All over the world, one thing remains common: sex is a taboo. Growing up, none of us received the sex education we should have. Whether it was at home with parents who asked us to shut our eyes each time an intimate scene came on the TV, or at the school with teachers who felt that plant reproduction was too much information — sex has been the awkward subject we have avoided for far too long. This has basically resulted into a lot of unanswered questions and curiosity; while some have resorted to porn in search for answers, which actually just gives a rather inaccurate representation of sex, others have developed an irrational fear and an unhealthy perspective towards it. Moreover, sex has never been portrayed as a process that is just as natural, psychological, emotional, and possibly spiritual, as any other.
For all of these reasons and plenty more, Netflix’s Sex Education is the feminist show young adults need to watch. For the first time ever, there’s an honest discussion happening around sex and we all should avail! Not only is it both educational and entertaining, but every aspect of the show is deep-rooted in intersectionality, diversity and inclusivity, which makes it an absolute treat to watch. In this article, I don’t want to give away the plot of the show, as that wouldn’t do it justice. However, I’ll try to highlight the elements that make it stand out from a feminist perspective, and make you learn as the viewer with each passing episode.
At first, you may get the impression of a familiar plot line, but you are wrong. Sex Education manages to feel entirely fresh but relatable. Through the lens of Otis, the protagonist, you will understand “sex as a learning experience about who you are, what you want and how you relate to other people.”, according to the New York Times.
We live in a world of prejudices and stereotypes, wherein we often forget to recognise our differences and commonalities. Sex Education unapologetically talks about the problems that young adults actually encounter. I wouldn’t like to use the term ‘teenage problems’, because even though the show highlights the journey of a couple high schoolers, I could resonate with more than a lot as a 22-year old woman. The plot revolves around a diverse spectrum of issues such as consent, peer pressure, body image, abortion, bullying, homophobia, mental health, parental pressure, sexual blackmail, and more. While addressing such contentious social issues, the tone was light-hearted and non-intimidating, but the message conveyed was always apt and deep — I think that’s the real beauty.
The show is feminist in its very essence because with each episode, we are reminded that sexuality is fluid and gender is a huge spectrum, and people can identify just how they choose. We get to know some amazing LGBTQIA+ characters over the course of two seasons, and realise how different factors intersect with gender identities to form our unique lived experiences. In addition, the strong female characters on the show make the word about female pleasure loud and clear, something that’s never talked about explicitly. Knowing and loving your own body can make all the difference, both with yourself and your partner — and there’s nothing to be ashamed of!
We also see how experiences, which are shrugged off as ‘not-that-big-a-deal’, can actually sit in the subconscious mind and restrict us for the longest time. Whether it was Aimee who underwent physical and emotional trauma after she was sexually assaulted on a bus, or Otis who was uncomfortable with his own sexuality because he had witnessed his father cheating on his mother as a child, we are once again reminded that it is okay to not be okay.
We are simultaneously also shown how communicating is therapeutic, and can solve so many of our problems. I vividly remember this one scene where the girls are in detention and their task is to find out what unites them as women; unfortunately, they found out that their lived experiences of sexual assault and/or harassment are the only common points, and hence bonded to understand and uplift one another.
In conclusion, Sex Education brilliantly addresses multiple issues beyond the ones I talked about in this article. As an ardent feminist, I would rate both the seasons a 10/10.