Should we be talking about Pleasure in schools?
The current Relationships and Sex Education provision in most schools teaches about puberty and body changes. Often, boys and girls are separated into classrooms for a gender specific talk. The boys learn about wet dreams and condoms, the girls learn about periods and having children. This is all important information young people need to know. Yet, right from the first lesson, the conversation about sex with boys includes pleasure but for the conversation with girls, pleasure is left out. Things need to change.
Pleasure is an important part of the conversation about consent.
We want our young people to hold high expectations for themselves in terms of their relationships, sex and their safety. The lack of teaching about pleasure when it comes to sex, sends the message that this is not vital for all genders. This is being internalised that it’s not therefore important for, especially young girls, to have an enjoyable intimate experience.
This links directly to consent because if both parties are having a good time, if both parties involved are consenting, feeling happy and safe, issues are much less likely to occur.
We must teach our young girls to use their agency in demanding that this is an enjoyable, pleasurable and consensual experience for both. Leaving pleasure out of this conversation for young women, whilst reinforcing this message to boys, helps to perpetuate a double standard that we see in today’s society. Furthermore, talking about masturbation with boys and yet not mentioning this with girls, reinforces the message that it’s ok for boys to explore their bodies alone but not girls.
We need to be sending the message to our young people that it’s not shameful to explore your body.
Watch our trailer to hear more about what young people have to say about sex and pleasure.
As you hear from the video, Steph talks about how it’s important for people to move away from this double standard between men and women surrounding sex. Young people need to be taught that sex should be enjoyable and not painful, unfortunately this is not the case. The rise in pornography and often violent sex, can mean that what boys and girls think is the norm, is actually painful and not enjoyable for either person. We need to show our young people a different narrative than the one they are potentially seeing by watching pornography, one in which consenting and enjoyable intimate experiences happen.
Gender stereotypes and sex
In this video, Jonti talks about how sex for men is not viewed as a special or vulnerable thing but for most men, it is. He mentions that pornography has altered our way of thinking about sex as something that happens to women rather than a shared experience, creating something together.
Teachers - feel free to use this video to help to bring discussion to your classroom, do you agree or disagree with Jonti?
Where do these stereotypes come from?
WATCH Sex for Men
Finally, there are lots of ways to bring in the conversation of pleasure to the classroom. Many schools teach in science about the anatomy of the vulva and penis. This is a great way to bring in conversations around pleasure linked to the clitoris. Unfortunately, in many cases, young girls are learning about the clitoris only in the context of FGM (female genital mutilation). We need to normalise these conversations and bring this into our science lessons too.
How do I talk about pleasure with my class?
Introduce it first when talking about body parts- when teaching about the penis and vulva, you can explicitly mention pleasure whilst talking in a scientific way
Using debate and discussion- Life Lessons resources like the video above explicitly talk about pleasure- you can use these videos in your lessons to get discussions going such as why is there a double standard between boys and girls? How do we change this? Think about how to break down these stereotypes further.
Talk about pleasure explicitly through discussing with your class, why do people have sex?
Ensure that both boys and girls are hearing the experiences of the other so that they can develop a deeper understanding for what others are going through.
Ensure your PSHE is LGBT+ inclusive by including people who are part of the LGBT+ community in your lessons and presentations.
Allowing space for pupil voice to engage in these discussions, having a balanced discussion.
Get in touch with Life Lessons for more videos, resources or advice on your RSE provision by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.