Tag Archives: Education

RANT: You’re Stupid And We Know It, School Board

A six-year-old has been suspended for singing the words an LMFAO song: “I’m sexy and I know it.”

The school board thinks he should’ve known better.

You know what the six-year-old knows? That these people look like they’re having a LOT of fun when they’re bouncing around singing this song in the video. They’re cool, weird, neat performers with great hair, exciting lives, and they’re singing a super-catchy song that makes the six-year-old come to life when he sings the song too. And they were on top of the world because of it. That is what he knows.

Know what the adults on the schoolboard know? Better. They damned well know better than to suspend a six-year-old for mentioning the words to a ludicrous song by a campy band. And to call it sexual harrassment?

“Zero tolerance” laws are for a moronic people in a moronic world. We’re smarter than that. We know that not everything’s a crime. We know that kids tell lies, adults make mistakes, and shit happens. But we want to seem tough, strong, and like we’re in the moral right, and so we say HEY, ANY CONTRAVENTION OF THIS LAW, AND YOU’RE SCREWED, PAL.

So what happens? A kid gets suspended because he’s singing lyrics to a song he probably doesn’t even understand.

When I was a kid, I was 8 when I found an Elton John record with my brother at a yard sale. On it was “The Bitch is Back.” I didn’t understand the lyrics, but I loved the way it sounded when he sung the words, and I remember dancing around the room singing all summer long.

In grade 7, I loved the song “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. It would be years before I’d understand it was about premature ejaculation, or even what “premature ejaculation” meant.

We can hear songs as kids and love the way they sound, but not have a clue what the premise is.

Even if the kid had any gleaning of this song’s meaning, to call it sexual harassment when he’s just emulating what’s in pop culture is a ridiculously hypocritical move.

I don’t want to live in a world where there are no shades of grey. We’re boring enough already, people.

Let’s get over ourselves and stop the stupidity. Zero tolerance makes zero sense. Look at cases on their merits, not just under the dimwitted light of asshat politicians who pass laws under the guise of looking tough on crime — because it’s we who pay the price, not actual bad guys.

Hurting Kids By Protecting Them

I actually am somewhat empathetic with the “pro” stance on this issue. People are mean. Many folks have thin skin. Protecting the weaker is what the stronger should do. But at what cost? So, when in doubt, I say educate and don’t overly interfere. Read on.

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Hey, I know what we should do.

We should make people scared of things. Like, you know, social media. We should demonize the medium instead of putting responsibilities upon the user. We should say that, because bad things sometimes happen, everything in that realm is therefore always bad.

Because that’s worked with everything else.

Like rock and roll. Or sexy books. Cable television. Elvis’s hips.

If Anthony Orsini has his way, his high school’s students won’t have any freedom or privacy when it comes to social media, if they have access at all.  New Jersey’s Benjamin Franklin Middle School principal sees social media as the beginning of the downfall of civilization if the students keep at it in Facebook, Twitter, and phone texting.

R u srs? I rly dbt it.

As the principal explains in his email to students’ parents:

I want to be clear, this email is not anti-technology, and we will continue to teach responsible technology practices to students. They are simply not psychologically ready for the damage that one mean person online can cause, and I don’t want any of our students to go through the unnecessary pain that too many of them have already experienced.

Some people advocate that the parents and the school should teach responsible social networking to students because these sites are part of the world in which we live.

I disagree, it is not worth the risk to your child to allow them the independence at this age to manage these sites on their own, not because they are not good kids or responsible, but because you cannot control the poor actions of anonymous others.

Learn as a family about cybersafety together at wiredsafety.org for your own knowledge.

The principal makes valid points in his email. Cyber-bullying is insane. Just yesterday I witnessed supposedly intelligent, kind adults being complete dicks to each other over, get this, child care, on Twitter.

Yeah, humanity’s capable of ridiculous things.

And the internet is a portal to all of them.

Abso-fucking-lutely.

Which is precisely why we can’t say “NEIN! NO NET FOR YOU!” to our kids and then just open the floodgates when grade 12 rolls around and the real world comes a-knocking at their door.

How crazy that’d be — all of a sudden hurtled into the all-too-real world of the internet, with its predators and fuckheads and petty people and madness — at the 16 or 18, if entirely sheltered and uber-patrolled by parents who want to bubble-ize the world so their precious kids never, ever get hurt?

