When the Ontario government released an updated Health and Physical Education curriculum in 2010, I was thrilled. Then, almost as quickly they repealed it and I was UP-set! The existing curriculum, written in 1998 predated social media, barely mentioned sexual orientation and started teaching about puberty in grade five...even though a lot of kids starting going through puberty earlier.
When I heard that Kathleen Wynne had committed to another update I was wary about getting my hopes up, but the more I heard, the more my optimism grew. After 17 long years, it looked like Ontario public school students would be getting current, evidence-based sexuality education that is better aligned with the realities of life in our infocentric, tech-heavy, diverse culture.
Important Lessons We Forget To Teach Our Kids About Sex
I read the entire curriculum. I also live-tweeted it. What’s my take? Overall, I think most of the changes are positive and I’ve give the new curriculum a solid A minus. There’s definitely room for improvement, but overall good work!
The introduction of early, foundational concepts. Being able to name all bodies parts, including the penis, testicles, vagina and vulva. Kids having to respect other people’s bodies and learning to be aware of their own when they interact during games and activities. Talking about the visible vs. invisible differences and learning to treat people kindly regardless of different.
The inclusion of sexual and gender diversity. There are some really great prompts in the high school curriculum about how concepts like heteronormativity affect people and gender biases in the media.
No surprise - the lessons around consent and communication make me super-happy! There’s even stuff in the curriculum about bystander intervention which I think is fantastic!
The safer sex portion of the curriculum is more robust and encourages students to be familiar not only with symptoms but also health care resources like sexual health clinics.
Lessons about puberty start in grade five. Gender identity is grade six. These are both late in my opinion. The average onset age in North America is around 10 years-old, meaning significant portions of 5th graders will have already started experiencing the changes of puberty before they start learning about it. Many people have a sense of their gender identity at four and five years old. Also, we teach kids about cisgender expression and identity almost from the time they’re born, so I don't think it's necessary to wait until sixth grade to discuss it in class.
Safer-sex information focuses almost exclusively on condom-use. I’m all for condoms, but they only work for penetrative anal, oral and vaginal sex. I would have liked to have seen a broader range of safer sex options presented including dental dams and gloves.
The Condom Talk: We've Got You Covered
The grade seven and eight guidelines encourage students to delay anal, oral and vaginal sex until they are “older.” I don’t have a problem with youth choosing to delay partnered sex, but I’m not thrilled with how this issue is framed. It’s difficult for me to summarize my reasons here. More about that in another post, coming soon...
There’s some really good stuff about sexual choices and decision making, but they don’t start until grade 10. After grade nine, Health and Phys Ed. stops being compulsory, so some students are going to miss out on what I consider pretty fundamental lessons related to partnered-sex.
It’s not perfect, but still kudos to the Ministry of Education for taking a big step in what I consider to be the right direction. Come September, I think sex education in Ontario will be starting from a great new place!
After family, friends, and talking about sex, watching TV is the greatest pleasure of my life. So I was super-jazzed to find out about a new television documentary called The Truth About Female Desire, which airs Thursday, February 12th at 9p.m. EST on CBC. I was even more excited when director/producer Maureen Palmer agreed to talk to me about the film. This was our first (over-the-phone) meeting, but I certainly hope it won’t be our last. Maureen is a sharp, witty, passionate sexual advocate and trust me when I tell you that her documentary is absolutely fab!
Why You Need To Masturbate More
So what is the truth about female desire? According to Maureen, “women are very sexual beings and we are full of desire, but we feel hampered in the current culture...because I think we’re still hamstrung by old ideas about what women should be, women as the gatekeepers of desire and what ‘good girls’ do. There’s a whole paradigm shift that would have to happen for women to truly feel comfortable expressing desire. We are in a process of getting there…”
The Truth About Female Desire delves into that process. Maureen very generously sent me an advanced copy of the film (which I’ve now watched twice, because it's just that good!)
Too often women’s sexuality is defined in very limited terms. But the reality is that desire is not a one-sex-fits all phenomenon. Maureen says, “The mainstream media has delivered images of what sexual women can be. Unfortunately, they’ve developed those images on a very narrow bandwidth...it’s only a very narrow segment of the female population that’s deserving of going after her desire. What I’m trying to do in the doc is broaden the options for what sexual women can look like”.
