Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sexual Edumacation

Couple demonstrating "sexual gateway activity"
Breaking news from my time machine that travels back to one week ago...

Reports Jezebel:  
Yesterday, the Ohio House Finance Committee's Republican members voted to adopt a state budget amendment that mandates an abstinence-only approach to sexual education....The idiotic measure will "prohibit the teaching of sexual education coursework that endorses non-abstinence as an acceptable behavior or promotes sexual gateway activity." "Sexual Gateway Activity" — what's that?: 

ORC 2907.01(B) “Sexual contact” means any touching of an erogenous zone of another, including without limitation the thigh, genitals, buttock, pubic region, or, if the person is a female, a breast, for the purpose of sexually arousing or gratifying either person.

In addition, teachers can't distribute contraceptives at school, because nothing keeps a teen not pregnant more than not giving them condoms.

So I want to be all mad about this, but not only am I far too aroused by the erotic writing of ORC 2907.01(B) to think straight, but the part of my brain that gets mad at people for being stupid does not want to become engaged with this.  Especially the thought that spawns of these Ohioans, made sexually ignorant by their mandated sex-free sex ed, will predictably--yawn--fuck incorrectly and poorly, but not poorly enough to prevent unwanted pregnancy, thus producing even more of their kind. And so on and so on.

Nope, I'm gonna look the other way today. To good things happening in sex education, which I would define as sex ed that provides, you know, education. (This does not include my own 1970's sex ed in Georgia which was taught by the gym teacher and involved lots of talk of vas deferens. I learned nothing about real sex. The whole good part--attraction, arousal, or hell, even a basic how-to--was dismissed with a vague reference to "the sperm meeting the egg.")

So, yes, good sex ed, like:

1.  The adult sex ed classes offered in San Francisco by They feature real life people demonstrating real life sex, orgasms and whatnot for the class.  

Writes Tracy Clark-Flory in My X-Rated Sex Ed Class:

It isn’t just a live sex show, though. Before any pants were removed, [instructor Madison] Young passed around a diagram of the g-spot, reviewed the anatomy, dispelled myths about female ejaculation and goaded the audience members into talking about how they liked to be touched. Then she whipped out a speculum and brought her model Ava, or “stunt pussy,” up to the front of the room. In went the clear plastic device and then Ava began to stimulate herself with a Hitachi Magic Wand in an attempt at making her g-spot swell and become more visible.

.....My mind was blown by this sex-ed class even before the squirting began — but that was plenty mind-blowing on its own. Ava got up on the table in front of the class, spread her legs and began stimulating herself with a Hitachi and a stainless steel g-spot stimulator. Young explained what we were about to see: “It’s the release of all the juicy fluid that’s building up in the para-urethral sponge … and then it pushes forth through the urethra.” Young answered audience questions over the buzzing of the toy and Ava’s growing moans. And then there was a sudden burst of clear ejaculate that splattered inches from my feet.

After a vigorous demonstration of hand techniques on a melon, Clark-Flory leaves not only with an unsettling image of Gallagher, but the realization that there is still so much to learn about our bodies.

...Even having grown up in hippie-dippie Berkeley, Calif., having attended a feminist-minded women’s college, having read about hand-mirror-toting consciousness raising circles, having ended up reporting on sex for a living, I had never clearly seen what the vaginal walls actually look like — at least not outside of an illustrated diagram. I tell you, it was a revelation: I wanted to hightail it to the nearest Good Vibrations and buy my very own speculum — and one for each of my ladyparts-having friends. It made me angry that all those times I’ve had a gynecologist uncomfortably perched between my legs, they’ve never offered to hold up a mirror.

2. Meanwhile, the French, who continue to do, well, life, better than the rest of us, offer their postpartum women free classes in la rééducation périnéale, or reeducating the listless post-baby pelvic floor muscles so that they can actually work again. The classes include biofeedback and a coach to help teach proper Kegel techniques.

