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What is Feminist Sex Education?

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I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about the specifics of what it is we do here, about how it is I define what our aims are, and about what it means to be a comprehensive, feminist sex education resource. To that end, I've been milling around what exactly feminist sex education is, because believe it or not, it's not really been defined very clearly anywhere else yet. Consider this a work in progress.

Feminist sex education:

• Emphasizes -- for all sexes and genders, not just one or two -- autonomy, personal responsibility, full and active consent, sexuality in the holistic context of a whole, well-rounded life and healthy, equitable relationships self-esteem, nonsubordination and nonviolence, safety, health , happiness and pleasure and very real equality in sexuality, in which equal voice and accord are given to and issues from any and all partners in sexual partnerships and sexual activity.

• Operates under the given that all people have an inalienable, inarguable right to the complete, inarguable ownership of their own, individual bodies and desires, and that sexuality and sexual pleasure is a positive and valuable experience in its own right, not merely or only a side effect of reproduction, health, biology or romance, nor a means for material exchange.

• Recognizes the sexual desires and sexuality of women as complete on their own, rather than as an answer to or product or adjunct of men's sexuality, sexual partnership or marriage, as well as acknowledging a wide diversity of sexual desire, experience and identity among women and all peaople.


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• Recognizes the bodies and genitals of all people as active, engaged parts of a whole, rather than passive or as object.

• Understands and presents sexual activity, with or without partners, as a choice, not a requirement nor an obligation. Encourages consent as active, not passive: not as a not-no or compliance, but as a complete, informed and enthusiastic yes, and encourages open, honest communication in all sexual activities and with all sexual partners.

• Is pro-choice, supporting the right of women to have complete sovereignity over their bodies at all times, including during pregnancy, and equally supporting the right of those who do or can become pregnant to choose abortion, adoption or parenting -- whichever is best for them by their own determination -- in the event they become pregnant. Supports the use of, and encourages complete access to, contraception, safer sex and preventative, holistic sexual healthcare for all, and the position that public policies for women should not be made exclusively or primarily by men.

• Does not treat gender or sex as binary, and acknowledges gender as constructed, not essential, biological or assigned and recognizes that anatomical or biological sex is an often-problematic or meaningless distinction.

• Recognizes the strong and pervasive effect of cultural and personal sex and gender roles on the individual and interpersonal sexuality, and educates readers about those roles and their right to choose sex and gender roles which are desired, not merely assigned. Addresses cultural inequalities of sex and gender which effect sexuality, such as the effects of commodifying women's bodies, the glorification of sexual violence, objectifcation, other minorities and sexuality in the media, economic divides, the greater sexual burdens some groups bear, the greater rates of sexual abuse and rape among some groups, as well as the detrimental effects of patriarchy upon men, male sexuality, identity and relationships.

• Acknowledges the reality of sexual and other interpersonal abuse and violence and works to counter and prevent those abuses among all sexes and genders, as well as recognizing that many women have survived these abuses, and that this needs be a consideration with sexuality education and understanding of human sexuality.

• Presents partnered sex broadly, acknowledging the wide array of sexual activities which may be "real" partnered sex, not merely intercourse among hetereosexual or gendernormative people. Presents sexual anatomy more broadly, including that of women, than as to pertain only to heterosexual intercourse or reproduction.

written 23 May 2007 . updated 14 Jan 2014

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