Sex education for youngsters should be much more than just about pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, says a new study, adding that there is an urgent need to explicitly focus on gender dynamics in sex education programming.
According to researchers, when it comes to oral sex, disparities persist, despite often talking about an ethic of equal give-and-take; performing oral sex on women as a “bigger deal” than oral sex on men.
“There has been a lot of research on vaginal intercourse but we know much less about young people’s expectations and experiences of other sexual practices,” said Ruth Lewis from University of the Pacific in the US.
“This was an exploratory study to start to give us an idea of how young people talk about oral sex,” Lewis added in the paper published in the Journal of Sex Research.
For the study, researchers interviewed 71 men and women of ages 16 to 18 and conducted follow-up interviews a year later, which focused on accounts of oral sex between men and women, rather than same-sex partners.
In particular, both men and women said giving oral sex was more distasteful for men than women, and receiving was “easier” for men than women.
Young men were much more likely than women to say they simply did not perform oral sex if they didn’t want to, while young women tended to describe strategies to make giving oral sex more palatable.
“It’s clear that we also need to be encouraging young people to think critically about how women’s and men’s bodies are talked about in society, the nuances of consent and coercion and how gender equity might be negotiated in practice,” Lewis explained.