Media gets hot and bothered about "orgasm a day" booklet

By Charlotte Goddard

| 14 July 2009

You can't have failed to see or read about this booklet from Sheffield NHS called Pleasure which aims to teach young people that sex can be fun. There's a lot more to it than the idea that masturbating or having sex regularly can be healthy but that's the bit that has been picked up by everyone from the San Francisco Chronicle (British govt. promotes sex, orgasm kids?!!! - I 'm not even going to start on how inaccurate that is) to the Tajikistan News.

Not only have most of the writers apparently not read the whole leaflet, most of them seem to have written the story based on stories in other outlets written by writers who have not even read the leaflet. This makes me very cross. We at CYP Now have read the whole leaflet and wrote about it here.

I'm not going to tackle the misinformed, heavy on the exclamation marks and question marks approach of the San Fran Chronicle and others. But I thought this piece by Terence Blacker in the Indy was worthy of comment as it is more thoughtful. But, I think, wrong.

Blacker is not too bothered about the "OMG kids!! sex!!" angle, but does question whether the idea of teaching teenagers that sex can be pleasurable is not a complete waste of time. Surely, he says, they know that anyway?

"The message of Pleasure is in the air that teenagers breathe, in magazines, online, on TV, above all in songs. Urging them to enjoy their own bodies is a bit like encouraging cows to eat grass or birds to fly." 

He adds: There can surely be only one response to the idea that teenagers need a leaflet to tell them that sex can be fun. Duh.

I have worked (and only very briefly, I'm not a youth worker) with disadvantaged young teenagers as part of a mentoring programme. I believe all were sexually active, but it didn't seem to me as though the girls at least found the experience pleasurable. They perhaps got pleasure from the fact they were "doing it", that they had a boyfriend, that they were buying in to the whole idea of sex, but I would be surprised if, to be frank, they were regularly having orgasms, or if they expected to.

The fact that teaching young people that sex can be fun could lead to abstinence has led to snorts of derision. But surely saying: "Sex should be enjoyable. It is more likely to be enjoyable if you and your partner enjoy a loving, trusting relationship and can relax in each others' company" is actually what people who object to the clinical "this bit goes here, use a condom" style of sex education want?



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