Until, of course, they become adults and go out in the world all by themselves. Boy, talk about your culture shocks. Talk about mindfucks. It’s not preschool out there, folks.

Prepare your kids for the Real World by letting ’em get hurt the way nature intended: In high school.

Speaking about nature, did you know some medical journals have been running stories about how we’re doing damage to our feet by wearing these hyper-engineered running shoes designed to protect our feet and soles? Super-padded, ultra-complex sneakers. It’s the anti-Chuck’s All-Stars.

Know why we’re supposedly damaging our feet with all this protection? Because the added support interferes with the spread, support, and reach a foot should normally have on its own, so lesser inner muscles are now rendered unused. Deemed somewhat inconsequential when you look at the whole of the foot, these “bitty” muscles are actually to skeletal structural integrity what a stud is to a building’s stability.

So, we have more foot injuries than ever before.

BUT, HEY, that’s okay, ‘cos we’ve got this awesome new Nike shoe, dude! And it’s pretty.

Increasingly, trainers are proposing barefoot training as part of an overall fitness regimen, to help create better overall strength.

Take away the excess support and the support becomes unneeded because strength increases.

Sounds like some of the 15-year-olds I know could use a little of that therapy.

Nowadays, a “social networking crackdown” for the “protection” of kids is like putting them in a bubble or over-engineering shoes — you’re just making ’em more susceptible when they hit the real deal without all your safeguards.

There’s a reason we don’t let socialized animals return to the wild from shelters — they’ll be mincemeat! Why do we insist on doing it with our children?

Know what life is?

Hurt. Pain. Achievement. Failure. Love. Joy. Accidental. Surprising. Mysterious. Unpredictable.

But it sure as fuck ain’t safe.

This safety-drive’s fucking up everything.

We decommissioned the Hubble telescope because it was “unsafe” for astronauts to work on it. In space. Where astronauts are supposed to work. These aren’t cable guys — safety wasn’t a job requirement for them. “Flaming rocket hurtling into space? Cool. Sign me up. Ooh, oxygen deprivation? Cool!”

We put rubber on playgrounds so kids would stop falling — LOL! — and hurting themselves. Now they just burn the shit out of themselves when they fall on the scorching rubber in the dog days of summer. Protecting equals hurting, oh, ironic! Who knew!

We have labels on coffee cups telling us the hot coffee we just bought is hot. On my planet, if you’re too stupid to know this, you don’t get a label.

You know what?

Stop it.

Get hurt. Get over it. Animals do.

We’ve taken the Darwinism out of human existence.

We’re fucking pathetic.

Educate children. Teach them what a predator is. Empower them to band in groups if it gets them through. Intervene when kids are being dicks. Make examples of bad behaviour.

But don’t tell me the only way to be safe is to stick your fucking head in the sand and pretend the real world isn’t there.

I say teach kids the dangers of the real world, because the dangers will find ’em anyways. I say give ’em slingshots and full-fat ice cream.

Whatever it takes, this wussification of the modern kid has got to stop.

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Seriously, though?

Remember Columbine?

What if Klebold & Harris had been on Facebook? Would the worst massacre in American high school history have occurred?

And, just, you know, as an aside?

Have you seen these numbers? Note the advent of the Internet’s use by the general population, starting in 1994, and the numbers of school massacres since? Declining every year.

Your fragile children? Safer than ever. So, back off, mama.

Oh, You Naughty Librarian!

In college, I was a librarian. I worked both in books and in the audio-visuals section. Then I was a bookseller.

Everything I ever needed to learn about sex, I learned on the job. It’s probably the only thing escorts and librarians have in common.

Okay, well, no, not everything I ever needed to learn… but it sure as hell helped me write informative web sex commentaries like:

What can I tell you? There’s nothing like being paid in quiet work moments to go searching through shelves for titles you’d never have the balls to take out if you were just Joe Public, like Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man by Dan Anderson.

A quiet rainy night and no one in the bookshop, and I have a date with my boyfriend later? Sure, why not learn new oral techniques or read about the psychology of sex in the Guide to Getting it On by Paul Joahannides?

I was ALLOWED to read on the job. Clients might enter and ask about those books! (And in 3 years, only one did, and when I gave her Dan Anderson’s book and pointed out a couple passages worth really absorbing, she cancelled her evening plans then and there and invited her guy over for breakfast, laughing while I rang the book in.)

