Let’s Talk About Sex: Reflections on Sexuality Education in the US

I’ve often heard it said that there are only two things in life that are certain; death and taxes. In my life, I’ve had two more revelations. First, change is inevitable. Secondly, if we pay close attention we always find reason to be hopeful, inspiration leading to the next right step and validation that we are living on purpose and doing what we are here to do.

Last night, while watching the movie, Let’s Talk About Sex, I got exactly what I needed. I love when that happens! I woke up grateful, inspired and energetic at a time when I could very easily be discouraged and frustrated.

Before I get too far into this article, let me tell you where I’m coming from. For the past ten years, I’ve been teaching comprehensive sexuality education programs starting in elementary school and continuing into young adulthood. I work with parents to help them better understand teen development and behavior and improve communication with their kids about sexuality and other challenging topics.

I give this movie two thumbs up. I agree with Hugh Jackman, “Whether you have children, teach children or are around children at all… this movie is a must see.” It clearly outlines some key issues that need to be addressed if we are to promote healthy attitudes towards sexuality while reducing teen and unintended pregnancy in the US.

The movie highlights the following issues:

~The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate in all the developed countries.

~Our attitudes towards teen sexuality in the US are very different than in other developed countries.

~Sexuality is a huge marketing tool; used to sell lots of things in our country and in all types of media. The reality is that sex sells product.

~ Humans are sexual beings. We are all here because an egg met a sperm. Period.

~ Eighty-five percent of adults in the United States support comprehensive sexuality education for our youth. Science clearly proves that it works. And we are not doing it.

~ Religion poses a major barrier in the US to the delivery of what we know to be effective; namely comprehensive sexuality education. At the same time, religious leaders and organizations can play a huge role in providing new solutions to teen pregnancy.

~ Even when teens have honest, open relationships with their parents, most teens aren’t honest with their parents about their sexual activity.

This movie clearly outlines the most pressing issues we are facing in reducing teen pregnancy in the US. It reminds me why I am so passionate about my work and clarifies what we can together to help prevent us from losing more ground.

It is with that in mind that I reflect and share my thoughts about Let’s Talk About Sex.

As an educated woman and health professional, I find it astounding that the US has the highest teen pregnancy rate in all the developed countries. We know what works. We need to be doing it. Now.

I’m amazed that our advertising and media campaigns use sex to sell everything from lipstick to laptops; yet we live in a society where we struggle to providing our kids with accurate information about how their own bodies work and why.

It is ridiculous that 85 percent of US adults in our population support comprehensive sexuality education for our kids, yet we are losing ground on this issue because a small percentage of very verbal and powerful individuals and organizations keep fighting against what we know works, and in fact saves our government billions of dollars every year.

As all this is happening teenagers are continuing to engage in sexual behavior, are naturally curious about sex and/or thinking about sex and are afraid or embarrassed to talk about it openly to the people closest to them.

I spend a significant amount of my time helping teens reconcile the guilt they feel for not being able to talk with their parents about what they’re really thinking, what they’re really curious about and what they’re really doing. Their guilt doesn’t stop them from being sexually active. What they really want is to be able to tell their parents the truth about what they are choosing and why. Some choose to have the conversation. Some choose to wait to talk with them. Often we practice how to initiate the conversation. Some state that they simply can’t for fear their parents will disown them for going against family values.

Perhaps the most important issue of all, as I see it, that seems to beg for so much more attention than we have the time or funding to really address appropriately, but is perhaps the most important issue of all… love, healthy communication and relationship skills. How great would it be to provide a consistent forum and presence to allow kids to get support to help them understand and process all that’s happening to them physically and emotionally and learn how to grow through it with a great understanding of themselves and others as well as an appreciation for the miracle that sexuality is and a foundation for healthy respect and connectedness on all levels.

Lately, I’ve been struggling to identify new funding sources to support this important work that is in jeopardy. My clinic and outreach program is in NH. We have one of the very lowest teen pregnancy rates in the US. We use strategies that are proven effective and endorsed by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and base all our programs on a research-based asset development framework developed by the Search Institute called the 40 Developmental Assets. Rather than having our funding, we should be used as a model for the parts of our country where the teen pregnancy rates are high.

Let’s Talk About Sex did a great job of motivating viewers to take action toward being a part of the solution! As the credits played, I began brainstorming a list of action steps we can take to spread the word and increase the frequency, reach and scope of conversations that need to happen to make the US shift toward better serving our future generation.

