Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


French and Francophone Studies

First Advisor

Michelle Chilcoat


sex, education, history, France, french, feminism, gender, Enlightenment


Although the history of sex education is relatively new, it is very complex. Enlightenment philosophers from Rousseau to de Sade had ideas on what the sex education of girls and of boys should entail, with Rousseau preparing her for marriage, and the latter preparing her to be a libertine! In the late 19th and early 20th centuries there were stereotypes too, of girls in the countryside learning about sex as a result of cramped living and proximity to farm animals. For young bourgeois women in the city, there were manuals on marriage and how to perform their wifely duties. With the rise of venereal disease associated with World War I, measures turned to preserving the “morals” of the French population, particularly for women. Programs were created to educate soldiers and conduct checkups among “at-risk” populations. A second revolutionary moment in sex education in France coincided with the student-worker revolts of 1968, the 1967 state sanctioning of contraception, and the rise of the Women’s Liberation in the early 70s. In 1973, the Minister of Education recommended the implementation of sex education in public school curricula. However, this wasn’t made mandatory until 1996. Yet France is still cited among nations that best address sexuality education. My thesis aims to consider how historical, as well as current ideologies, affect sexuality education in France, for better and for worse.



Rights Statement

In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted.