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In addition to erasing female sexual agency, sex-ed films for a long time represented only white children.
Women’s sexual urges are not mentioned; instead, the focus of the film is on women’s reproductive capacity. A central message of these early films to their presumed male audience is that men who have sex without protection or with many women could unknowingly infect “nice girls” with venereal disease. ” Although sex-ed films are meant to resonate with American students from all walks of life, they have tended, over time, to omit key details.
Throughout the decades, these films are constantly scrutinized by people engaged in political debates about the validity of sex education, but they are not often analyzed as an important part of film history.
An excellent and comprehensive book on the subject, Robert Eberwein’s came out 15 years ago and an engaging documentary about American sex-ed films is due out this fall.
The movie ends with the him about to commit suicide. “There were films used to portray pornographic situations since the beginning of film,” says Eberwein, in a recent interview.
was originally made as rather educational entertainment and screened to the public, but soon the U. “But what legitimized the use of film to discuss sexual topics was the fear of diseases.” Sex-ed and “hygiene” films were widely shown in public lecture halls as an educational experience for adults.
In the interim, discussion of this crucial part of our cultural understanding of sexuality and relationships has been relegated pretty much to the offices of health educators and the conferences of right-wing political groups.