Will Manley reports over on his blog that, in 1992, he had more than 5,000 librarians answer his Librarians & Sex Survey, but the results were quashed by Those Who Be who thought, perhaps, that librarians couldn’t appear THAT naughty.

I woulda scored pretty good in some of the categories, I suspect, but thank god I’m not relevant here because you people just don’t need to know too much. Hi! I’m Steff the sometimes-sex blogger with boundaries.

But all this comes back to what I strongly believe — great sex requires:

  • great knowledge
  • communication
  • articulation
  • attention to detail
  • ability to be versatile
  • openmindedness
  • access to information and resources
  • insight and commentary
  • ability to not take things too seriously

Furthermore? I believe the people with the healthiest sex lives are usually people who are most open to other people’s points-of-views and lifestyle choices.

Why? Because being a great lover means realizing the world has more tastes than just yours. And accepting that personal taste matters.

The reality is, just because you think you have a money-shot doesn’t mean it works on everyone. Sex isn’t about YOU. It’s about your partner. And if your partner thinks that way too, then congratulations, you probably know what it’s like to have your mind totally blown by sex.

But if either of you think it’s all about the orgasm, or that your performance reflects on you in a “being-graded” kind of way, or that sex is about obligation or routine, then you probably haven’t transcended that place that takes some of us from being mere enthusiasts about sex to feeling profoundly sorry that the rest of the world doesn’t get what we’re talking about.

Frankly? If you haven’t been laid by a sex geek, you’re probably missing out.

The truth is, the more I learn about other people’s hang-ups, the more I read up on the difficult journeys many of us take as we fumble from awkward through to confident lovers, the more I’m able to accept myself as a total vixen-rockstar-lover while also being a woman who has all the insecurities most women have… and it’s okay. ‘Cos openness and vulnerability have their own hotness-factor, too — so long as I realize it’s in my head, I’m not the only person that feels this way, and I can admit it. Besides, that vulnerability is part of what makes me this unique blend of who I am.

My vulnerability is not all I can admit. I’ve found power in confessing things like this, that go against the supposed “sex blogger” image, even though I’ve written one of the most plagiarized how-to-give-blowjobs postings on the web. Why? Because I know I’m not alone, because I’ve shared in that human condition that writing & literature can inform us about.

It’s learning, reading, and sharing in others’ experiences and sexual journeys through blogging and the written word, and just plain learning biology, that has really allowed me to own my insecurities and stop apologizing for them.

So-fucking-what if I’m insecure about my size sometimes? If I tell a lover that and he uses that knowledge to covet ALL of me, it helps fight that insecurity — because it’s hard to fake that attention, it’s hard to be disingenuous as you consume someone whole. You can’t easily sell being turned on by a flabby belly, you know.

It’s my knowledge and life experience that helps me understand how and why we all differ sexually — I don’t have hang-ups about talking to a lover about how he likes it, what he wants, and other little fantasies and peccadilloes that shape each of us as a lover. It’s not some reflection on me if he doesn’t like it when I do X to him — that’s a reflection of how his body’s wired, and I can’t change it, no matter how good my X skills might have proven in other encounters.

That’s the kind of confidence that comes from education. It’s getting past THOSE conversations that make good intercourse become the kind of mindblowing sex that everyone dreams of having.

Learn something. Ignorant lovers are lousy lovers. Get over yourself. Learn about your partner, learn about how their sexual tastes differ. Teach them about you.

That’s when carnal knowledge is sexual power.

So: Do you think your knowledge about sex has changed you as a lover, and how? What are your thoughts on this?

Photo is by Dumio_Momio, and is Creative Commons.

Opting Into Ignorance

Freedom of education? Not on my tax dollar, bub.

The province of Alberta, here in Canada, has opted to make matters of sex, sexual orientation,* and religion OPTIONAL for their students. Parents can yank their kids out of school when they disagree with the premise at hand. [Story here.]

Religion? Okay. Fine. I’ll give you that. Make that optional. I not only understand having strong beliefs on faith, I respect it. I do not, however, understand refusing to listen to other views, not having faith in your children to be intelligent enough to hear more than one viewpoint, or shutting down education when it seems fit,  because I feel that teaches children that the teachers and education itself are not credible.

