Sex has always been a taboo subject, even in the West. This might have something to do with both our inability to educate ourselves and those around us on the topic and with the social and cultural issues that prevail with how we engage in sexual activities. Here in Pakistan, sex is entirely a concept for two married adults. There is no room for sex discussion outside the confines of both the bedroom and the institution of marriage let alone accepting casual dating and sex.
And while there is nothing wrong with wanting to maintain cultural and religious norms when it comes to the topic of sex, there is still a dire need to educate the masses on the basics of sex and sexual reproduction because honestly, there’s a lot of misconceptions about this area of education. Much of our society still opposes any such education based simply off the fact that the word sex is used so liberally. But that’s a conversation for another time.
In a country where most Pakistani women are married by the age of 20 and a worrying percentage married by the time that they are 15, this aversion to sex-ed is a serious issue. We barely have any local dramas or films talking about the issue and the recent ban of the brilliant Indian film, Pad Man which is based on the story of a man who made the lives of thousands of menstruating Indian women much better, shows how we as a nation need to understand that sex-ed is NOT just about the act of sexual intercourse.
However, the problematic way sex ed and sexual activities are presented is an issue even in the West, with either the characters are shown as mindless, sex driven beasts who are just supposed to learn as they go along or in a very unrealistic and romanticized way that honestly does no favors to any of us. This one dimensional portrayal of sex harms young people and teenagers the most, who grow up in this fantasy bubble of what sex is supposed to look and feel like.
Although a lot of popular teen shows and films such as Skins or Sixteen Candles have talked about the sheer enormity of peer pressure in such situations, they all fall short of a few important issues. This is where Netflix’s “Sex Education” seems to set the record straight. And it’s seriously refreshing tbh.
Netflix has rarely ever shied away from taboo and controversial topics especially about sex. Their Indian show “Lust Stories” was a very progressive and informative series on the sexual lives and dilemmas of the modern age. Now, their new show, “Sex Education” presents a rare and accurate insight into the lives of a group of teens who are shown with their own sets of problems and insecurities related to sex and how they overcome them.
The story begins with our two main protagonists who in their own respective ways have an edge over their classmates in their sexual knowledge and decide to make a little sex therapy business out of their combined expertise. Otis can immediately be identified as a boy who is emotionally mature far beyond his years due to the fact that his mother is a sex therapist where as Maeve, his business partner is well versed in all thing sex despite her young age.
Some of the topics that the show covers includes, obviously, the tenets of sex-ed but also deals with important issues such as body image issues and common bodily functions and issues such as erectile dysfunction and even sexual preferences. One of the most interesting things that the show offers is the wonderfully complex characterization and how each character deals with a certain issue that is quite prevalent in contemporary society.
For example, one student called Aimee represents a typical female interaction with sex which has more to do with pleasing their partner than having anything to do with their own needs and sexual pleasure. Even Otis, who is educating others about the complexities of sex, himself has not yet engaged in it and is still learning about his own needs.
This representation of sexual identities and expressions is a good way of dealing with the popularized notion of the hook up culture that is widespread in Western media and is slowly seeping into our parts of the world as well. Issues such as consent and positive communication during sex are vital with the onset of the global Me Too discourse and “Sex Education” is defintiely a step in the right direction.