The condom on the banana: what they did and didn’t teach me about sex at school

Jamie Trezise

Let’s get straight to the point. Some schools use bananas. Some use cucumbers. My school had blue rubber penis replicas.

Sex education can be bizarre, awkward, funny and at times, outdated or even irrelevant. I know watching videos from the ‘80s with dodgy soundtracks didn’t help prepare me for the real deal.

I don’t want to devalue sex education though. Learning the ins and outs is important.

Discovering how a baby is made, how to spell chlamydia and how to inflate a condom over your head are all important life skills.

Sex is an instinct that may come naturally to human beings, but not knowing about practicing safe sex could lead to widespread STIs which could end in high infertility rates, and in some cases fatality. We need to understand what can happen to prevent the worst.

As I said, my school taught us how to put a condom on a blue rubber replica. But they didn’t teach us what condoms to use. Ribbed? Dotted? Flavoured? Or how and where to buy them without dying of embarrassment. Sex ed was always a clinical affair, almost more of a science lesson.

As part of my work in a Special Educational Needs department of a school, I recently attended a sex ed lesson with a boy with autism. When he found out what sex was, he said, “well I’m never going to do that!”. I felt this really revealed the coldness of sex education.

Many misconceptions are made, but not talked about. Online porn is often the source. Guys can feel a pressure to perform. Girls to going hairless.

There is never much talk about the emotions in sex, and the connections that are made. The basic mechanics are discussed, but a lot is missed out.

Why did no one tell me that after sex, women release a hormone called oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone” which can lead to them feeling attached to their sexual partners? Or that oxytocin is less common in men, but other hormones are released, having a similar effect.

It think it’s important to learn that humans are made for relationship.  Knowing that might go someway to explaining why one night stands aren’t always as satisfying as they can be made out to be.

In a way, sex ed taught me a lot, yet taught me nothing. Even after sex ed, everyone is naive about sex.

There is a big debate surrounding sex education at the moment, but I think we should throw into the mix the idea that sex is more than biology. Sex ed should teach more than just how to spell gonorrhea.   

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