Sexual Education has failed more people than it has helped. Only 29 states teach comprehensive sexual education. States like Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Idaho. Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Texas do not have a sex education or HIV education mandate. And it almost goes without saying that most states do not properly teach consent. This failing only serves to perpetuate sexual misconduct and silences sexual assault victims. When we are not taught what words to use how can someone possibly be expected to explain what has happened to us.
In middle school instead of being given cross words puzzles about female anatomy, I wish they told me I could say “no” to a guy even if he was my boyfriend and that didn’t mean I didn’t like him. In high school, I wish instead of being told I would get HPV and get pregnant, I was told that a guy asking me to have sex until I “yes” was not consensual, it was corcesion. I wish someone told me that my body parts weren’t secrets, they did not have to be hidden to remain true, to be valued. When you love someone I didn’t know no was an option. I thought denying myself of them was selfish. I thought allowing myself to be stolen meant love.
I kissed boys and my lips formed into every shape except the word yes. No one told me that consent is not singular or silent. It is loud, vibrant and undeniable. The phrase “consent is sexy” only serves to contribute to rape culutre. The use of the adjective” sexy” implies that consent is a lustful addiction to sexual activity, not a requirement. Consent is not sexy. Sexy is lacey or corseted. Consent is a basic human right. There is no such thing as nonconsensual sex. Anything nonconsensual is assault.
We teach little girls that it is rude to refuse hugs and to cover up when men or boys are present. We tell girls that are flesh is our most prized shame. It is something that is honored, but also hidden. With these teachings of fabricated morals how are girls supposed to have the words to describe assault. How are they supposed to know what has become of their bodies? We teach boys that they are supposed to be the takers so how could boys begin to fathom that something could ever be taken from them?
Especially as something as intimate as their bodies. Assault does not just find women in tight skirts with drunken smiles. It finds little girl’s in princess pajamas, boys in soccer uniforms. There is no one person who deserved assault. No one deserved assault more and anyone has unfortunately been found by a predator. No one deserves being assaulted. There is no asking for it. There is no situation where it is excusable.
I cannot tell you how much I have broken in the palm of another. But I can tell you how I saw people’s fingers as triggers of the gun. How my body had become a series of bullet holes. How I cried silently as my head and my heart was telling me to scream about the blood, about the crime, but I hid the wounds in shame that I would be blamed.
No one told me how I could say”no” even if I thought I loved him. No said that not saying “no” isn’t the same thing as saying “yes”, or that I could say “yes” at first and then change my mind whenever I wanted to. Teaching consent is an integral part of sexual education and sexual education is an integral part of human development.