What if self-care was the foundation of sex education?

Sex Education – so much more than talking about sex

What if self-care was the foundation of sex education?

When we think about Education we often think in terms of grades, scores and achievements. Rarely do we ask the Education system how well it is equipping young people for life and relationships. Meanwhile, the Internet is acting as the default tool of relationship and sex education and its content is increasingly violent and pornographic .

Sex education could offer a foundational support for young people in their development of intimacy, loving relationships, appreciating and understanding the body and with this, learning to live true health and wellbeing. However, there is clear evidence that sex education in most countries is sorely lacking and there is also strong evidence that when sex education is given it is usually function or fear-based. The physical function of sex is taught (mainly the reproductive system) and the risks associated (pregnancy, STI’s), without imparting a fuller understanding of the quality of relationships required to make possible truly loving or supportive interactions.

In truth, to have sex or sexual intercourse is the physical expression of a loving relationship with another. It is a way of celebrating the love that we live on a daily basis . How we live our sexuality and how we identify as men and women is a product of how we love and live in our life. Each and every one of us determines actively what intimacy, love and connection means.

In a society where violence, abusive behaviour and self-objectification is normalized, we have young people consenting to rape style sex because it is considered ‘normal’, so they consent to a cultural practice and with this to abuse. Even if the young person may feel they are in a compromising situation, in many cases they will choose to take a calculated risk – engage in the culturally accepted abuse or risk ‘social suicide’ i.e., being considered ‘uncool’ or ‘uptight’.

A sexualised society fosters a disconnection from the body and from each other (through various forms of objectification) and this provides a platform for abusive and loveless social scripts to take over and determine our behaviour. It opens the door to accepting a reduced version of love that promotes a certain type of sexuality which is based on abuse, humiliation, violence, degradation of the body generally and the female body particularly.

Today sex education is mostly about security and protection, exploring individual and peer group norms and values and practising skills to, for example, refuse unwanted or unprotected sex, to resist peer and social pressures and being assertive about sexual coercion, gender norms, STI’s, the use of appropriate contraception such as the use of condoms, etc. All this is of great value and needs to be transmitted.

However, teaching security and protection does not lead to an embodiment of a lived loving quality, but simply to defence mechanisms that are easily thrown overboard when no danger is perceived or when cultural scripts dominate the decision making process. Security based knowledge alone does not support because for the young person risky behaviour is never without a perceived payoff. But what if the ‘payoff’ only appears to be of value because a sense of self-worth is lacking to begin with?

We cannot protect the young from the types of abuse that are entrenched in our society and which they learn and normalise while growing up. Therefore, instead of trying to protect the young or save them from the ills society presents, we have to equip them to be able to deal with the onslaught that is going on and start changing the root cause instead of treating the symptoms – hence, preparing them for life.

There are many reasons why young people adopt a social script. What we have to consider and offer is an education that supports young people to understand the difference between when they are following a social script and when they are making choices that honour their own feelings, and with this their own bodies. Anything else will always only be a band-aid on the site.

Therefore, unless we really look at what constitutes abuse in our lives – and how to not be abusive – we will keep on living in the constantly repeating cycle of the normalisation of violence and abuse, soon calling normal what today is still considered distressing to us. Abuse starts with the abuse of ourselves, and its ability to dominate (or not) is determined by the levels of self-love (and gradually the love) we embody and consistently live.

Self-abuse is massive and the gateway to accepting abuse from others. Self-abuse is not only the extreme behaviours, but the daily confirmation of ‘not being worth it’. Self-abuse starts with our daily choices of how we are with ourselves and the quality we decide to live in.

Spending the teenage years in front of the mirror hating the reflection and loading the body more and more with disregarding thoughts and comments, or trying forever to improve or fix the body, sets the tone of how we allow others to treat us.

  • A self-loathed body and person easily subordinates themselves to the supply or demand aspects of a sexual currency that reduces us to functional bodies and objectifying stereotypes that never match the true grandness of us.

  • A self-loathed body finds it easy to accept a reduced version of love as this is what has been known and lived.

  • A self-loathed body does not know itself as an agent of love and looks instead to the outside to be fulfilled by a love that will come from outside of itself – for the ‘good’ to come from ‘out there’.

As modern day philosopher Serge Benhayon states,

"Because we are empty, we constantly if not incessantly want something done for us, but love is not anything anybody can do. Choose to self-love, then be that love in all that you do. It will be the greatest thing you can do for yourself and all others at the same time."

Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings and Revelations, page 696

Promoting a cardio-centric approach and living from the heart’s intelligence, he presents that the body is the marker of all truth and that we are feeling beings first and from here we can approach our academic learning in a much more meaningful way.

Love is the missing ingredient and this ingredient is missing in our society – not only in the young, as they only reflect us the horrible truth of it. Sex without (self) love is function and security based; it is the seeking and searching for relief in another without bringing love to the table. Teaching sexuality in this way is deeply harming for young people.

Through reductionism, we are in effect teaching them only to seek love through sex instead of bringing a fuller understanding and confirmation of the love that is innate in them already.

"Making love is an extension of how you are living with yourself and how that equal union is lived with your partner. Therefore, making love is always an act that confirms the love you already have as opposed to having sex which in-truth is an act that seeks love."

Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings and Revelations, page 695

It is the love we bring in ourselves that determines the type and quality of loving interactions (sexual or otherwise) that we have with each other.

It is important to understand that making love the foundation of sex education is not a moral exercise. To have sex or to not have sex is not a question of morality, it is about the quality we choose when we engage with another.

It is each person’s free will to choose sex (the seeking of love from another) or to develop the love in themselves daily that can then naturally be confirmed through the act of love-making. Hence, we are not talking about the love we seek in another that has to be the foundation of sex and relationship education, but love as the foundation of the relationship with ourselves and from there with others.

Each is the choice of the individual and yet it can’t be denied that divorcing love from our relationships with each other, whether sexual or otherwise, has countless ramifications. An age of increasingly extreme pornography based on routine degradation and abuse has left little doubt that this debate has long surpassed the polar arguments between the ‘moralistic church’ and the ‘sexually liberal.’ Instead it has now emerged as an increasingly urgent question of the health and wellbeing and the bodily integrity of both young and old alike.

Policy-makers are constantly addressing the lack of knowledge of young people, but we don’t just need more informed young people and societies, we need young people and people generally who are connected to their bodies and live with the knowing that they are feeling beings first.

We need to support the young to build self-love in their bodies so they stop making unloving decisions.

The problem is not that they don’t know, as they do know – the problem is that they are making decisions that are not coming from love.

At the centre of sex education has to be the building of love in the body through a holistic self-caring approach so that the young get a marker in their bodies of what abuse is, how it looks like and feels, and what a true quality of love is. Only then will they be able to start relating to each other in non-harmful ways as the foundation is from this self-loving marker in their body. Therefore, sex education has to be looked at within the bigger picture of education. It is not a separate topic but part of a whole that only in its wholeness contributes to true health and wellbeing in the young.

"Our first relationship with any Body is with our own. This then becomes the foundation for our relationships with every Body thereafter"

Rebecca Asquith

Filed under

RelationshipsIntimacyMaking loveSelf-loveEducationAbuse

  • By Rachel Andras, MA Gender & Development, MA Social Education

    Gender policy advisor, facilitator of change management processes, adult and youth educator, focusing on body awareness and (self) care as an essential category of value-creation, impulsing processes of real change by guiding people towards themselves as experts of their own realities.

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