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Did you get a sex and consent guide like the one Emma Thompson penned for her daughter?

“Ick is an unbelievably useful emotion.”

LIKE MANY PEOPLE, my sex education was cobbled together from playground myths, furtive thumbing through a newly-acquired dictionary, and an awkward Q&A day in 6th class when we were given a very Catholic rundown of the whole thing.

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I don’t recall ever asking my mother about sex as an adolescent, and that’s most likely because I thought I had all the bases covered with playground chatter, dictionary sessions and that one Friday in December 1998 when myself and my classmates watched the well-meaning expert the school had hired for the occasion squirm over our more graphic line of questioning.

If I had asked, I have absolutely no doubt my mother would have been forthcoming with the information, but it never never really happened.

Of course, I might have idly thrown out a question or two at some stage, and been given an appropriate response, but the official birds and bees talk? That didn’t take place.

My experience, and that of millions others, is in stark contrast to that of Emma Thompson’s daughter, Gaia, who, at the age of 10, was presented with a personal guide to sex education and consent penned by her mother.

Last Chance for Love Premiere - Paris Source: ABACA/PA Images

While appearing on the ‘My Dad Wrote a Porno’ podcast in recent days, Gaia, now 18, told the show’s hosts how her mother approached the topic at the time, and subsequently read an extract from the guide.

Opening up the whole subject, Emma had written:

Can I start by saying one thing – I think sex is a really shiz word. It’s all s’s and x’s and sounds like a snake, not in a good way, and is hard and sibilant on the ear, and used to make me feel slightly queasy even just hearing it. For the purpose of these early writings, I’m going to choose another word. In fact, I’m going to make one up. Shavoom.

Reading her mother’s words, Gaia continued:

There are certain feelings to look out for, and in this patch of life, the really crucial feeling is the icky sense of unease we get when there is shavoomy stuff floating around that we are not comfortable with.

The Meyerowitz Stories Premiere - BFI London Film Festival 2017 Source: Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment

Emma taught her daughter that feelings in her head, heart, stomach and groin should work in accordance with one another in every sexual encounter, and urged her to listen to her instincts when it came to them.

“If anyone does anything, says anything, implies anything, shows anything, suggests anything that makes you feel ick, move away, get away, say no thank you, or even just no without the thank you, walk away because ick is an unbelievably useful emotion. Ick means no,” Emma wrote.

At a time when matters of consent are at the forefront of public consciousness, Emma’s efforts to educate her daughter on the importance of her own agency in every situation is to be lauded, but how commonplace is the approach?

Did your parent(s) discuss sex and consent with you as a pre-teen/ teen?


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About the author:

Niamh McClelland

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