Erotic artists and sex bloggers are often joined by the same issues. Whether it be feminism, sexual freedom, censorship, Fifty Shades of Grey or Republican politicians who seem to think they have a right to say what American women should and should not do with their bodies, we all have something to say, and as a group we are very vocal. However, for the most part we are also rather complacent, happy to write irate articles for which we receive supportive comments primarily from within the community, and leave it at that. Of course, causing change beyond our own front steps is not an easy thing to do, and would, perhaps, require the kind of research and time we rarely have. Juggling our day to day lives and our sex-friendly alter-egos is time consuming enough without having to merge and fight for the two together. But I think we can agree that these kinds of issues are close to our hearts.
With the US Presidential election in the offing, the political side of being female and, in fact, being human, is, I hope, weighing heavily on our minds. For those of us in the UK it is easy to sit idly by, our fingers crossed, hoping for a Democratic result on the other side of the pond. Meanwhile, we aren’t identifying, let alone dealing with, the problems we are facing.
When I consider the problems we face both as erotic artists/sex bloggers and as human beings, they are rarely limited to location. The state of ignorance about sex, about money, about politics, about climate change, whatever the issue of the day is, has become astronomical, and we appear to be quite content settling into this far from perfect world.
As I mentioned before, I know these issues seem far too large for us to handle when we have our own day-to-day lives to navigate. I can barely find time to visit my little brother and sister and see them grow up; how am I supposed to tackle the Republican manifesto?
But the more articles I read, and the more I hear about the frankly horrifying state of the world, the more I come back to one innate issue: education. I’ll admit that I don’t know as much about education in other countries as I perhaps should, but I know how bad it is in the UK, and I’ve heard/read dissatisfied accounts from the US as well.
According to a study done by researchers at Sheffield University and presented by the Guardian in 2010 “22% of 16- to 19-year-olds are functionally innumerate” and “17% […] functionally illiterate”. Those numbers alone are staggering and should stand as proof that our education system is in shambles. The government’s answer to this problem is to introduce more and more standardised testing, as though proving that 11-year-olds can’t write is a way of solving the problem and not just highlighting it. Pupils are now spending an inordinate amount of time learning how to take tests and exams, rather than being given the tools to develop into independent, thoughtful adults. Furthermore, the vast majority of people I meet would describe their school experience as “okay” at best, and many people from my parents’ generation seem to have decided that lower education is something to be endured.
I was very fortunate to have been given an education I felt enthusiastic about. I went to schools that inspired and – yes – educated me. I was sad to leave school, and I am now so proud to look around me and see how successful and intelligent my fellow classmates have become. But not everyone is afforded the opportunities that I had, and I find that deeply saddening.
In fact, whilst we can look at those aforementioned statistics and comment on the disgrace that is our education system, the ability to read, write and deal with numbers are the most basic skills. We should not be settling for a system that considers literacy and numeracy the benchmark of a good education. Those should be a given; we should not even have to discuss those issues. In this country the majority of children are in formal education for a minimum of twelve years. In twelve years I would hope that they are taught more than just how to do maths and how to read and write. They should be learning how to use their hands, how things are made; they should be studying philosophers and religions – not for indoctrination, but in order to orientate them in a world where these topics are the basis of society. They should be building houses and working with the earth and talking about the political and economical and social and religious and ecological world we live in today.
Without all of that and more, how can we expect anyone to fight for causes they don’t really know about, let alone know how to deal with? And of course, to link this back to the sexual discourse this site claims to deal in, how can we expect the next generation to understand and explore and accept sexuality in all its forms and variations? How can anyone take an interest in new things if they have never been enthused or given the opportunity to explore anything beyond what the best way to take an exam is?
If we want to the next generation to grow up as free-thinking individuals who are accepting of kinks and homosexuality and polyamory, then we need fight for an education system that will provide children with the tools and the knowledge they need, to first place themselves in the world, and then change it.