IF it happened, most of usgaiz would remember that time during the early teen years one or both of our parents sat us down and, after much throat clearing and confusing small-talk, proceeded to talk to us about the birds and the bees.
But on that note, we’re willing to bet most of you remember the awkwardness of the whole thing more than what they were actually saying.
All Most of us are perfectly fine making sex jokes or even talking about it with friends at the mamak, but why is sex so hard to talk about when it’s actually important to do so? In fact, why are we constantly using euphemisms when it comes to talking about sex – like “The birds and the bees” or “Babies are made when a boy’s hoo-hoo goes into a girl’s hey-nonny-nonny,”? Why is it so hard for the word “sex,” “penis,” or “vagina” to leave our mouths when we need to talk about it the most?
And let’s not get started on the classroom sex education in school. Aside from Bab 3 of the Form 3 Sains textbook (Remember that?), a sex education module was introduced by the National Population and Family Development Board last year, where school students are taught how to refrain from having sex to rejecting sexual advances. And apparently condom wearing demonstrations are not allowed in schools, effectively making sexual knowledge become sexual NOledge.
This focus on abstinence has actually led to a RISE in teen pregnancies and child marriages, not to mention an increased risk of contracting sexually-transmitted infections due to inadequate knowledge of contraceptive use. While NGOs such as orphanCARE have provided solutions to the baby-dumping problem with the baby hatch, the point of the matter is that we’re left dealing with the problem after it has happened rather than preventing it from happening in the first place.
But luckily, there’s a sex educator trying to change all of that, and she’s none other than CILISOS’s own freelance writer June Low. When June isn’t talking about ubat lelaki kuat or free water here, she’s out in schools and and the internet discussing sex education in open and honest terms. So before we start telling you about her and the mission, here’s an episode of her YouTube show Popek Popek to give you a better idea of what she does.
BTW, if you ever wondered why it’s called “the birds and the bees”, this might help answer that question.
Why is this girl so bising about sex la?
In a nutshell, she bising because everyone senyap. She tells us that she was inspired to start her own sex education platform because the subject itself is very taboo in Malaysia, and teenagers find it hard to talk about sex in general. Plus, the push for abstinence-based education was getting on her nerves.
“I teach comprehensive sex education. Abstinence based sex education does not work, so I wanted to reach a wider audience with scientifically accurate information on sexual health.” – June Low, in interview with CILISOS
In case you were wondering how June came to the conclusion that abstinence based sex education is about as useful as a fork in a soup-drinking competition, here’s her analysis of the new sex ed syllabus used in schools.
A bit of popek about Popek Popek
Popek is an informal term for general chit-chat, and that’s pretty much the overall approach that they’re taking – informal, fun, and with content based off questions from callers, Facebook, and YouTube comments.
“Apart from imparting info, I wanted to create a place where people can just ask whatever questions they want, and not be afraid. It’s what it says on the tin, we’re popek–popek (ing), so just come join us for a chat, this is not some kind of intimidating medical consultation/forum perdana.”
While also addressing the lack of sex education shows in Malaysia, June also hopes it will help them reach a wider audience online, “especially with the [email protected]$$ theme song by [her co-host] Sudarshan,” adding:
“I know I work with teens, and it feels like we’re targeting teens, but I think a lot of the stuff is relevant to people of different ages.”
Aiyo Sains Bab 4 not enough meh?
Actually, we originally put Bab 3 instead of Bab 4, but it looks as if the chapters were changed in the 10-odd years we were out of school. Thanks to Adam Chin for pointing it out 😀
“Science teachers are not necessarily sex educators, and usually just gloss over that one chapter where they talk about the reproductive systems. Again, there are a variety of topics in sex education, not just sex.”
Well, it’s been quite a few years but as we recall, that particular chapter focused on the biological aspect of sex (because Sains mah) rather than the social or personal aspect of it.
In a 2011 local study on the subject, it was found that science teachers did a good job explaining the sex organs and the fertilization process but were less enthusiastic about sex education, failing to relate the topic to a wider scale such as the intercourse itself or STDs – making it “vague, incomplete, lacking in depth, and insufficient”.
The result of this approach to education? Unpublished data from a 2009 Malaysian survey on family growth (from this 2012 research paper) found that:
- 46% of males and 33% of females were not taught about contraceptives before having sex for the first time
- 41% of teenagers between 18-19 years old know little or nothing about condoms
- 75% of the same group know little or nothing about contraceptive pills
Oh, and a study was done in the US where communities were either given an abstinence-focused sex education courses, comprehensive courses, or no sex education courses at all. It was found that there was no difference between the abstinence and no sex education groups, and in fact, the one that showed a reduction in delaying the age of sexual intercourse, lowering sexual partners, and increased contraceptive use were the participants in the comprehensive programs.
So how did YOU learn about sexual education?
Yeah, you. Like the person reading this article you. How did you learn about sex education?
Now, it’s not like we’re trying to sell you June’s workshop or anything, we’d like you to compare how you learnt about sex and compare it to what she’s been doing to teach it:
An interactive, informative, and comprehensive approach to sex education….
Body image and confidence building…
and anonymous (and sometimes quite humorous) question-and-answer sessions.
And the following question is, do you wish you had workshops like these when you were in school, and would you want your children to have access to them?
We don’t want to attend these workshops because we want these approaches to be made part of the sex education syllabus in schools. As June puts it, despite evidence on both the local and international front that abstinence-based sex education does not work, the authorities are still applying the same syllabus and hoping for different results. So really, what have we got to lose?
Now, excuse us while we try to figure out where storks get the babies from.