Written by Emma Bacon, WLLC 2015-2016
I’ve heard the baseball metaphor for sex that Al Vernacchio describes all through out my life. I can recall when I was hearing about the sexual difference between getting to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd base. I never realized how terrible of a metaphor baseball was until I heard Vernacchio’s Ted Talk. He describes it as
“…incredibly problematic. It’s sexist. It’s heterosexist. It’s competitive. It’s goal-directed. And it can’t result in healthy sexuality developing in young people or in adults.”
He introduces a new metaphor: the pizza metaphor. He says that if we incorporate the pizza model into sex education,
“we could create education that invites people to think about their own desires, to make deliberate decisions about what they want, to talk about it with their partners, and to ultimately look for not some external outcome but for what feels satisfying.”
In my opinion, there is a lot that is lacking in our sex education system that leads to serious issues in society and also wellness. In general, boys and girls get a very different education about sexual activity. For example, boys are often taught about masturbation while girls are not. Also, girls are more often taught about abstinence and boys about using condoms. The difference between educations creates a difference in self-image and in being comfortable with ones sexuality. This also plays a role in the idea that men are the pursuers in a sexual relationship, and that women are submissive. I think this is a serious problem that could be aided by Vernacchio’s pizza model.
I think this also relates Omid Safi’s “Walls Around Hearts”. The poem talks about how “So many of us have fronts, masks, barriers, walls to guard the vulnerability of our own hearts” and how important it is to break down these walls in order to be truly loved and to connect with people. When applied to sexual activity, this guardedness can be a result of the competitive and non-communicative nature of sex today. People might build these walls around their hearts because they’re taught that being sexual with someone is not about open communication with their partners. I think being open and honest about what you want and like is what Vernacchio is trying to encourage and that being vulnerable in that way creates a better experience for both partners.
In terms of wellness, I think this particularly influences emotional wellness. Having a healthy relationship with your partner, and particularly having a healthy relationship with yourself, is crucial to being emotionally well. Feeling stress from an unhealthy relationship with your partner and/or feeling uncomfortable with yourself can cause serious emotional toil. Because of this, I think implementing the pizza model into sexual education would help create a better future for young people as well as help improve society’s misconceptions and practice of sexuality.