Looking back on sex education classes, the main things I can remember are: a lot of laughing and blushing, being presented with a plastic penis and being told to put a condom on it, and that ultimately everyone’s lifelong sex education is supposed to result settling down and having children. There was no in-between.
I can’t be the only millennial to leave school with no real understanding of what a vagina even looks like and instilled with the Victorian idea that sex and everything surrounding it is embarrassing and should be only spoken about in between giggles. Sure, we had the basic birds and the bees but when it comes to the daily details of sex, masturbation, and relationships, we have to work it out for ourselves. So, here are ten things we wish we had been taught in sex education lessons.
Literally anything about female pleasure
Did anyone actually tell us where a clitoris was? Or what is what there for? Because I definitely do not remember that. Female pleasure (and pain) seems to be a hushed subject, but guess what? Women enjoy masturbation and sex just as much as men, and that matters! Popular culture has showed us how much men enjoy masturbating, and thus men don’t feel the same shame women do. Maybe if someone in authority has spelled it out to us, we would be sharing vibrator recommendations a lot more freely.
Masturbation is Normal
I left school feeling ashamed about masturbation. I did it but I would never dream of telling anyone out of fear that I would be called a sl*t. When in reality, most people do it and they bloody enjoy it! There could not be anything more normal that masturbating. Countless studies have shown that self-pleasure helps with everything from sleep quality and self-confidence to stress and even headaches. Masturbation is self-care and there is nothing more to be debated.
Periods are a kind of learn-as-you-go subject. Women who experience periods are thrown in at the deep end and you have to learn to swim on your own. To this day, I still run to the loo with a tampon shoved up my sleeve because of that internalised shame that periods are dirty and not a topic for discussion. And being honest, I know plenty of men who would have benefitted from learning about periods too.
Birth Control Options
Men wear condoms and women go on the pill. That’s a birth control lesson from circa 2009 summed up in a nutshell. While the pill is revolutionary and its introduction was a huge milestone in the women’s liberation movement, it isn’t for everyone. I used the pill for ten whole years and only at the ripe old age of 25 did I realised that it actually wasn’t working for me. If only we were taught about the 15 other methods…
I don’t think I’m the only person who learnt about ovulation and menstrual cycles through a period tracking app. Knowing when you’re ovulating, menstruating and all the days in between is essential to having a full understanding of your body, moods, cravings, and even if your discharge is normal or trying to tell you something. Knowledge is power and knowing why you’re breaking out during ovulation can help you predict when the glycolic acid needs to be deployed.
Vibrators Are Not Embarrassing
Say it loud and say it clear: there is no shame in using a vibrator or any kind of self-pleasure toy. There seems to be a persistent myth that men and women who own and use sex toys sit on the fringes of normality, when in reality, sales of vibrators have been on a steady rise and even spiked during the COVID-19 lockdown. Sexual wellness products are literally made to give pleasure, so why do we think that’s shameful? The answer is: they’re not and you can own, use, and rave about your favourite vibrator or butt plug all you want. It’s 2020, ya’ll.
I have no explanation why heterosexual sex and pleasure is taught at schools, but lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, and queer sex and pleasure isn’t. By not teaching it, we’re perpetuating the stigma that LBGTQ sex isn’t normal and that heterosexual pleasure is the only pleasure that matters. From talking to members of the LBGTQ community over the years, not teaching a class about every type of sex, relationship, sexual orientation, and pleasure only leads to the feeling of confusion and marginalisation.
Everyone Uses Lube
Self-pleasure is supposed to be exactly that, pleasurable. If you feel uncomfortable or uneasy, a good old helping of lube can help you on your way. Using lube can make penetration easier, more relaxed, and depending on your lube preference, a little tingly-ier. Lube isn’t a fetish item; lube is there to make your experience better and there is nothing embarrassing about needing or wanting it.
Your Sexuality Is Yours
Your sexuality is not there for other people. You are not a performer who needs to dance to the beat of society’s drum. Everyone is given their own desires, needs, and preferences, and they are yours and yours only. Self-pleasure and exploring sexual wellness can help you discover who you are and what you want.
Every Single Person Is Different
No two people have the same experience with sex and pleasure. Some people enjoy sex and masturbation more than others, and that’s ok. Some people feel pain and struggle with penetration, and it’s not their fault. Some people can climax through internal penetration but other need external stimulation. When it comes to sex and pleasure, there is no such thing as one size fits all.