Writes Claire Lundberg in  The French Government Wants to Tone My Vagina:

Despite the occasional embarrassment, these sessions actually work. There haven’t been extensive studies done, but what studies exist show that la rééducation significantly reduces incontinence and pelvic pain at nine months after giving birth. Frankly, I’m happy there’s a medical professional paying attention to what happened down there. Rééducation périnéale gets scoffed at in American and Canadian publications as one of the most lurid examples of the indulgent French welfare state, but as far as I can tell, we do exactly nothing in the United States to help women get back into shape after giving birth.

An American woman gets her six-week postpartum checkup and, if nothing is seriously wrong, she’s cleared to have sex again and sent on her way. If she’s lucky, the doctor or midwife reminds her to do her Kegel exercises, but without much guidance. Meanwhile, at least in the experience of many of my friends, she may still be experiencing a variety of symptoms that, while not medically serious, sure are annoying, embarrassing, and strange, and not at all conducive to reinvigorating her sex life. Elective “vaginal rejuvenation” through plastic surgery is on the rise in the U.S., though this surgical reconstruction is largely aesthetic and pays little or no attention to returning sensation or control to the woman. Americans’ lack of attention to the female body after giving birth is our own version of the modesty gown or the word vajayjay; we’re covering our eyes and pretending there’s nothing there to see, until it can no longer be ignored.

So yeah, there is good stuff happening. Just not right now, or last week for that matter, in Ohio.


(photo via Lady Cheeky)


Unknown said...

Anybody who thinks complete abstinence when you're a teen, or even an adult is possible is fooling themselves on their own feelings. Sex feels good and people like to feel good, so let's give teens the tools they need to be safe and not have children before their ready to raise them to be productive adults.

It amazes me that a country as advanced as the United States can still be sucked into this stupid thinking.

Jill Hamilton said...

Vanessa. Agreed!

And I forgot to thank reader Lukman for sending me the article on the adult sex Ed. Huzzah!

Sir Thomas said...

"Rééducation périnéale gets scoffed at in American and Canadian publications as one of the most lurid examples of the indulgent French welfare state, but as far as I can tell, we do exactly nothing in the United States to help women get back into shape after giving birth."

Then we men wonder why our post-childbirth wives aren't interested in sex!

in bed with married women said...

Sir Thomas, yes. i like that the french are making it important and helping facilitate the whole thing.

Cagey-C said...

Without at all arguing with the premise that comprehensive sex education is an absolute social good and a necessity, I do want to quibble with the idea that abstinence is not possible. I was abstinent until I was 23 (unless you count my own hands as sex partners). I think that the best school-based sex ed will give students the background, information, and perspective that they'll need in order to make informed choices for themselves. And while it may be true for only a minority, abstinence will be one of those choices, and is no less valid or healthy than safe, consensual, non-exploitive sex. I'd hate to have those kids who don't want to be sexually active, for whatever reason, jumping into decisions they don't feel prepared for because they've internalized the message that they are abnormal.

in bed with married women said...

ah dear cagey, i don't think the abstinence part was the problem, it's the abstinence ONLY. which you obviously get so i will just aside here and let you make your point.

Cagey-C said...

Oh, I understand. I was pushing back just a little at the first comment here that suggested abstinence is not possible. I am in total agreement with the need for comprehensive sex ed--was just suggesting that "comprehensive" ought to embrace all well-informed and thoughtful options.

Kelly said...

I seriously hate my home state sometimes.

My parents and uncle were all raised in Ohio on the abstinence-only dogma/general culture of silence around sex. They had kids out of wedlock anyway. It didn't work in the eighties, and it DOESN'T WORK NOW.

JackJuste said...

The problem with "abstinence as an option" sex-ed, at least as far as I've experienced it with my own Offspring, is that it typically turns into abstinence only, the "as option" is a gateway method to circumvent actual sexual education. I'm still shocked that parents had to give permission to allow their students to attend one film, advocating abstinence as the "only option", as the district's version of "sex ed." Back in the late '70's-early '80's sex ed mentioned abstinence in passing. The reality was most kids were normal human adolescents experiencing sexual relationships. That sex-ed program was taken seriously and was relevant to our lives.