Legitimate Sexpectations: The Power of Sex-ed by Katrina Marson
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 of the 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 use of 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…