New Comic! *** This comic discusses sex education. It includes general and detailed nudity/anatomy, and should probably be considered NSFW.
Alright, so this happened, for like 2 metres. It’s almost universally acknowledged that the sexual education we received from any administration was incomplete, incorrect, and/or harmful. I think when you look at the physical artifacts of that education, a lot of the problems can be examined.
Representation and language are important, though when we talk about these things we are often accused of ‘making a big deal’ out of something that is ‘only’ a picture or a word. But these things hold power, and it is unacceptable to employ them without careful consideration to the implicit messages they convey.
So many of these books make assumptions about who we are, who we will fuck, whether we will choose to have sex – they almost always represent their subjects as white, cis, hetero, with socially ‘typical’ bodies, neat and tidy and labelled. I’m not even asking that one source represent the vast array of people it is attempting to address, but even a fucking footnote here or there would be a big improvement.
I believe that it is possible to convey the important information about bodies and sex that people should know while maintaining and respecting their autonomy. The medium is the message, and a language medium of absolutes and declarations about sex, sexuality, gender, and bodies, reenforces a message of control and power.
I’m not claiming that information using contraception, avoiding infections, and being self-aware about one’s sexual needs (or lack thereof) are not important messages. My concern is the absolutist language around this information, because these things are choices, and they must be communicated as choices. Responsible sex/body education involves educating people about their options so they have the ability to choose what is right for them.
ALSO: this comic specifically deals with harmful education resources aimed at women (such resources incorrectly assuming people with vaginas==women). I don’t have a lot of personal experience around education towards men/people with penises, though I would argue that many of the same issues of representation and choice remain.
As an anecdote towards that, though, I asked MZ what kinds of messages/language he recalled from his grade school sex education, and he told me that the boys were separated from the girls, taken to a different room, and taught about football statistics. He learned about condoms/safer sex from MTV. So that’s a depressing datapoint.