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Laura Perrins: What is a ‘sex expert’ and where can I find one?

LPLaura Perrins is a former barrister turned stay at home mother. She campaigns for Mothers at Home Matter.

What is a ‘sex expert’ and where can I find one? According to a new campaign by the Telegraph WonderWomen (who I sometimes blog for), they are needed. Badly.

Personally, as a married women with two young children I have been there at the beginning and know how it all turns out at the end so I believe I am something of a ‘sex expert’. But this, it seems, is not enough to guide my children through this particular minefield. No. We need the ‘sex experts’ and a review of the sex education curriculum that is irrelevant to the young and the hip.

I am not against a review per se, but that is the easy part. Setting the content of the curriculum is the tricky issue. Claire Perry MP says we need to teach children about the difference between pornography and ‘healthy and caring’ relationships. Tim Loughton MP, who is also backing it, does at least call for a values approach to sex education, but that the Department of Education should ‘get a grip on preventing bad experiences of sex’. Really? Is this was the Department of Education is for – to give sex advice in competition with Cosmo? If by bad experience, it is abusive or threatening, then we already have the criminal law to deal with that.

He also thinks we need to encourage young people to have ‘healthy and safe relationships’. Ah, yes, the ‘elf and safety’ brigade have finally reached the bedroom, and the teenage bedroom at that. What exactly, is a healthy and safe relationship? Is there going to be a checklist? Does this mean that if everyone is wrapped in cellophane all is fine? Are helmets necessary? Perhaps one of the sex experts could tell me.

The problem with this area is that the basics are very simple. I find it difficult to believe anyone over thirteen still thinks you cannot get pregnant from having sex on your first time. The real question is when should your first time be? Here we are faced with some the most profound moral, ethical, religious and philosophical questions man or woman has ever had to consider. I do not believe any ‘sexpert’ is in a better position than a parent to enlighten their teenagers on the subject. This is no doubt why the Department of Education has kept so far away from it. Even what constitutes consent is legally now so complex, and can include the concept of ‘conditional consent’ that one requires a law degree to understand it.

There has been much discussion on Twitter. Female Empowerment, for instance, believe better sex education “would include a basic user's manual for the menstrual cycle for the females.” Their website tells me “women and the moon are inextricably linked. Our cycles are generally the same length and the changes equally profound. Keep track of the moon along with your bracelet [which you can purchase from them] to clarify your pattern. Gain strength from knowing your place in the rhythm of life.”

Amen to that I say. I genuinely think the girls would love this, but I think the guys might zone out. But please sign me up for a bracelet. I am always being caught out on this one – day twenty six, day twenty seven, where is my darn diary? Anyway, you get the (unwelcome) picture.

The point is, that this area is just too diverse and complex to be adequately dealt with in schools by sexperts or otherwise. Parents should be the ones to pass down the necessary values to their children and young people. Educate the parents on the dangers of pornography if you must, but please spare us from the sexperts.


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