According to GP and sexologist of NVVS (the Dutch Scientific Society for Sexology) Peter Leusink, the Christian teaching program ‘Be-Loved’ is detrimental to young people’s sexual education, despite being approved by the RIVM. The teaching program relies on moral principles and is not based on scientific evidence. “The gender differences described will limit both boys and girls in their sexual development,” sexologist Peter Leusink told Pointer.
What is the ‘sticky tape metaphor’?
The first time you stick tape to something, it sticks well. But the more often you stick the tape, the harder it sticks. According to some conservative Christians like American conservative Christian sexuality speaker Shelle Donahue, the same applies to sex: the more often you have sex with different people, the harder it becomes to ever really commit to someone again. I wish I was making this up, but unfortunately this metaphor is still being used.
Pointer quotes a student: During information class, an educator runs a piece of sticky tape along everyone’s clothes. The piece of tape gets a little dirtier and dirtier and eventually loses its stickiness. ”Look how dirty you are,” the educator says, pointing to the dusty piece of tape. ”If you kiss in a club or have sex, even if you already touch a shoulder, you are dirty. Just like this sticky tape.” The student believed the educators. ”You are so young then, I was just 14. You start believing it: so I am dirty too.”
Leusink points to a teacher’s manual of the curriculum developed by WISeducation. This programme is used by 11 reformatory and evangelical school communities in the first grade of high school. This teaching programme uses the sticky tape metaphor: “The more often a relationship is broken, the less oxytocin the body will produce during intimacy. While that very bonding can make a relationship strong and stable.”
“Incorrect,” says Peter Leusink in the Pointer broadcast ‘Gender, god and commandment’ by Isa Pihlajamaa, “because it has never been shown that having sex often leads to a reduced ability to form meaningful relationships.”
The tape metaphor is en of the examples of metaphors that have been used against young women for years. In the United States, Christian sexual ‘educators’ reinforce the idea that women are only as valuable as their intact hymen.
Those bewildered that such messages are still being conveyed to girls in 2023 should know that besides dirty sticky tape, in the United States, cups full of spit (as a metaphor for kissing different people), a rose (which becomes less and less beautiful as it goes around the classroom), second-hand trainers (who wants to walk in those?) and chewed-out chewing gum (no one picks that up to put in their mouths) also go around as metaphors in classrooms.
Moreover, this idea is gendered, in the sense that sexually active women tend to be judged more harshly on their number of sexual partners than men. ‘Slut-shaming’, so to speak. No one should judge themselves or anyone else – regardless of gender – based on their sexual history.
Furthermore, it is misleading and downright incorrect. WISeducation’s teaching materials wrongly assume assumed differences between the way men and women experience sex. In fact, that part of the curriculum is detrimental to young people’s sex education, according to Leusink, because it is based on dual gender stereotypical morality rather than scientific evidence. “Both men and women have the ability to separate and integrate sexual arousal and intimacy. This is not linked to gender. This has been established in studies. […] It is also not true that boys find it easier to leave girls behind. Men and women also do not differ in their production of oxytocin after orgasm,” he said.
It is also immensely painful for victims of sexual violence to be told that they are as dirty as a piece of used tape or a chewed-out gum.
RIVM informed Pointer that it stands by its recognition of the teaching method Be-Loved. The programme will be up for evaluation in 2025, where RIVM will assess whether it is still relevant in the current social context and in line with the latest scientific insights.
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