What if your sex ed teacher actually wanted you to enjoy sex?
We were big fans of Laurie Abraham even before she stopped by our book club and drank red wine with us while we interrogated her about her book, The Husbands and Wives Club: A Year in the Life of a Couples’ Therapy Group. She’s a smart and thoughtful (and funny) writer about some of our favorite topics: sex, relationships, therapy, communication between the sexes, monogamy and its discontents. So we were thrilled to see her cover story in last week’s New York Times Magazine, on another of our favorite topics: sex ed (and not the abstinence-only kind, thank you very much).
The article, “Teaching Good Sex,” focuses on how sex ed is taught at the Friends’ Central School, a private high school in Philly. The teacher, Al Vernacchio (our new hero), takes an approach that shouldn’t be shocking but is: he wants his students to understand all the pleasures of sex. The pain, too (oh, the pain!), but also how sex is best when you really, really want it. He gets them to question gender bias in bed, he teaches them that penis size doesn’t matter as much as they think it does, and he gently steers them away from the tropes of porn. Also, check out his awesome pizza analogy, which he gave them to replace the intercourse-focused, female-unfriendly baseball analogy:
“If you’re gonna have pizza with someone else, what do you have to do?” he [said]. “You gotta talk about what you want. Even if you’re going to have the same pizza you always have, you say, ‘We getting the usual?’ Just a check in. And square, round, thick, thin, stuffed crust, pepperoni, stromboli, pineapple — none of those are wrong; variety in the pizza model doesn’t come with judgment…So ideally, when the pizza arrives, it smells good, looks good, it’s mouthwatering. Wouldn’t it be great if we had that kind of anticipation before sexual activity, if it stimulated all our senses, not just our genitals but this whole-body experience…And what’s the goal of eating pizza? To be full, to be satisfied. That might be different for different people; It might be different for you on different occasions. Nobody’s like ‘You failed, you didn’t eat the whole pizza.’ … So again, what if our goal, quote, unquote, wasn’t necessarily to finish the bases?…What if it just was, ‘Wow, I feel like I had enough. That was really good.’”
Like we said, our new hero. We can only hope we do such a good job teaching our own kids about sex when the times comes.
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