SHAG Week Sucked

 
 

After a two day SHAG Week, Online News and Features Editor Eithne Dodd, looks at how we need more sex education than this.


In case you’ve missed it, here is a brief rundown of sex-related news in UCD.

SHAG week (or SHAG two-day if you want to be cynical) came and went. There was an alleged sexual assault on campus in November. The SU decided to drop sexual consent classes because they were costing them too much, UCD wasn’t giving them any financial support, and the consent discussion groups were very poorly attended. There is an ongoing campaign called “UCD for PrEP” which wants a drug called PrEP to be introduced into Ireland due to its potential to reduce the risk of contracting HIV.

The University Observer has written many articles over the years about sex. Sexual consent, rape culture, STIs, slut shaming etc. But we never talk about the most important aspect of sex: sex.

I mean sex. Not sex-related-something-of-sexual-something. Just sex. It is never talked about. What happens when you have sex with a willing person(s)? UCDSU can only go so far. They encourage wearing protection, getting STI checks, making sure everyone involved is willing and take on anti-slut shaming initiatives but they don’t tell us about sex.

And because most students of UCD came through the Irish education system, our students’ union should not be making the assumption that we know what sex is, how it works and how to talk about it (I mean actually talk about – we can all make jokes).

There is no mandate in Irish schools for pupils to be taught about sex or even puberty and this needs to change because we can only blame our SU for so much.

There is no mandate in Irish schools for pupils to be taught about sex or even puberty and this needs to change because we can only blame our SU for so much.

It is not the SU’s fault if we enter into college not really knowing what happens when we have sex or not knowing all the names of the various bits of the penis and vagina (if you are currently thinking of Junior Cert Science’s chapter on reproduction then let me remind you that science is technically an optional subject for the Junior Cert and for the average 15 year old pupil they might choose to revise the clothes worn by Irish people during the bronze age because that’s more likely to come up on the exam).

Sex education needs to begin when we are very young i.e. before puberty. In fact, before puberty is even a threat for anyone in the class every child should know what all the holes we have are called and what they are used for. After we learn what our bodily functions do currently, we should then be told in a scientific and factual manner, how these bodily functions will change as we mature. It should be explained what will happen and how this will affect us. This, by the way, should all happen in the company of other sexes. The idea that if girls learnt about menstruation while boys were in the room it would be awkward for them might be true, but making menstruation and period pains a taboo topic makes things even more awkward.

The idea that if girls learnt about menstruation while boys were in the room it would be awkward for them might be true, but making menstruation and period pains a taboo topic makes things even more awkward.

When we have learnt this then we should be taught about sex. What it is, why humans have it, why someone has the urge to have it, how to have it safely, how to know it’s consensual, how sex should feel and how it shouldn’t feel. There is a lot of bullshit around it “hurting the first time” because a woman’s hymen breaks. This is ridiculous, sex shouldn’t hurt the first time and a woman’s hymen wears away for a number of reasons that aren’t sex related such as doing sports or other activities women partake in as part of having their own life and living it.

So, once we know our own bodies, what the parts of our bodies are called and how they will change then we need to talk about body shaming, sexual consent, rape culture, sexually transmitted infections and sexuality.

It is only by knowing what all of these things are and the various terms associated with them that we can begin to discuss them and discover for ourselves our own sexuality. Unfortunately, our SU has skipped to the last bit. It has assumed knowledge of sex and while, yes, that should be known, it is never taught and so cannot be assumed.

If/when we get to college, there is an assumption that all college students have sex. This is ridiculous.

If/when we get to college, there is an assumption that all college students have sex. This is ridiculous. And I only ever hear it from college students. I am bored of hearing it. First, because it assumes that everyone wants to have sex (a couple of sexual consent classes that the SU promised us last year might help with that *cough cough*) and second because it places an expectation on students that they know what they are talking about when it comes to sex. This creates its own form of toxic sex culture. And it is perpetuated by the SU who have an event called ‘Air your dirty laundry’ and not one called ‘Sex, an explainer on that thing you hear so much about.’

We can’t blame the SU for everything though. Sexual consent classes are what people are pushing for in universities right now, but in terms of education we need to go way further back. I remember getting taught how to brush my teeth in school, how to eat a balanced diet, the importance of exercise and socialising, if these are all seen as worthy of being taught by the state as positive health outcomes then why not sex?

Some people can find out the information they need for themselves but for others it is seen as too awkward a topic to search for information online. Some search and are terrified by all the misinformation on the internet and still more do not realise they need to know more about sex until after they begin having it.

What the SU do currently, and what we really can’t afford for them to do any longer is take knowledge of sex for granted.

What the SU do currently, and what we really can’t afford for them to do any longer is take knowledge of sex for granted. They assume that, we cannot have frank discussions on that. No amount of ‘airing our dirty laundry’ will help people who are not sexually active or have only been sexually active with the one person.

The SU has given up on sexual consent classes but it could still be very helpful for students to be directed towards good information on their sexual organs and sexual intercourse.

Not being able to talk about sex will lead to other problems relating to sex. Where do sexual relations begin and end? If your student body doesn’t know the answer to this then obviously they will have problems around sexual consent.

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