#Sexual Health

Consent, Intimacy and Pleasure Are We Talking About These In Sex Ed Classes?

Sex Ed Classes, sore after sex, artificial intimacy, sex botss, painful sex
Sex Ed Classes: Are we talking about the right things?

Most of you might agree that the title here is an oxymoron. Yas, gurl! I only learnt about what pleasure means in its truest sense, some five years back, at age 25.

Let’s rewind a little, the first time I heard the word ‘sex’ was in the so-called “Sex Ed” sesh at school.  But we were never taught anything about consent. That word didn’t exist in my vocabulary till a few years ago.

A little girl in her hot pink daisy duck dress, I went up to mom and asked her “sex toh mujhe pata hai, but yeh ‘safe’ kya hota hai?!” (“I know what sex is, but what is safe?”) She was flabbergasted back then and didn’t answer. And I am guessing a couple of years from now (when I’m 30), she would want a grandchild too, although she never taught me how to make one. So the joke is on me.

But I remember Sex Ed in school being restricted to “that’s how you make babies or use protection to not get preggers”—we weren’t taught how to make a banana wear a condom either (which was as good as skipping biology chapters).

Till about age 23, I had no idea about the female anatomy or how it functions. Like a lot of us, I would confuse the vagina with the vulva. It never occurred to me to explore my body in its bare-est form.

If at a young age we hear things like “hawww”, “shame shame” (when naked), how can we look at naked bodies positively? There’s so much shame associated with it which gets deeply ingrained in our minds.

Even while some parents teach their kids about “good touch” and “bad touch”, most of them don’t explicitly talk about what consent means and how to establish it (in the bedroom too). Hence, many young people end up being in abusive relationships in their initial years.

We are exposed to two ends of the spectrum in and around home: One is where all hell breaks loose when a kissing scene comes on TV, you see mom or dad frantically searching for the TV remote to change the channel (and now finding refuge in their smartphone screens). Most parents assume that their kids are smart enough to learn it all from the internet. And on the other end in media and popular culture, we see women’s bodies being sexualised. In most mainstream porn, we see perfect naked bodies of women—white women, perky boobs, no hair. At least that’s what I saw. Depiction of sex was restricted to women doing what the man asked, pleasing the man until he cums triumphantly, while the woman is far away from her destination.

In most mainstream porn, we see perfect naked bodies of women—white women, perky boobs, no hair. At least that’s what I saw.

Keeping the extremities in mind and the lack of knowledge we have around the subject(s), how can we navigate sex, intimacy and pleasure, if we weren’t taught the ABC of it in our formative years?

I do wonder how I would’ve felt about my body and sexuality if sex wasn’t hush hush, if it was spoken about in a more positive light, if the right information was given to us, and not just right, but real too. Not just the science-textbook stuff, but the more human stuff, like intimacy, emotions, how it really feels, consent, why it’s important, communication in relationships and more.

Would I then be more open to communicating about it, or feel empowered and less scared to experiment with my sexuality?

The first time I ‘felt good’ down there, I didn’t even know there was a term for that. And the first time before having sex, I believed that it’s supposed to be really painful. (Obviously, I didn’t know enough about the magical powers of lube then). My knowledge and experiences were based on what I had heard from my friends, I didn’t realise that no two sexual experiences are the same.

And not just sex, why aren’t we taught about gender and diversity in school or at home? Why is everything restricted to the binary? Why is it assumed that everyone is a cisgender male/female who eventually gets into a heterosexual relationship? What about all the experiences people have outside of heteronormativity? What happened to those? And on the other hand, are our teachers well trained in the subject? Are they getting sex ed classes too? Or do schools care if teachers are sensitive to all genders, sexualities and people?

My knowledge and experiences were based on what I had heard from my friends, I didn’t realise that no two sexual experiences are the same.

There needs to be thought and care put into Sex ed, it can’t just be something you ‘have to’ teach children. How can it be a safe and inclusive space to teach children about real human experiences that could be of value as they grow up?

And in order to teach children, we as adults have to be open to learning from the right sources.

In a country like India where parents raise children as ‘know-it-alls’ and people cringe at the thought of counselling or parenting classes, we’ve got a long way to go.

Sachee is an entrepreneur running a female focused sexual and menstrual wellness enterprise called That Sassy Thing. The views expressed are the author’s own.