Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. Feminism
23 September 2016

How to educate girls on the joy of sex

Adding a more human element to the sexual education syllabus could stop teens turning to porn.

By Eleanor Margolis

What part of “French 3D printed educational clitoris” do you not understand, Justine Greening? While the Education Secretary considers making sex education mandatory in schools, France has innovated its way to “demystifying” the female orgasm, by introducing schoolchildren to a model of a clitoris. What tends to be thought of as a sneaky little button has been brought to life – by the French – as a quite big pink wishbone.

When I did secondary school sex education, more than ten years ago, the clitoris was mentioned in passing, while the penis practically dressed up as Barbra Streisand and sang show tunes for an entire double period. The climax of the penises’ performance was a literal climax (a live action cock filled the screen of one of those wheelie televisions you only get in schools). Everyone screamed. Especially the boys.

Sex education — in its current non-mandatory, irrelevant and uninteresting state – badly needs to start letting girls know, with or without the help of 3D printed clitorises, that sex is for them. After all, what is it about the female orgasm that has nurtured such a cult of mystery and elusiveness? Please can we get a grip and accept that the Loch Ness Monster is three seals, and the female orgasm is, in turn, about as esoteric as a Boots meal deal. For starters, the clitoris (if the starting point of all reproductive anatomy must be a penis) is a massive tiny dick that’s very easy to locate. One of my favourite things about sleeping with women is the fact they take this for granted. Which is actually something of a miracle seeing as even my generation was brought up to believe sex is what girls get through for the sake of their boyfriends. It will hurt. He won’t go down on you. An, eww, why would you want that anyway?

I genuinely believe that, had I been told otherwise in sex education, my first time a) wouldn’t have been a Gobi Desert dry nightmare and b) may not have even been with a boy (I was instructed that this was the Done Thing). It’s essential, of course, that girls are told that, as well as having orgasms they’re allowed to sleep with other girls. The LGBT component of sex education is still optional (for schools that choose to teach it in the first place). But with this, and a mandatory focus on consent, sex education has the power to properly tackle the too often gruesome, mechanical and joyless dynamic of sex. A dynamic in which the penis takes centre stage like a howling diamante frankfurter.

In the grand scheme of things, it probably shouldn’t take a 3D printed clitoris to explain that the female orgasm is a thing. Plus, without a clitoris emoji and Snapchat filter to boot, its impact may be muted. But, the more effort made to break down the weird taboo surrounding female sexuality, the closer we may well come to making the bedroom a more equal and altogether less dull place for teenagers. Stigma cannot be eradicated by diagram after diagram of the uterus, accompanied by stale narratives about babies.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. Your new guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture each weekend - from the New Statesman. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Not, of course, that the mechanics and contraception side of things isn’t hugely important. But without a more human element to the syllabus, young people can and will look to porn for all the sex education they need.

When I was about eight, I found a deck of pornographic playing cards in my then 18-year-old sister’s room. Each card depicted a man with an abnormally large schlong, looking pleased with himself. As an introduction to the world of Adult Situations, this was both mystifying and daunting.