Five Ways To Overcome Your Low Sex Drive
Maureen envisions a world where we all have a right to the pursuit of horniness. Her film features women who are single, married, queer, straight, child-free, parenting, older, younger, poly and monogamous, all enjoying sex on their own terms. Their sexual appetites and activities vary, but the women all share a resolve not to be shamed for their sexuality. While mainstream media portrayals of feminine sexuality can be problematic, Maureen points to influential programs such as Sex with Sue and HBO’s Girls as valuable sex-positive counter points.
Maureen also believes that accepting women’s authentic sexual desires is a key aspect of normalizing sexual consent. “[Women] want to be able to say ‘I want to pursue my sexual desires and still be a person of integrity. Still in modern North American culture, those two things don’t connect. And that goes to the core of consent. It’s really hard to teach girls about enthusiastic consent, if they’re going to get slut shamed.”
The affect of ageism on sexuality is another of Maureen’s peeves. “A 55-year-old woman going to a blow job workshop is putting her face and name to her sexual desire is a game changer. You don’t see older women being sexual on TV without making fun of them. We need see role models of women saying ‘I have a right to be sexual and my sexuality is not your joke!’”
Seriously, how awesome is this woman?! Maureen Palmer’s documentary is one more step on the path towards a new normal, where all women can enjoy safer, consensual, pleasurable sex when they want and how they want.
Reserve a seat on the couch and make plans to stay in on Thursday night, because The Truth About Female Desire is good TV!
The thing I like best about porn is also the thing I like least about porn - there’s a LOT of it! From ancient times to today, erotic material has proliferated every medium from Greek vases to the Internet and if you’re a fan of adults-only entertainment, the tyranny of choice can be oppressive. If you’re into something other than hair-free, surgically enhanced, hetero-centric sexy times, finding porn that really excites you can be challenging. On the other hand, there is a pretty good chance that whatever it is that gets you going, somewhere someone has made a movie, drawn a comic, taken a photo, painted a picture, or written a story about it.
If you’re interested in porn, but you’re not sure where to look, here are a few suggestions to get you started:
The online home of writer and adult filmmaker Ms. Naughty, Bright Desire has a collection of films real-life partners (couples and groups) and steamy singles. The performers represent a range of body types, ethnicities, and genders. The movies have a joyful, positive quality and the sex is hot. This is a subscription site, but one that’s well worth the money if you enjoy authentic performances and playful sexuality. You also get access to a collection of short erotic fiction and my personal favourite...the porn blooper reel!
When mainstream porn features people of colour, they’re often fetishized or featured in story lines that rely on familiar ethnic tropes. Racial clichés are not my jam. That’s why I appreciate sites like Black Erotica. This is an image-based blog, featuring both photos and artwork. There’s some beautiful stuff happening with elegant bodies intertwined in elegant poses. There’s also a ton of nudity and really hot, explicit sex-stuff happening. These things are not mutually exclusive. As a POC, it’s affirming to see black sexuality celebrated rather than stereotyped.
Berkeley-based publishing house, Cleis Press has a wide variety of erotic fiction anthologies. I own several and they’ve never failed to liven up my bedtime reading. There are general collections and all sorts of themed anthologies like gay military, spanking, kinky couples, and workplace hook-ups.
The guide itself isn’t sexy - unless of course you have a thing for lists. But even if you don’t, this is a useful resource for navigating various porn genres and popular titles. The most recent version of UGtAV was published in 2003, so it’s a bit out of date but most of the titles listed are still available and hold up very well. Each entry features a legend to help you find or avoid common porn features like facials, boob jobs, and legit female orgasms.
Erotic comics and graphic novels give you a lot of bang for your buck. You get all the steamy titillation of dirty words, combined with the visual stimulation of explicit imagery. My favourite thing about comic book porn is that it’s not bound by pesky things like human anatomy or the laws of physics. Comic book sex features humans and non-humans of all shapes, sizes, orientations, genders, species doing it in locations both real and imagined, throughout time, in alternate universes for all manner of reasons. Eros Comix works with top notch authors and illustrators and they’re a great source for comic book porn!