It has been a long time coming, but the UK government recently made sex education compulsory in secondary schools. While we pop a few champagne corks (or open a few bottles of non-alcoholic drink for the young people who’ll benefit from this), we thought it might also be a good chance to recommend a few adult sex education resources. Those of you who read our blog and buy our sex toys might be long out of school, but you can still get great sex ed if you know the right places to look.
Let’s start – as all good education does – with the very basics. Good sex education today, like that provided by sites like Scarleteen, puts identity right at the heart of sex and relationships. This is really important, and seems a world away from the simplistic model that many of us older folks might have received in school. Often sex education is synonymous with ‘how you should use a condom’ or ‘what STIs could you catch’ or ‘how do you get pregnant.’ But in order to understand these questions and concepts, it’s first important to explore the ‘you’ at the heart of them. On the website DoSREforschools – a project sponsored by Durex, drawing on experience and advice from sex educators across the UK, the lesson plans begin with one that focuses on the students as individuals. It encourages them to think about their identity – sexual and otherwise – and consider what is important to them.
For adults – many of whom have missed out on thorough sex education at school – teenage confusion might be a thing of the distant past, but in fact your identity and relationship to your body and relationships can change drastically at many different points in your life. Whether it’s growing older and contending with sex stigma as an older person, coming to terms with a disability or sexual issue like erectile dysfunction, or even just learning new ways of having sex or masturbating. The ways in which you get sexual pleasure are often wrapped up in important questions about who you are and what you want – see what we mean?
A few useful resources:
Meg John Barker’s zine on self care – a great primer on why it is important to look after yourself, and how to work out what kind of self-care works for you.
What’s sex about for you? – Meg John and Justin’s guide on understanding your needs and desires.
The CSPH (Center For Sexual Pleasure And Health) has a range of different guides on sex and sexual pleasure.
While the focus of ‘sex and relationships education’ often falls on sex itself, in fact good relationship education is just as important. Not just romantic or sexual relationships, but people’s relationships with their friends and family. Being able to recognise what a healthy relationship looks like, and identify bad and abusive behaviour (in other people or indeed in ourselves).
Now that sex and relationship education is compulsory in schools, hopefully more young people will get this kind of information. But for adults who haven’t had it yet, Dr Petra Boynton – agony aunt for the Telegraph – always has incredible practical advice on how to handle some of the trickier aspects of relationships.
For a broader introduction to relationships, we love Bish’s guide to love – all the different kinds of it. It’s for young people, but it’s relevant to all of us.
And if you have a spare £2.50, Meg John and Justin’s ‘make your own relationship user guide‘ is a really helpful guide on how to make a relationship that works for you, rather than one which just follows what you might have been led to expect.
Adult sex ed: never stop learning
As young people, most of us were quite reliant on teachers and parents pointing us in the right direction. While it’s great news that UK schools will be offering more (and hopefully comprehensive) sex and relationships education, the truth is we never stop learning. Just in writing this blog, talking to users of our sex toys like PULSE, and researching sex blogs and advice guides, we’re still learning new things every day. When it comes to your own pleasure and relationships, there’s always more opportunity to learn new things. If you have any great adult sex ed resources that you’d like to share, add them in the comments!