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Good Sex, Bad Sex Ed, and the Virgin Mary

It seems fitting to begin a sex advice blog just before Christmas.

See, I teach sex education to high school students. On my first day of class I pose a fairly standard question to my students: “Where do babies come from?” They blink back at me, unsure what sort of answer I’m looking for, so I finish the thought for them. “Sex,” I say. “Babies come from sex.”

One boy raises his hand. “What about the Virgin Mary?”

I scratch my head. I’m Jewish, so Mary and I don’t have much of a history. “Well,” I say finally, “I guess she skipped the fun part.”

High school students are generally startled when I say that I want to teach them how to have good sex. They’re under the impression that as a sex educator, my sole purpose is to convince them not to have sex or, failing that, to make sure that they use condoms. This makes sense to me. After all, the United States ranks #1 in teen pregnancies and STI transmission among developed countries, and 25 states currently require abstinence-based sex education. When we think “sex education,” we think of… well, this:

How many of us experienced this? So many of us!

That’s it, right? What more is there to learn? Isn’t sex just putting a pole in a hole?

Hah.

Sex can be fun (or not). Sex can be emotional (or not). Sex can be penetrative (or not). Sex can be whatever we want to make of it, but in order to make what we want of it, we have to actually know how bodies and relationships work, and that’s where most people come up short. Good sex ed goes far beyond learning how to put a condom onto a banana (or a matronly, wooden dildo). In order to have the kind of sex that we want to have, we need to know about bodies and how to use them. We need to know about communication. We need to know about boundaries and comfort and pleasure.

I’m unbelievably lucky to be able to spend my Fridays teaching a bunch of inquisitive, open-minded kids about this stuff, but what about adults? What about millennials (gasp! I said it. Can I monetize now??)? Most of us got little to no sex education, and what we did get was flat out crap. Queer kids got worse than crap. Sex ed wasn’t just useless, though–it was damaging. Most people I know continue to experience shame, insecurity, and crippling fear because of what they learned (or didn’t learn) as children and adolescents. Yes, they’re having sex now, but it’s not necessarily good sex, and when it is good sex, they’re not great at replicating the experience or talking about it. They are, in a word, uneducated.

This website is my attempt to make things better. No topic is off-limits. My promise to you, hypothetical reader, is that you can trust me. The things I post on this website will be well-researched, thoughtful, and non-judgmental. I can’t guarantee that everything I write will be useful to everyone who reads it, but maybe you’ll pick up some snazzy new knowledge along the way.

Stay cool, internet. Talk again soon.

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