What does it take to create and sustain a sexually healthy nation? That’s one of the main questions asked in “Let’s Talk About Sex,” a new film premiering in the U.S. on TLC this April 9th.
“Let’s Talk About Sex” focuses on how American attitudes towards adolescent sexuality are impacting the lives and health of today’s teens. The film is an urgently needed call to action, and presents a number of proof points that should shock anyone of good conscience:
“Let’s Talk About Sex,” which was directed by James Houston, a New York City-based Australian fashion photographer, exposes the contradicting attitudes about sex and sexuality via personal interviews with American youth and their families. Among other topics, the film examines the relationship between youth, sex, and the media (our main theme for this Conversations for a Better World blogging series).
Throughout the film, Houston weaves in a number of clips from widely popular U.S. television sitcoms and movies , many of them containing sexual jokes and punchlines. One might think initially that these were included in order to add a little humor and cheekiness to the whole production, but at the end of it all you realize that these cultural artifacts are there in order to underline one important fact: these are popular media that have been and are still being watched by tens of millions of young Americans during some of their most formative years.
“Let’s Talk About Sex” makes it clear: since the advent of mass entertainment media, American companies have used sex to sell everything from lipstick to laptops, and creative outfits have used sex to attract more consumers and purchasers. It goes without saying that the concomitant barrage of sexual imagery and sexual messages has had some kind of non-trivial impact on the attitudes and behavior of America’s youth.
That said, what I love about “Let’s Talk About Sex” is that it does not scapegoat U.S. popular culture or demonize healthy sexuality. In giving young people an open forum to speak candidly about their experiences, the film uncovers and investigates the real roots of America’s sexual health problems. The core problem is not the media or the widespread consumption of pop culture.
Rather, much of this sexual health crisis can be traced back to a terrible educational vacuum – namely, the lack of comprehensive sex education that plagues our schools, homes, and communities.
Arguably, this point bears repeating. Why should we — and our public officials, media pundits, and adult mentors — only latch on to the certain and putative effects of sexual imagery in music, television, and film, when we know that there are other foundational issues to confront and solve? Many of America’s schools are simply not providing their students with comprehensive, medically accurate, and age-appropriate sex education.
Too many of our political leaders think it’s o.k. to disparage the sexuality and question the morality of LGBT teenagers. And far too often, ideology and myths about contraception and safe sex have trumped scientific and medical truth as well as honest, productive conversation between peers and between adults and young people.
What, for instance, should stop teachers and parents from discussing condom use with their students and teenage children? The non-arguments that such talk is somehow too “controversial” or “improper” neglect the fact that proactive sex education can prevent disease and save lives.
I hope that you will watch “Let’s Talk About Sex” and invite others to do the same. If anything, I think the stories told in the film can help motivate our communities to find practical and scalable solutions to America’s youth sexual health crisis. And for those of you outside of the U.S., I would invite you the join the discussion.
Do you see any parallels between American youth culture and your own experiences and circumstances? Based on what has worked in your own communities and countries, what advice would you give American youth in regards to changing the above-mentioned sexual health status quo? You can find film clips and additional resources at http://letstalkaboutsexthefilm.com. “Let’s Talk About Sex,” which was produced in collaboration with Advocates for Youth, airs on April 9 on TLC at 10pm/9pm Central.
Whether it’s visiting a high school specifically geared towards pregnant teens in Los Angeles, or seeing the passion of community outreach workers who are fighting against catastrophically high HIV infection rates in Washington, DC, experiencing these stories (through the more visceral lens of film) and seeing directly what’s at stake (the very lives and livelihoods of millions of young people!) can help our friends and family realize this: collectively speaking, we have no excuse – indeed, we have never an excuse — for maintaining a dangerous silence about sex and sexual health.
Fuente: Conversations for a better world