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Other Ireland / Ruth @RuthieFizz
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I received the Sex Ed David Quinn advocates - A Thread.
Today David Quinn voiced concern over the revision of Sex Ed curriculums in the country's schools & whether a greater focus on consent could lead to wider issues.
Though, to be fair, he is quoted by the Irish Times as to having “no objection in principle" to consent classes.
I am a product of Iona Institute's ideal of Sex Ed. I know this to be true because Breda O'Brien was in charge of mine.
Before I begin listing what I learnt and didn't learn, I am going to share a very personal story which I've not shared before. I will be referring back to it later, but it comes with a big old SA/Rape CW, and if you want to skip over it, I promise you won't miss too much!
Let me start by saying that BO'B is a naturally warm and friendly person. I came from my 6 years of secondary education thinking she was an extremely kind person who went out of her way to help vulnerable students.
I really respected her and trusted her.
Although she taught us religion, her views didn't seem overly extreme. She was a bit eccentric, sure, but she never came across as someone who thought pregnant 9 year olds was somehow a good thing.
She was in charge of my year's pastoral care, which in those days meant both our physical and our spiritual "relationship building".
There was a weekly slot in the senior cycle devoted to what is now known as SPHE, but at no point in the 3 years did we ever talk about sex.
Instead, our sex education was outsourced. To an organisation of Breda's choosing.
Starting in TY, each year our class year of 120 girls would be split into 2:
60 of us would attend retreat, and the other 60 would attend "response".

This thread is about the latter.
Response was about relationships and it was run by two "cool" middle-aged ladies who we could ask about anything.
There was no wrong questions, they'd tell us. This was a relaxing and fun day for us, they said.
There was absolutely zero indication that the course they were running had any religious affiliations. To all intents and purposes, this was a secular and completely unbiased organisation.
And because of this, I believed that the information they gave me was unbiased and that it was true and that it was the way of the world outside of my school.

And what they taught me stuck with me, even long after I discovered it was untrue.
So, let's break down what I learnt; what David Quinn in his quotes seems to want children and teens to continue learning.
1. Contraception Doesn't Work.

The first I learnt about contraception was from response. And I learnt from it was it didn't work.
Condoms - they said - were 99% effective 50% of the time.
The pill caused a vast range of diseases.
And they were the only 2 forms of contraception.
Everything they told us had authority. Most of his had never had sex. And they had all they facts and figures. They could list off studies and reports.
And so we believed them.
Even though I know what they said was a misrepresentation of facts, I'm still scared of condoms today.
2. Pregnancy is a Likely Outcome of All Sexual Encounters.

With a conspiratorial glint in their eyes and hushed voices they told us about girls they had known or taught who'd become pregnant from being fingered at a disco or sitting in a jacuzzi.
In fairness, Irish teen magazines also spread these stories at the time.
3. Don't Wanna Be Pregnant? Don't Have Sex!

A much repeated maxim in the run up to the referendum, but it was presented to us as something we had managed to come up with all by ourselves!
You're at a disco, a boy invites you upstairs. What do you do?
Together we then wrote out the pros and cons.
Pros: maybe we like the boy!
Cons: we will have sex and get pregnant.

Show of hands, girls! Who is going to go upstairs and have sex!
[no hands raised]
4. Boys Don't Like Boobs.

Our cool facilitators hadn't just taught girls, they'd taught boys too! And the boys had told them EVERYTHING.

Boy's don't like naked bodies. And breasts aren't their favourite parts of our bodies.

They like our hands. Which are small and dainty.
5.Boys Like Girls Who Don't Put Out
They'd asked boys: would you stay with a girl if she wouldn't have sex?
The boys huddled together to discuss this then came back with the unified response: yes.
What about if they do have sex with you?
Yes. "Until something better comes round"
6. 1 Yes is Worth a 1000 Nos.

By far the most damaging aspect of their education was on the subject of consent.

We were told flatly:
if you consent to one act, you consent to them all.
if you consent once, you consent always.
When I was raped by my drunk boyfriend when I was 19, I remembered those words. I had consented once.
When I was raped at 23 I kept reminding myself: you gave him oral sex, you consented to everything.
I have friends who sat in the same presentation with me, who years later confided to me sexual assaults and rape. And they talk about that same moment and those same words: you consented once.
7. Abortion Doesn't Exist

At the end of the day, we could write any questions we were too embarressed to ask out loud and then the facilitaors would answer them.

Someone asked about abortion.

"Nobody here will ever have an abortion, so we don't need to talk about it"
These are the 7 things I remember most clearly.
Even with evidence to the contrary, I still believe in some of them.
I had to learn about consent the hard way. The very hard way.
Consent is not just something the boys and men of this country need. It is not something which is split on gender or sex.
I simply didn't know I was allowed to say no.
I will never be able to shrug off what they taught me.
It is so deeply ingrained in me, that I will never lose the shame and the guilt of my own rapes.

It is too late for me, but it is not for future generations of young girls and boys of this country.
I really can't fathom, what it is that David Quinn fears.
Consent classes can only reduce harm.

They will not cause those who have their heart set on abstinence to forsake it, or those deadset on having sex to not.

There is no possible argument in the world to reject their implementation.
Finally - evening that's in it - a shameless plug for my Consent Capybara.
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