On July 7, Teen Vogue published a column titled “Anal Sex: What You Need to Know.” The article detailed the benefits and nitty-gritty details of what it’s like going in the back door, from how to approach anal sex with your partner to what to expect during your first attempt. They claimed the guide was the “anal 101 for teens, beginners, and all inquisitive folk.”
Needless to say, conservatives were not pleased about it.
Within the following weeks, Fox News, Breitbart, and other conservative news outlets wrote their responses to the article, criticizing the piece and calling it “agenda driven” and “smut.” A mom blogger called The Activist Mommy even posted a video of her burning the issue, calling for a boycott of Teen Vogue for “teaching sodomy to our children.” It’s no surprise that some people didn’t like it, but some went as far to say that it was a “parent” issue — that talking about sex with teens was not okay.
I’m not going to act like it was an article without flaws. The diagram of the female reproductive system they decided to use didn’t even label the clitoris, and the article had to be updated to include a line about how condoms are still necessary (which is an important tidbit for their target audience). There’s so much to sex it’s hard to put it all down in one article, but I wouldn’t say the guide is as comprehensive as they claim it to be.
But one thing these angry parents and conservative outlets are forgetting to acknowledge is that this single article does more than most sex education programs do. In the U.S., only 22 states require public schools to teach sex education, while only 19 states require that the information provided to the students about sex must be accurate.
Not only are teens across the U.S. not learning about safe sex, but LGBT youth are suffering even worse in the public education realm. According to a survey from 2015, only 12 percent of Millennials said that same-sex relationships were even discussed in their sex education courses. If you’ve ever sat through an average health class, you know that the information you’re given is about as informative as the gym teacher in Mean Girls was.
Don’t bash a publication attempting to inform the next generation about safe sex. You can hide sex from your children all you want, but you should be purchasing publications that attempt to teach your children about sex, and teach them how to do it safely. Teaching off of an abstinence-only model has never proven to be successful, and talking about safe sex shouldn’t be taboo. I’d be happy handing my future child a copy of Teen Vogue knowing a guide like that was in there — because I would know that they’re really learning about sex, and aren’t being told that abstinence is the only way to go.
Before performing any sexual act for the first time, do your research. Teen Vogue’s guide may not be the bible to anal sex, but it’s a step towards making safe sex something we can talk about. Sex isn’t taboo — it’s a normal part of most adults (and teens) lives; there’s nothing wrong with making sure they know what they’re getting into before they do it.