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Wrapping up the Dutch “success story”

In this step, we will critically reflect on the way that the Dutch past and present sexuality education is represented. What is missing?
An apple with universal signs for male and female engraved in it, placed on top of a pile of books.
© University of Groningen

In this week we were introduced to the importance attached to talking openly about sex in the public domain in the Netherlands. The stories we read at the beginning of this week however presented a different understanding of how people experience and practice talking about sexuality.

The video showed how the emphasis on open communication has emerged out of a particular Dutch history, in which young people in the 1960s and 1970s protested against the rigid normative context in which they were raised. These protests included critiques on religion and on religious taboos around sexuality.

In Week 1 we have read in a blogpost about Dutch sexual and reproductive health and rights policies, that this idea that religion is creating and promoting taboos around sexuality is very influential. Yet, the student in Jelle Wiering’s classroom challenged the idea of the classroom as a safe space to talk about sexuality, in particular for people with migrant or religious backgrounds.

The example of Dahlia suggested that religion and sexual wellbeing are related differently than the Dutch narrative represent it. Rather than seeing religion as a source of taboos, Dahlia presented sexual pleasure as part of religious notions of wellbeing. Her example also suggests that young people communicate about sexuality in an informal setting, within their own age group, and with people whom they trust.

This step therefore leads to questions about the claims made in Dutch lessons on love. Is sexuality education in the Netherlands as good as it is claimed in Dutch lessons in love? What does the approach to sexuality education mean for people from migrant groups and religious minorities, who do not share the Dutch narrative on religion as a constraint on sexuality? We will also focus on terms such as taboo and open speech, what do these terms do?

We will explore these questions further in the following steps of this week.

© University of Groningen
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Religion and Sexual Wellbeing: Pleasure, Piety, and Reproductive Rights

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