Our Kids Need Better Sex Ed -- & This 3-D Clitoris in Classrooms Is a Good Start

3D clitoris

This September, both primary and secondary schools in France will begin using an anatomically correct, 3-D printed model of a clitoris in sex-ed classes. While some adults might be uncomfortable with the thought of teaching young girls and boys about genitals in such detail, as the mother of an almost 10-year-old boy, I have to say that this sort of advancement in sex-ed is exciting, and I would be totally on board if it was used in my son's health class.


My son's first foray into (informal) sex-ed was at a young age. Like many families with small kids, we've always had an open door policy around the bathroom (meaning, if I was using the bathroom, I shouldn't be surprised if my husband or son walked in to wash their hands, brush their teeth, or just continue a conversation we may have started earlier).

So, I wasn't too shocked when my then 3-year-old son walked in on me in the bathroom one day, but the fact that he caught me changing a tampon certainly surprised him. After I quickly reassured him that I was fine and certainly wasn't bleeding to death, we had our first talk about ovulation and menstruation. He asked, I answered, and at 3, my son had a fairly rudimentary but decent understanding of how a uterus works (which is more than we can say for some adult men).

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As he grew older, my son had more questions that sprung from that first conversation. Both my husband and I answered all his questions in an age-appropriate manner and at some point bought him a few "all about my body"–type books so he could look through them at his leisure. We also taught him that there was nothing shameful about the human body and that genital body parts weren't gross or strange, but just another body part like his elbow or toe. Sure, that may have led to a loud "This bike seat is squishing my scrotum!" exclamation here or there, but it was worth it to us that he not develop any stigma or shame around those things.

So, something like a 3-D model of a clitoris doesn't make me worry or panic as a parent. If anything, I see it as something useful like those hanging models of skeletons most biology classrooms have in the back, or the 3-D models of hearts or brains. Just another body part for kids to learn about and explore.

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3D clitoris

In addition, there is something so empowering in teaching both boys and girls about the clitoris. For far too long this body part has been shrouded in mystery, often lending itself more to legend, or a punchline of a joke, than as something deserving of education. Now, girls and young women in France will be able to better understand this part of their body, validating and giving acknowledgement to female sexuality (when -- let's be honest here -- sex is usually framed in a male-centric/pleasure-oriented endeavor). It will also provide boys with more understanding of how female genitals work, making them less of a mystery.

When it comes down to it, studies have shown that comprehensive sex education works better than the abstinence-only model. Fully fleshing out that curriculum (no pun intended!) with 3-D models that demystify and inform only better prepares both girls and boys for the years ahead.

So, bring on the 3-D models of the clitoris, I say. And with it, remove whatever stigma and shame still lurks in our puritanically based society!



Images via Mary Docher/FabLab


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