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Teach schoolgirls about orgasms, says Labour MP

Jess Phillips says open discussion of female pleasure is vital to redress gender power balance

Nazia Parveen North of England correspondent


Schoolgirls should be taught about orgasms in sex education lessons, according to a Labour MP.

Jess Phillips, who represents Birmingham Yardley and has two sons, made the remarks during a magazine interview. She explained that girls should be taught about sex from a young age in order to form healthy sexual relationships when they become adults.

Phillips said it was vital to discuss female pleasure in order to “break down the culture of power imbalance between men and women”.

“We should be telling girls about orgasms during sex education. I’m not suggesting we teach children how to masturbate, I’m suggesting we talk to them about the things they’re doing anyway.”

In the interview with Grazia magazine and the Hotbed podcast, Phillips, 37, also said women’s expectations “should be greater” and they should “start demanding more” during sex.

The youngest of four children, Philips said sex was openly discussed with her parents, Stewart Trainor, a teacher, and Jean, who was a senior NHS administrator. She also claimed it has helped her in politics.

“I’ve made a career out of being able to talk about difficult things, and that comes from growing up in an environment where nothing was embarrassing.”

Phillips – who said she is open about sex with her two sons, aged 10 and 14 – said she wanted to close the “orgasm gap” after researchers from Chapman University, Indiana University and the Kinsey Institute found that 95% of heterosexual men said they “usually or always orgasm” while being sexually intimate but only 65% of straight women said the same.

Phillips is campaigning for sex education in secondary schools to be compulsory by 2020. It is currently only a requirement in council-run schools.

She believes educating children about healthy relationships and their anatomy will reduce the risk of violence against women: “To liberate women and end violence is to break down the culture of power imbalance. Let’s stop people feeling ashamed.”

The MP also revealed that she grew up in a “naked household”, and often walks naked around her own home, where she lives with her sons and her husband, Tom.

She said: “It’s mainly laziness. But I think wearing clothes in bed is weird. Why would you get dressed to go to bed?”

Phillips’ comments come as the Department of Education is looking to reform sex education lessons in classrooms for the first time in 17 years. It has consulted parents and young people on what topics should be covered.