The Vagenda

Is This the Worst Sex ‘Education’ Leaflet You’ve Ever Seen?

Because it is for us! [click to enlarge]
Vagenda reader Lucy writes: 
‘I was brought up in a Christian family and would have been less surprised if something like this had been given to me in church, but it was actually given to me at the GP, when I went for my tetanus booster at 15 (I’m now 21). As I remember, it was part of a ‘teenage girls’ pack, nestled in amongst other more useful literature about puberty, the importance of checking your boobs regularly, etc. What worries me most is that at the time, having been brought up to believe that sex before marriage was wrong, I actually thought it too was giving perfectly normal and reasonable advice. It’s only now, having been away from home at university for a few years, being able to think and read more freely and having exposure to all kinds of people and opinions, that I realise how awful it is.’

She continues: ‘Of course, I respect anyone’s decisions and beliefs about sex; in fact, I personally still want to wait until marriage (but for personal reasons rather than ‘anyone who doesn’t is a sinner’ reasons). I am even glad in a way that I was able to know that not having sex was an acceptable option from the beginning. But what I am not ok with is presenting it as the ONLY ‘right’ option, and in an advice leaflet that pretends to be factual, objective and positive! It makes me really angry that something so one-sided and shaming was thought of as ok for a GP to give to impressionable young girls. It’s taken me a long time to break free from the prescriptive ideology and morals my parents instilled in me (and they weren’t even particularly pushy), to realise that it’s ok to have my own thoughts and opinions and make my own decisions. What teenagers need is to be given is a) objective facts, b) the awareness that there are a lot of different opinions surrounding issues like this and c) the knowledge that you are free to make up your own mind. Instead, the fact that leaflets like these are produced and given to teenage girls (or were being 6ish years ago) really worries me. And not only is it pushing the idea of no sex before marriage (and presenting statistics in a very biased way to ‘prove’ that premarital sex is a bad idea), but also reinforcing misogynistic crap like sex being about your partner’s enjoyment and women who get pregnant (or even have sex) as a teenager being shameful and having nothing ‘to offer a fella’.

8 thoughts on “Is This the Worst Sex ‘Education’ Leaflet You’ve Ever Seen?

  1. I always find the “before marriage” stuff incredibly frustrating. I’m in a committed relationship and we both want to spend the rest of our lives together, but I have no intention of getting married (to paraphrase somebody wittier than me, whose name I can’t remember “when two people love each other very much, why wouldn’t you get the government involved?”). Surely the important thing is that we trust and respect each other. The first time I had sex was with somebody that I wasn’t dating, but we both trusted and respected each other and I have absolutely no regrets. We both knew what we were doing, we used protection, we both had a good time.

    I’m also really shocked to read that this was found at a GP. Taking personal/religious beliefs out of the picture, abstinence has time and time again been proven ineffective as a form of protection. I’d have hoped to see a little more science at the doctors….

  2. I am also shocked that this was being handed out by a GP. The local NHS Trust (or whatever they’ve reorganised the NHS into now) should be informed about this, because it is not acceptable. If my little sister had come home with something like this, I’d have been furious.

    Actually, the more I consider this the angrier I get, so I think I’d better leave it there…

  3. To be fair, abstinence is actually incredibly affective as a form of protection. What ISN’T effective is not informing teens about all the ways they can protect themselves should they choose not to practice abstinence, as if hiding condoms from them will keep them all from doing it.

  4. Wow- this was in a GP surgery- I am truly horrified. this is social judgement not sex ed…. Positive Parenting- Gosport- Hmm, off to do some research. Luckily mine are too old for this – but other girls might just get affected by it.