Real Sex Education

Compared to what I got in the 1990s, PornHub was an improvement.

I dunno about you, but when I was a teenager in the 1990s “sex ed” was a fucking joke. Then again, this is the USA. It’s still a fucking joke just about everywhere in this godforsaken country because we let fundies vote instead of making them feed lions. But, fuck it. Or butt fuck it, if you prefer.

The “sex ed” I got as a teenager was basically geared toward preventing unwanted pregnancy and avoiding sexually-transmitted infections (STIs). It’s better than the “wait until marriage and make your relationship a menage à trois with Jesus” schtick, but not by much. Instead of Jesus I got, “Keep it in your pants because HIV is a death sentence”.

Mind you, this was around the time that Dr. Joycelyn Elders was the Surgeon General of the United States. She didn’t last long in that position because she had the temerity to say something blindingly fucking obvious but heretical to Middle America in public:

I think that masturbation is something that is a part of human sexuality, and it’s a part of something that perhaps should be taught. But we’ve not even taught our children the very basics.

Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former Surgeon General of the United States

It probably didn’t help that Dr. Elders said this while being a black woman, even though this is something white feminists like Betty Dodson have been advocating since the 1960s. And the basics are pretty simple: do it in private, use lube, and wash up afterward.

Naturally, conservative Christians got uptight about this, and late-night comedians started making jokes about kids taking classes on how to beat your meat even though Dr. Elders didn’t say anything about teaching teenagers how to jerk off, just that it was OK to do it in private every once in a while, and that it’s a safe option if you’re trying to avoid pregnancy or STIs. You’d think this shit wouldn’t be controversial, but of course Elders has also spoken about drug legalization and suggested that conservative Christians need to get over “their love affair with the fetus”, so Bill Clinton finally threw her under the bus.

Yeah. The guy who used a cigar as a dildo with Monica Lewinsky and lied to Congress about it couldn’t handle having his surgeon general suggest that teenagers should be taught that they should scratch their own itch when they’re horny. Asshole.

But you know what? Even though Elders didn’t want to get into teaching kids how to masturbate, I think that sort of information should be made available to teenagers. Yes, I think teenagers should be taught how best to jerk off.

For starters, we should be teaching kids to use lube. We should also be teaching them what kind of lube to use. You sure as shit shouldn’t be using Vaseline when you’re jerking off or fingering yourself (or somebody else).

Nor should we stop with wanking. Take cunnilingus for example. When you’re going down on a woman, you can’t just stick your tongue up her vagina or go stampeding after the clitoris. There’s an art to this shit.

thumbnail for "Sex Ed" from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (sign-in required) on YouTube
YouTube: "Sex Ed" from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (sign-in required)

Same with fellatio. Cocksucking is as fine an art as muff diving, and you can’t learn this shit from porn. Porn won’t teach you that you gotta handle cut cocks differently from uncut cocks, for example.

And let’s not forget buggery. It you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s a pain in the ass for everybody whether they’re bottoms or tops.

While I’m on the subject, we should go further than just teach kids theory and giving them modern translations of texts like the Kama Sutra and the Perfumed Garden along with modern pillow books like Joy of Sex and Sex for One. Maybe what I have in mind won’t work until we destigmatize and decriminalize sex work, but I think every young person should have the opportunity to learn about sex with a caring professional. I think your first time shouldn’t be with a teenager who’s as nervous and inexperienced as you are, but with somebody a few years older who knows what they’re doing and is bound by a code of ethics to put you first.

I also think we should be taught how to assert sexual desire, how to give consent, how to cope when rejected, and how to end a sexual/romantic relationship that has run its course.

And we should be taught that every kind of sexuality is valid, whether it’s queer, straight, or otherwise. We should also be taught that sexual preference and romantic preference aren’t the same thing, they can change with time and circumstance, and that we don’t have to label ourselves for anybody else’s convenience.

I didn’t feel safe enough to admit to myself that I wanted cock until I had been married for years. Some women are in the same boat; they’re long married and have teenage children before they can finally admit to themselves that they crave cunt. And then you have people who realize at whatever age that the gender they were assigned at birth just doesn’t make sense for them.

Nobody should have to deal with shit like that. How to be our authentic selves — sexually or otherwise — is something we should be learning from adults in a safe environment before we go out on our own. That’s not the sort of education we can or should be getting from PornHub.

Incidentally, even the ugly and awkward people should be able to get laid. Nobody should have to go through life untouched. But they should have to pay for it.

about the author

photo of a pale, blue-eyed man in a black coat with long brown hair outdoors in the winter

writes science fantasy inspired by heavy metal and has a day job as a software developer. He is currently writing a new novel called Spiral Architect. He'll use your pronouns, but doesn't care which ones you use with him. You can reach him at