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A fancy queer femme interested in pop culture past and present.

When I was in high school, they showed us a slideshow of various sexually transmitted infections. All of the pictures were outrageously gruesome and their sole purpose was to scare us out of having sex. Everything was red and swollen and dripping and crusted and ew—because sex is dirty and if you have sex you’ll be dirty, kids! There was one in particular they called “Barnacle Bill.” It was a penis covered in warts—warts upon warts upon warts until it didn’t look like a penis anymore. Poor Bill was nothing but barnacles. We laughed but we also cringed. “Now who in this class thinks it’s a good idea to have sex?” The other day at work, I was leafing through a dermatology textbook. Right there, somewhere in “Infections and Infestations,” was old Barnacle Bill! It was the very same picture. Except this time, it had a caption. Human papillomavirus in an immunosuppressed patient. Patient suffered from dementia and was unaware of the progress of the infection. Oh. That changes the moral of the story a bit, doesn’t it? It’s no longer a matter of “this is what sluts look like under their slutty pants!” It’s more like “sometimes life is cruel for no good reason.” Sometimes life is cruel for no good reason, and then after you’re (probably) dead someone uses the most embarrassing picture imaginable of your body to lie to schoolkids and make them associate pleasure with filth. I’m sorry, Barnacle Bill.

The Pervocracy (via clitorisesandsnorlaxes)

This is why it takes every bone in my body to restrain myself when other youth-serving professionals tell me “You should show the kids pictures of STI’s that will scare them.” Sex education is not fear mongering medical extremes, it is about information and risk reduction. When a teacher shows youth pictures such as “Barnacle Bill” the images subtly imply that all STI’s disfigure a persons genitals. The pictures then perpetuate falsehood because many STIs have few if no symptoms and are unnoticeable to the naked eye.

In addition to the original author’s apology to “Barnacle Bill” I want to say sorry to anyone who had to undergo the shocking picture method of sexual health education. You deserved better from the adults around you, and they failed. I hope you take it (or took it) upon yourself to get reliable and sex positive information from people you love and trust.

When we tell girls that sex is something people do when they love each other, it sets them up to believe that sex is sacrificial. So when Jassie falls in love with Bobby, and Bobby pushes for intercourse, she’s conditioned to focus on “giving it up” for him rather than on thinking about what feels good for her. The more she’s taught that her pleasure matters, the less likely she’ll be coerced into going farther than her body is ready to go. “It’s supposed to feel good,” she may remember, “and right now, being rushed and pawed doesn’t feel good. So I want to stop.” Centering pleasure gives young women a power that centering love doesn’t.

I do not necessarily disagree with this point, I just want to add my two cents and encourage some refinement. A quality sexual health educator will present information that is gender neutral, is free from heteronormative bias, and is filled with medically accurate information. Pleasure is important to mention, but it is still problematic as a focus.

Humans process pleasure in a myriad of ways. One individual might gain emotional pleasure from a sexual interaction. Conversely another person might enjoy sexual pleasure but feel emotionally unsure about the sexual event. This can be confusing, and leave a person to wonder if these feelings are normal, because it is still pleasure.   

Even in some instances coercive sex can feel pleasurable. An individual who derived some pleasure from coercive sex could use the fact some pleasure was derived as a way to invalidate the coercive nature of the event/events.   

Sexual health education is very complicated and touches on behaviors, social norms, attitudes, individual desires, cultural background, and person’s psychosocial development. Because sexual health education is just that, education, learning styles and learning theories are also important. No one item should be a focus; neither love nor pleasure should be the end all. Everyone’s sexual history, sexual desires, future and sex looks different.

It is more important that the American education system gives the time and space to allow sexual health educators to teach comprehensive sexual health that focuses on individual choices and desires (pleasure and love being a part of that), risk behaviors, risk reduction, exploration of healthy relationships alongside medical facts.  

An ideal sexual educator will provide all this information in a space free from judgment where all youth feel they can ask questions about their bodies, sexual feelings or thoughts, and romantic relationship while feeling respected and honored.

(Source: goforthandagitate)