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Redefining Sex Education

A new sex-ed site that's dealing with the realities of today

As someone who is supposed to be a leader in sex education, I’ve spent the past year wrestling with two questions and one very troubling fact:

THE FACT: We will never, ever be allowed to do realistic sex education in our schools. It’s not just the Evangelical uber-conservative parents who won’t allow it; it’s the moms and dads who should know better.

If you think I'm exaggerating, earlier this month, a militia of parents in northern Califorina forced the school board to refuse a book for sex education that included sexual pleasure.

In a nutshell: the average nine- to eleven-year-old boy is watching the most explicit hardcore porn in the history of mankind, and we can’t talk about sexual pleasure in middle school or high school. Which brings me to the two questions...

 --How do we deliver sex education to today’s teens and young adults on their turf and in ways they consume information?

--How do we make sex education effective for young adults whose main source of sex education is porn? Porn--where women are instantly pleased the moment a man whips out a gigantic penis; forget conversation, consent, foreplay, trust, and desire. And forget that he's taking enough Viagra to give every man in assisted living a week-long erection.

One of the problems with much of today's sex education is that it answers neither of these questions. For the better part, our sex education model remains stuck in the late '80s, where we started to equate sex education with teaching students to use condoms. Or it remains focused on long Q&A posts.

In the past twenty years, sex education has become about all of the horrible things that can go wrong when people have sex, from getting diseases and experiencing unwanted pregnancies to bullying and date rape. While these are an incredibly important part of sex education, they should never have become what defines sex education. Because when that's the only message about sex, it's no different from abstinence-only sex education. It's all about fear and shame.

But if you're looking for money to do sex education today, that's where you need to go, to the dark side of sex. There is no money for teaching about pleasure, women's orgasms, and the importance of learning to tell a partner what feels good and what doesn't. And what does it matter, because most middle-school and high-school teachers who talked about these things would be immediately fired. 

If we don't make pleausure the cornerstone of sex eduction, nobody is going to listen. Teens and young adults will turn to porn for sex education, which is what they've been doing and will continue to do unless we learn to do sex education differently.  

And that's what I've spent the last year trying to understand how to do. Here’s what I’ve come up with: MyBeautifulSexLife.com "for your daily dose of Sex Ed."

For someone who has written a 1,184 page book on sex, creating a site like this has required an entire retooling of the way I think. Forget paragraphs and pages. I now spend hours each day looking for the right image that I can use to create a simple, 30-word sex education post that can be reposted and reblogged.

Also, the old notion that you could have A website and do A post is long gone. As sex educators, our posts need to be image-based and rebloggable, and they need to be on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. And we need to learn how to do them in six and ten second videos for Vine and Snapchat.

If we believe that what we have to say is important, then we need to enter a very different world of sex education. 

 

Paul Joannides, Psy.D., is a research psychoanalyst, author of Guide To Getting It On, and a speaker on college campuses. more...

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