You would be forgiven for thinking that a homosexual magazine (Gay Star) is an unlikely place to find a review of a sex education text, namely ‘Make IT Happy Make IT Safe: What Sex is All About’. After all, these stirling manuals are usually crammed with information on how men and women do “it”, how often, and how to negate the consequences.
Homosexuals have, for centuries, known the secret of fool-proof contraception – we’re just waiting for the rest of the world to catch on. However, ‘Make It Happy’, despite its innocuous title, is of some interest to the gay community. The author, Jane Cousins, regards homosexuality in a very positive light, and, as the book is intended primarily for young people, it’s good to see someone putting across such attitudes in a matter-of-fact, common-sense way.
Chapters on sexual development, masturbation, orgasms, sexually transmitted diseases, hygiene, and the law are of interest to all of us – male, female, hetero, homo. One of the refreshing things about ‘Make It Happy’ is that Jane Cousins writes for young people in their own language, and she doesn’t assume that they are familiar with technical terms. Hence in the narrative and index, you’ll find ‘penis’ and ‘tool’, ‘vagina’ and ‘twat’. Having taught in various Belfast schools, I’ve come across sex education texts in which the basic assumption is that sex is something that happens between a husband and a wife, presumably only in bed with the lights off – anything else is either not quite nice or a mortal sin.
Thankfully attitudes are changing, and Jane Cousins’ book is both a reflection of this and an attempt to meet the demand for hard facts unseasoned with moral overtones. Unfortunately, the Church and State school authorities either haven’t wakened to or choose to ignore the need for a direct, no-nonsense approach to sex education. Therefore, I can’t see this book being used in schools, at least in Northern Ireland, for some time yet.
In the appendix of ‘Make It Happy’, there is a list of useful addresses, including major gay organizations. My feeling is that the sooner such information is made widely available, the better for us all.
‘Make It Happy’ was of course available in the NIGRA library, now held by the Rainbow Project, along with a range of other books of interest to gay men and lesbians. Some of these are not generally available elsewhere.
written by Geraldine Johnston in Gay Star No 3 Sep/Oct 1980 – the full magazine can be read in the Linenhall Library
- Publisher : Penguin (30 Jun. 1988)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 224 pages
- Amazon – Make IT Happy Make IT Safe: What Sex is All About
- Coming to Power by Samois: Writings and Graphics on Lesbian S/M
- UK Government – Relationships education (Primary)
- Dept of Education (NI) – Relationships and sexuality education