A Comfortable Education: Passivity and “the Birds and the Bees”

I think I’ve been thinking too much about this rape culture issue that swirls around my social media and lately has been targeted by the newly released nail polish that detects the date rape drug when painted on nails. It is rather sad to think that we must create a defense team against rape, instead of say do what Kelly Oxford (who gets bashed daily for her voicing these opinions) advises we just “teach boys not to rape,” as a solution. It is a simple and smart solution indeed, why is there no sex ed about rape in middle school? Maybe there is where you went to school but we just learned how to deal with puberty and how to put on a condom, there wasn’t much about what happens after sex or abuse. That being said I was in the public school system nearly a decade ago learning all of these things.

I think what bothers me the most is that talking about it has become so taboo. I can’t talk about masturbation to my girlfriends without someone cringing, let alone openly talking about feminism or rape culture with people close to me. Yes, there are some who feel comfortable enough to talk openly about anything really, but the majority of people in my life avoid the topic or flat-out ignore me when I bring up the topic of this nature. How can we sit around and watch the VMA’s where Nicki Minaj can sing a euphemistic Anaconda song about penises and we can talk about how big Kim Kardashian’s bum is but the moment we talk about real things that happen to real people surrounding sex people literally cringe?

I have come to think this way because of my fortunate humanities education in a liberal university academic setting with talented and smart and eloquent professors who spoke freely and strongly about the issues that mattered most to them and ultimately me. I was able to be in open seminars about religion, sexuality and racism. I was able to be in classrooms full of smart, outspoken peers who felt comfortable to also share their thoughts. This began when I was eighteen, and that in my opinion is far too late.

My teenage years were wrought by relationships with boys, girlfriends, exploring and experiencing sex, misunderstanding feminism and finally in my final years of high school being introduced to confidence and feminism by a wonderful teacher (who I remain friends with today). I just feel like so many things are “Taboo” when we are younger that we cannot accurately learn. Young people should be able to ask questions and get accurate answers that are appropriate for their understanding of the world around them. I find it hard to believe that without those caring and supportive seminars during my undergrad if I would have come to such an open minded place, and that scares me.

Yes, teach young boys not to rape, but teach them what rape means, what saying yes and no means, and teach it to girls too. Teach them about sexuality, and hardships, and do not scare them away from sexuality or other massive topics that can be overwhelming when you are oung. I understand that the fear of overwhelming children is the reason that we don’t dump the world’s worries down on them at once, but I believe that having a comfortable and informative environment to learn about the world around you is essential to being able to have a critical thinking mind.

Xx Jess


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