Sunday, 15 February 2009


I went to see Touched, Sadie Frost's one woman show last week.  It was always going to be a winner for me because it is about my era - the start of the play the girl was about the same age as I was when Madonna released Like A Virgin (my next door neighbour at the time who was the same age as me told me what a virgin was - well she couldn't use the word sex so she just did a 'hand hover and shake' over the top of her clothes to indicate it was something to do with the vagina - yet another thing to add in my confused box of things I didn't really understand about sex).

The play depicts teenage sex as it often is for young people, hurried, unsure, unsatisfying, mediated on the basis of traditional gender roles and confusing.  That was certainly the experience of my generation as we grew up so it felt familiar - and after the play the conversation went something along the lines of..... 'well of course there will always be some hurriedness, some confusion and sex is often satisfying young or old don't we just have to accept that?'  

My answer no we don't - in other countries where young people and their developing sexuality is valued their early sexual experiences are far more positive.  Adults trust them and expect them to be responsible and so they are.

Unsatisfying sex may well be true for some (young) people some of the time and of course it will always be a bit more clumsy and hurried when they first start having sex.  But emotionally unsatisfying and confusing sex is not inevitable.  I take us back to the true objective of sexual health work with young people  - ensuring they develop the skills for positive healthy relationships and only have sex they are able enough to take responsibility for and enjoy - so it is sex they choose, sex they want and sex they are ready for - anything less is just not good enough.  

The evidence is clear how to achieve this - good communication about relationships and sex in the family, at school and in the community, fostering hope and ambition, good youth services which include strong opportunities for play and adventure, as well as young people friendly sexual health services.  Let's just get on with it.

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