Legitimate Sexpectations: The Power of Sex-ed

Katrina Marson

Legitimate Sexpectations: The Power of Sex-ed
Scribe Publications
2 August 2022

Legitimate Sexpectations: The Power of Sex-ed

Katrina Marson

As a sexual offences prosecutor, Katrina Marson works for an institution that can only respond, one case at a time, to sexual violence once the damage is already done. During a decade of looking back, she kept returning to a single question: what could have been done to prevent this?

In 2019 she stepped out of the justice system to travel abroad on a Churchill Fellowship, where she witnessed first-hand the power of comprehensive relationships and sexuality education to safeguard sexual wellbeing and act as a protective factor against sexual violence. Combining her coalface experience in the criminal law with her international research on sex education, Marson’s perspective is unique, looking in two directions at once.

Legitimate Sexpectations exposes the limits of the criminal justice system and the fault lines in our society when it comes to sex, sexuality, and relationships. Through storytelling that moves between heartbreak and hope, Marson makes the case for a cultural shift towards valuing sexual wellbeing and preventing sexual violence in the first place. In doing so, she calls on us all to play our part to ensure that young people’s sexual experiences are not just free from violence, but far from violent.


There have been times over the last few years when I have felt gutted and diminished by the public discourse around issues of sexual education and behaviour. I know I am not alone in feeling this way. So it was honestly such a relief to read Katrina Marson’s Legitimate Sexpectations. As a feminist and a parent, I read this heartened to know that someone, out there, is speaking a sense to which I can relate. Marson is a criminal lawyer with experience in prosecuting sexual offences. Earlier in her career, she worked for an institution where they could only respond to one sexual offence case at a time. She found it dispiriting that she could only respond after the abuse had occured. Looking back, she kept returning to one basic question: what can be done to prevent these offences from happening?

Thankfully for us readers, Marson went on a mission to find out what programs can facilitate change in sexual wellbeing. In 2019, she stepped out ofthe justice system, travelling abroad on a Churchill Fellowship to explore how sex education programs can improve critical thinking and promote more considered communication. In her introduction to the book, Marson says it felt like community consciousness had finally come to a crossroads: how are we to answer the scourge of sexual violence? What are the lessons that could change lives? Legitimate Sexpectations is her record of research.

Detailed within are various frameworks used overseas that promote the active useof Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) within the school curriculum. It is clear, from the examples she uses that to achieve meaningful change, you need to start within the schools. Marson is now the chair of the ACT Government Sexual Assault Prevention Working Group, where she continues her research of sexual education using a human rights framework. Pursuing a world where everyone has the right to sexual wellbeing and to be free from sexual violence has always been part of the feminist agenda. This book encourages dialogue and hope. If only everyone read this book…

Chris Gordon is the community engagement and programming manager at Readings

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