FIRST THOUGHT: Sex Ed
Back in 1913, Chicago was the first major city to include sex education in high school classes. When STDs ran amuck during the First World War, Congress got involved by putting money toward teaching soldiers sex ed. Then, the soldiers were like, Hey, this would’ve been great to know when we were in school rather than, like, on the battlefield, but OK.
When it comes to sensitive subjects like sexuality, people tend to shy away from asking questions. Do you feel comfortable asking when your feet are in the stirrups? Or when your health teacher is also the men’s baseball coach?
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 35
So, why did Chicago’s sex ed program eventually fizzle? Well, more aptly it was squashed by The Catholic Church, which even forced the superintendent of schools to resign. (She also happened to be the city’s first woman in the position.) (Sidenote: when they interviewed her for the job, one guy literally wrote down, “I only wish she was a man.”) It’s been a good century since then, but sex ed is still a hot-button topic. Today, 35 US states allow parents to opt out of letting classes teach their kids sex education.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Andrea Barrica, Founder & CEO of O.school
Sex education varies wildly state by state and guidelines change often. For information on what’s being taught in your state, the Internet is your friend. For sex education, the Internet can also be your friend if you’re looking at a resource that’s legit. Andrea Barrica, a queer woman of color, has created a safe space to learn about sexuality and pleasure, called O.school.
If you’re thinking that Andrea was one of those people who grew up in a nudist colony who learned to feel one with her body at an early age, you’re dead wrong. Andrea was raised in a religious and conservative family. Her Filipino roots hammered in the idea of abstinence and, she says, sex education at her school was about inducing fear more than anything else.
In 2017, O.school was born out of her own experience with sex education and the experiences of so many others. The platform is the “sex ed we all deserve,” where users can ask questions, explore topics and be themselves sans awkwardness or judgment. Topics are identified more so by the terms you’d hear in real life than in med school.
O.school uses video content and instructors to explain anatomy in a clear, concise way, as if you really are in a sex ed class. There are topics O.school teaches that are just as important as the physical stuff; communication and consent are major focuses and a definite element of a healthy sex life.
Andrea’s venture is rooted in her past experience in building startups. She actually used to be a venture partner at a global venture capital fund, working with hundreds of startups. One thing she insists is no matter how small your company, you need a code of conduct. In addition to inclusive hiring practices, Andrea urges businesses to foster cultural norms.
Being part of the growing field of sex tech, Andrea is using what can sometimes be a dark and confusing place—the Internet—to educate anyone from the next generation to your grandma’s gin rummy team. But it’s important work; teaching sex ed is a way for us to learn and build our own personal code of conduct.
Whether it's in business or pleasure, there are certain things you should know if you wanna kick butt. Check out Andrea Barrica's 5 #BusinessOrPleasure tips by clicking here or heading over to OnTheDotWoman.com!
QUITE THE QUOTE
A woman who has been fighting the good fight for a long time, Ani DiFranco, said:
"My idea of feminism is self-determination, and it's very open-ended: every woman has the right to become herself, and do whatever she needs to do."