In deference to porn-addiction crime fighter Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, let's assume that Utah's internet porn sites all get shut down—though it's not the least bit likely. However, for sake of discussion, let's say it happens. It's done, over, kaput, gone. Since sex education in schools is discouraged, where do teens go for info? Legislators, I am told, expect they'll get it solely from their parents.
OK, you can stop laughing now. In a recent letter to The Salt Lake Tribune, a 20-year-old from St. George in favor of funding sex ed said, "The assumption that parents are experts on human sexuality and talk to their kids about sex is one of my biggest problems with Utah's sex education. When the topic of sex education came up in one of my college classes, the professor asked how many of the students were educated on sex by their parents and a whopping three out of 40 raised their hands."
Learning about sex is inevitable. It comes from three places: blind experimentation, clueless classmates and unscientific but successful magazines.
Presuming that parents will step in to fill the gap has failed. By not funding and supporting sex ed in school, legislators have abandoned professional curriculum content and assured that kids will learn about sex from the public marketplace.
Kids today are getting sex education from places like Barnes & Noble, Amazon, public libraries and supermarket aisles of Target or Walmart. Peruse these places and you'll find what I did—and, if you are among the culturally conservatives, will start hyperventilating.
Let's start with some of the many pop-culture magazines available for check-out at the local public library. Here are some direct excerpts from Cosmopolitan:
"In our culture, we're so used to instant gratification and always having something new. When you get tired of your phone, for example, you get a new one. You don't see many people reimagining uses for their dated phones. The same ennui can befall romantic partners—gone is the erotic anticipation that used to surround sex. Instead of planning a special date beforehand, you just look at each other like, 'Wanna do it?'"
"'Having the best sex ever with someone doesn't necessarily mean they're definitely the one for you,' says Jenny Taitz, PsyD, a psychologist in Los Angeles. ... Remember that one guy who hit all the right buttons for you in bed but stopped returning your texts? Well, your perfect match will keep the orgasms and daily check-ins coming."
"Sure, plenty of couples start off in a state of unbridled passion. You know: extra-hot, extra-often sex. After all, this is when you're both willing to do all kinds of things to present your very best side in the bedroom."
Cosmopolitan's March 2017 cover enthusiastically teased the following stories:
"Our Biggest Sex Q&A—Answers to Your Most Private Questions!"
"Hot-Body Secrets—You're Gonna Love Being Naked!!"
Here's a couple from Women's Health:
"Easy Orgasms—Anytime, Anywhere. Learn the dirty little secrets to guarantee peak, powerful orgasms every time. You're on a bus, or in a waiting room, so why not get some sex tips?"
"Say hello to the new threesome: you, your guy and your toy. One-third of both men and women in our survey said they use toys during sex, and two-thirds agreed that they make nooky hotter."
Finally, an excerpt from Men's Fitness: "Women can be shy about getting oral sex. They may be nervous about the smell or taste of their bodies. ... It can be hard for women to express their sexual needs, so encourage her to guide you by asking her to either moan when she likes it or show you with her own hand. For some women, cunnilingus is too gentle—they need it a little rougher than your tongue is able. So while you go down on her, try stimulating other areas, too—use two fingers inside her, caress the anal area or play with her nipples."
This is what we get from our online free market economy. Hold on—we haven't even discussed what teens are learning at local retailers. Here are just a few of the educational items on display in around my neighborhood:
"First Response Ovulation. Get Pregnant Sooner. Predicts your Most Important Fertile Days."
"KY Intense Pleasure Gel Stimulates and Intensifies."
"Male Genital Desensitizer. Lidocaine. Last longer, stay in the moment."
"Trojan Vibrations. Hot Spot vibrating ring of bliss condom."
As I said, these are just a few of many "arouses and releases" lubricants, and multi-textured condoms that are on display to educate teens, in addition to numerous ovulation and pregnancy test kits which have instructions that are, for many teens, their first exposure to sex.
The information is available anywhere and everywhere; we are fools to think we can control it like liquor sales or shield our children's eyes with a sexual Zion curtain.
There's only one tried-and-true way to manage what our teenagers learn about sex, love and procreation. We can preempt all the marketplace noise by funding and providing good, helpful, trained educator-controlled, in-school sex education programs. Sex ed might not be taught in Utah—but, one way or the other, it will be learned.