First, let’s make something clear: not all underage sex is due to horny boys forcing sex on reluctant girls. In fact, some underage sex is not actually even between girls and boys at all. Boys pressure girls into sex; girls pressure boys into sex; boys pressure boys into sex; girls pressure girls into sex. And – astounding as it might seem – some young people do actually choose to have sex because it’s what they both want to do. But let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that Nadine Dorries’ incredibly narrow and insulting (to both boys and girls) view of the world is correct, and all, or even most, underage sex happens because girls are being pressured into sex when they don’t want it. Well, if she’s right about that, it just makes her Sex Education Bill even more revolting.
Let’s take gender out of the equation for a moment. If two teenagers are about to have sex (or two adults for that matter), and one them is pressuring, coercing, bullying or threatening the other one into it, which one of those people sounds most in need of a sex education lesson to you? The one doing the pressuring, or the one being pressured?
According to Nadine Dorries, the one being pressured is not only always the girl, but also the one who is in need of a lecture.
If schools want to get moral about sex education and stop so many young people having sex (and I agree that schools shouldn’t encourage students to have underage sex), the school needs to make sure that all young people understand the issue of consent. Is there any particular reason schools can’t teach everybody that it is wrong for anybody to pressure anybody into sex they don’t want?
So lecturing young girls (whether they want to have sex with boys or not) and ignoring the boys (whether they want to have sex with girls or not) is teaching those girls that that it is their responsibility to stop men from having sex with them, whether they have genuinely consented to it or not. It is teaching all the boys that, too. This is worse than just trying to introduce a policy that reinforces gender stereotypes, or is a proven failure, as the critics like the British Humanist Association have said. Nadine Dorries’ Sex Education Bill would actually enshrine victim-blaming within British law.
And if you doubt such an attitude will ultimately lead to a culture of victim-blaming, look at what happens in some of the places where it is prevalent. When you remember that some of the girls in these classes may well have been victims of sexual assault or rape themselves (which incidentally should be of a lot more concern to our MPs than whether they’re having consensual sex or not), it is a thousand times more irresponsible and damaging to these young women for them to learn repeatedly that it is their own fault if they are coerced into underage sex than putting a condom on a banana could ever be.