Words to Live By: What is Feminist Sex Education?

Although I don’t identify as a feminist, I do describe myself as dedicated to fair and just treatment of all people, which includes working to end gender-based discrimination. One of the ways that this informs my work as a sex educator is that I advocate for accurate information that reflects the diversity of gender and recognizes that everyone should have the right to do what they want with their bodies, as long as it doesn’t cause harm to other people. Given the ways that this right is taken away from people based on their gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, social class, physical ability, etc., the links between sex-positivity and social justice seem pretty clear to me.

The amazing Heather Corinna of scarleteen.com has written another amazing post in which she describes what feminist sex education is. Here are a few snippets:

Feminist sex education:

• Emphasizes — for all sexes and genders, not just one or two — autonomy, personal responsibility, full and active consent, sexuality in the holistic context of a whole, well-rounded life and healthy, equitable relationships self-esteem, nonsubordination and nonviolence, safety, health , happiness and pleasure and very real equality in sexuality, in which equal voice and accord are given to and issues from any and all partners in sexual partnerships and sexual activity.

• Understands and presents sexual activity, with or without partners, as a choice, not a requirement nor an obligation. Encourages consent as active, not passive: not as a not-no or compliance, but as a complete, informed and enthusiastic yes, and encourages open, honest communication in all sexual activities and with all sexual partners.

• Does not treat gender or sex as binary, and acknowledges gender as constructed, not essential, biological or assigned.

• Presents partnered sex broadly, acknowledging the wide array of sexual activities which may be “real” partnered sex, not merely heterosexual intercourse. Presents female sexual anatomy more broadly than as to pertain only to heterosexual intercourse or reproduction.

There’s a lot more food for thought there and I highly recommend taking a look at it. And when you see the seemingly never-ending battles over what feminist sex education or a sex education of liberation looks like, point people there.

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