The Education Ministry’s newly issued national standard on sex education should be thoroughly reviewed by experts and revised before it is used in schools.
It took the Education Ministry some two years and 600 million won to prepare the manual on sex education that is being heavily criticized by experts and civic groups for its false information, misleading remarks and blatantly sexist bias.
The sex education material for first and second grade elementary school students states “(male) sexual desire can arise quickly on impulse, regardless of time or place.” Not only is the age-appropriateness of the material doubtful, the statement makes it appear as if it is alright for men to express their sexual desire “regardless of time or place.”
The sexist attitude of the authors is clearly displayed when the manual for teaching high school students states that “from the perspective of a man who spends a lot of money on dates, it is natural that he would want a commensurate compensation from the woman. In such conditions, unwanted date rape can occur.” The writers seem to be condoning date rape or at the very least justifying date rape for men who bear the costs of dating.
Some advice is both unrealistic and anachronistic. “People of the opposite sex should not be alone together by themselves” and “If sexually harassed on the subway, step on his foot as if by mistake” are some of the inane and inappropriate suggestions that are condescending to both sexes and just outright wrong. An appropriate response to sexual harassment on the subway is to put the attacker on notice, call for help, and report him to the authorities.
In a paragraph about sexual violence, the manual states that only forceful intercourse constitutes sexual violence — this is just plain false information that is not in agreement with the definition of sexual violence used in various laws.
Sex education experts criticize the manual for failing to foster awareness of gender equality. Rather, the manual encourages and reinforces prejudices and stereotypes of gender roles. By giving out wrong information and inappropriate advice, the new sex education guidelines will do students a disservice. In fact, it is the very sexual stereotypes and prejudices shown in the manual that are responsible for the prevalence of sexual violence in our society. The Education Ministry should withdraw the new guideline immediately before it harms our children and our society.