As millions of college students across the United States pack up their bags and head home for the holidays, or wherever they go after the panic of finals and winter break checkout, many people fail to realize that there’s something in the air and it’s not just the holiday spirit. We’re talking about sex.
With conception rates reaching their peak in December, this month is a time ripe for conception, making up for 9% of all U.S. conceptions. This percentage just might not add up considering that more “than twice as many condoms are sold in the week before Christmas” than after. I’m no scientist, but this seems to indicate that in quite a few cases, some couples aren’t using their increased condom purchases correctly.
You might not realize, but this speaks to a larger issue in the United States: the joke that is our system of sexual education.
I, myself, didn’t realize just how bad the United States’ archaic approach to sex-ed was until I saw a video posted in August from Last Week Tonight where host John Oliver, with the help of a few celebrities, tackled the mammoth that is poor sex-ed in America.
Now, you may wonder why I would bring up a video from four months ago when anything more than a week old is considered ancient history. The reason is because it’s important. There is already so much misinformation and ignorance in the United States as it is, that educating people of their natural bodily functions in medically accurate and informative ways should be a given, not an “it’s up to you.” As highlighted in Oliver’s segment there is no required standard for sexual education in the United States today. Only 22 states have mandated sex-ed programs and only 13 states require the information they hand out to be medically accurate.
This is an awful truth leading to a slew of other problems such as differing definitions of consent, and even not knowing what contraception is. "Abstinence only" education, as outdated as it may seem, is still the primary education teens and young adults are receiving today. While abstinence is a perfectly acceptable personal decision, the sex-ed presented to teens leaves no room for a decision. Essentially, being pressured into not having sex is just as bad as being pressured into having sex.
When I got to college, my first year was filled with hall events dedicated to “cliteracy” and learning the real facts about sex-ed because my high school really did a terrible job at providing me with the information needed to make any kind of decision regarding sex.
The bottom line is that if we spent as much time trying to educate people about sex in order to end misinformation as we do complaining and finding offense in the very existence of sex, our society would be entirely different. For example, maybe if people understood basic human sexuality then women wouldn’t still be fighting for basic reproductive rights and the freedom to control their own bodies, and men wouldn’t have to live up to the unrealistic expectations society places on them to be manly masters of sex. Now, as our country stands, it seems like everyone could use a good sex talk.