Sunday, January 20, 2008

So I'm having trouble with this...

Okay, so between two and three men AND women out of ten still can't locate the clitoris with both hands, a flashlight and a road map. WTF? And funny, but it's three in ten women who can't locate it and 2.5 men who can't. But the numbers flip and get worse for questions like "[Is] the clitoris ...directly stimulated by (penis-vagina) intercourse [?]"
It would appear that the educational strides made in the seventies and eighties are being rolled (slowly!) back in the nineties and noughts. This information is available, but just having it available doesn't seem to be getting through to three in ten people. Yes, the talk is difficult to have with your kids--that's why publicly-funded sex education works. Professionals aren't as awkward or embarrassed to have The Talk. It becomes just another math lesson.
I remember attending the sex-ed talk at my elementary school with my Dad. We sat there, not talking, while an educator ran through the basics on sex at the front of the gym (lot of parents/kids there that night). The most memorable image was of the man picking up his suit coat from the back of his chair and saying that "the man's penis slips into the woman's vagina like my arm slips into the sleeve of my jacket." 38 years later, that image is as fresh as the day I heard it. A week or so later, I came home from school to find a paperback sitting on my desk--Answers to Teen's Questions about Sex or some damn thing. I read it cover to cover a couple of times (I was a reader after all). So when I saw the "split beaver" shots a friend had sneaked out of his Dad's collection, there wasn't the overwhelming sense of mystery that there might otherwise have been. More like "Oh, so that's what it looks like."
This sort of thing works. Teen pregnancy goes down, sexual health goes up, and with a little work, people talk about things like "where's the clit anyway?" and "you know, that's really not working for me". I love/hate reading about the studies that show time and again that "abstinence only" sex-ed increases the numbers of teens indulging in oral sex (usually female on male) and anal sex, because neither of those violates the basic premise of preserving virginity. Is that really what you want to have happen? I really want to smack some of these parents upside the head and say "sure you have the right to teach your kid about sex--but if you're going to do it, make sure you do it well! Dumb-ass! Otherwise you're making problems for all of our kids!"
In a world of AIDS and with the increasing failure rate of antibiotics, proper sex education is essential for public health. Better training for teachers so they can communicate better with our kids is the only sensible thing to do. Yes, parents need to talk about it, but they need solid, clear education from professionals to back them up and to fill in the blanks they inadvertently leave. More and better sex education is one of the best things we as a society, a community, can do for our children.

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