While Michael Gove would rather not see, hear or speak about sex education, young people are getting theirs online!

It seems everybody is wanting real sex! So ahead of the Education Secretary’s party conference speech, myself and two other campaigners dressed as the ‘three wise Michaels’ to campaign for better sex education. 

Porn, Porn Porn, Porn, Porn! It’s not mentioned in sex education yet it is absolutely everywhere. Does the mere mention of the word make your brain – if it were hooked up to a neurologists scanner – light up like Blackpool illuminations on acid? I’m guessing it doesn’t.

Even repeated five times it is extremely unlikely. The word alone doesn’t even prompt the flicker of a fading fairy light’s worth of activity in most people’s brains. Subject as we are to sexualized images on a daily basis, it is not surprising that our brains are becoming desensitised to things that not only were once seen as shocking, but were actually completely unknown!

 

Our brains are becoming desensitised to things that not only were once seen as shocking, but were actually completely unknown!

 

And I am far from prudish. As last night’s ‘Porn On The Brain’ proved, most young people know all that there is to know about porn content and terminology, discussing terms I genuinely had never heard of at that age, or in fact before watching the programme. And if you, or any kids nearby, fancy finding out more you only need head to 4oD, ignore the warning and click accept. Then you can ogle at the type of images that were the extent of my teenage access to porn, and hear presenter and ex-Loaded editor Martin Daubney detail much, much worse.

Part of Chanel 4’s ‘Campaign For Real Sex’, ‘Porn On The Brain’ explores the dark side of something that is accessible to most kids with a smart phone. In fact you only need to know someone who has online access and you’re entering into a world of, as Daubney puts it, “Male dominance and female humiliation.” Having decided to look into the matter now that he has a son, it seems the millions of daughters who have been affected by his casual normalization of sexualized female images are of secondary importance.

The personal role he has played in such a consensus it seems is lost on him. Being a supporter of  No More Page 3 from day one – page 3 being an early contributor towards the drip drip of casual misogyny ­– it still surprises me how many people do not see the direct link between tits in papers, ‘lads mags’ in supermarkets, and extreme, seriously-scary-shit online porn!

 

It still surprises me how many people do not see the direct link between tits in papers, ‘lads mags’ in supermarkets, and extreme, seriously-scary-shit online porn!

 

Yet porn, as with most other subjects that actually relate to the sex we have, is not a part of sex education taught in schools. This is why another campaign, lead by the Telegraph Wonder Women, is trying for better sex education in schools. The online campaign, fronted by 17-year-old student Yas Necati, is urging David Cameron to bring sex and relationships education into the 21st century, yet his education secretary Michael Gove, does not want to listen.

And this is why on Tuesday I dressed up as a monkey, alongside Yas Necati, and campaigner Jody Appleton, to demonstrate outside the entrance of the Conservative Party conference in Manchester. Gove is positively against sex education reform and responded that “the right thing to do is to trust teachers”. Yet with a sex and relationship guidelines that were last updated in 2000, what exactly does he expect teachers to be able to do.

Guest tweeting for The Women’s Room last Friday morning, I asked their online twitter community “What do you think should be discussed in sex education in school”. Immediately issues such as porn, sexuality, consent, pressure/shame and even, Gove forbid it, enjoyment, were raised as being key to basic sex education. The importance for these to be taught in a none cissexist or heternormative way was apparent and a strong need to explore these things collectively, not gender separate, in order to openly and healthily understand each other as people.

 

Issues such as porn, sexuality, consent, pressure/shame and even, Gove forbid it, enjoyment, were raised as being key to basic sex education

 

Really interesting points were raised such as “students should be taught that consent isn’t the absence of no, but the presence of yes”, and “Pressure/shame, girls shamed when they do have sex, boys shamed when they don’t” highlight the need to discuss a lot more than the biology of sex. This would not only require reforms in what is taught, but substantial training of teachers who are required to teach it. And while Michael Gove would rather not see, hear or speak of the issue, the three wise monkeys outside the conference today discovered a different feeling amongst most Tories we spoke to.

Rather than strong opposition, many agreed with the demonstration and voiced openly their distain for Gove. Others however did not agree with us; “I completely agree with Michael Gove on this I’m afraid” was one of the more cut-and-dry responses, another more vague said “I agree with SOME sex education, up to a point, and from a VERY suitable age”.

It is possible by such an ‘appropriate’ age many young people will have seen: “a women lying in a public park, there’s a man in a gimp mask, he’s fisting her, there’s another man, he’s pissing all over her face”, as was described by Daubney, in the first ‘Porn On The Brain’ episode; something he had reached within a few clicks of the online porn world. They will have needed to know the meaning of consent and will know more than most the real sense of pressure and shame that is their experience of sex. Unlike 4oD, online porn rarely comes with a warning & accept process, neither do most kids in school who happen to have it on their phone in class. And seeing as though you only need to know someone with online access, all the parental controls in the world can do is struggle to keep up.

 

Today i’m listening to: Elbow (because I got tickets for their Manchester show this morning) :O)

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 As always my picture upload has nothing to do with the article. This is an image from Terike Haapoja who exhibited in the Nordic Pavilion in this year’s Beinnale in Venice. I was lucky enough to visit in summer & adored this entire show.

About annelouisekershaw365

I’m Anne Louise Kershaw a freelance writer. I’m Music Editor of Blankpages and Manchester's Finest. I write, design & edit for Carel Press an educational publishers. I usually have my fingers dipped in several creative pies. I’m a feminist, occasional poet, enthusiastic taker of pictures and constant tea drinker and artist. I love music, dancing, running, mountain biking, going off in my campervan, dressing up in a totally over the top fashion and making myself dizzy. Often, all at the same time! If you know of anything interesting going on in the world of music, fashion, gender, equality or film get in touch. I can be emailed at anne.kershaw@ntlworld.com and am @Anne_L_Kershaw on twitter.
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2 Responses to While Michael Gove would rather not see, hear or speak about sex education, young people are getting theirs online!

  1. Yes, Re: sex education. As a mother of two young girls I would like them to grow up in a world where women are respected not humiliated. Admire your gumption and get up and go. Susan

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