Teens in the US need your support. It’s not enough to say you support comprehensive sexuality education. It time to be taking action to be sure your kids are getting it! I suggest the following action steps:

~Watch the movie, Let’s Talk About Sex You can buy it on Amazon or stream if for free on Netflix by visiting http://www.letstalkaboutsexthefilm.com/

~Talk about the movie… with your spouse, your kids, your school district, your community! Check out this website for a discussion guide at http://www.letstalkaboutsexthefilm.com.

~Commit to taking action towards creating a solution!

~Find out what your child is learning at school.

~Evaluate honestly what your kids are learning from you and if you need support, get it.

~Start right where you are with your own kids and provide them with effective, comprehensive sex education.

Parents need to take an active, consistent and ongoing role to help their kids develop an understanding of their bodies and promote healthy sexual decision making, communication and attitudes that promote healthy relationships for a lifetime.

Sex and the City – The Movie – Coming to Theaters May 2008

If you are a Sex and the City fan, then hold on to your hats. Sometime in May 2008, the long anticipated Sex and the City Movie is planned to be released in theaters across the country. Over the last four years, talks about producing a Sex and the City movie have ended in a “no go” because Kim Cattrall wasn’t interested in doing a movie. However, once on board, the movie was a go, and it looks “sexy.”

The Sex and the City Movie Stats

Because I know fans want to know who will be in the movie, I am going to start with the cast list. You are going to be happy to learn that nearly the entire cast will be returning to play their star roles in the Sex and the City Movie. Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis and Chris Noth will all be back. The characters Steve, Harry, Magda, Stanford and Smith will also be in the movie, played by the original actors.

The production team of this movie is basically the same team used for producing the HBO series. The writers for this movie were Candace Bushnell, who was the author and columnist of the real “Sex and the City” column and book, and Michael Patrick King. King and Bushnell also acted as producers, along with Sarah Jessica Parker, for the movie. With a modest budget of about $65 million, and the original HBO team on board, we can expect a movie that delivers what we all have come to expect from the Sex and the City series.

The Story Line…

While the exact plot of the Sex and the City Movie is still rather elusive, we do know that it will pick up the story line from the series. Let’s go back four years to recap what happened during the final season of Sex and the City the Series…

Starting with Carrie Bradshaw, we know that she went to Paris with Alexandar and Big came to her rescue and brought her back to New York with the renewed promise of a more open, loving relationship. Charlotte and Harry received news that they were going to be given a baby girl from China in six months. Miranda and Steve had moved into their new home, Steve’s mom came to live with them and Miranda was trying to deal with the new family situation. Finally, Samantha open up to Smith and they took that last step towards a “real” relationship, when Smith returned home from shooting on location to be with her, hoping her sex drive had finally re-blossomed…

Now, fast forward four years and this is where the movie is going to pick up…

Host a “Sex and the City” Martini Party

Welcome to the big city, Manhattan, NYC.

Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha are surely all Martini Girls. Martinis have played a big role in the TV show and movie, “Sex and the City”, since the beginning. The concoction of choice always seems to return to the Cosmopolitan, which is Carrie’s favorite drink.

So you’re thinking of hosting a “Sex and the City” Martini party? Here you’ll find everything you need to pull of an unforgettable evening of female bonding.

Decorations

When decorating for a “Sex and the City” Martini Party, remember to celebrate each of the girls’ individual tastes. There should be plenty of shoes and tiny purses around, and perhaps some “I (heart) NY” stuff as well. Around your party room can be “icons” of each character, like an open laptop and lots of clothes laying around for Carrie, preppy items that only Charlotte would have (think plaid!), sexy and passionate colors for Samantha, and Miranda’s area of the party room would look professional but a bit nerdy.

Food and Drink

When planning food for your “Sex and the City” Martini Party, you may want to order in Chinese food, which is a big comfort food on the show for the girls. Other food ideas include shrimp, sushi, Mexican or any other fare from one of the New York City restaurants the girls may have been bonding in during one of the episodes. Of course, the featured drink will be Cosmopolitans, but Apple-tinis should also be offered.

Dress

It’s all about looking like you’re partying in New York City, with short skirts, tight fitting tops and shoes to die for! Guests may choose to dress as one of the characters on the show, not only the four main characters, but also any of the recurring or significant roles that have popped up during the show.

“Look Charlotte brought party favors!”

Last but not least, the party favors. They can be joke items like tampons. This comes from the episode where Miranda finds out she’s pregnant and Charlotte finds out she’s not. Charlotte brings a rather large box of tampons to brunch and slams them down on the table. Carrie then says “Look, Charlotte brought party favors.” Other ideas include any “I (heart) NY” stuff or Cosmopolitan mix.

To set the mood of your party with cool decorations and party favors, there’s lots and lots of Sex and the City [http://www.my-martini-party.com/] stuff.

Have fun and when the guys show up, you can give them cool nicknames based on their individual quirks.