But on matters of sex? Sex education?

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Continue reading

Steff the Public Service Announcer

Okay, a couple of things. I’ll get back to the orgasmic neighbours tonight or tomorrow, but there are more pressing things that need mentioning.

The first being a rare but possible cause of death resulting from blowing air into a woman’s vagina. If you’re doing oral or playing around, never, ever, ever blow air into a woman’s vagina. This is not a sex myth. This is not a legend. This shit happens. The air bubble can cause an air embolism, which can then float up into the heart and essentially kill her. Not good. This condition is more likely if the woman has enlarged blood vessels resulting from pregnancy or past vaginal trauma. Since you don’t know if she has these larger vessels, don’t do dumb shit, and don’t try to cause a “pussy fart.” (During some sex moves, you’ll hear strange air sounds happening, but I don’t think that’s anything to worry about; it’s actively trying to “inflate” the woman that’s an issue. Like I sez, rare, but it does happen, and it does occasionally cause death.) And really, while everyone thinks sex is probably the best way to go out with a bang, why rush it?

You can blow on a woman’s vagina, and have fun doing so, as there seems to be no evidence of that ever causing problems. Just don’t pucker up and treat her like she’s a balloon at a kid’s party, all right?

The second thing is, the annual UNAIDS report has been released. This report is released by the United Nations’ AIDS organization and is essentially a “state of the union” report on AIDS internationally. You can find the massive, intimidating report here, which is a staggering 24MB PDF file in entirety, or you can select individual segments to read on the same URL there.

The important thing to note is that A) an increasing number of American gay men are apparently devolving and becoming STUPID FUCKHEADS because there is an increasing segment of them now engaging in unsafe sex practices because they think the dangers of HIV are somehow magically disappearing. And B) the number one cause of death in African-American women between the ages of 25-34 is now AIDS. The A-A woman is more likely to contract HIV than any other female race, and safe sex is imperative!

Safe sex is imperative whoever the hell you are. You and your partners need testing. You need to use a condom until you know you can trust your partner and you’ve both been tested. If you think they might fool around on you, insist on condoms. If you’ve ever witnessed any behaviour from them that makes you question their integrity and character, you may be risking your life by not using a condom.

Scared of hurting their pride? What, would you rather get a virus that will compromise your quality of life, threaten you with a potentially far shorter lifespan, and even make you fatally vulnerable to stupid things like the common cold? Get the fuck over yourself. Be vigilant. Condoms may kill moods, but AIDS kills you. Do the fucking math.

The CDC has a well-written and concise look at how HIV is transmitted, and if you’re at all ignorant about AIDS or HIV, you should, at the very least, read this.

Out of all the diseases in the world you can catch, the one you can most easily avoid is HIV. Responsibility saves lives. Be safe when playing with others. A friend of a friend of mine contracted HIV last year and can actually pinpoint the exact encounter in which he caught it. What a horrible thing to have to live with, the knowledge of how stupid you were in a single moment in time, and how the rest of your life is changed as a result of it. Don’t let that be you.

School Me, Babe: Relationship Education

Had I actually been a guest on Sex with Emily last Saturday night as planned, question number one from them was, “Why is your blog so popular?” Why, indeed?

If I had to say why I wish my blog was as popular as it’s proving to be, I’d say it’s because I’d like to think I’m real. But that’s a pat little answer, isn’t it?

The thing about sex writing is, it’s so easy, in theory, to write about dripping, hard cocks, about the fury and the fumbling of two people coming together in sexual union – the passion, the intensity, the fun, the excitement. The pulsing of hearts, the throbbing of members, the vaginal swelling… we’ve all experienced these things, we’ve all been on both the receiving and giving ends of pleasure, and so it’s easy to relate to when we read about others’ experiences. And if it’s not something we actually can relate to, then it’s something we live vicariously through.

Not a lot of sex writers try to tackle the emotional content under it all, though, and the ones who do tend to inspire more loyalty from their readers. I tend to focus more on the emotional aspect of it – not just the emotions we show, but those we hide. Perhaps this is why y’all dig me. Or maybe it’s my irreverence, or my honesty about my own insecurities and desires and fears and dreams. Who knows. But these are the reasons I would like to believe my blog is popular.

