Textbook has ‘talking testicles’, condoms in eyeshades
HOMG KONG: A graphic children’s textbook on sex education, complete with ‘talking testicles’ and condoms in trendy eyeshades, has set off a chorus of chatter on the Chinese-language Internet, with some people wondering if the lessons are being offered too early — and too explicitly.
The Chinese-language primer claims to offer “age-appropriate” sex education that’s based on science, and advice on inappropriate body contact with strangers that borders on sexual abuse, which is at the core of most sex education programmes for children.
Using cartoon-like figures to depict intimate body parts, it also makes the learning process zippy, with, among other things, witty dialogue between a pair of testicles.
“Whether you are indoors or outdoors,” the primer reads, “you must be aware that there are parts of your body that can be displayed for others to see — such as the eyes, nose, mouth and hands. But there are also parts that cannot be openly displayed - such as the sexual organs, buttocks and a girl’s breasts.” It then introduces the concept of ‘private parts’ that it would be an offence for any stranger to see or touch.
The visually graphic primer then goes on to detail the male and female sex organs and their responses to sexual stimuli, and explains ‘safe sex’ procedures, including the use of condoms.
The primer has, predictably, given rise to a buzz on China’s vibrant Internet space, with both proponents and opponents of sex education debating the merits and demerits of offering such graphic lessons for children.
“Given the rise of teen pregnancy in China, sex education must be taken seriously,” notes one of thousands of commentators. “Let kids get to know their bodies, and learn to protect themselves.”
Others complained that the primer bordered on the pornographic.
“I’m afraid kids will become too curious about sex way before their time,” a commentator noted. “Societal norms are changing too fast.”
Others offered more nuanced perspectives, saying they supported lessons on physical contact by strangers as a defence against sexual abuse, but that learning about condom use was a trifle excessive for first-graders.
“I understand one thing,” another poster noted wryly. “There are some things I understand less than elementary school students!”
China’s efforts to offer sex education for its school children are a response to two factors: a rampant sexual revolution that has led to a spike in teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, and the early onset of puberty among children.
According to surveys conducted last year by the Beijing-based China Population Communication and Education Centre, Chinese girls were attaining puberty at the age of 13.38, a full year earlier than in the 1960s; boys are attaining puberty at 14.43 years, about two years earlier than in the 1960s.
But even those who disfavour early sex education point out that these efforts are not half as scandalous as some others in recent years. Last year, for instance, a woman in Wuhan in Hubei province attained notoriety when she took along her 14-year-old son when she went for a gynaecological examination and offered him some graphic lessons in how he came into this world.
6 months ago