By Tarushi Varma:
Disclaimer:Â I have intentionally used the spellings for ‘women’ as ‘womyn’. Being a firm believer in equality, I have shunned the word ‘woman’, which validates the theory of dependence of females on males.
So tell me, when was the last time you talked to your child or younger sibling about the ‘dangers’ of the world? About how boys are out to prey on innocent girls and how we all should protect ourselves from explicit images and R-rated films, and that one should change the channel when an intimate scene comes on TV? Or when was the last time they came to ask you an intimate question (in a hushed voice of course) about the other gender or a shameful topic such as sex?
Recently? Not in a while? Never?
If your answer is never, then congratulations, your very young relative has already taken the liberty of educating themselves off the internet, where Google is the god of answers.
Young minds today are very curious about everything around them. They are exposed to issues such as sex and sexuality through the media and the internet which makes them thirsty for more knowledge. And when answers are just a few clicks away, they do not hesitate to quench this thirst. Thus making them open to unadulterated and unregulated material, which might not always give them the best knowledge.
But all of us as adults have been through the same stage where curiosity takes the best of us. So then why do we still taboo sex and sexual orientation forever, forbidding our young to even speak about them? Why are we not accepting that these are upcoming issues and our children our utterly unprepared to deal with them. Is it not our incompetence that is making us unable to teach our kids the right things?
One way to do so is by introducing sex education in their daily lives, which means sensitizing them towards sexual equality, in a broader sense.
Sex education has always been looked down upon, and interestingly has been blamed for the blasphemous behaviour of the young around sexual relationships. In 2007, sex education had been banned in some Indian states including Gujarat and Maharashtra, after being accused of ‘corrupting’ the minds of our children. In a country like India, where the conservative values run deep, topic of sex and sexual orientation is considered disgraceful, let alone something that is easily up for a family discussions.
I remember my mom telling me when I was 13, “ sex and sexual activities harm us (womyn) only, men can still get on with their lives uninterrupted” meaning that if I ever had sex before marriage, it will be like committing a crime and where the boy will be shunned of any responsibility and everything will be my fault. So unintentionally my mom taught me that it’s always the girls’ responsibility, to protect herself from ‘bad influences’. My mother was simply teaching me what the society had taught her.
Sex education does not only involve the right ideals of having sex but also explains the areas of safety, sanitation, protection against diseases and birth control. It helps unhinge the idea of sex being a shameful act and help us produce individuals who have an open mind about different sexual orientation and who believe in equality and reject the biased opinions of the bygone age. So what if a person is homosexual or bisexual or heterosexual? A persons’ self worth is not defined by their choice of companions, but by their humanity.
We want to stop teaching our children that we are emotionally unviable and unapproachable in the times that they feel confused about themselves and others around them. We want them to know that they can always come up to us for answers and instead of other options like pornography and information over the internet.
And finally, in my opinion, it is time we gave sex education a chance, and by sex education I don’t mean the flimsy movies they show us in the school health class. We want the real deal, for boys and girls alike. We don’t want to deny our womyn a right to their bodies, and neither bereft our men from the knowledge of consent and mutual respect. We want to enlighten them, answer their questions and teach them the right things about sex and sexual equality for all.