Every parent wants their child to receive the best education in the world. It becomes their dream to see their child turn into a beautiful human being who is successful and responsible.
But what is education?
Many of us will answer this question by saying that it helps us to gain knowledge, skills, techniques, learn about our rights, duties, or how to fight crime, and build a better society.
So overall we can say that education is important because it creates a better human being who is aware of his/her duties and responsibilities and has the knowledge to change the world.
So let me ask you another question, if education is so important, why certain topics like - mental health, gender and sexuality, abuse and violence, norms, equality, and other controversial topics are avoided by our education system?
Education is supposed to be holistic. Holistic means whole. That means every part of human life should be covered and touched by the education system.
But very conveniently, few topics are excluded because they are awkward and go against our culture. And one topic that we’ll discuss in this article is all about the physical, cognitive, emotional, and social aspects of our life. A topic that can teach us so much about ourselves, our identity, our choices, our relationship, and our wellbeing. The topic is so relevant that is banned by many states in a country like India where 87 rape cases are reported every day!
While growing up, many of us had a funny name made up by our parents or by us for our private parts. Some common names are - foo foo, wee-wee, nony, jay jay, pinky, doody, or bajama! All body parts are called by their respective name but our genitals have a special name. Why?
Maybe because they are special? Maybe the urges of our 'jay jay’ are so strong that it can make us forget about consent, right, respect, well-being, and most importantly our culture because of which the whole concept is ignored! This urge makes a person abuse another human being just to satisfy his/her needs.
If ‘nony’ is so strong and can make us lose control, why are we not learning about it? Or why are we just learning about its structure and not about the impact it can have on our cognitive, emotional, and social development?
If it can impact all the spheres of our life, then maybe it’s not just physical. Maybe the topic we are trying to avoid is much more than the scrotum, uterus, testis, and ovaries. Maybe the topic is also about how to make decisions about your life, how to communicate with your partner, what are your rights as a human being, how to respect the choices and identity of another human being, why consent is important, and what are healthy practices.
And if culture plays such an important role, why are female goddesses worshiped in India but girls are raped every day? Why do we praise the strength of goddesses and lock girls inside the house because ‘boys will be boys’ rules the mind of our society? Why do we appreciate everything that God does or has given us but shame girls for having periods? Or Why different temperaments of god are appreciated and studied but if a boy cries he is told that he is weak?
All these questions and their answers are controversial. Controversial because they are ignored by our society. Not because it goes against the culture. We as human beings have restricted ourselves to let in new information and evolve. We like to hold regressive views and traditions and then blame society for it. We are the society but can we give an answer to such questions?
While transitioning from childhood to adulthood, we all face problems with our identity, sexuality, life choices, and hormones. But who is teaching us about them or how to handle them? Yes, schools do teach us that when puberty starts breasts of girls grow, boys get facial hair, girls tend to gain weight or get their menstruation and the voice of boys deepen. All this is very informative and useful, but who will teach me about different sexualities and gender? Changes in their bodies and mind? Why are they excluded from the curriculum?
Many people from LGBTQIA+ community have to check the internet for their answers. The Internet teaches them about everything that schools fail to teach. But who will teach people who are not part of the community or their parents or their families? If one part of the community is getting all the knowledge and the other is left in dark, how the two would meet in life? The Internet is not supposed to replace the school and its teaching. The schools should equip themselves to teach students about everything before children run-up to the internet for their answers.
While one family member lives in a closet, other family members live with locked minds because they ignore to understand or give the child the right to live his/ her life as its own.
And if we are talking about the advantages the internet brings with it, let’s also talk about one major drawback it has related to this topic. Porn. For those of you who don’t know, porn means sexually explicit videos, photographs, writings, or the like, produced to elicit sexual arousal. It also means unrealistic expectations and normalizing of unhealthy sexual practices. Thanks to porn many school-going and even adults think that it’s okay to try out everything people are doing in those videos or writings. Who is paying you for all that? They get paid that is why they are enjoying it. Ask any normal human being if they’ll enjoy half of what they do in those videos? It can make them stars but it will make you an abuser because it can only increase your expectation about behaviors that are unhealthy and violent. Along with that, it puts unnecessary pressure on us to have ideal bodies that actors have. Everybody is unique and beautiful, but only a specific body type is promoted (busty, big, shaved), which created unreasonable body expectations.
There are so many issues that we can write a book on it. But there has to be a solution to all this. Maybe we can have a comprehensive education where learning and teaching will be based on cognitive, emotional, physical, and social well being. Maybe we can have a better education system where the education minister doesn’t consider avoiding a topic just because it is ‘against our culture’. Maybe we can as parents and adults start talking to our kids in a normal manner and let go of ‘doody’.
But the first and the foremost thing we can do is let’s call this topic by its name. SEX EDUCATION. Education about sexuality, emotional relation and responsibility, sexual anatomy, reproduction, consent, reproductive rights, birth control, and sexual diseases. Let’s talk about sex education with our children, friends, elders, and everyone we know so that we can create better human beings who can let go of unrealistic and backward thinking, and respect every human being including themselves for who they are and what they want.