Thursday, April 26, 2018

Sex Education and Media Literacy

Need for media literacy is heard since the media often gives us what they want us to believe and do. We need the tools to  think critically on what is presented, understand how the messages shape our culture and society, recognize the bias, spin, lies, omissions and evaluate the messages according to our beliefs and values and what we know to be true.

An article in the Catholic Peace Weekly on sex education and the way the media presents sex requires Christians to discern and make proper judgements on what they see and hear. Discernment is a big order and necessary for a life well lived. Philippians 4:6  gives us a good starting point: "fill your minds with everything that is true, everything that is noble, everything that is good and pure, everything that we love and honor,and everything that can be thought virtuous or worthy of  praise."

The article introduces us to a young woman, a nurse and health educator. Her words give the readers her impressions after a training course she took on media literacy.

I am a nurse and a health teacher. I am teaching sex education programs and find it difficult. In nursing college I learned all about anatomy, genitals and the sexually generated diseases but little about the understanding of sexuality in society and culture, making me unprepared to teach a course in sexuality. I did take a course in media literacy and sex education which opened my eyes and gave me a lot of confidence in what I was meant to teach.

I never realized how blind I was before taking the  course. When I was a teenager and listening to pop music and musical videos I never realized what was happening to me. Why was I so ignorant?  I  was  brainwashed to see sex as a game and once this began to sink in I could see it clearly in the media. I was brought up and fed this understanding of sex. I learned in middle school what it meant to be sexy watching dancing in musical videos mimicking the sexual act, although as a middle school student  it was only vague.

Students that I am now teaching are exposed to what I grew up with. There is a need for me to examine myself and the society in which these young people have to live. I need a correct understanding of sex, the words, thoughts and  actions to match what I am trying to convey.

 During my college years I was free in the way I lived my sex life with my boy friends. I enjoyed it—life and responsibility never entered in. I took contraceptive medicine; I will not be pregnant. Most of my girl friends had no problem with this way of life.They weren't frivolous but living a proper social life: this is what is to be done, there was no big worries on the way we were living. During the training program at the beginning I took issue with much that was said, sex is a personal matter, a person's taste, nothing was wrong with the way I lived was my strong feeling.

However, half way thru the course my thinking changed. Each one of the boy friends left with mutual scars from our encounter. I began to see society as going in the wrong direction. I began to feel guilty and saw a need to recover a sense of responsibility. I began to see the need for a 'butterfly effect' in the way I was to teach.

Before the training I considered the royal road to sex education was contraception. We don't talk about contraception, the reason why we have children in their teens pregnant and abortion—contraception is a simple solution. 

We have forgotten the place of love, creation of life, responsibility in sexuality. When I reflect on the past, I am embarrassed at my ignorance. As an educator with a new moral sense I am ready to explain the meaning of sex to the young people who have been exposed to a wrongheaded cultural understanding of sex and this came from a course in media literacy.

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