If you offer someone a cup of tea but they change their mind after you’ve made it, would you still force them to drink it? I know I wouldn’t. So why should it be any different with sex?
Horrifying statistics from End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW) have found that a third of men believe a woman can’t change her mind once sex has started.
At school, I was never taught how to deal with sexual harassment, or that it’s okay to change your mind. We’ve still got a long way to go to empower and educate people in regards to consent, sex and healthy relationships. Despite campaigns such as #MeToo shining a spotlight on the huge scale of sexual harassment in schools and the workplace, there is still work to do. We must use this new awareness and this moment to call for the changes we want to see. For me, this starts with calling for better Relationship & Sex Education (RSE).
In 2015, Girlguiding’s Girls’ Attitudes Survey, found that only half (49 per cent) of young women aged 11-16 had been taught about consent yet 82 per cent said this was something they thought they should learn about.
Since 2014 Girlguiding has been campaigning towards better sex and relationships education for girls in schools; including teaching on sexual consent, online safety and physical &mental wellbeing, and ensuring content is LGBTQ+ inclusive.
It’s positive that in 2017, the Government agreed to make RSE compulsory in all schools across England, and for this to be in practice by 2020. It’s amazing to hear that schools, leaders and Government are starting to realise that education on healthy relationships involves so much more than just learning how to put on a condom!
It’s really important that the new RSE curriculum includes education around what healthy relationships look like. Good RSE education is essential for young people in the UK, to prepare them for their future, give them the skills to thrive and build healthy relationships with friends, colleagues and partners. RSE should also ensure young people feel empowered to make decisions about their sexual health.
Why? Because when I was younger:
Nobody told me that it’s not okay for girls’ bra straps to be pulled, or for them to be wolf-whistled at while they walk past.
Nobody told me that it’s not okay for people to change their mind during sex and for their partner to not stop.
And nobody told me that’s it’s okay for girls and young women to speak up.
I hope that compulsory RSE will change this for girls and young women in the future.