This article explores the development of sex education for Australian girls in the 1920s. It shows that a new belief in the importance of informing girls about sex arose in this decade, both in Australia and elsewhere in the West. This belief marked a shift away from the Victorian notion that girlhood should be untainted by sexual knowledge. It was also allied to a growing faith in expert knowledge and modern rationality as a cure-all for social problems – including those associated with unwanted pregnancies and venereal disease. In spite of this, the actual sexual information imparted to girls was at best incomplete and at worst deliberately baffling. Ultimately sex education for girls in this period aimed to teach them how to control masculine sexual urges and the dangers of pre-marital sex. For all its rhetoric about the need for rational knowledge, it thus served a primarily moral agenda of little practical use to the girls concerned.
Journal of Australian Studies Vol. 34, Issue 4, p. 459-469