Monday, April 16, 2012

Sexual Openess is A Wonderful Thing

Hey all,

I've got an interesting blog today.  One I think you'll all enjoy.  I know when I first discovered this, I was surprised, unsure, and then impressed.  What I found was something very different then we have in USA and after seeing it, I actually got angry we don't do something like this.  What am I talking about?

Sex Education.

But not like what you and I were taught.  Remember the stupid text books and pulling a condom (gasp) over a banana?  I'm sure things are a little different these days, but the fact of the matter is in the USA (not sure about other countries) sex is still a taboo subject, one teens are embarrassed to talk about.  And in a classroom setting?  It's either boring or snicker worthy.  No one really learns anything.

Not so here.  While I've blogged before about the openness of the Netherlands people, I'm used to seeing the dildos on display, prostitutes in windows or even penis keychains at the cash registers.  That is actually a daily occurrence here.  But what I saw when I was at the Nemo Science Museum was beyond any sex education display I'd ever imagined.

It's a whole floor given over to one thing.  Sex.  And it targets the pre-teen and teenager in a way that allows them to ask their questions, get their answers and not feel stupid about doing it.  Displays are set up showing what happens to your body as it changes. 

There is even a movie about it.  It was great!  Listen to the words.  They're a hoot.  It basically is showing the kids their bodies are going to change...and it's OKAY.  You aren't the only one it's happening to.

Isn't that cool?  I mean, I wish I'd had that type of information when I was going through puberty.  My mom tried, but her generation wasn't comfortable with sex, so what I really learned was through reading and whispering with my girlfriends.

When I had kids of my own, I was bound and determined to help them understand sex isn't a nasty bad thing.  Not only is it natural and good, it's a lot of fun.  With the right person. 

The rest of the floor has some really cool interactive stuff.  Check out this fun display.  It's a french kissing booth.
One person puts their arm in one side, another opposite.  And they move the tongues!  Giggle worthy?  You bet!  But fun and informative.  These kids won't freak when a date puts their tongue in their mouth!  LOL

This part of the museum was one I had to think through as I experienced it.  It's only open to kids over 12, but it's pretty wide open so you can see in if you want.  It talks frankly about sex.  Positions, hormones, pheromones, erections and orgasms.  They you can see in the pic below, have dolls demonstrating positions of the Kama Sutra.

There was some snickering going on, but the kids were interested.  Not just because, OMG, it's sex, but I could sense a genuine yearning to know.  And taking the mystery out of sex is an important first step.

Then there was this.  We couldn't do it because we were too old.  LOL  Only kids between 12-18 could watch these.  They called them peepshows and you had to get a token from the desk to watch them.  They covered several different aspects of sex, but the one I found online shows kids what it looks like to have an orgasm.  See it below...

These are just a few of the educational and interactive displays available.  And at first I didn't know what to think.  As you can all tell from my writing, I believe sex is good, but not something to be done indiscriminately.  Lovemaking in my worlds are always consensual and done between two committed partners.

But after walking through, I had to agree this method of bringing the subject out in the open was a good thing.  They never once that I saw told the kids it was all right to go out and screw the first available person.  Rather, they gave the correct information so the kids could make good decisions when the time came for that intimacy.

Does it work?  Well, I did some research and here's what I found.  

In 2009/2010, statistics say in the USA there were 34.3 births per 1000 teenagers.  And they are all excited because that's an all time low.  The highest was in 1957 with a whopping 96.3 per 1000.  (Sweet Jesus, what the hell were you all doing in the 50's????)

But in the Netherlands, the 2011 rate was only 10.23 births per 1000.  That's 2/3rds less that the USA.  So what does that say about what we're teaching our children?

Now I know this is a VERY personal choice for a lot of people.  Religion, upbringing and comfort zones have a lot to do with it.  But here in Amsterdam, it seems to be working.  And if bringing sex out into the open helps teens make better choices, then I'm all for it.

So maybe the PTBs in the USA should visit NEMO and see how it's done.  All those acronyms can get together and fight teen pregnancy together!

Until Wednesday,

CJ England  

Follow Your Dreams


Phylis said...

Wow CJ! I remember I got to read a series of books on growing up. It was like a mini series. I think there was 4 in all. And I remember the movie the girls all got to watch. Well, lets say I remember watching one but not the content. lol Pretty amazing statistics. Wonder what it would take to get a change like that? Thanks for sharing this.

Ray said...

I have also heard that the more openly the topic of sex is treated the less violence there is against women.

CJ England said...

You know, Phylis, I was at first very uncomfortable with how open it was. But I forced myself to think why. I realized it was just habit that made me feel it was inappropriate. When I looked at it with fresh eyes I realized how great it was to help our kids not be embarrassed and afraid.

CJ England said...

That's an excellent point, Ray. Educating both boys and girls in the right kind of behavior would make a difference.