chapter  5
17 Pages

“What’s Wrong with Porn?” Engaging with Contemporary Painting to Explore the Commodifi cation of Pleasure in Sexuality Education


Aroha: “What’s wrong with looking at porn?” [challengingly] Teacher: “I will answer that at the end of the class, we will just keep to

the puberty stuff at the moment.” [She never returned to answer Aroha’s question.] (Participant Observation Two 9 Blue, Monday 30th October 2011)

Like an experience of the learning self, aesthetic experience holds the potential for the coming of a knowing, available only through acknowledgement and inaccessible through explanation. Explanation is simply unable to bear the weight of the ‘knowings’ that are aesthetic experience, or the experience of the learning self. Explanations failures in these realms are of huge consequence for both art and pedagogy. (Ellsworth, 2005, p. 162)

I am sitting in the back of a Year 9 Health classroom. Twenty-fi ve culturally diverse, ‘high-ability’ students and their teacher are ‘doing puberty’ for the second time. Some tell me later that they also covered it at primary school. Despite a high level of covert joking peer interaction, the students appear bored and disengaged with the topic. There has been no real attempt to really fi nd out what they already know about puberty, or to ask them what they might be interested in knowing more about in relation to sexuality, let alone pleasure. The teacher praises them for asking questions and encourages them to use the anonymous question box. However, she says that their questions need to relate to facts about the biological (reproductive) diff erences between boys and girls that she is eliciting from them and writing on the board. Over the course of the four lessons I observed, the question box remained unused (Fieldnotes, 1 ARC 9TF Monday 30th October 2011, Class).