American Sex Education Needs to Catch Up to France: #NowWhat

Sex education in America needs to catch up to France.

ColumnSex education in many American schools in severely lacking.

Similar to most Americans, I grew up in a school district that did have sex education classes, but what we talked about in the class wasn’t all that informative. Most every topic had an abstinence-only message, and STIs were used as sex scare tactics.

America’s sex ed problem

“From 1998 to 2009, federal funding for sexuality education focused almost exclusively on ineffective and scientifically inaccurate abstinence-only-until-marriage (AOUM) programs,” The Daily Dot reports.

“Since 2010, the largest source of federal funding has gone to Office of Adolescent Health’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, which focuses on EBIs (evidence-based interventions) that address things like preventing teen pregnancies and STIs.”

This means teens are not taught about self-love, consent and having a happy and healthy sex life, or LGBTQ, economic and race issues, etc. This lack of information leaves America’s youth essentially clueless about sex.

Well, other countries are, luckily, not following in America’s footsteps. In fact, France is introducing a new “model” that’s meant to help students become more informed about something most think is a mystery: the female body.

The model

French school children aged primary to secondary level will now interact with a 3-D printed clitoris in sex-ed class. The model will be used to teach the kids about this typically misunderstood sexual part. The model was made by sociomedical researcher Odile Fillod.

“From Fillod’s sculpture, pupils will learn that the clitoris is made up of the same tissue as the penis,” The Guardian reports.

“That it is divided into crura or legs, bulbs, foreskin and a head. That the only difference between a clitoris and a penis is that most of the female erectile tissue is internal – and that it’s often longer, at around 8 inches.”

“It’s important that women have a mental image of what is actually happening in their body when they’re stimulated,” Fillod adds.

“In understanding the key role of the clitoris, a woman can stop feeling shame, or [that she’s] abnormal if penile-vaginal intercourse doesn’t do the trick for her – given the anatomical data, that is the case for most women.”


The importance

This type of tool is incredibly important. While I knew what a clitoris was when I was a teen, I sure didn’t understand how it worked or how to ask a partner to interact with it. Seeing something like this would have been incredibly helpful. And while this model is mostly helpful to women, young men could stand to learn about this important body part, too. After all, sex should be fun for both people –and god knows women know how the penis works because for some reason, that information isn’t taboo.

In the future, it would also be quite useful if more models like these were used to help illustrate the various parts of other female anatomy: the vulva, different styles of pubic hair, etc. Normalizing these body parts and their quirks could help women feel less shame about their bodies. Because as we all know, the typical female body doesn’t look like a porn star’s.

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Image of girls learning via Shutterstock

Abbie Stutzer

Writer, editor, and owner of Ginchy!, a freelance writing and editing company, and home funeral hub. Adores smart sex ed, sustainable ag, spooky history, women's health, feminism, horror, wine, and sci-fi.