Kink and BDSM have always been considered a taboo. However, with the rise of the “50 Shades of Grey phenomenon, it is clear that it can no longer be ignored. So why is modern sex education neglecting this important area?

Especially now, Kink and BDSM are more mainstream and accepted, but sex education still ignores that it’s there and this needs to change.

Basic sex education does not meet the needs of today’s modern society. boldpleasures was founded upon the recognition that sex-ed needs are neglected, especially when it comes to kink and BDSM.

Personal Anecdote: When my step daughter turned 13, I checked in with my husband to see if she’s had ‘the talk’ with her parents. She had not – however, we later learned that kids these days watch porn in the school bathrooms. [Insert shock here]. I explained to the bewildered father that with 13, we’d better make sure she at least knows how to use
a condom. So for their father-daughter trip to the local yacht harbor, I equipped him with a banana and a few condoms and wished him good luck. “Don’t let her get away without you seeing she knows how to use the condom’, I said.

Turns out, she did know. Also turned out, she didn’t really want to show her dad. This apparently culminated into her screaming with laughter running away from her father, who followed her with a banana and condom in her hand… How I wish I’d been there to witness that. But you know what I want to say is that clearly there’s room for improvement on how we handle this with the next daughter hitting puberty 😉

Still, it’s unbelievable that today, most sex educators really just talk about “condoms and contraceptives ”. We all know there’s a whole lot more on the table. It’s not just about not getting pregnant, not catching an STD – sex education should also be about making sure we keep our kids safe mentally. And in all openness, I’d love for my children to explore their sexuality in an open, happy and joyful way. Sex education needs to include sexual diversity in general, and within that framework, BDSM – or kinky stuff – needs a place.

This isn’t saying that we need to teach pre-school kids how to spank their classmates. But we do want to teach our children as soon as possible is about consent. And the confidence to say no.

Let’s also be realistic – by the time kids go to high school, we need to teach them that nobody has the right to ask to expect them to engage in sexual activities. We have to talk about how to talk about sex. Why not introduce the concept of safe words? Why not explain some of the risks involved in kinkier explorations and where to go to look for help?

Consent is the base of BDSM and kink. Safe words and respecting boundaries come hand-in-hand. Why shouldn’t these principles be the foundation of all sex education?

Education is paramount to understanding and safe practices. Educating students about BDSM gives them the chance to discover their kinky sides safely and sanely. It’s the first step along the way to make sure newcomers don’t get harmed.

Is this too much for countries which in some areas, still debate whether sex education has a place in schools at all?

The BDSM Stigma

There has always been a deep stigmatization around Kink and BDSM. The recent cult phenomenon Fifty Shades of Grey propelled it into mainstream media, and still health professionals have a tendency to view the practice as pathological, and even perverted.

In 2012, Bezreh, Weinberg and Edgar were the first to call out BDSM Disclosure and Stigma Management as an opportunity for sex education. Despite their valuable research and cautionary warnings, we still see Kink, BDSM and alternative relationships missing from sex education.

Damaging and misguided statements about BDSM and Kink have a nearly irreversible effect on younger people who realise they are interested in Kink, and, they’re being filled with fear. They start off with the idea that ‘something is wrong with them’ – a baseline that could scar them for life and prevent them from really enjoying their sexuality.

As Bezreh, Weinberg and Edgar found in their research,

“Most respondents reported their BDSM interests starting before age 15, sometimes creating a phase of anxiety and shame in the absence of reassuring information.”

Let’s open the communication channels with students about fetishes and reassure them that it’s okay to have them. For many, it’s a huge emotional burden. We’ve seen the positive effects for homosexual and transgender teenagers when faced with acceptance of their sexual preferences – let’s extend that to kinky teens.

BDSM training and Sex Education

Sex education is to prepare the younger generation for their sexual journey. If our aim is to keep them safe, to empower them to know their limits and limitations, and we want them to explore sexuality joyfully and with arms wide open, how can we justify not talking to them about Kink?

In 2014, a sex education book that featured a bondage article was banned and pulled from schools across the US after more than 2,000 parents protested it was pornographic.

Kink and BDSM isn’t a phase, it’s a preference and a way of life. We now have valued research that confirms the people who practise it are not crazy.

Research has also established that more Americans actively engage in bondage and BDSM than they practice tennis.

I think the greatest illusion we have is that denial protects us. It’s actually the biggest distortion and lie. In fact, staying asleep is what’s killing us. Eve Ensler

Age Appropriate Kink Sex Education

When researching science around kink, I stumbled across this video Could Teaching BDSM In Sex-Ed Reduce Rape? The panel is debating a piece of research called Participating in a Culture of Consent May Be Associated With Lower Rape-Supportive Beliefs
by Klement, Sagarian and Lee.

The research analyzed surveys completed by 60 college students, 68 random respondents and 57 self-identified BDSM practitioners.

The survey asked a variety of questions surrounding hostile sexism, benevolent sexism, rape myth acceptance, victim blaming, an expectation of sexual violence, acceptance of sexual violence.

Participants were asked to measure their agreeance with statements like:

“If a girl goes to a room alone with a guy at a party, it is her own fault if she is raped.”

“Women should be cherished and protected by men.”

The kinkier participants came out less likely than college students to support benevolent sexism or stereotypes that misrepresent women as weak individuals, because in the BDSM community it is not assumed that because she’s a woman she wants to be submissive.

The consensus amongst the panellists reviewing the study was that American sex education needs to start with baby steps. “Let’s make sure people know where bits go first” is a theory that resonated with me.

I ask myself – who are we doing this for? Are we asking for baby steps for the kids we are looking to educate or for their parents? Or for their teachers maybe? Let’s face it: A child that is uneducated about sexuality doesn’t know about baby steps vs. advanced sexuality. If we claim, ‘we have to take it step by step’ – we are protecting ourselves, not our children.

Teach your Students to Talk. Teach Consent

Klement the author of the Participating in a Culture of Consent May Be Associated With Lower Rape-Supportive Beliefs says:

“We think that teaching kids age-appropriate concepts throughout their school years will have positive effects, this will help them to establish boundaries and learn about bodily autonomy.”

We now know one thing, kink education often comes too late. My challenge to sex ed teachers: Dare to open up the conversation and give your students the tools to talk about kink.

BDSM Training for Teachers

At the end of the day, it’s our responsibility as BDSM educators to enable teachers to confidently talk about kink and BDSM. We can give them the background so they can understand questions and understand the dynamics of BDSM relationships.

Our BDSM training ‘BDSM for Beginners’ makes the first steps towards this goal. Whilst it addresses people curious about kink, it’s just as informative for teachers. And we’ve made sure it’s tasteful and appropriate, something hard to come by.

Teachers all around the world need to have the courage to say: “Hey BDSM is out there. It’s more common than you might think. Here are a few things you need to know to stay safe. Before you want to dive into anything, make sure you inform yourself. Don’t get pressured into anything. Most importantly don’t be ashamed. If you want to know more, find me. If I don’t know, I’ll help you find out. Now, let’s start by talking about consent…”

Are you a teacher and would you like to start the conversation? We are here to help! Just leave us a comment, send an email or a tweet! But let’s talk and educate our kids.

Sonja is a co-founder of boldpleasures. She's on a mission to free people to revel in their true sensuality by removing the stigma surrounding kink. Sonja writes about first steps, ditching the shame and how to combine kink and 'normal' family life. She's a mother of two and happily married.

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