I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert or that proper sex-ed would be the magic bullet that solves all of society’s problems. But I will say that human beings – as a SPECIES – have the most bewildering fascination with and fear of sex. As a general rule. It is bizarre.
And reading some report about how incidents of sexual harassment and violence are up in schools (at least here) I couldn’t help but despair at the softly-softly approach that is general taken towards talking to kids about sex. Usually done under the assumption that if you don’t talk to them about it, they won’t do it.
Because that makes sense.
The boardroom was heaving, packed so tightly with people that some were squashed up against the walls. The heat and stink was unbearable, but the situation was dire and they all knew it. It was an emergency meeting, and anyone and everyone important had been called in. If you’d been passing at the time wearing a suit and looking serious odds were good you’d have been dragged in as well, just in case. All the warriors were there.
What little space they could afford to keep open was at the head of the large conference table that dominated the room, and in this little pocket stood the Leader. He of all of them knew the stakes, and knew that each and every person there was looking to him for guidance, comfort and answers. It was a heavy burden. Clearing his throat he quieted the low-level chatter that had been going on and, once sure all attention was on him, he got started.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have a crisis,” he said. They all knew this, but it was always a good thing to say when in a crisis.
“Across our nation, our schools are afflicted – plagued! – with sex. The kids, the children, they suffer under the yoke of sexual aggression and ignorance! You’ve all seen the stats! You’ve all been horrified! It is unacceptable! It is disgusting!” The Leader said, pounding a fist into his palm to punctuate his speech. Again, no-one was disagreeing with this. Most were just enjoying the theatrical preamble.
“Consent is a concept poorly taught! Young girls are often flatly unaware that ‘no’ is even an option! Young boys are often rough with girls, calling them unkind names, viewing them as mere objects! They have sex! Even when we’ve subtly and not-so-subtly told them we’d really rather they didn’t!”
That children could be so willfully stubborn as to do a thing that adults had taken the time to not actually explain to them but had just told them they shouldn’t do was a sore point for all concerned. Why didn’t they simply do as they were told, like the machines they weren’t? The youth were most troublesome nowadays. Not like the old days, when youths never caused any problems. Specifically when everyone in the room was young, when everything worked. They could clearly remember everything working back then.
The Leader continued:
“Technology is our foe! We might use it to educate! We might use it to help resolve this issue but we cannot as technology is weird and terrifying! It is for the children to use, not for us! And so we see it as the threat it truly is! Children – mere children – can access the hardest and dirtiest of pornographies at the push of a button! Like magic! Dirty, dirty magic!” The Leader said, voice rising to a roar so he could still be heard over the hubbub filling the room that rose in volume with every word out of his mouth.
“Ban porn!” Rang out a voice from the back of the room, met with general agreement. The Leader pointed in the direction the voice had come from.
“We are far ahead of you! Already steps are being taken to place a blanket ban on pornography for all persons throughout the land, regardless of age or preference. Far better we cut this problem off at the source – the source obviously being pornography, it not simply playing a part in a larger, more complex issue – and feebly attempt to hide it from the eyes of our tech-savvy children than waste our time attempting to explain to them why a pornographic ideal of sex is unhealthy and unrealistic! Yes!”
A spontaneous round of applause broke out at this, everyone present feeling immensely proud for being in the same room as people who agreed with them. The Leader, being the most important person, accepted the applause and drew it into himself, growing stronger as a result. Soon the room quietened again and he felt able to continue, putting both hands onto the table and grimly looking about at those nearest him.
“The children will no-doubt quickly find ways around whatever blocks we put in place, as children as ever-desperate to see that which we say is forbidden. And in the absence of any other information they shall find the smut in a vacuum and come to a twisted, context-less understanding of it and indeed of sex in general. In many ways it might be said we are doing more harm than good with our shortsighted, ludircous action.”
He let this sink in. It wasn’t meant to be important. He broke everyone out of their trains of thought by slamming a fist onto the table before loudly declaring:
“But we are only human! We can only try! What other options do we have?” They asked. Answer came there none.
“With that in mind I present our last, desperate hope…” the Leader said, bringing down the lights in the room and switching on the projector. A hush fell over those gathered as all eyes turned to the screen as it lowered down at the far end of the conference table. There was a momentary flicker as the Leader pressed a button to start the slideshow and a collective gasp when they saw just how drastic a course of action they would be taking.
“We’ve codenamed it operation ‘Not talking to the kids about sex and generally pretending it doesn’t exist’.”
“May God have mercy on our souls…” Gasped the Deputy Leader – who had done nothing useful up to this point – before shooting themselves in the head. The coward’s way out of course, but no-one could really blame them. The corpse was promptly removed from the room, crowd-surf style, the Leader pointing after it – if nothing else it helped underline the drama of the moment.
“God has no place in discussions about sex. Apart from the times when he does and basically railroads the discussion into going whatever direction the person speaking assumes God wants it to go in. But that’s not important right now. The important thing right now is the creation of an unbreakable wall of silence around the subject of sex when it comes to anyone under the age of eighteen asking about it. They CANNOT know.”
“What about sex in films or books or other media?” Asked someone, raising a hand.
“That’s fine, that doesn’t explain anything to them. That just gives them half-baked ideas they can then act on without supervision, proper guidance or any real idea of safety or precautions. That’s perfectly okay. No-one ever got pregnant or caught an infection by having sex without an adult teaching them about it first in a school.”
Everyone nodded at this, because it was obviously true. The person who’d asked the question seemed especially satisfied.
“Now…there have been some rumblings out there, from the public,” the Leader spat the word as though it were poisonous. “That we should actively teach children about sex, about relationships. They say forewarned is forearmed, that we should put more trust in our youth and better equip them rather than leaving them blind and helpless in the face of biology, pornography and basically the entire rest of the world that isn’t us deciding we shouldn’t teach them about sex. I say no! Like you’re talking to a bad dog! You say no!”
The Leader was handed a rolled up newspaper and hammered the desk with it to demonstrate how one should deny a dog. It helped a lot of the slower people present understand.
“How can we possibly teach the youth about sex? Then we’d have to talk about sex! To think about it! Can you imagine? Openly discussing something that is a significant portion of the human condition? Becoming comfortable with it? Relaxed? Healthier, perhaps? Unthinkable! Impossible!”
So hard was the newspaper hammered into the table at this point is simply exploded, bursting into a cloud of paper fragments. The Leader didn’t let this slow them down.
“Silence! Silence is our watchword and our tactic! Our grand strategy, our secret weapon, our victory march and the motto sown with pride onto our glorious banner! Silence, ladies and gentleman, will stop the kids from boning. I think we’ve all made a big step here today. A big step towards what is presumably decency but what looks a lot like squeamishness causing problems that no-one can be then be bothered to really try and fix. Thank you,” the Leader said, bowing and sitting down to yet more applause.
Meanwhile, elsewhere, teenagers had clumsy, awkward sex because teenagers aren’t stupid, are swimming in hormones and will do it whether or not you take the time to explain how to do it properly, safely and respectively.
You don’t get to seven billion people by mistake.
It’s not fucking hard.