By Jogya Chakravorty:
Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) has evolved from sex education to sexuality education, and finally into its present form. Like we have said before, CSE covers a vast array of issues and topics concerning sexual and reproductive health.
Across the world, however, there is a considerable push to limit the scope of CSE and omit certain ‘controversial’ issues. The problem is, different countries find different topics controversial – some consider abortion contentious, while others have a problem with the word ‘sex’ itself! This selective acceptance of sexuality education must be resisted since it is these uncomfortable, debatable and differentially-interpreted topics that most adversely affect our sexual and reproductive lives and health.
With this in mind, we put together a helpful glossary of terms that must be a part of any sexuality education curriculum for it to be comprehensive.
Our biology textbooks tell us that there are only two sets of sexual and reproductive organs – male and female. Everything that does not fit into these categories is treated as ‘abnormal’. But these organs are often more complex than we acknowledge them to be. Our reproductive organs and their various parts have a variety of sizes, shapes and combinations.
One way by which we can break the strong link between ‘variation’ and ‘abnormality’ is by removing the categories of ‘male’ and ‘female’ altogether, when defining reproductive organs. So without further ado, here is that list:
The process of the development of these sexual and reproductive organs is called puberty, which usually marks the onset of adolescence. This period of physical, psychological and social change and development continues till the onset of adulthood.
‘Sex’ refers to two things:
1. The activities we engage in (either alone or with other people) for sexual pleasure (and occasionally reproduction), like these –
In any discussion about sex, consent has to take the centre-stage! Simply put, giving consent means to actively, enthusiastically, and explicitly agree to something with full understanding of the situation and without pressure of any kind.
But ‘sex’ also refers to:
2. The physiological and chromosomal makeup of a person at birth that results in categories being assigned to them:
Gender is a social construct that consists of specific traits, roles and expectations that society attaches to males and females. There are two distinct prototypes that defines ‘men’ and ‘women’ and what their lives and behaviour should ideally be like.
But these prototypes perfectly fit only a small percentage of people. Most of us are a combination of both. Thus, it makes sense to see gender as a ‘fluid spectrum’ (instead of just one or the other), where several different experiences, identities and expressions exist and are accepted.
The constant interaction between how society sees you, how you experience yourself in relation to society and how you choose to define yourself make up your gender. This is not fixed and can change multiple times over the course of your lifetime, depending on what identity you are comfortable aligning yourself with. There are more identities that we can define – but here are some of them:
Trans identities can be independent of one’s anatomical/physiological sex. It is also separate from one’s sexual orientation and identity, which is understood from our experience of sexual, romantic attraction and towards whom we direct these feelings.
Like gender, sexual orientations are fluid, can change over time, and have many different labels, some of which are:
The word ‘queer’ also falls within this category and in the gender spectrum. While it was initially used as a pejorative term for homosexual individuals, it has since been reclaimed by many people as a term that’s broader and more ambiguous in its scope than LGBTQI+ labels.
Sexuality encompasses everything we’ve talked about so far. As a concept, it is one that’s constantly evolving and changing. Sexuality can be experienced and expressed in thoughts, desires, values, behaviours, roles and relationships. It is also influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political and cultural factors.
The YP Foundation’s KYBKYR (2.0) campaign is a continuation of the Know Your Body, Know Your Rights campaign that we ran in 2010–2011. KYBKYR 2.o focuses on increasing awareness on the need for young people to have access to SRHR information that is fact-checked, evidence based, and sex-positive. The campaign provides resources that assist young people to advocate for access to comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) with the decision-makers and authority figures in their lives, including family members, teachers, and administrators in educational institutions. The campaign also reaches out to these individuals directly to support young people’s demand for access to CSE.
This post was originally published on www.theypfoundation.org.
The author is a third year undergraduate at Jesus & Mary College, and is a TYPF Fellow 2016-17.
Featured image used for representative purposes only.