Losing It: How to Unlearn Everything You’ve Been Taught About Sex

How much do you know about sex? And I mean actually knowing about sex. For most of us, our sexual education began and ended with the birds and the bees. They taught us the biology of our bodies, how to make babies, and if we were lucky, the difference between STDs and STIs.

Since our knowledge about sex has been so limited, the Internet has been our teacher of sex education, which often has more drawbacks than advantages. This is what Sophia Smith Galer touches on in her new book, Losing It.

Drawing on some of her own experiences around sex education, ‘Losing It’ explores how we’ve been taught about sex in the 21st century and how this affects how we relate to intimacy.

“I didn’t get comprehensive sex education,” Galer tells HuffPost UK. “I had sex education at school. But the things that stuck with me were, as I described in the book, the focus on ‘bugs and babies’. So, STI avoidance and pregnancy avoidance.”

She believes that the information she was taught about sex did not prepare her well enough to deal with real-life sexual scenarios. “My sex education could definitely have been a lot better. And what she really argued in the book is that I ended up leaving school endorsing a number of myths about the body because of things that she had heard.”

Author and journalist Sophia Smith Galer and her new book, Losing It.

There were multiple reasons why Galer wanted to write the book, but one of them was related to her previous role as a BBC religion reporter. “YouTime and time again, sex and relationships would continue to come up in the stories I wrote about young men and young women,” he says.

Although she is not currently practicing, she was raised Catholic. “Our worldviews and our perspectives are based on a religion that we believe in or have influenced a society that we live in, and with sex there’s a lot of collision.”

This is something he discusses further in the book, in a chapter called ‘The Myth of Virginity’, which discusses the role Christianity has played in sex education.

Through her research, Galer discovered that there are some states in the United States where the sex education curriculum focuses solely on abstinence.

He spoke with a young woman named Blair, who grew up in a Southern Baptist community. Blair talks about how she clung to the culture of purity because she wanted to please God, but it ended up making her mentally ill. She remembers the first time she made out with a boy and said that she took the morning after pill because she thought she would get pregnant.

What really baffled me was how much of this educational resource also exists in the UK,” says Galer. “There are a number of stories in the book about people getting messages of quite pure culture in British schools.

“THere is research that has been commissioned by the highest powers in the country that has found that abstinence-only education does not work. Not only does it not work, but it can be actively harmful. It can do things like contribute to sexist values ​​or it can reaffirm sexist values.”

So how can we unlearn what we’ve been taught about sex?

Since her knowledge about sex after school was basic, Galer explains that she learned the necessary information herself through reading. “That’s how I’ve always found out things when I was young. I would go on the internet and look for things,” she says.

“That is fraught with danger as much as it is good, reliable information. FOr me, I learned by reading and listening to podcasts. It’s been kind of an acquisition of pretty private information, in addition to my own experiences with partners.”

When asked where young (or older) people can safely learn about sex online, Galer says sexual health charities and trusted national websites.

“METERMost of the sexual health charities that are smart and supportive of young people have pretty good Instagram pages where they debunk a lot of myths and share information and Instagram infographics, which is really good,” he says.

The book touches on themes such as virginity as a concept, the obsession with the hymen, tightness, penetration and consent.

On the latter, he writes: “There are many occasions in my sexual biography where I consented at the time, but the details changed suddenly and dramatically, such as when a partner revealed that they had lied about their age or were breaking up with me, during or after sexual contact.

Galer tells HuffPost that the chapter on consent was quite difficult to write because it made her reflect on some of her own experiences.

“It made me think deeply about the bad ethics of sex,” she says.

I think we don’t talk enough about coercion. What is a coercive act? I think it’s quite useful to adopt that vocabulary when we talk about consent, because we are often too limiting. We just restrict it to something that is either consensual or non-consensual.”

Though difficult, if you truly want to unlearn what you’ve been taught about sex and overcome any misplaced embarrassment, Galer believes it’s important to introspect.

“If you want to unlearn sexual myths, you’ll have to be prepared to possibly rewrite your own sexual biography, as it can make you think differently about things that happened in the past,” he says.

Although some of the topics on the pages are quite dark, Galer wants the book to highlight the importance of prioritizing information about sex and the body in the world we live in.

“What I find in the book is that many of us don’t have access to sex education and sex myths pave the way for so much harm,” she says. “I want people to know that Sex is not a matter of sex. I want the people who put this book down to think that it is a political, socioeconomic, health, and human rights issue.”

Losing It: Sex Education for the 21st Century by Sophia Smith Galer is available now.

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