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Sex education: Not just for teens

OPINION

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March 28, 2012|By Niki Fritz, For RedEye

According to the Kinsey Institute, by the time we are 24, 90 percent of us will have sown the wild oats, made the beast with two backs, done the deed and any number of additional dirty euphemisms to say we will have had sex. And although many of us by our 20s still won't be able to talk—or write—about sex with any inkling of grace, most of us will have figured out the basic formula: egg + sperm = two pink lines on the pee stick.

Often, we learn about the horndogs and the bees in a high school sex-ed class. I fondly remember my gym teacher awkwardly mumbling through diagrams of the reproductive systems with a few dozen pictures of the horrors of herpes thrown in for good measure. The message was clear: Abstinence until death or you will get the clap, you dirty slut! There was no follow-up Q&A session.

That is where esteemed sex columnist and Chicago native Dan Savage and his new MTV series, "Savage U," come in, loudly, proudly and sheathed in latex. The show, which debuts at 10 p.m. Tuesday, follows Savage as he takes his expertise on the road, visiting college campuses across the U.S. and dispensing sex advice better than anything your 10th-grade gym teacher could diagram on a chalkboard. Savage's show gives Millennials something we've been yearning for since puberty: grown-up sex-ed.

Considering the country's sex-ed curriculum hasn't changed since the 1960s, it seems like Savage has his work cut out for him. According to a 2008 University of Chicago study, 93 percent of Illinois schools have sex-ed but only 42 percent are teaching comprehensive curriculum including the realistic stuff such as condoms, birth control and sexuality. Although there currently is a comprehensive sex-ed bill in the Illinois legislature that would ensure Illinois teens get more than a herpes slide show, for now many teens (and adults) learn about the sexy "good stuff" from the always-reliable sources of HBO and Redtube.

This type of "education" comes with its own problems. Despite the well-lit, mess-free simultaneous orgasms we see on any given Sunday on "Californication," real-life sex looks a little more like the floundering of an overserved Situation on"Jersey Shore" ... or worse.

With little realistic education from high schools, miseducation from cable and no tools to actually talk about sex, 20-somethings are left blindly humping their way through young adulthood.

On "Savage U," the always orally talented Savage visits 12 college campuses—including UIC—to give frank advice about everything from sex to relationships and all the GOP's surnames in between.

The discussion topics range from the nitty-gritty—manscaping, faking orgasms and masturbation—to less tangible issues such as romance, rejection and Facebook relationship statuses. It's the kind of stuff you wish your health teacher had talked about as you were peeling Trojans from battered bananas.

Beyond being the most realistic "reality" TV show on MTV, "Savage U" promises to help 20-somethings unlearn the shame and silence we learned to associate with sex in those abstinence-only and herpes-filled classes of Sexless High.

As Savage himself says in a promo for the show: "The more we talk about sex before people are having it, the less problems they are encountering when they have it, the better informed they are, they can make better choices. So there is going to be less talking about the train wreck afterward if we do some talking about it ahead of time."

Let the re-education begin!

NIKI FRITZ IS A REDEYE SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR.



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