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Netflix’s “Sex Education” versus my Catholic high school experience

7 minutes to read

Sex Education is receiving abundant praise for its breaking down of the stigma of sex and creating  conversations. The show suggests we should be talking about sex openly and breaking down the idea of sex being a taboo in society. The multifaceted characters of Otis, Eric and Maeve create a complex world with not only a strong male lead but a complex, bad-ass female character. It’s a great watch where the basics of high school sexuality and stigma of sex  are beaten down with an indiscriminate dildo to the face, and rebuilt from the ground up to create a truly hilarious and relatable series of events that these poor characters have to navigate .

This article will contain moderate spoilers for Netflix’s Sex Education

High School Otis GIF by NETFLIX

We begin with Otis and his sex therapist mother, Jean, attempting to circle around Otis’s lack of jerking off, or masturbation. Frustrated, as a 16-year-old should be, Otis ignores his mother’s pleas for an open forum on his sexual adventures and heads to school. A series of events unfold which result in Maeve and Otis giving the school bully, Adam, advice on how to get rid of his raging boner from taking too many Viagra pills. Almost instinctively, Otis jumps right on in with some therapy that he’s most likely learned from his mother and calms Adam’s boner down. Maeve acknowledges Otis’s sexual prowess and becomes the brains behind an operation that involves the two opening a high school sex clinic. It’s as outrageously hilarious as it sounds.

Oh God Wtf GIF by NETFLIX

My own high school experience was entirely made up of playing Minecraft, watching YouTube videos and drowning in homework, with a hint of teen angst, disparity and rebellion. Therefore, I have no clue how all the characters in Sex Education had so much time to think about, well, sex. I spent my entire primary and secondary education in a Catholic school environment, meaning the only sex that I would ever hear about was Abraham banging his slave so he could produce a child because his wife couldn’t. Oh, and Mary somehow being able to get pregnant without having sex because, you know, God.

Gillian Anderson Roar GIF by NETFLIX

The thing is, Sex Education is what my high school experience should have been like regardless of the religious baggage that I held throughout the majority of my adolescence. The better part is that Sex Education is filled with glorifying self-expression and lessons of self-worth and loving yourself first, which is indicative of religion and its beliefs.

I can remember my obsession with sex when I was a teenager and honestly, it is pretty accurately represented by the characters in this Netflix show with bloody hilarious repercussions.  In having random teens talking to Otis (many of them don’t even know him) about their sexual problems, Sex Education breaks down the stigma of talking about ‘taboo’ sexual subjects as teenagers. After all, teens are one of the most sexually active groups. The only people I had to talk to about sex were my mates, and honestly, they weren’t much help. Obsessing over the ‘boobs’ collection in Google was never really my scene anyway.

Sex Education also deals with the complex relationship between parent and child as teens move through adolescence, as well as individuals moving on from past relationships or friendships to find themselves instead of finding someone else. Otis and his mother struggle with the conflicting dynamics of freedom and maternal  instinct. In this situation, to a not-so-exaggerated extent, Jean becomes pervasive and obsesses over every part of Otis’s life, especially the sexual parts (due to her background in sexual therapy). One such moment involves Jean washing Otis’s bed sheets after he had a wet dream and had made it clear to her, with gusto, that she under no circumstances should go into his room. Jean couldn’t help herself and washed the sheets for him and cleaned his room. What a good bloody mum, cleaning her son’s cum and then some!

This pattern can be seen in my own family: my dad would stalk me everywhere, even putting a tracking app on my phone to pinpoint my location at all times. They eventually found out that I was going to Bondi Junction one time for a date with some guy which was both a surprise for them and for me. All you need to know is there was not a second date.

Awkward Gillian Anderson GIF by NETFLIX

In high school, I wasn’t the most popular kid. I’d usually stick with my group of friends in the school library where we would play chess and Super Smash Bros. 64 on one of the library PC’s while everyone else was bunny breeding and fornicating all around the school. I vividly remember being warned to not go into a bathroom stall because someone was getting a blowjob in there and I would absolutely ruin everything if I peed. I went to another bathroom and ended up hearing moaning from another one of the stalls, so what did I do? I peed in the stall next to them, with the sweet sound of my urine hitting the toilet water playing second fiddle to an outrageous orgasm in the next stall.

People usually think that growing up in a Catholic school environment means that you have no idea about the concept of sexual interaction (which was rightly so for me) – but for my school, the peen was definitely free and running its course, which is another parallel to Sex Education and my life. However, the similarities stop there.

If Sex Education is the norm for most people (being a straight line) then my life would look more like a strand of spaghetti that you throw against the wall.  Trust me, I had a great high school experience playing board games with my mates instead of having sex with everyone in my year. The only thing is, I was completely unaware of the situations the people at my school found themselves in. The obliviousness I displayed at my school was actually laughable. in Year 10, I cried while breaking up with my girlfriend, with whom I had been on a hand-holding, cheek-kissing basis. Meanwhile, my ‘good Catholic’ peers were bunny breeding and fornicating everywhere they could. I’m not even kidding, this happened in the bathroom, the upper playground, the lower playground, outside the canteen and even in the teacher’s staff room. I also once found a condom in a water fountain. I called my mum in panic and asked her if I was going to get an STI. I was very unaware of what was happening in my life.

I’m less naïve now – the only thing that has kind of remained as a consistent Catholic trope in my life to this day is  that anal sex doesn’t ‘count’. But I guess doing it with another man kind of defies the greater ideology of not having penetrative sex – but we’ll give a point to me anyway for trying to be a good Catholic.

Sex Ed Wtf GIF by NETFLIX

Needless to say, I believe my high school experience vastly outweighs any of the storylines from Sex Education. However, this show is a bloody fantastic watch and should be on everybody’s wish list.

 

Featured Image: Just Jared