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No Sex Please, We’re British

Photo by: Wikicommons

Are the British inherently prudish as a nation?

It is one of our most natural human desires. It is the reason we are on this earth; to reproduce. So why is there so much shame involved with sex? For centuries we’ve managed to build a great barrier of shame and taboo around sex and the body. But as British we are far too proper and polite to address such a primitive act as sex. Attitudes such as these can do varying amounts of damage to our society. It is only now that we have really begun to address these issues.

Our collective ability to talk openly and honestly about sex is vitally important for our sexual health. If sex wasn’t such a taboo subject we would feel more confident in our sexual life. Sex involves how we view our body and how we can connect on an intimate level with another human being. It also could be viewed as a life or death situation, as unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases unfortunately happen. Thankfully in this country we have sex education. Compared to our friends across the pond, abstinence is taught in 26 states, the other 37 states also include abstinence along with actual sexual education. Unsurprisingly teenage pregnancies are highest in the states that only teach abstinence. But Britain is still not quite there when it comes to an open minded approach to sex.

The Netherlands is a prime example. The Dutch are amongst the most open-minded societies when it comes to sex; prostitution is legal, it was the first country to legalise gay marriage (same-sex civil unions legalised in 1998 and gay marriage in 2001) and they have a comprehensive sex education programme. Even though their legal age of consent is 14, the United Nations reported that teen birth rates were 4.4 to every 1,000 in 2012. In Britain our birth rate stood at 19.75 per 1,000. Britain is improving though, as the rates have dropped by 25% during the last decade but we are still ahead of the EU average of 12.6.

So where’s it going wrong? We have all the public policies in place; freely available sex education, state funded sex clinics and legal abortions. But our attitudes to teaching and discussing sex are letting us down.

Sex education in schools put the emphasis on approaching the topic from a biological point of view, making the process seem almost clinical. The Sexual Education Forum stated that including information on ‘consent and relationships’ would help young people to feel ‘safer and healthier’ According to The Times, ‘government guidelines to schools on sex education have not been updated for 15 years’ which is ridiculous. In the wake of the Internet almost everything has changed in the last 15 years. Which brings us to our main sexual educator; pornography.

We are the first generation to experience this, in this new age of the Internet. I’m not completely against pornography, but there is so little out there that is accurate. The majority of porn revolves around the man’s pleasure (men being porn’s main target audience) and often portrays women in a submissive and derogatory fashion. About a third of British teenage boys admit to watching porn on a regular basis. And that’s only the ones who admit to it. Comparing porn from the 80’s to today, porn has seemed to have become more violent, rapid and less affectionate. This exposure of women being constantly sexually available is damaging for both women and men. For a vast majority of young adults today porn is their main source of sex education. The Internet introduced me to what a blowjob was at the tender age of 10, it’s safe to say I was very confused and disgusted.

As we cannot control the Internet or what young people can view, Britain needs to reform sex education. It’s important to discuss sex and sexual experiences with your friends and possibly your family. As soon as we can normalize our natural urge for sex, the happier and healthier we will be.

If you would like more attainable advice and information on sex education and cultural issues, check out the YouTuber Laci Green. She’s a babe.

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