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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Is there anything in school's sex education about consent?

9 replies

babylann · 15/06/2011 13:42

It's only been since meeting me that DP has ever really considered these things.

When the Hollyoaks Jacqui McQueen rape trial was taking place, it was like he suddenly had a revelation about how serious it is to make 100% sure sex is consensual, and he reads MN a lot and has strayed into Feminism/women's rights and also Relationships, where he's really begun to question himself.

It upset him, he'd reference times where he's woken me up stroking me sexually, asking me whether that was "rape" and I didn't know how to answer him really and I guess that's upset me too - we are both fine with it, and it's not exclusive to him, sometimes I do it too - but am I just contributing to the problem in courts at the moment where men can get away with it if they claim he might have thought she wanted it? "Because she was asleep, and his ex-girlfriend used to love being woken up to oral sex."

I think it's great that DP has started considering these issues very seriously. He never thought about it before because he never needed to, the idea was foreign to him. He didn't realise rape was more than just a man jumps out of bush scenario and that, at least where the law is concerned, the lines can be very blurred. But it seems like this life lesson would have been much more appropriate when he was first learning about sex.

We're only in our early 20s, so we were at school less than a decade ago and as far as I remember, consent was never discussed in our sex education classes. Once or twice we were told we couldn't consent because we were under 16, and people would get arrested if they had sex with us, even if they were also under 16. Has it changed since then?

If not, seems like that would probably be a good idea.

OP posts:
PurpleStrawberry · 15/06/2011 13:55

According to the DfE website, the whole National Curriculum is being looked at at the moment, and on Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) it says...

^Ministers will be announcing their proposals on the curriculum as a whole, later this year. But whatever the future position and status of SRE, Ministers have been clear that they want SRE delivery to have a much stronger focus on relationships.

They know that parents are concerned about the way in which the media and commercial sector can sexualise girls at an early age and about the worrying levels of violence in teenage relationships. They have made a specific commitment to ensure all young people are taught about sexual consent.^

I don't like this Government very much at all, but if they do follow through on this commitment, it will be at least one good thing.

Taken from this link:

DontCallMePeanut · 15/06/2011 14:01

Sadly, I don't remember consent being covered heavily when I was at school, 10 years ago. I'd hope that by the time DS starts sex education, with regards to sexual relationships, they cover it a lot better.

upahill · 15/06/2011 14:14

I'm not sure if it does.
My son is in Y10 so I will ask him when he comes home tonight.
I know we have discussed it in depth with him but I can't remember what they covered in school.

DaisyHayes · 15/06/2011 14:20

As a teacher (in a secondary comprehensive) I can tell you that consent is not touched on at all. At least not in any of the schools I've worked in, and not in any of the schools my friends work in either.

anastaisia · 15/06/2011 14:24

I follow some sex-educators (is there a better description?) and people who devise teaching schemes on twitter. Just out of interest really.

It's certainly something that those people talk about lots and teach. But there's no statutory guidance yet, (though obviously there are proposals on it as the post above shows) on what exactly needs to be covered in school based sex education - and as far as I can tell there is an issue with many places not offering good PSHE education.

It worries me though when governments use phrases like 'ensure all young people are...' That's not a realistic, measurable target. The government can't do it and they can't measure it. What they can and should do is 'ensure there is state provision with the capacity to teach all young people about sexual consent if they are pupils in the state system or are enrolled in programs to teach this by parents outside of the state school system. Or something along those lines.

DontCallMePeanut · 15/06/2011 14:24

Daisy, that's disgusting. It really is...

I would rather DS came home saying he knew the difference between consent at age 8 than for them to never cover it.

Rosemallow · 15/06/2011 14:30

I used to teach sex ed in a special school for teenage girls who were at very high risk of being exploited/exploiting others (in care, expelled, social services involvement) and we absolutely DID talk about consent. We also talked about healthy and abusive relationships. It was an independent school though so I got to choose the topics we covered.
I actually remember it being touched on when I was at school (all girls) but wonder whether boys' schools would be as likely to address it.

sunshineandbooks · 15/06/2011 14:41

I am Shock at the fact there is no statutory requirement to talk about consent, though I have long suspected that even if there was it wasn't covered in anywhere enough detail.

Given the other thread on rape in this section (take responsibility for what you wear) and some of the comments aired on that, I think it is vital.

I think the way to really get it taken on board is to aim it at young men, rather than young women (not least because it is men who carry out the act of rape). At the moment it all seems focused on making females responsible. They are taught about contraception as if pregnancy or STIs are the only negative outcome (both of which affect women more than men, incidentally. Pregnancy for obvious reasons and STIs because some are harder to transmit female-to-male than the other way round and also because women's fertility can be affected). I feel that the this is missing the point. Unless contraception is accompanied by a discussion about consent, it actually makes it easier for a male to coerce a female into sex, and rape (and by this I include coerced sex) can be more damaging long term to a woman than anything.

babylann · 15/06/2011 16:36

It would make it a lot easier to penalise rapists if the excuse "I thought she wanted it..." wasn't acceptable in court. It seems to me that the best way to combat that in particular would be to guarantee that all children are given thorough information about consent so they have to take responsibility. Hopefully your son will be able to shed more light when he comes home upahill.

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