Sexual wellness start-up NORMAL has launched a new e-course called The Modern Guide to Sex, which invites grown-ups back into the (virtual) classroom for a new and improved lesson in sex education.
That’s right. The course contains all the crucial lessons we weren’t taught in high school. Things like finding your pleasure spot, foreplay and arousal techniques, anal sex, basic anatomy, v on v sex and having better orgasms.
I don’t know about you but I, for one, (and a few of the people I had sex with in high school) could’ve used a lesson or two in all of these areas.
I still find it mind-boggling how little we’re taught about sex in high school. Young adulthood is the time in our lives when we think about sex the most and have the most questions about it. But not only is sex not spoken about, it’s portrayed in a taboo-like light, making it scary to ask questions. I remember having to resort to the sealed section in Dolly magazine to read about masturbation, which wasn’t ideal, to say the least.
As pioneers in the sexual wellness space, NORMAL is excited to get people talking and learning about getting down and dirty, in an open and inclusive way.
The brand recently ran the Big Australian Sex Survey, which went deep into the sexual trends, sex life and education of over 1,000 Australians, from Gen Zs to Baby Boomers. The results exposed major gaps in the current sex education curriculum across the board.
“When we spoke to our users and did research like The Big Australian Sex Survey, we kept finding that there were big gaps in our sex education which left people feeling unequipped to explore sexuality in the way they wanted,” Lucy Wark, Founder of NORMAL, tells POPSUGAR Australia.
“For example, less than 1 in 10 recent graduates have learned the difference between porn and real sex, or anything about safe LGBTQ+ sex, and 2 in 3 never learned how to discuss consent with a partner.”
When you consider all the social issues around discrimination and misogynistic constructs we’ve had to expose and deconstruct within the realm of consent, it’s wild to think that these issues wouldn’t be so firmly ingrained in our society if we had a better educational system for learning about these basics.
Wark, herself, spent decades looking for a trusted and contemporary guide to sex and sexuality. When she couldn’t find it, she decided to create it herself.
“We also hear a lot that people want information to help them have stronger relationships and have more pleasure in sex, but don’t know where to go for it,” she explains.
“So we created The Modern Guide to Sex to cover the foundations of great sex. And we partnered with Georgia to bring it to you in an engaging video and eBook format that you can work through on your own schedule. It’s grown-up sex education delivered in the way that works for you.
“We’ve already had an amazing response to the course, and we’re hoping that this demonstrates for a lot of people that effective sex education doesn’t have to feel day – in fact, we think the best sex education is empathetic, human and enjoyable.”
The Modern Guide to Sex is hosted by certified sex coach, Georgia Grace. We caught up with Georgia and asked her about her own high school sex-ed, some tips on how to get comfy talking about sex and why she’s excited about The Modern Guide to Sex.
Laura Roscioli: What was your experience with sex education growing up and how do you think it has evolved since?
Georgia Grace: I think like most people, the sex-ed I received was pretty limited. It was only a few lessons and we were taught a few safer sex practices and how babies were made. We learnt about ejaculation for people with penises, focused solely on cisgender (cis) and heterosexual experiences. Ultimately, the messaging was: do not have sex.
Not a whole lot has changed across the board – as we could see with the failed milkshake consent videos. Which is why I have been so excited to develop the online video course The Modern Guide to Sex with NORMAL.
We know that young people want and need useful, practical, evidence based, up-to-date research and pleasure focused information. They want and need education that they can directly apply to their lives and sexual experiences. Covering topics of consent & boundaries, healthy relationships, safer sex practices, pleasure and anatomy education, LGBTQIA+ sex and relationships, sexual communication skills – we need to cover it all. This information will radically transform sex education and how people experience sex and relationships.
LR: Why do you think that so much is lacking from sexual education, especially when it comes to the female experience?
GG: So many reasons! Up until now there has been limited research about the anatomy of the vulva and arousal systems. New research is constantly emerging and providing answers to questions many people have had.
But also, sex is still defined and widely understood as penis and vagina penetration – this does not include a whole range of human experiences and it also doesn’t teach about the clitoris – a vital organ for pleasure. The majority of people with vulvas need clitoral stimulation in order to climax.
Limited training and education for the educators: it’s very likely that the teachers haven’t received the information they need. They may also feel uncomfortable educating students in certain areas. Plus, the plethora of cultural, societal and political barriers that can limit access to this type information.
LR: Why is talking about sex important?
GG: It’s vital we normalise speaking before, during and after sex. Before, to be used as moments to check in, speak about desires, what is a ‘fk yes’, what is a ‘I need more information’ and what is a ‘no’. During, to ask questions like ‘what would make this even better’ or ‘I want more of this’ or ‘I wonder what this would feel like’ or ‘slow down’. And after, to include moments of integration discussing what worked, what didn’t, what you’d do again and so on. Talking about sex makes it better for everyone.
LR: Have you got any tips for people that struggle to talk openly about sex?
GG: Speaking about sex is like learning a new language – and like any new language you need to practice often, by listening, speaking, trial and error, practising in different settings or contexts.
It may also be useful to start engaging in sex positive content – the people you follow, the books you read, podcasts you listen to, and of course, the e-course in sex education you complete.
And receive support. You don’t have to figure this out on your own. We wanted to make The Modern Guide to Sex accessible which is why it’s $29 – and you get 15 video tutorials, 180+ page workbook and dozens of practical activities and inquiries. It truly is the sex education you wish you received at school
LR: How do you think that an open discourse about sex, pleasure, desires and open knowledge of our anatomies will help us as a society?
GG: Open conversations about sex will change society and contribute to our current sexual revolution. It’s vital in making these conversations normal and free from shame. I see this first hand at my workshops, a key learning for people is having the opportunity to speak openly with a group of people and to learn together.
LR: What conversations/topics around sex do you think we’re still lacking today?
GG: Everything! We need to teach it all! A few that come to mind are:
- LGBTQIA+ sex and human experiences. We need thorough, in-depth and sex information for everyone – not just the cis hetero experience.
- Pleasure and sex beyond orgasm and penetration. We need to expand education on the body’s incredible orgasmic potential.
- Addressing sexual concerns like issues with arousal, performance anxiety, stress and painful sex.
- Relationship choices. For example, in session, I’m noticing more and more people interested in non-monogamy.
The Modern Guide to Sex is a 15+ episode video masterclass, laying everything bare. Hosted by certified sex coach, Georgia Grace, the course undresses topics ranging from the typical to the traditionally taboo. You can find the course online via NORMAL here. It’s $29 for the entire course, or free, if you’re a student.