It may be an urban myth, but the tale of boys at a well-known boarding school being summoned for a lecture by their headmaster on the subject of sex education, only to find it consisting only of him sternly warning “If you touch it, it will drop orf”, just about sums up attitudes before the 1970s. That ignorance was not a good thing was reflected in rising teenage pregnancy rates.
Still not even a little fair and balanced
Well, perhaps she is a little too keen to impress her new target audience in the USA, but today’s effort from Melanie “Not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” Phillips is the most amazingly desperate attempt to revise recent history in an effort to justify her narrative. “Why is the Left so blind to the link between today's sex scandals and the cult of permissiveness?” she screams.
Yes, it’s about “permissiveness”, which appeared, according to Mel, as “young children were subjected to grossly inappropriate ‘sex education’, which was a green light to sexual activity”. And there she goes plain flat wrong. Sex education came after the realisation that something had to be done to address that culture of ignorance, which had triggered more of those teenage pregnancies.
Moreover, when sex education programmes have been compared to those based purely on abstinence, the latter, far from reducing the likelihood of pregnancy, actually increased it. I’m sure that Mel will be more than prepared to dismiss such conclusions as some kind of “liberal left” stitch-up, but the fact of the matter is that sex education has been shown to be vastly superior to keeping folks ignorant.
But she’s off and running, linking the supposed “permissiveness” to Jimmy Savile, Stuart Hall, and anyone else she can mark with the finger of suspicion (hopefully, after her ejection from the Spectator, the Mail has had the article read by its legal team). This is also pure bunk: Savile’s litany of misbehaviour did not start as a result of anyone being given a sex education lesson.
Indeed, Savile first found himself in trouble in the late 1950s, at the same time as Derek McCulloch, aka Uncle Mac, would habitually welcome children to Broadcasting House, “show them round, give them lunch, then take them to the gents and interfere with them”. There were others operating within the entertainment world at the same time. This occurred well before the introduction of sex education.
Melanie Phillips is so keen to blame anything in the modern world that does not meet with her approval on “the left” that, once again, reality is either selectively edited out or done away with altogether. The only difference between what was happening in the 1950s and today is that today there is no longer a tendency to cover for the perpetrators. So openness and transparency is, for Mad Mel, A Very Bad Thing.
And, inconveniently, Jimmy Savile was a fan not of “the left”, but of the Tories.