The Daily Telegraph - Saturday

‘That the sex in porn is distorted’

Alex Denny, 23


There are many things I wish I’d known about sex as a teenager that I only discovered at university. Complex questions around consent were never addressed, for example. I remember a friend asking in one school workshop: “You told us that if we’re having sex with someone who’s drunk they can’t consent, but what if both of us are drunk?” He never received a clear answer.

In school, sex education was pretty thorough on the basics, but anything beyond that wasn’t really there. We were taught about heterosexu­al sex and how contracept­ion works, but from what I can remember, LGBT+ sex education – and the notion of sexual pleasure – were absent from my all-boys’ school. My secondary school sex education began in Year 8 biology lessons, but it was pretty much just a group of boys in a classroom, giggling through the videos we were shown. Thereafter, we learnt about sexually transmitte­d diseases, how children are made and the risks of sex – but nothing about what should feel pleasurabl­e, what shouldn’t and why people enter into sexual relationsh­ips other than for procreatio­n. Concepts like “friends with benefits” were foreign to me until I went to university.

It’s important for teenagers to know about the risks and benefits of sex. When you just talk about everything that can go wrong, it turns into project fear. All we heard about was the risks.

I also wish I’d known more about the hyper-realised depiction of sex in the media; not just porn, but sex in movies, music, everything. It’s great that the sex education now addresses the distorted view of sex presented by porn, but I wish I had been aware of this when I was younger.

It’s not just sex that I would have liked more guidance on, but the issues surroundin­g intercours­e, such as the contracept­ive pill. I had absolutely no knowledge of that before university. All the other complicati­ons and risks, such as blood clots, I never knew about.

As told to Claudia Rowan

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