It seems that the NYT is spending more time than ever on dating, relationships and sex ed research -- which is a good thing. Sex ed, contraception, abortion rights -- everything is under fire in the Republican War on Women and the social conservative's war on sex.
The big weekend read from NYT Magazine is the cover story Teaching Good Sex by Laurie Abraham, author of 'The Husbands and Wives Club: A Year in the Life of a Couples Therapy Group. One of the final points in the excellent and informative read is that parents who embrace the positive value of sex ed aren't nearly as vocal in communicating their views as social conservatives who want an end to sex ed in the schools.
Abraham profiles Al Vernacchio, who teaches Sexuality and Society at Philadelphia's Friends' Central, an affluent Main Line school and has never had a complaint from a parent since he arrived in 1998.
The lessons that tend to raise eyebrows outside the school, according to Vernacchio, are a medical research video he shows of a woman ejaculating — students are allowed to excuse themselves if they prefer not to watch — and a couple of dozen up-close photographs of vulvas and penises. The photos, Vernacchio said, are intended to show his charges the broad range of what’s out there. “It’s really a process of desensitizing them to what real genitals look like so they’ll be less freaked out by their own and, one day, their partner’s,” he said. What’s interesting, he added, is that both the boys and girls receive the photographs of the penises rather placidly but often insist that the vulvas don’t look “normal.” “They have no point of reference for what a normal, healthy vulva looks like, even their own,” Vernacchio said. The female student-council vice president agreed: “When we did the biology unit, I probably would’ve been able to label just as many of the boys’ body parts as the girls’, which is sad. I mean, you should know about the names of your own body.”
Indeed, much of the classroom focus illuminates that reality that porn doesn't represent healthy human sexuality.
Pornography “gives boys the impression that the girl is there to do any position you want, or to please you, or to, you know, role-play to your liking,” reports one of the students interviewed by Abraham. “But yesterday, when Mr. V. said there is no romanticism or intimacy in porn, porn is strictly sexual — I’d never thought about that.”
Pleasure in sex ed was a major topic last November at one of the largest sex-education conferences in the country, sponsored by the education arm of Planned Parenthood of Greater Northern New Jersey. “Porn is the model for today’s middle-school and high-school students,” Paul Joannides said in the keynote speech. “And none of us is offering an alternative that’s even remotely appealing.”
Students are taught that 70 percent of women don't climax from vaginal penetration alone. The boys admit they are shocked to learn this fact of reality. After all, the porn girls are screaming their brains out in ecstasy.
The Guttmacher Institute believes that 70 percent of teenagers have had sexual intercourse by their 19th birthday. Unlike sex ed in most classrooms in America, Vernacchio is allowed to speak of the pleasure in quality sex.