And it’s something I thought about when I saw this “breaking” news on the BBC site. Apparently kids find sex education classes too biological. Gee. Really?

They’re right. It is far too biological. Everything about sex originates in one place: the brain. The brain powers our emotional response, spurs our physical response, and then our juices flow, action proceeds to happen (or not), and the rest is messy history.

Funny enough, in England, the biology of sex is a mandatory class, but “personal social and health education” is optional at the institutions doing the teaching. This latter course brings education about relationship and emotional health into play.

I must have missed the memo where relationships and emotional health were optional in my own life.

In a time when divorce is the norm, moreso than happy marriages, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate the ways in which we approach relationships. Maybe it’s time to acknowledge that the psychology/self-help departments of bookstores are the most popular non-fiction sections for a very good reason: We’re all so fucking clueless about how to deal not only with our own problems but any of the problems that might arise in our relationships.

I have a history of running from relationships when things get tough, which is why I’m stunned I’m even hanging around my present relationship at all, considering all the life-induced chaos within it. My first running-from-adversity relationship happened with a young guy named “JH,” my first real boyfriend. He fell, and he fell hard. He wrote me songs, played his guitar for me, and felt like the king of the town whenever I was around. I dumped him as soon as I saw that a divorce was imminent with my parents. I never told him why I was fucked up because I was too ashamed to admit my parents’ failure, and more ashamed to admit that I was weak emotionally.

I pulled the “but we can still be friends” bullshit and instead learned what it felt like to break someone’s heart. The guy fell apart and wrote a “you tore my heart to shreds” song for me, handed it to a friend to deliver to me, and within the week, stole a car, got arrested, and then never, ever spoke to me again.

Maybe if I’d had a better emotional upbringing I wouldn’t have fucked JH up as much as I apparently had. Who knows. I do know that I didn’t have a clue how to open up, how to trust, or how to react when the fit hit the shan. Instead, I’ve spent the better part of two decades slowly learning these lessons through bump-in-the-night, daytime talk shows, and brief flirtations with both self-help books and actual therapy.

And I’m not an exception, I’m the norm. Isn’t it time we change that?

As for “sex education,” it’s really a misnomer. I know that nothing I’ve ever had to deal with was taught to me by anyone with any authority. I learned through necessity.

I’ve had the fear of a condom breaking with a boyfriend before the age of 20, having to stroll self-consciously into a Free Clinic in order to get a morning-after pill, something I’ve had to take three times in my life. I once was so freaked out I was pregnant that I remember doing a pregnancy test ASAP after purchasing it – in the bathroom of a Subway sandwich shop. I never learned about the possible negatives of birth control pills until the last few years, because I was already so fucked up in so many ways that it just never dawned on me that my depression must have been exasperated by pill usage.

In short, everything I’ve ever learned about sex has come as a result of a need-to-know, and-now education, not before-the-fact. It has been a hard road getting to the place I’m at now, considering I was raised by sexually ignorant parents who weren’t comfortable talking about sex, and schooled by a high school that didn’t teach sex ed. Of my friends, I was one of the first to get laid, even though I was 17, and none of us ever talked about sex. When I lost my cherry, my only education was that provided by television and movies. I had no idea why the hell there was a wet spot, and it scared the crap out of me.

I didn’t understand all the emotions that came with sex, and I didn’t understand that a kiss was just a kiss, not an undying declaration of love. I wasn’t hurt by love; I was destroyed by it, and all because I was ignorant of the power relationships could have over us.

Teaching us the biology of sex does little to prepare us for the emotional overload that comes from relationships. Teaching us about human relationships and the dynamics of emotional response would far better prepare us for life and love, and it’s damned well time schools began to embrace that reality.

In the final paragraph of the article I’ve cited, some talking head spouts this sentiment:

“We trust teachers to use their professional judgement to decide which organisations can support teaching and learning in the classroom and which resources best support schools’ sex and relationship programmes.”

Jesus. Let’s not trust the teachers, okay? Let’s convene some people in-the-know to talk about what needs to be learned by kids today, and then create a program that includes all those essential facets, so as to stem relationship problems, improve self-esteem, and build emotional resilience. Violence in schools is greater than ever, bullying is at an all-time high, and divorces are skyrocketing.

Isn’t it time we learn about emotional health as part of our curriculum? ‘Cos we’re clearly fucked without it.