So somebody posted this Salon interview about teaching kids about sex on facebook, and it brought me to Al Vernacchio's TED talk about changing the way we teach sex ed. I generally hate TED talks for various reasons, but this is one notable exception—it's under ten minutes, and I promise it's worth your time.
The gist of it is this: In the U.S., the metaphor for sex that we tend to use is baseball (think "first/second/third base," "scoring," "batting for the other team," and so on), and it's deeply flawed for a number of reasons. It encourages us to think about sex as an externally-focused, rote, sexist and heterosexist competitive endeavor. Vernacchio suggests that we should instead use pizza as a metaphor for sex. Unlike baseball, pizza is not a competition. You eat pizza when you desire it, and not when the coach says you should (and you can stop whenever you're full, instead of at a preordained end point). You eat pizza for pleasure and satisfaction, not to win. You can eat pizza with anyone, or by yourself (or not at all). There are no rules in pizza—you can order whatever toppings you want, and there's no wrong way to eat it. And—here's a crucial point—you always talk with your dining companions about what kind of pizza you're going to eat together.
I love this. And I'm especially into the fact that it's a metaphor that provides a way to think about consent and communication as natural parts of sexual intimacy. Despite the prevalence of campus sexual assault and abstinence-only sex ed, this kind of thing actually gives me hope that we can change the toxic culture we've developed around sex.
And now I'm hungry for pizza.