Somebody think of the children!

In the most hilarious press release I’ve seen in a very long time, the Kiwi Party’s resident grandmother says the magic words:

“black plastic penis”

I’ll get the smelling salts.

Oops, wrong penis.

“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…

I would be complaining too — if the condoms are sticky, you’re doing it wrong.

It’s in response to a couple of newspaper articles about parents being outraged that their children were learning about their anatomy. Apparently, the would be a better place if we pretended that the clitoris didn’t exist.

All this seems to float around women — girls shouldn’t be learning how to put on a condom (and therefore be able to protect themselves against STIs and unwanted pregnancy) and boys shouldn’t be learning how to give pleasure to a woman during sex. Words like ‘yucky’ and ‘grubby’ are thrown about to shame women’s bodies and sexuality.

Something else jumped out at me in one of those articles:

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

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

Um…. You want to know what’s graphic about gay people? The same things that are graphic about straight people. I get fucking sick of people who wail and claim that homosexuality is not an appropriate topic for children and is all about graphic sex. We’re fucking human beings, how about you treat us as such. We’re not untouchables, we’re not undesirables. We’re people. Please respect that. Saying “some men love other men, and some women love other women” is not a dirty topic, only to be discussed when you’re 21 and only in hushed tones lest you get any impure ideas — it’s a fucking fact of nature, no different than grass being green and the sun being a giant ball of plasma. Queer people exist. Get over it! And teaching children that discrimination exists, and getting them to recognise and acknowledge it, is an essential part of living in a society.

This lets me segue into my own complaint about sex ed in this country:

When I was at school, the most we got in terms of queer content was “gay people exist,” and then the teacher failed to censure the kid at the back who started spouting homophobic abuse. There was a group, independent of the school (I can’t remember who they were, but they apparently travelled the country teaching the social side of sex ed), who did a slightly better job. I say ‘slightly’ — they expanded it to “gays exist, and don’t be a dick to them” and also the magical parable that ended with “don’t assume women are lesbians just because they wear purple overalls and have shaved their heads — they may be employed as a painter and have cancer, so now who feels bad, hmmmmmm?

Closer to now, I have friends who, thanks to their seriously lacking sex ed, for years thought AIDS created when you had gay sex. Let me repeat that: The teaching they received in sex ed at high school led them to believe that AIDS was a direct result of a man having sex with another man. Their sex lives, and therefore their relationships, were terrible.

I’m not in school anymore (haven’t been for a while) so I don’t know what they’ve got at the moment, but I do understand that it’s still largely hetero. Queer Avengers Wellington are launching a “Queer Our Schools” campaign soon that will seek to improve the situation for young queer people. Included in this they’ll lobby for queer content to be taught in all relevant subjects. This is an absolutely fantastic thing, and I wish I could be up in Wellington for the launch, but alas, I am down here.

We’ve all got to learn how to have sex safely. This includes teaching children about their anatomy, and the anatomy of the people they’re having sex with. If they learn how to actually pleasure each other, then the sexual relationships they form will be healthier and more mutual. If they learn that queer sexualities and identities aren’t things to be afraid of, or disgusted by, then we’ll all be able to live our lives better.

The concessions that have to be made are not ones that the traditionalists should be proud of clinging on to — we should take pride in casting them aside as an outdated quirk of a paranoid past.

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2 thoughts on “Somebody think of the children!

  1. What an epic post! Although I don’t really see schools as having such a direct impact on pupils sexual views – what with the internet and such- I liked your take. After reading it I was amazed that I didn’t think of the condom and female orgasm thing as neccessarily androcentric when I first read it – maybe because both those things are important to me but I never learnt them at school (although the condom thing was due to my poor attendance). Not that i’m suggesting that schools don’t have an important role

    • Thanks. The trouble with the internet is that there’s no way that someone who’s learning can discern from good and bad information, and sex on the internet is typically more geared to titillation than education (I now really want to make an educational porn site). We have much better quality control with schools than we can ever hope to have with the internet.

      Because kids are going to have sex regardless of how ‘innocent’ their parents believe they are, schools should be including every detail of how to do it safely and to make it as mutual as possible — teach the boys that sex isn’t something you do to a girl, rather something you both share in. They should also be teaching how to have anal sex (another complaint in those newspaper articles) etc. properly, not just because there are gay kids in the class, but also because straight people do it too, and you can cause some damage if you do it wrong.

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