I have been thinking about how I want to talk to my sons about sex ed. Specifically, about women. I want them to understand rape, but I want them to understand sex done right as well.
Maybe sex education is not so much ways of doing and more ways of seeing. What education do you need to see Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings as sexual? Should I start by showing my sons how Charles Petillon can make his famous balloon fracas look sporty or sexy.
While I was trying to reconcile the idea of unschooling and sex ed, I found a really innovative, Mad Libs sort of exercise about sex on Carol Black’s website. She brings up the point that you can exchange “sex” and “learning” in many, many sentences and largely retain meaning, because sex to an unschooler is just like anything else: something to learn about when it feels right and something to grow with as you dig deeper.
Here are ways to think about sex ed outside of curricula and in the hearts and minds of curious kids.
The genesis of the fertility fog is that parents give up sex ed to the schools, and the schools, being the political tools that they are, have a fertility curriculum that is based on blocking it. You find plenty of “Abstinence” (of course). Or a pill, a shot, a condom, or all of those—use anything. Just don’t get pregnant.
Part of fertility is infertility, but schools don’t cover that. One in five kids will experience infertility, and as far as they know, they are largely alone.
Holistic fertility health is becoming more popular with young women, but they are not getting their information from schools or parents or even their doctor. They’re getting it online. This is a huge missed opportunity for conversation and open communication. Girls don’t want to be on the pill; and it negatively affects their ability to choose a mate.
But another problem is that girls are unsure about what’s expected of them, and what they are “supposed” to be doing. In an article titled When Did Porn Become Sex Ed? Peggy Orenstein writes:
What’s missing here is the discussions about ethics, respect, decision making, sensuality, reciprocity, relationship building, the ability to assert desires and set limits — remain rare. And while we are more often telling children that both parties must agree unequivocally to a sexual encounter, we still tend to avoid the biggest taboo of all: women’s capacity for and entitlement to sexual pleasure.
The new sex ed for girls should be reciprocity. And really, it should be the new sex ed for boys, as well.
When you dismiss fertility as a school concept you convey that it’s not important. But fertility is the biggest factor limiting a woman’s career. Women are equal to men in the workforce (if not superior for many, many roles). But for most women, their career ends (or at least tops out) when they have kids.
Amy Klein writes a fertility column for the New York Times, and she documents (among other things) the incredible fertility delusions of smart, educated, grown women.
So for women it’s a mad dash to launch and grow a career before it’s time to have kids—which is at age 30. Fertility education is essential to women so they can plan their lives. If women want to freeze their eggs, they need to do it in their early 20s. And even then the odds of those eggs working are slim. Most women don’t know that 25% of women have miscarriages. That needs to be part of your planning as well. Girls need to know that early on. Their fertility planning starts as soon as their career planning starts.
The success of feminism is that women have more choices than ever before. But the choices are meaningless if we don’t have knowledge to make tough choices for ourselves. Fertility, more than than anything else, limits choices in adult life. What we do with those limitations determines how free we’ll feel.