Here’s a ranty article about sex and politics and what the right think about sex, relationships, and you. There are absolutely no jokes or funny bits in this at all.
The right really hate sex and relationships education. Since 2010, the cuts to the sectors that deliver relationships and sex education in schools in the UK have been huge. Youth services, charities, public health, sexual health services, have all suffered devastating cuts. Overworked and underpaid teachers are now being made to deliver relationships and sex education in schools with no extra funding, little training, and sometimes are reliant on free resources.
A lot of bad sex ed is either right wing, or it’s bad because of the right. Read more about that at Bad Sex Ed Bingo.
Those that do provide RSE in schools are also being attacked by the right wing newspapers. These newspapers cheered on these cuts and helped put the Tories in power who did them. This website, which is not a teaching resource, is also being criticised by them.
The right don’t want you to have abortions. Abortion is healthcare and it should be a woman’s (or anyone with a womb) right to have one. In the US the Supreme Court (with judges appointed by the right wing in US politics) have just ruled to make abortions even harder, or sometimes impossible, to access in many parts of the country than before.
In the UK abortion is legal and freely available, but a lack of services being commissioned in some parts of the country means that they just aren’t accessible for a lot of people. That these services are not being commissioned is (in part) due to funding cuts that the country has faced since 2010 (whilst the Tories / right are in power).
Read more about Abortions and how to get them where you are
Sexual health services
The right don’t want you to have good local sexual health services. Since the 2008 crash successive governments have imposed austerity measures to make us workers pay for bailing out the banks. This meant cuts to services.
Overall budgets for things like sexual health services, sex educators, sexual health advisers, sexual health outreach were cut. Massively cut. (Just like the massive cuts to youth services). So if you’re having to cross postcodes to reach a local service, or the opening times are really inconvenient, or it’s harder to find places that will give you free condoms, that’s why. Ask your local sexual health service about the cuts they’ve faced in the UK and they’ll tell you.
Check out Brook, who have been running sexual health services for young people for years.
The right don’t want you to get STIs, and that’s because they also don’t want to get STIs. However what the right do is to try to blame STIs on individual people rather than inequality and lack of adequate funding for healthcare systems. We saw that in the Aids crisis and we still see it today. We also saw this with chlamydia, gonorrhoea, syphilis, and now with monkeypox. They also tried to do it with Covid too. Instead of thinking how government and healthcare systems can look after everyone in society (globally), individuals are blamed and further stigmatised. Of course a lot of this is grounded in racism, but also homo/biphobia, whorephobia, classism, and sexism.
This is one of the leading sex and relationships education websites and I need your support to keep it free and ad free. Find out how you can support what I’m doing here.
The right don’t want you to be the gender you are — they want you to be the gender they think you should be. One example of this is the dreadful transphobia they whip up on a daily basis. The right do this to try and harm trans and trans non-binary people and to try create a hostile environment to make it harder for trans folk to be them. (They won’t win at this by the way). The laws around gender recognition and the lack of funding for gender affirming services, are also actively harming trans people.
I donate to Gendered Intelligence. If you have cash, you could too.
As well as transphobia, the right also don’t want cis gender people to be the gender they are. For the right, they think that it’s bad if men are soft or caring or if women are hard, dynamic, and selfful. They believe that men should be strong, dominant, rational, and active and that women should be soft, passive, nurturing, and emotional. They also believe that it’s ‘natural’ for men to be these things and for women to be not.
The right don’t believe that gender has anything to do with bodies being in relation to history, religion, media, society, governments, workplaces, schools. Or that gender is biopsychosocial – a complex mix of biology, psychology, and society. The right are basic.
Read more about sex and gender.
The right don’t like queerness. Being queer is to do gender, sexuality, sex, relationships, and ourselves outside of ‘the norm’.
So ‘the norm’ is to be cisgender and straight. The relationship would be just between one man and one woman in a monogamous relationship. That relationship is the most important relationship (until they inevitably have kids). The only sex that counts as ‘real’ sex is penis in vagina sex. And that although sex might be pleasurable, the most important thing is that it’s ‘real sex’ and ‘normal’.
The right thinks that anything that isn’t this is not okay. So, to be a queer gender, or a queer sexuality is mostly not okay for the right. They don’t like relationships that might involve more than just two people. If your relationship isn’t about having kids or a strong family, they think it’s not as important as ones that are. They don’t like it when we talk about having different kinds of sex that might maximise freedom, choices and enjoyment. The right don’t like kink and don’t think people can consent to it. See also sex work or any transactional sex.
The right don’t like consent. They think that consent is just about whether someone has been found to have broken the law or not. If they did, they must have done it and they are bad. Or if they didn’t break the law then the victim just made it up. Also convictions for rape are incredibly low, and the rich can afford better lawyers that might get them off.
But, as I say in my book, consent is about freedoms, choices, and agreement. Doing consent is about maximising these things for ourselves and others. We do this through our words, our bodies, but it also depends what the world around us allows us to do. It’s an ethical practice which is about care and empowerment and when done collectively it has the possibility to be transformative and radical.
What we do at BISH is to try to create resources that maximise your choices around sex, love, and you. So, for example, if you are choosing to be a manly man, or choosing do monogamy, or choosing to have ‘proper sex’ whilst also maximising other people’s choices – great! I hope that this website helps you to do that.
Sex and politics
So if you think that sex is not a serious political topic, you’re just not paying attention. You can see that a lot of the issues I’ve raised here are all connected. The right organise themselves around this kind of stuff. Occasionally people (who think they are) on the left agree with them about some of it. Particularly about trans rights and sex worker rights. If you are with the right on one thing, you are giving them tacit support about everything else too. So pick a side and show some solidarity.
Comment below if you like (I moderate all comments before they go live, so no being cheeky!)
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© Justin Hancock, 2023
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If you’re over 18 and would like an advanced version of BISH check out my podcast Culture Sex Relationships. Also I’ve written a sex advice book for adults with Meg-John Barker called A Practical Guide to Sex available wherever you get books. We also did some zines to help you to figure out what you want from sex and relationships. They are at our website.
If you are an educator please don’t just show this website in class, they aren’t designed to be used as teaching resources. Instead, facilitate your own really great RSE with my resources at bishtraining.com.
Justin Hancock has been a trained sex and relationships educator since 1999. In that time he’s taught and given advice about sex and relationships with thousands of young people in person and millions online. He’s a member of the World Association for Sexual Health.