QotD: “Girls’ nascent sexuality, their needs, their rights, have always been subordinated to those of boys”

Two weeks ago, a speaker at the annual conference of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers voiced a need to teach pupils about the dangers of internet porn. A few days later, deputy children’s commissioner Sue Berelowitz announced the launch of new research to find out if boys understood the meaning of girls consenting to sex after another report found that 100% of 14-year-old boys in one school had accessed porn on the web, and that 50% of girls had seen it, too – usually at the boys’ behest.

I might dismiss this as scaremongering if I didn’t know that my mother retired from a long and varied career in community sexual health three years ago, just as her colleagues who went into schools started reporting a rise in STD outbreaks concomitant in the rise of boys coaxing (cajoling, bullying, forcing – draw the line where you will) girls to service the lot of them in turn so they could film it on their phones.

And I might still hope there was more smoke than fire if I hadn’t been told a story by a friend about teaching sex ed classes in a big west London comprehensive – for which the otherwise mixed school was separated into gender groups; she took the girls. She was halfway through her planned lesson and ground to a halt when she saw a roomful of faces gazing blankly, where she had expected giggling and ribald commentary at least. She questioned them and then light dawned. “You do realise,” she said hesitantly, “that you’re supposed to enjoy it, don’t you?” Incredulity and a buzz of interest broke out. She threw away her lesson plan and they talked for the rest of the time about this new and fascinating idea. Then she came home and cried.


Girls’ nascent sexuality, their needs, their rights, have always been subordinated to those of boys. The only way to change that is to ensure that they are born into a world that is truly fair and equal, and grow up with an inviolate sense of selfhood, asserting themselves as naturally and painlessly as breathing.

Alas, the only advantage this strategy has is that it is still easier than clearing the internet of porn. Until then, we can only follow the example of my early adviser and my teacher friend, and speak truth to the disempowered.

From Lucy Mangan

5 responses

  1. Female sexual autonomy continues to be non-existent because men and their male supremacist system have always defined human sexuality as men’s sexual expression and mens’ pseudo sex right to females.

    In other words females only exist to be males’ disposable sexual service stations. Highly recommend Anticlimax by Sheila Jeffreys because Jeffreys succinctly details mens’ endless propaganda in order to maintain mens’ pseudo claims that ‘human sex’ exists for male sexual pleasure and male sexual pleasure is paramount.

    Now women and girls are being told by males and their male supremacist system that not only must they focus on ‘sexually servicing males but females must also actively fake sexual pleasure when they are sexually servicing males! Such lies are commonplace within men’s porn industry because it is essential women are constantly told ‘you must ensure the male is sexually satisfied because that is your sole reason for existing!’

  2. What can we do to empower young women against this?

  3. Comprehensive, age-appropriate sex and relationships education that covers the emotional side of things as much as the biological would be a good place to start.

  4. […] there is evidence of the harm caused by pornography, especially of it warping young people’s ideas about sex, and young women’s body image (the increase in cosmetic labiaplasty for example). It’s […]

  5. […] won’t even call it rape. Young women now see coercive sex as an inevitability, and such ‘bad sex’ is unlikely to ever be recorded as a rape statistic, either reported to the police or recorded in a […]

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