A “graphic” sex book written for children as young as eight has received intense criticism after it attracted nationwide attention this week for its discussion of mature themes.
Welcome to Sex: Your no-silly-questions guide to sexuality, pleasure and figuring it out was hotly condemned in a viral video from podcast host Chris “Primod” Issa, who claimed it was “grooming our children, exposing them to sexually explicit and highly inappropriate material”.
Dr Melissa Kang and Yumi Stynes’ $16 book, released in May, has angered some parents so intensely, they have threatened to boycott the department stores until its removed from sale.
While Big W has doubled down on the book, arguing it’s “educational, age-appropriate and inclusive”, critics have gone so far as to describe it “pornographic” and demand it be pulled.
Rachael Wong, chief executive of Women’s Forum Australia, told 2GB’s Ben Fordham Live on Tuesday she “felt physically ill at the thought of children reading it”, describing it a “graphic sex guide for children”.
Ms Wong was further disturbed that Stynes, in an earlier Instagram post, said while the book was suitable for ages 10-15, she would be “happy with a mature and smart 8-yo having a flick through”.
She also took issue with the language around consent used in the book, which highlights the legal age as either 16 or 17 and suggests that “if the age difference is small, the law might take this into account”.
Ms Wong accused the authors of mentioning the legal age just to avoid “getting in trouble because the book is basically a sex manual for kids”.
“But then they sort of say, ‘if you’re a certain age and someone’s not too much older than you … you could get away with it,” she told listeners.
“The fact that a particular comment about the age of consent is couched in this book which explains all these sorts of sexually explicit activities is really just, ‘oh we might cover up that bit’ but at the end of the day we are promoting sexual activity for children,” she said.
Fordham took issue with the book warning young readers to crop their faces out if they decided to send explicit photos, arguing: “shouldn’t the advice be ‘don’t take the photos and don’t send them on’?”
Ms Wong argued the book appeared to be attempting to “safeguard” itself but was really “doing the exact opposite because it’s promoting the behaviours and then saying, ‘if you do it in a way that’s careful and can protect your privacy, it’s going to be fine’. When it’s absolutely not going to be fine.
“It’s just so, so disturbing. My friend’s son who is 11 years old, he thinks that kissing is gross and most children his age feel similarly,” she added.
“They have this natural awkwardness around sexual things, a natural aversion, which is a protective mechanism and material like this is an attempt to destroy that.”
Following the program airing, listeners took to Twitter to criticise Fordham over his choice of guest, describing Ms Wong as a “right wing anti-trans campaigner” and Mr Issa, the man behind the video, as an “anti-vax conspiracist and men’s rights activist”.
The Twitter account, Alternate Media Watchers, said the segment was “disgraceful”.
“This morning platforming a right wing anti-trans campaigner about child sex education & a litany of moral panic from callers about a book providing comprehensive sexual education material which is proven to reduce the likelihood of child sexual abuse,” its tweet read.
An additional tweet slammed the radio program for playing Mr Issa’s video, which contained the accusation there was an “LGBT+ agenda coming after kids”, and tagging him in social media posts of the segment.
Fordham closed the segment with the demand for Big W and Target to “get this book out of your stores”.
Despite a wave of negative feedback, many parents have welcomed the book and said they were eager to introduce it to their children.
“Will be adding this to the resource pile, strongly believe I’m talk early, talk often & openly approach,” a follower of Stynes said of the book.
“This is great! My daughter is six but I’ll get your book anyway. I’m curious to read it,” another said.
“Congratulations! This is incredible. As a teacher, I am very much looking forward to purchasing this for book to have a look through & recommend to parents,” someone else wrote.
Both authors have been contacted by news.com.au for comment.