disgusting or feel guilty about sexual thoughts.

  5. What appalls me is that, looking back, I feel pretty convinced that the word ‘consent’ never crossed the threshold of our sex education classes at school. Anything that includes that concept is a grand leap forward, as far as I’m concerned.

  6. I have a vague memory of some passing allusion to the idea of consent of the “no means no” variety. I don’t think I was paying much attention in sex ed classes, having long before helped myself to the books on the shelf in our lounge room, (the only title I remember being Everywoman) and being quite convinced that I knew it all already. As it happened I was right enough for the purposes of surviving my adolescence but I suspect that was more luck than anything else!
    It occurs to me that I have shown my daughter (13yrs) how condoms work, but not my son (14 yrs). I hope the school does fix that because I’m pretty bloody sure that if I tried to demonstrate to him he wouldn’t stop running till next week.

  7. @mimbles
    As all children learn in primary school – your parents has sex as many times as it took to have you and your siblings, then they worked out what caused it and stopped!

  8. @Katherine: I would also point out that a lot of people think just using technical scientific terms like “penis” and “vagina” and accompanying that language with technical anatomic drawings does = “graphic” to people.
    I seriously doubt classroom depictions of sex ever get even slightly close to the “graphic” nature of, say, Mills&Boon novels. But the kinds of people who like to pretend that if they never ever talk about it their children will never ever figure out that certain nerve-ending-rich parts of their bodies feel good when touched by themselves or a consenting partner aren’t using the same definition of “graphic” or “shocking” or “too adult” that others do.

  9. technical scientific terms like “penis” and “vagina”

    Grrrrr. Why is the vagina the only part of the vulva discussed? Is it left over cloacca concept or is it because penis goes in and heir comes out?

  10. @YetanotherMatt
    or sometimes ‘air’ with hilarious farting noises ensuing. Don’t remember that being discussed in sex ed either.
    Nor indeed the fact that there sometimes aren’t any penises involved or indeed any other person.

  11. @YetAnotherMatt and Mindy: I completely agree – and of course the straying from those traditional limited descriptions are one of the key things causing the moral outrage in this case.

  12. @QoT – the parent seems to be of the ‘lie back and think of England’ type to me or to use a slightly more up to date reference ‘brace yourself Effie’.

  13. I never quite ‘got’ why people got so upset over sex education in any type of context. But then again, I got the talk at 3 in an explination on why my Mommy had to have surgery to cut out uterine cancer and why Mommy might die. Surprised the heck out of her when I remembered well enough to explain to my baby brother several years later why he couldn’t have a younger sibling.
    It’s biology people. Why is this even an issue?

  14. @Kalica – possibly because despite all evidence to the contrary many people still believe that if you teach kids about sex they will rush out to try it for themselves.

  15. @Mindy: and don’t forget the corollary – if we never tell them about it they won’t figure it out for themselves. Because children = robots, apparently.

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