Posted by: Donna
(I meant to post this before we left for our long weekend in in the middle of the woods in Sedona on Friday but in the rush to get packed and on the road I forgot to do that.)
Thursday night I was lucky to be in the audience of Planned Parenthood AZ’s screening of “Lets Talk About Sex”, followed by a panel discussion with advocates for comprehensive sex ed in Arizona. And here’s a free Hulu stream where you can view the entire film!
Australian photographer James Houston says decided to make the film because he was shocked by how regressive American attitudes toward young people’s sexuality are in comparison to other developed nations and wanted to encourage a discussion of the necessity of comprehensive sex ed and contraception access.
I didn’t personally find anything particularly surprising about the information presented in the movie since I follow these issues closely. I already knew that abstinence-only sex ed is a failure and that American teen pregnancy rates are the highest in the industrial world. You certainly don’t need to convince me that this country is rather prudish and pearl-clutchy about young people taking sensible steps to have safe sex. But I still have to say that the part of the film where they compared teenagers in the Netherlands to their American counterparts on the topic of carrying condoms was simply jaw-dropping. The Dutch kids matter-of-factly explained how they keep condoms handy at all times just in case and how anyone who doesn’t is suspect and definitely someone you would not want to date. The American kids interviewed pretty much took the exact opposite tack. They viewed having a condom on one’s possession as an indication of poor impulse control and bad moral character. Some experts on teen sexuality describe this mindset as the belief that sex should only happen when one is “swept away” by the moment (#10 on this link). Again, I’m not surprised by this considering how I grew up in America and bought into it myself until I was well into adulthood, but seeing the kids talk about it like that really showed how stark the disparity is.
The film makes a lot of other important points too – such as about how really, really harmful abstinence-only sex ed is to both straight and LGBT youth – so be sure to watch the whole thing and pass it along.
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