Sexperience UK

I was cooking dinner at a friend’s house with the television on for background noise when the show Sexperience UK came on. So while the pasta cooked and the sauce simmered I found myself watching it, and I have to say that I am impressed! Sexperience UK is a sex education show aimed at a general audience and ties in with a comprehensive website where visitors can share their sexual experiences and thoughts and also watch educational videos on various themes. The show and website both highlight the high rates of STIs and teenage pregnancies and argue for the need for compulsory and comprehensive sex education in the UK.

So why am I so excited about this programme and how is this relevant to my humanism? Quite simply, I believe that it is important for people to understand their bodies and that everyone should have access to good quality, accurate and straight-forward information. I think that this programme and website do a fantastic job. Sex is often considered a taboo subject, especially in various religious traditions, but sexual organs are just part of the human body and sexual behaviour is natural human behaviour. Of course, I’m not suggesting that anyone should be pressured into sex, but I do believe that people should be aware of the facts and the risks, and be able to make their own decisions. They should not be made to feel ashamed for having questions about sex and relationships.

What I really like about this project is the way it caters for different age groups and takes a no nonsense approach. The Sex Education Show was very straight-forward, not afraid to use medical terms but mixed this with a touch of humour and always brought the issues back to real people and real situations. In the episode I watched, teenagers discussed what they knew about sex, the presenter learned about ways to improve sexual pleasure, and parents and healthcare professionals discussed how to approach discussing sex education with your children. Short segments presented a healthcare professional discussing various relevant facts and issues concerning sex, anatomy, puberty and pregnancy. There was no sense of shame or embarassment and no coy or patronising euphemisms when discussing the themes at hand. The presenter, Anna Richardson, also interviewed a government education official and argued the case for high quality, compulsory sex education in schools.

It seems that I’m not alone in this view. The Guardian reports on a government review which has decided that sex education will be a compulsory part of the national curriculum for both primary and secondary school by 2010. Faith schools will be free to present their views on sex alongside the compulsory components. The Daily Mail highlights the views of those who are not as enamored of this development as I am. I confess that I was under the impression that sex education already was compulsory in Britain. However, I am glad to see that children and teenagers will have access to accurate and reliable information about their bodies, sexuality and relationships. I look forward to a world where people feel comfortable understanding their bodies and respecting all relationships and sexualities, whether they choose to be sexually active or not.

If you’d like to take a look for yourself, the Sexperience UK website includes educational videos, first hand accounts, episodes of the Sex Education Show, surveys, sex education information and opportunities to discuss your experiences of sex and relationships.

3 Responses to “Sexperience UK”

  1. 1 Tim November 11, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    Wow – I was under the impression that it was already compulsory as well.

    I’m really glad to hear about that TV show. I remember glimpsing some Daily Mail comment on this subject not long ago – something like “imagine your child knowing about sex before their first kiss!”. It seemed to assume some magical process by which children would be incrementally educated about each sexual act just before they engaged in it.

    Nice to see reason winning out in both the law and on TV!

  2. 2 cath November 12, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    And yet. And yet. And yet.

    Don’t you worry sometimes that however much people have access to information, in our highly sexualised culture there might still be too much pressure (on girls particularly?) to behave in ways that they’re not emotionally ready for – without adequately equipping them for the emotional and psychological risks they might not realise they’re running?

    I have a lot of sympathy for the view that young people (… girls particularly??) might be in more need of a greater degree of self-respect – so that the choices they make are really informed choices that they know they don’t need to make until they really feel ready.

    Of course as you say, “sexual organs are just part of the human body and sexual behaviour is natural human behaviour” – but it’s humans and behaviour situated in a context/culture which (arguably) undermines dignity and intimacy and mutual respect in relationships – and so perhaps is just a bit disconnected from the situations people actually find themselves in???

  3. 3 Clare November 12, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    I’m glad you brought this up. I realised as I was writing the post that I was focusing a lot on sex and not talking about relationships so much. I agree entirely that this kind of education needs to be accompanied with discussion and lessons about relationships and emotions.

    I would also agree that there is huge pressure on girls and young women to respond to the attention of men and be sexually active, and I’m glad that you mention culture and self-respect as being part of it. In my opinion there are many factors that lead to women and girls being placed in this position. The evidence would suggest that women are valued less in their work, their opinions, their status and that perpetrators receive lighter sentences for violence, especially sexual violence, against women. In a society where women receive overall less respect it is unsurprising that this should lead to pressure and disrespect for the wishes of women and girls. This does not excuse it though. In this way, I think that educating boys and girls as to the rights and wishes of individuals when it comes to relationships and sex is a step to breaking these norms, although this also needs to be accompanied by real justice and fair sentences for those who commit sexual crimes against women, girls, minors and all individuals.

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