Sex educators the world over have long had issues with the way schools present sex education to their students. While we get that it can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss, sex ed is a very important topic in schools. It can even save lives. Here’s our shortlist of the things we wish we’d learned back when we were in school.
1. Sex toys are a safe and acceptable way to experience sexuality.
All the time, we get calls from men and women who are very embarrassed to be speaking to someone who works for a sex toy store. As if toys aren’t a very important part of our daily lives. I mean, they pay my bills. But I still have 100% anonymous people tell me daily, “I don’t normally shop at places like this!” as though they think I’m going to judge them. Please!
No one can deny that there’s a stigma about buying sex toys. But masturbation–and using things besides our hands to do so– is a perfectly healthy expression of sexuality.
Whether you’re buying a pocket pussy or a dildo, an erection ring, or a butt plug, everyone is entitled to enjoy what they enjoy in their private life. But not talking about it can lead to misinformation which can be potentially dangerous, such as using toys with toxic materials, or using dangerous items that aren’t meant to be used as sex toys.
2. Lube is a glorious invention.
Apart from the KY Jelly commercials on TV when I was growing up, I’d never even really heard of lube until I became sexually active! And I’d thought it was only for women with moisture problems, which was not me. So when my partner pulled out some of Pjur’s Original Body Glide, I was a little confused and perhaps even insulted.
Of course, that reaction changed very quickly once I realized the importance of proper lubrication. Seriously, why wasn’t this stuff mentioned in sex ed? Not only is lube a lot of fun, it’s also an important facet of sexual safety. It’s a freaking necessity to prevent tears and tears (or tears and tears) during anal. Plus, some lubes even have antiseptic ingredients, which can kill viruses and potentially prevent the spread of STDs. Who knew?
3. Finding the right condom is like coming home.
Raise your hand if you don’t like condoms. Chances are that if you raised your hand, you haven’t found the right condom. Maybe you know about ribs and studs and flavors, but did you know that condoms come in different sizes? With different thicknesses and made of different materials? Not every condom is the same.
There’s a condom out there for you. And if you use a loathing of condoms as a reason to practice unsafe sexual habits, you probably haven’t tried enough of them to figure out which one is best for you. But that’s why we sell condom samplers, like our famous World’s Best Condom Tin. Try as many as you can, and take a little extra pleasure in knowing that you’re protecting your safety while exploring your pleasure.
4. Queer sex education is very important.
Like, was that even a topic for you in your sex ed class? It certainly wasn’t in mine. And when I started to question my sexuality, the omission of anything not heteronormative made me think what I was feeling was wrong, even though it wasn’t something that I could control.
Sex ed happens right around the time when kids are starting to figure out who they are, and it’s also the prime time for bullying those that don’t conform to the norm. Bringing up queer issues during sex ed will make kids realize their questions are a normal, healthy process of figuring out their identity, not something to be ashamed of.
And, of course, it will lead to queer kids making safer sexual choices for themselves, such as using condoms and dental dams, toy safety, getting tested for STDs, making safe dating choices, and even knowing if they’re asexual. Everyone deserves to feel safe and secure in their identity.
5. No always means no.
I remember hearing that no means no in my sex ed class. And that seemed pretty sufficient at the time. But when I started dating someone, I finally realized that such a lovely mantra isn’t just about penetration. What if you’ve said yes to sex before but don’t want to anymore? What if you’re in a long-term relationship? What if that person doesn’t want to wear a condom, or wants to engage in a kink that you feel uncomfortable with? All of those are acceptable reasons to say no, but we don’t really ever hear about them from those responsible for teaching us about safe sex.
6. The hymen myth– and why sex doesn’t have to hurt…
I’ve written about this extensively in my article Five Myths and Facts About Virginity, but everyone’s first time is different, especially for those born with vaginas. There’s certain prevailing myths in our culture that can be particularly harmful for people of all genders.
There’s long been issues with anatomy facts in American sex ed and we get it. It can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss with giggling school kids. But that’s why we have sex ed– because it removes discomfort by making these topics open for discussion.
7. …but sometimes it’s nice when it does.
Kinks are a part of sexuality and for many, a very important part. It’s not something we should feel ashamed of, so long as all parties are consenting and we’re in a safe environment. With the recent resurgence of BDSM in popular culture, we wouldn’t be surprised to hear more mentions of kink lifestyles in sex ed, but we won’t hold our breath for pegging tutorials. Just a simple mention of the wide variety of ways consenting adults can express themselves to the people they’re in a sexual relationship with would be enough.