Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Gladly do they teach, and gladly do they learn...

Tweet this morning, as retweeted by the wonderful @luciebeexxx:


My response:


While I'll agree to my response being a little pithy (not to mention unrealistic, and uncharacteristically doomy), there's a point to be made here which I can explain a lot better in a blog post that via the limited medium of a tweet.

My first argument is to do with semantics, so excuse my impertinence, but I think - logically - it works like this.

The analogy used is slightly flawed. In answer to the (presumably rhetorical) question - yes, I would be happy with a surgeon performing first-time surgery on me, providing that they have had the proper training and gone through the rigours of medical school first. Similarly, I'd expect a doctor to prescribe me the correct medicine, even if they'd never done so before, or a teacher to give me information on their first day of teaching, or a taxi driver to take me where I want to go, despite not having done so before. Everyone has to start somewhere - otherwise there would be no jobs!

If everyone refused surgery because the surgeon is inexperienced (and I don't mean 'bad' - the terms are not interchangeable), then there wouldn't be any surgery. We'd have died out (or been severely depleted in number) due to the advancement of surgical medicine used since the Roman era and its importance in keeping humanity strong.

I used to work in healthcare, and the first time I gave an injection, the patient didn't question me. They knew I'd been trained to do so.

However, the second point I'd like to make is a more pressing one, and it's to do with the content of the tweet... basically, I don't agree with it.

The first time I had sex, I was a virgin. I'm assuming everyone else is in the same boat here. I knew, due to Year 7 biology and porn, what went into where; I also knew, due to cucumbers in Year 9 PSHE, how to put a condom on; while my first sexual experience wasn't stellar (well, it was good, but it wasn't as good as subsequent ones), it wouldn't have been any different had I had sex beforehand. Specifically, it wouldn't be my first time.

Sex is a fluid, amorphous concept that is like a many-headed beast, a Hydra that grows two new heads when you cut one off. Having had sex doesn't make you an expert any more than having been bitten by a dog makes you an experienced dog breeder. I didn't know very much about the world of sex even after I'd had sex for the first time. I don't imagine you do either.

I know a lot about sex now, but that's after years of study, fascination and experimentation - both good and bad - and ten years of sex blogging. Yes, I would feel confident in "teaching about sex" after all that. I would, however, have felt similarly confident about doing so even before I had sex. I knew the basics, and the responsibility, and how to put a condom on a cucumber. I was familiar with my own body and knew how it worked, and was reasonably clued-up on the issues surrounding sex. I would, I think, have been able to lead a reasonable discussion, even without having done it myself.

I mean, I can't shoot a gun, but I can appear on a film to be doing so (and have).

I think the real issue here is exactly what and how you teach. "Sex" is a very ambiguous word, and the teachers at my secondary school taught it in a very different way from the sex educators primary schools now get in to do so. (Being a form teacher during PSHE must be difficult, especially during SRE where it's usually apparent you know too much or too little about the subject, so big respect is due to everyone who manages that!)

And, while I've been writing this...

What if someone is a virgin by choice but has masturbated so much they are knowledgeable about their own body parts and how they function during orgasm?

What if someone's only sexual experience is rape? They've had sex.

What if you've only had sex with someone of the same gender? Do you count that as sex? I do, but does everyone?

What if you identify as genderqueer, genderfluid, or a third gender, or agendered? What do you have to do to qualify as having had sex and thus appropriate to teach it?

What if you've only ever had non-penetrative sex?

What about anal sex? Does that count?

This is why I said that, by the same token, nobody would have sex to start with, because it's so complicated, and the human race would have died out. I'd even go so far as to say that sex is much more complicated than performing surgery - theoretically, at least - because, with surgery, you can get it right or wrong! Can you do so with sex?

Ask a group of people who have never had sex that and you'd get some very different answers. Are you learning anything from that? Then you're being taught.

Surgery and sex are incomparable. Both can be studied, both can be taught, both can be practised. But if you want to teach, do so. If you want to learn, do so. The sharing of knowledge isn't regulated... and not always kinaesthetic.

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