Reckoning on gender differences in sex education
Anna* is 23, a healthy, vivacious, intelligent and confident law student.
She has been told by her GP that she is probably infertile.
This is no longer unusual.
Our girls have benefited from some sex education at school, perhaps some at home and much of it from pornography either from direct consumption or vicariously through their sexual partners.
The harsh reality is that when girls have multiple sexual partners, they are more psychologically vulnerable than boys. Girls are educated to understand the risk of pregnancy, however are often not fully informed of the consequences to their health of birth control options and abortion. Girls are educated to believe sexually transmitted infections are treatable but the possible implication of these infections on their future fertility is not explored. Girls need to learn to dissociate sexual compliance from popularity.
Boys equally need to be educated to make informed choices about engaging in sexual activities in order to protect themselves and their partners from infections and unwanted pregnancies. Whatever their sexual orientation, boys need to base their actions on values and ethics that respect their sexual partners. Boys need to protect themselves and their partners from adverse fertility outcomes, while understanding that their sexual choices do impact on their own fertility too.
The future of sex education may be teaching in different components. A first component could incorporate the current research about anatomy (yes that means including the clitoris) and reproductive biology from puberty to menopause – not as pathology but as facts. Another component could be education surrounding hygiene and self-care.