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Jasmine King wants to empower adults against body and sexual shame

MALAYSIANSKINI | Even though Jasmine King graduated from secondary school more than a decade ago, she still can’t forget an unpleasant incident that happened in her classroom.

It happened when Jasmine was a Lower Sixth Form student in a school in Penampang, Sabah. One day, her class teacher was absent and a substitute teacher entered the classroom instead.

The substitute teacher decided to give the class full of girls a lecture on virginity and used the analogy that someone being a virgin was like a pearl. He said that if a pearl is thrown in the mud, the mud can be washed off easily and the pearl will still be valuable.

He then warned the girls that if they are not “pure”, their worth is like a piece of paper that is if the paper was thrown into the mud, it becomes dirty and unusable no matter how hard we try to wash it.

Jasmine, who was 18 years old at the time, was too shocked to react to the statement. “I kept asking myself, ‘he can't possibly think that this is okay?’"

“These were a bunch of teenagers who were at an age of exploring their bodies and sexuality but the teacher indirectly told us that it was 'too late' for us; that we are worthless and nobody wants us. That was really upsetting and disappointing.”

She felt disgusted but she wasn’t going to be defeated by the statement.

As the eldest in a single-parent family, Jasmine had to grow up fast. She always thought of taking care of her younger sister to put her mother’s mind at ease. As a result, she had to play the role of “big sister” and attained maturity earlier than her peers. She found herself playing the role of advisor, where her friends come to her for guidance on romantic and family relationships and school matters.

Although the absurd statement made by the substitute teacher left her dumbfounded, Jasmine said she still had good memories of studying in the school where she served on the student body council and was the head girl.

Unfortunately, she also realised that encounters with such problematic ideas don’t just disappear after one graduates from secondary school.

Paradox of a sexualized world

Jasmine sees herself as a sexual health educator and had set up an Instagram account “Jasexplains” three years ago which spread sexual health knowledge and advocates for sex positivity.

“If anyone asks me why I'm in sexual health education and why specifically sexual health education for adults, it's because of damaging and problematic sex education ‘lessons’ that will haunt us forever, even as adults.”

Jasmine observed that our culture is full of disciplines and teachings which make people feel ashamed of their body, sexuality and pleasure.

She gave an example that in Malay, the ...

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