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“Let’s Talk About Sex” Documentary Essay

James Houston put together the documentary “Let’s Talk About Sex” that highlights the differences between American’s approach to sex education and that of other countries like the Netherlands. The stereotypes, controversy, and irony all related to sex is put out in the open and discussed. Throughout the film, it is obvious that America’s ways of sex education and attitude towards sex has created a negative connotation.

The Europeans have a much more open approach when it comes to the discussion of sex and started sex education at an early age. American’s, on the other hand, have a very closed approach to sex discussion and save sex education for later ages. This negative connotation and approach to education has resulted in the States having much higher rates of teen pregnancy, teen birth, and sexually transmitted infections when compared to European countries. One could say that it’s time the United States changes its approach and opinions regarding sex, sexuality, and the education behind it.

Throughout the movie, there was a commonality between those who held a biased opinion on the topic of sex. Those who believed abstinence should be enforced and were against an open discussion of sexual relations were often times from the older generation. It’s the parents of teens, most teachers of sex education, and even people within the churches that held a bias.

They believed that teens should not be involved in sexual activities and that it should be saved for marriage. Along with that, they stood behind the idea that the teens should not be educated about sex until later in high school and the open discussion of sex and sexuality was not proper. Kelsey’s mother was one of these biased people. She was strongly against the idea of Kelsey taking part in sexual activities until she got married and did make it easy for Kelsey to openly communicate with her about her sexual relations. For those teens that do take part in sexual activities, they are looked down upon in the greater portion of American culture because of the negative connotations that have been established here in the United States.

With these biases, it has put sex into a negative category not just for the minority, being the teens, but most Americans in general. In America, sex is not something people openly talk about nor is it something that teens are “suppose” to take part in. The idea of teens taking part in sexual relations prior to marriage is greatly frowned upon and the stigma of carrying a condom has scared them away from it. An example of this, which was shared in the movie, is that in the Netherlands, carrying a condom starting in their teens is very common and encouraged. Where as in the states, if a teen were to be caught with a condom, others would view that as a sign of someone who is very promiscuous. In the movie, females thought males who carried condoms wanted nothing but sex from a girl while males thought that women who carried condoms were easy and considered sluts.

This negative impact in the States has generated these stereotypes surrounding sex. The effects of these stereotypes have negative outcomes. For example, if a guy is afraid to carry a condom because of the stereotype and when it comes time for him to take part in sexual activities, he won’t be properly prepared. Without the protection, he is at risk for STIs and possibility of pregnancy in girls. This is also true vice versa with girls; they too should carry condoms, but are afraid due to the negative association.

There is also a negative idea behind the discussion of sex in an open setting. Most parents in the US are afraid to talk about sex with their teens sharing both their sexual lives and discussing their teens. Because the parents are not open to it, the teens are afraid to approach their parents with sex related questions or tell them they have taken part in sexual activities. Because of this, many teens go with out proper instruction and correct information in regards to sexual activities. Where as if the parents were more open and accepting of the idea of their teens taking part in sexual activities, it would open an avenue for better knowledge and maybe even help prevent STIs, pregnancies, and other sex related issues.

The minority group in “Let’s Talk About Sex” stood as US teens. These teens faced the discrimination of elder groups and negative stereotypes, but throughout the course of the movie, it showed how things are slowly changing. Several people who are often viewed as community leaders are working to properly educate teens. An example was reverend Williams, who created an open area to discuss sex related things and offer proper education. Some teachers also voiced their opinion on how they believe sex ed. should be more about sexual relations and not about human anatomy.

They also believe the education should begin at younger ages when kids are going through puberty and developing sexually developing. This is one way these teens are getting the upper hand on discrimination. Another is that opening the idea of family discussions about sex and the idea of teens being involved in sexual relations. Breaking the assumption that abstinence is the only answer and opening the door to discussion, using the Netherlands as an example. By the end of the movie, Kelsey, whose mother originally frowned upon sex before marriage, was able to change her mothers mind and even talk about her sexual relations. These are just a couple of the ways the teens slowly made change, there is still a lot more to be talked about and changed.

When reflecting back, I too can relate to the US teens in the documentary. I have noticed the closed door in terms of the discussion of sex and human sexuality as well as the stigmas associated with teens’ involvement in sexual activities. I do believe there is something to be said about the Netherlands approach to human sexuality and sex, especially when looking at the number of teen pregnancies and transmission of STIs compared to the much larger number in the US. We, as the United States, could benefit from a change in the atmosphere surrounding teen sex, and sex in general. Sex is a natural thing.


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