Other than attempting to put a condom on a banana, sex education at school was pretty non-existent.
Being a teenager feels like the hardest thing in the world. You’re growing body parts where you never had body parts before and you’re feeling all warm and tingly down below whenever you look at your crush. You have an urge to touch yourself, but you don’t know why and for some reason, you feel embarrassed and ashamed for these things.
When you finally find out what ‘sex’ is, the only things you’re taught are:
As we learn about sex, so much education and advice focuses on things like pregnancy, STIs, or what body part goes where and when.
This leads to a whole host of problems, from unsatisfying sex to inability to orgasm.
But sex isn’t about actions - it’s about sensation, and connection. It’s the exploration of sensuality, of love, lust, of things that make you feel good. It’s laughter, pleasure, play.
And it’s the most human thing we do.
You don’t need me to tell you that our sex education needs a serious overhaul, you already know that. But here are 10 things I wish we were taught about sex, sexuality and intimacy.
Hopefully anyone searching for similar enlightenment will read this and not feel so scared, or worried about their future sexual endeavours.
1. I wish I was taught what my clitoris was, and where I could find it
The female anatomy is somewhat an enigma when it comes to sex ed. We’re taught that a man’s penis becomes erect, and that means they’re ready for sex.
But what happens for women? We just lay back and think happy thoughts?
Unlike our male counterparts, we don’t have a natural signal to tell us when we’re feeling aroused, but that doesn’t change the fact we do feel these things.
I wish my sex education teacher taught me about the beauty and delicacy of my clitoris. I wish they told me how pleasurable sex and intimacy could be.
2. I wish I was taught the meaning of consent
It’s a sad reality that the majority of women reading this would have, at some point in their lives, felt sexual discomfort.
When we talk about consent, we mean informed, enthusiastic consent.
There is a huge lack of understanding about what consent means and how we should all practice enthusiastic consent. We’re taught that no means no, but what about if we change our mind halfway through, or we’re too embarrassed to say no?
I wish I were taught that it’s okay to say no. That my body is mine, and nobody has the right to touch it without my consent.
When we first start having sex, sometimes we feel pressured into doing things that we’d rather not. It’s important we’re taught to ignore societal ideologies like ‘you’re a prude if you don’t have sex’ or ‘you’re a tease if you don’t go all the way’.
That’s another point - it is absolutely your right to stop any sexual contact whenever you want.
Sex should never be something you endure.
3. I wish I was taught literally anything about LGBTQ+ sexuality
Even the existence of LGBTQ+ people at all.
Being a teenager is really hard. Being a teenager and feeling as though you’re different, or there’s something wrong, is even harder.
We need to give people context, and teach them that it’s not always boy meets girl.
It may be boy meets boy, girl meets girl. Or even better, X meet X.
4. I wish I was taught sex isn’t just penetrative
What about kissing, caressing, licking, nibbling, touching… usually, sex is defined as penis in vagina penetration, but there’s so much more than that.
Instead of talking about ‘sex’, let’s talk about ‘pleasure’. What makes us feel good? After all, that’s what sex is all about.
5. I wish I knew that pornography doesn’t represent real sex
I remember porn being so alien to me. Why don’t I look like that? Should I be making those noises? Should my sexual partner be doing that to my face?
There are so many misrepresentations of what makes sex ‘good’ in mainstream porn, which it gives us all an unrealistic idea of what we should enjoy.
It’s really important we teach people diversity and give them images of real people having real sex.
There are so many amazing, innovative, creative people out there making porn that doesn’t disrespect women or mistreat their actors. Porn that speaks about sex, passion, lust and pleasure, aimed to excite your mind and body simultaneously.
That’s the stuff we should be teaching in school.
6. I wish I was taught about safe sex, properly
There are so many different forms of contraception on the market, something I only learnt after years of sexual activity.
We were never taught that taking the pill may come with a list of side effects for women, or that you can catch an STI from performing oral sex without a condom.
For some reason, safe sex is often linked with unsexy sex. This needs to change. We should never be embarrassed, or feel ashamed for using or carrying condoms.
Even if you are using other contraception, but feel a little nervous and would rather use a condom for extra protection - do it!
There are so many great products in the market now, so if any man tells you it doesn’t feel as nice, or it’s desensitising, ignore and tell him to check out our friends HANX.
7. I wish I was taught that orgasm isn’t everything
Did you know that 80% of women find it almost impossible to orgasm through penetrative sex?
I remember the first person I ever had sex with being baffled by the fact I didn’t orgasm “but I always make a woman come!” well, not me.
We read so much about orgasms, that we fixate too much on reaching it. If we don’t climax, sex isn’t successful.
Let’s change that mentality. Pleasure encompasses more than just orgasm.
The ability to orgasm is all in your mind, so if you’re letting yourself worry about it, then it’s probably not going to happen.
Don’t let any sexual partner make you feel bad about your lack of orgasm. Every person is different.
8. I wish I knew fetishes are okay
Through sexual exploration, you may find out that you like being tied up, or spanked, or have a fascination with feet or role-play.
Our sex education should teach people that different sexual desires and tastes are normal, and encourage us to explore different sensations.
9. I wish I was taught our genitals are all normal
In our last blog we spoke about embracing your vulva, and enjoying oral sex.
Whether you’re male or female, try not to worry about the size and shape of your genitals because they are fine. Seriously, we’re all normal. No two penises or vulvae are the same.
I wish we were shown natural images of all different kinds of genitals so that we were able to love our bodies as they are, and not compare ourselves to the idealised images we see through mainstream porn.
10. I wish I was taught about safe sex toys
This is so critical. Naturally, we begin to experiment with masturbation from a young age.
That could mean using household objects to touch or insert. Objects that aren’t body-safe potentially covered in bacteria and harmful chemicals that shouldn’t be anywhere near our genitals.
This is very dangerous, and something that’s not discussed widely enough - educating children about safe sex toys and materials is absolutely essential.