I love hearing any sex positive news, especially when it involves education, so when my friend S shared her excitement over Indonesia’s first sex therapist, I wanted to know more. Feministing wrote a great short article about Zoya Amirin and how she is passionately working to debunk myths and educate people in Indonesia. Myths surrounding sex are spread everywhere, and although I work as a sex educator, I realize that despite the hard work of so many of my amazing colleagues (now including Zoya Amirin!), they will probably always be around. However, with work I can see sex myths slowly being taken down. School House Rocks always taught me that knowledge is power, and it seems like Zoya agrees with this.
Beyond working as a certified sex therapist, Zoya has started up a podcast (called “In Bed With Zoya”) to really help debunk sex myths. I love podcasts not only because I can save them and listen whenever (and where ever) I want, but also because for many people it does offer a nice bit of privacy. If I were an adolescent right now, podcasts would likely be where I would get a lot of my information about sex (I did listen to some shows about sex and sexuality as a teenager, but they were on the radio or tv. Luckily I had really awesome and open parents who didn’t care if I listened to these, but I had many friends whose parents would never let them listen to these programs). Zoya hopes to use her podcasts to debunk myths and share accurate information, and has said “It’s time to embrace our sexuality in a healthy way and to be mature in our understanding.” I want to fist bump Zoya after reading that, as for me, sexuality doesn’t always mean sex. Further, viewing sexuality in a positive fashion is a good thing in my book.
That said, when trying to work in this field regardless of where you are, there is always going to be some resistance. For me, I have family members who have no real idea of what I do for a living (aside from the whole graduate student thing) and either think I am a health teacher (true) or a gym teacher (um, not true. At all. You really don’t want me teaching gym, however they seem to think that a health teacher is automatically a gym teacher). I’m lucky that I don’t find that much resistance here in America, but Zoya is working in a country that is primarily Muslim. Talking about sex in Indonesia is not seen as such a positive thing (although, I want to say that is all the more reason why people like Zoya need to be doing this sort of work). Teaching about healthy sexuality isn’t just explaining contraceptive use to people and telling teenagers to use condoms, but also includes talking about relationships, communication, body image, and more.
For what it’s worth, I’ve had parents contact me wanting to know why I have let their (college aged) student take my class as well as wanting to know what their child is learning in my classroom. I will say that the majority of my students say that they have not received what they consider to be adequate sexuality education prior to this class, and after the semester many students say that the class was important to them. I think it is so important to get medically accurate, age appropriate information that has the ability to improve people’s lives. The article shares the fact that 40% of Indonesia teenagers are sexually active – regardless of the number, they deserve to have access to great information and I applaud Zoya for putting it out there.
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