Book Report XIV: Sex in Echt

The book "Sex in Echt" on a wooden table. The cover shows an illustration of two legs, with purple underwear pulled down. One leg is shaven, the other has hair. Around the legs are playful little cartoons, and the subtitle of the book reads "Offene Antworten auf deine Fragen zu Liebe, Lust, und Pubertät."

Sex in Echt is the sex education book I wish I’d had in high school. It’s a light, easy read (in German) written by Nadine Beck and Rosa Schilling of Fuck Yeah Sex Shop in Hamburg (one of our favorite retailers!). The playful cartoon illustrations by Sandra Bayer, the graphic mastermind behind the Einhorn condom brand, are fun and make so many otherwise serious topics approachable.

It reads a guide for teenagers that feels like a comforting, honest, sex-positive, trans*-inclusive conversation that covers topics beyond just anatomy that are essential for sex ed: gender and sexuality, puberty, bodies, pregnancy, STIs, consent and communication, porn, sex toys, and more. The graphics are inclusive of a wide diversity of bodies, genders, sexualities. I recommend it to everyone, especially parents with kids!

After I read this book, I started wondering what Polar Embassy, a games publisher, could do in this space? What’s a playful way to support teenagers and their parents and caretakers digest and research these topics?

Undoubtedly, many families don't want to have conversations about sex education for a variety of reasons: it’s too uncomfortable (those conversations were never modelled or practiced when the parents were growing up), or the parent feels like they don’t know enough to teach their child the right information (Dr. Jean Milburn sets such a high bar!). As a sex-positive publisher, I care deeply about the topic and remember how sparse my own sexual education was as a teenager in Alaska. Those gaps in my knowledge left me feeling paranoid and unsure, and it has taken a lot of time and energy to fill them. I’m still un-learning and learning!

I started researching the status and standards of sex education in Germany, and read this interesting overview (in German), “Sexualaufklärung in der Schule” from 2021 from the Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung (BZgA, the German Federal Center for Health Education). My biggest surprise was that parents are still key sources of information on sex ed for kids - well, mothers are. Fathers seem to be strikingly poor sources of information for daughters. This is what weaponised ignorance looks like, folks! So I decided to partner with the sex educators and therapists at Other Nature, the iconic Berlin queer sex shop, to create something to help families talk together… to stay tuned, follow us on Instagram for updates on product launches!

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