This happened on a hot lethargic summer afternoon. The sun was on full throttle with not even a slight breeze, to sooth the constant stream of sweat dripping. My cousin sister who is four years younger to me sat beside me for the usual round of gossips. And the days hot topic was her younger brother. Apparently, our sweet little kid seems to have ventured into the magical ( mostly misogynistic) world of pornography. My sister plastered herself with a Cruella level grin, as though she got a critical piece of intel to blackmail him into slavery and I, on the other hand, was pondering over the course of action to be taken. Finally, I decided to give my baby bro, a proper introduction into the world of Sex, Sexism, and Gender Equality.
Ours was the classic example of a chauvinistic, semi privileged, Nair, middle-class family. Racism to homophobia, sexism to fatphobia, You name it we got it. Naturally, sex was the taboo topic. Even the channel almost always, magically changed every time an Emraan Hashmi song came on. Every doubt we had was hushed into silence with a scornful look.
At school, somehow the biology ma’am would always be the scariest one. She with her tiny eyes that could be seen peeking over her thick goggle-like glasses, sends you death glares while skipping over that one exciting chapter you were desperately curious about. She would write ‘reproduction’ on the blackboard, placing each letter with nuclear-level precision. Then takes a long breath and gives the entire chapter as an assignment without batting an eye. Any doubts would be out of the question. Ironically enough no questions were ever asked for exams (even during boards) from this chapter.
The only proper or remotely proper sex education class you got were those 10 minutes after morning assembly during Thursdays and 5 minutes before PT period ended. There too it was called ” the girl talk” and those sweaty horny teenage boys were sent to class. Thus we were forced to quench our curiosity through questionable medium and unreliable sources.
Guys rely entirely on each other’s imaginations and porn. And the ladies, well let’s just say they eventually, after many mistakes and decades of inexperience, master the art and spread the knowledge. Hence the narrative is different and experiences become harsher. Boys are made to believe what is shown in the porn is what actually happens and they become ignorant to the needs of their partner ( or maybe the basics like “Consent” ). And girls don’t understand their own body and its needs ( or that you have a right to feel the pleasure or the right to say NO and their partner under all circumstances should stop then ). The inappropriate gender jokes are another ball game altogether.
A study conducted by UNESCO shows that proper sex education can help bring awareness to young kids not only about sex, contraceptive measures, STDs (mainly HIV) and accidental pregnancies but it can also help bridge the gender gap. In their Comprehensive Sexuality Education ( CSE )– A Global Review of 2015 conducted among 48 countries they found that the proper implementation of CSE has had a huge impact on gender equality.
For example, the Dutch people have a week-long, focused sex ed classes known as ‘Spring Week‘ for elementary school kids ( from the age of 4 years and above). Their CSE program is structured such a way that they teach children of different age groups, various aspects of sex, gender stereotypes, sexual orientation and contraceptive measures among other things. The Scandinavian countries and Iceland have similar sex education programs for kids and youngsters. No wonder they always rank highest in the Global Gender Gap Index. ( FYI among the surveyed 149 countries, our land ranks 108th as of 2018).
Inspired by all the statistics and different web series on these topics ( a huge shout out to Netflix original series ‘One Day At a Time‘ and Y- films web series ‘A Sex Chat with Pappu and Pappa‘ ) I gathered my knowledge, scattered it around and made a logical stream of information. Let’s be honest here there no subtle way to tell a 13-year-old boy, who is 12 years younger than you about peaches and bananas, that too without his parents finding out. With much hiccups, side stories and a lot of nudging we circled around various subjects. At last, by taking Frida Kahlo’s name I opened the pandora’s box.
We over the days talked about everything under the topic and more, with utmost openness. Well mostly toned down B rated and PG-13 versions ( Come on I’m his big sis after all and let him grow up a little more for full R- rated conversation, it’s only fair ). He kept an open mind throughout, he listened with at most attention ( Thank goodness ). Now I wish to believe that, I have sown the seeds of gender equality into that young mind of his. We opened a space where we can share anything and everything, no judgments what so ever. Hopefully, he would always keep an open mind and a beautiful heart. And I would definitely want to keep the conversation going, not only between us but with every little and big boys/men and girls. Like Che Guevera said, ” The first duty of a revolutionary is to be Educated.” Let’s start by being well informed and do our bit to educate and be educated.