Sex Education Should Empower Girls To Feel Confident And Knowledgeable About Their Own Sexuality & Bodies
I remember the day I attended my first sex education class. This part of the curriculum was an exciting and mysterious prospect to my class of seventeen girls and thirteen boys. After we took our seats and signed up for registration our two teachers (male and female) separated the class. The boys went with [Mr. Swan] and we girls stayed with [Mrs. Pelican]. From that moment on, it was no longer a fun and exciting prospect to us but instead, it felt like one big secret. At eleven years old, all seventeen of us girls sat in silence as [Mrs. Pelican] went through the PowerPoint, explaining the transition that we were about to go through, the transition from girl to woman. This involved elaborate diagrams of the menstrual cycle and the process of puberty; how our hips would widen and our breasts would grow.
Lastly, we were taught about sexual intercourse between males and females, which without protection would lead to the creation of a child or an STD (sexually transmitted disease). After an hour and a half of hearing [Mrs. Pelican] talk, she ended the presentation with “Girls listen to me, whatever you do, do not have sex until you are ready, you will remember losing your virginity for the rest of your life.” After the class, I remember asking a friend of mine – who was a boy – what they were taught in their sex education class and he simply answered, “We got taught how to not get an STD and how not to get a girl pregnant but all you really need is a condom then you’re good to go.” At that moment, I realized that they separated us for a reason. The girls and boys were separated because we were being taught two completely different things.
The girls were being taught that sex was about losing something. Our virginity was something that was either lost or taken away…and if we were to give it away, we were to do so at our own risk. Our own sexuality was never something to claim for ourselves but it was about somebody else. Whilst the boys were taught rightfully so, to practice safely. The girls were taught to wrap a blanket of security over any mention of our own sexuality. The dynamic between us seventeen girls and thirteen boys was never the same again.
In the simplest way, a young girl can see her mother hiss her teeth in disgust when a girl wearing a short skirt walks by. She can be scolded when she is caught scratching her genitals without thinking about it. That scolding teaches the young girl to feel ashamed about her own body. Though we are encouraged to express ourselves and reach for the stars in education and talent…when it comes to our bodies and our inherent sexuality, we are taught to be ashamed. At the tender age of nine, which marks the beginning of puberty, older women howl ‘Close your legs. Cover yourself’ It is instilled in our heads that just by being a girl, just by having assets that would be considered alluring to the opposite sex, we are already guilty of something.
Though female sexual disempowerment may not be intentional, though people may not be trying to make girls feel inferior but instead trying to protect them from threats such as; rapists and pedophiles. As sexuality is learned through a particular cultural lens that shapes our upbringing. Most cultures teach a very narrow version of what is appropriate regarding the sexuality of women and girls. Everything that could be considered wrong is then subject to judgment, which then leads to the disempowerment of girls sexuality at a young age. They grow up into women who are afraid of their own bodies, threatened by their own sexuality and wait for it be validated elsewhere.
As we self-isolate in the first year of the decade, maybe it’s time to think about how we can change our education system at school and at home when it comes to all talk about S.E.X.
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