Why we should stop using condoms on bananas... And scientists advocate for a new, pleasure focused, sexual education

Photo by Charles Deluvio

Sex education in secondary school is often mainly about reproduction. It’s not rarely that young children cringe while their biology teacher, slightly clumsily, tries to put a condom over a banana. Recent research has shown that a different approach to sex education, which focuses more on pleasure, has many benefits and would even increase condom use among young people. After all, sex is supposed to be pleasurable, so why isn’t this the case in your average biology textbook?

What is the blog about?
  • Young people in the Netherlands are dissatisfied with the sex education they receive
  • Although sexual education is mainly focused on reproduction, 99% of the time people have sex for pleasure, not to produce children
  • Effective education requires a new focus: pro-pleasure

Sex is not just reproduction

The idea that sex is only for reproduction is outdated. Example given: the average heterosexual person is, roughly speaking, sexually active between the age of 20 and 80. Suppose that this person has an average of 100 times unprotected penetration sex per year. That's about 6,000 times sex in a lifetime. On average, it takes 60 sexual attempts to produce two children. A simple calculation (60: 6000) shows that sex for producing children fulfills no
less than 1% of all practiced sex. This leaves about 99% for sex that has no function other than pleasure. It's interesting that people have so much sex for their own pleasure - and maybe that of their partner’s - but biology class seems to focus only on sperms, eggs in the womb and fetal development.
Nobody is ever too young for sexual education.

Opponents state that starting sex education too early would encourage children to have sex at a young age. However, the opposite appears to be true: it’s never too early to start with sexual education, as long as it is tailored to the age of the child. It even has a very positive effect on their sexual development and resistance to unwanted sexual activities. “You actually teach them not to get in trouble, sexually,” says sexologist Ellen Laan.

Sexual equality must become the norm.

Where 90% of men orgasm from penetration sex, this percentage is 30% for women. Sex education focused on pleasure thus contributes to sexual equality, because there’s more room for other forms of sex than just penetration. Pupils themselves also indicated that the information provided in sexual education doesn’t cover enough subjects and should be given more frequently. As a result, they only rate their sex education with a 5.8.

 More pleasure, more safe choices.

 Sex education with a focus on pleasure, according to sexologists, contributes to the sexual autonomy of young people. For example, research shows that young people who evaluate their sex education positively and have a positive attitude towards sexuality are more likely to use condoms. After the #Metoo and Black lives matter-movement, it can be stated that a lot of social discussions have been sparked in the field of feminism, emancipation and inclusivity, but the development of sexual education seems to remain behind when it comes to modernizing sex education. In contrast, there are more and more forms of sex education that try to approach sex from a pleasurable side. "The sex sisters" try to make sex more discussable via Youtube, #kutvoorlichting tries to provide information in a pleasant way and sexologist Goedele Liekens makes Youtube videos to provide sexual education in an accessible way.

A new approach is needed.

Sexual approach with a pro-pleasure focus is badly needed. This to offer young people the tools to develop their sexuality in a pleasant way, to make sex education less heterogeneous and cis-normative and to encourage young people to practice safe sex. While there are already many movements that take a pro-pleasure approach to sex education, there is still a long way to go. For example, opponents state that young people are too young for sex education or the urgency of learning about pleasure or pleasure is not recognized. Studies show that the focus on pleasure in sex education has positive effects in many different areas, even resulting in more safe sex for young people. In conclusion, comprehensive and pleasurable sex education is essential for anyone who is, has been, or is going to be sexually active.

Want to know more? This article is based on:

  • #Kutvoorlichting – Youtube serie
  • Sekszusjes TV – Youtube serie
  • Sex by Numbers, David Spiegelhalter
  • Seks! Een leven lang leren, Rik van Lunsen en Ellen Laan
  • Ik & Seks, Belle Barbé
  • BBC News: Many parents 'oppose school sex education for children', 5 mei 2011
  • De Volkskrant: Met seksuele voorlichting kun je niet vroeg genoeg beginnen, 15 maart 2016
  • Seks onder je 25e, gepubliceerd door seksueel kenniscentrum Rutgers en Soa Aids Nederland