NewsThu Sep 10, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST
Sex Ed Gone Wild: Canadian Mag Covers Trend toward “Pleasure-Based” Sex Ed in Schools
By Patrick B. Craine
Warning: The nature of this article required the inclusion of sexually explicit language that some may find offensive.
TORONTO, Ontario, September 8, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Lianne George of Maclean's magazine has penned a piece published this week on a new trend in schools' sexual education offerings to focus on the pleasure of sex. Her article highlights the work of Toronto's Carlyle Jansen, the owner of a 'sex shop' for women, Good For Her, who has launched a new not-for-profit organization devoted to offering free, "pleasure-based" sex workshops to schools and other groups in the area.
Jansen has long offered pleasure-based workshops through her store, but, according to George, a year and a half ago Jansen started getting calls from local high school teachers who wanted her to come and offer sex-ed to their classes. Since then, Jansen guesses that she has spoken to about 12 or 15 classes.
"Kids are taught to death about all the bad things that can happen to them if they have sex," Jansen told George. "They've said, 'We've heard about sexually transmitted infections, we know you can get pregnant, but we want to know about pleasure and we want to know about healthy relationships.'"
In the classes, she talks to teens about whatever they would like to know, from masturbation to oral sex to sex toys (examples of which she brings to the classroom in case teens ask). She also teaches the kids about the sexual 'pleasure centres' using items depicting sexual organs.
Now, Jansen has helped launch the Sexual Health Education Pleasure Project (SHEPP) in the Greater Toronto Area, whose mission is "to provide free, pleasure-based sexual health education focused mainly on marginalized communities including youth, people of colour, women, queer and trans communities." Course topic titles include "Negotiating what you want - in and out of the bedroom," and "Cool, safe, and hot sex."
A topic entitled "Re-visioning 'pro-choice'" is also on the list, with the description: "Not just about abortion any more. Know your rights!" The group explains their vision of 'pro-choice' further on a page entitled 'What We Believe In'. While the phrase is certainly used to designate openness to abortion, the groups sees it as including a broader range of sexual choices, including the freedom to exercise sexual license and the freedom to marry whomever one chooses.
Gwen Landolt of REAL Women Canada criticized Jansen's narrow focus on pleasure in teaching about sexuality. "Obviously this woman is promoting her own business," she told LifeSiteNews.com, "but also it absolutely misconstrues the whole objective of sexuality.
"Obviously pleasure is a component," she said, "but not the component that matters. It's a part of a loving, truly bonding relationship, and they're missing the whole point in letting children think that sex is just an extracurricular activity, with anyone at anytime as long as it's pleasurable."
Landolt pointed to the moral dimension and to the purpose of sexuality, "which as we know is to bring forward children in a marital relationship," she said. "That's why we've been given this wonderful gift of sexuality," she explained. "It's missed the whole object of it. It's zeroed in on one component, but not the whole picture, and children should not be exposed to such a narrow perspective."
According to George, Jansen's 'pleasure-based' sex ed is part of a "substantial shift" in sexual education "which emphasizes the healthy and fun sides of sex." She points, for example, to a recent episode of Oprah, where her sexuality 'expert', Dr. Laura Berman, advocated "cradle to grave" sexual education. Kids should be taught about sex, orgasm, and masturbation by grade 5, Berman advocated, and by the time their daughters are age 15 or 16, parents should think about buying them a 'clitoral vibrator' to encourage 'self-esteem' and sexual independence.
George noted especially a pamphlet for teens published this summer by the British government's National Health Service entitled "Pleasure," which sparked outrage from religious and pro-family groups. Including the slogan "An orgasm a day keeps the doctor away," the pamphlet informed teenagers that they could decrease their risk for heart attack by having more sex, and advocated masturbation and sexual 'experimentation.'
Presenting the alternate view, George discusses the position of Dr. Miriam Grossman, author of You're Teaching My Child What?: A Physician Exposes the Lies of Sex Education and How They Harm Your Child. According to Dr. Grossman, pushing pleasure in sexual education to teens is ultimately disastrous. Focusing simply on pleasure and the explicit details about how best to obtain it, she says, does not give adequate weight to the emotional, psychological, and physical consequences of casual sex. "I think a lot of fear is a good thing," George quotes her as saying. "There are life and death infections involved here."
Grossman advocates proposing abstinence as the ideal. "Is everyone going to follow that ideal? Of course not," she says. "That's ridiculous." But, she said, "I'm looking at the obligation to present an ideal and tell kids that the closer you can get to that ideal, the better for you."
View the Maclean's article here:
Find a full listing of LifeSiteNews' coverage of the Ontario government's explicit sex-ed program here.