Someone like me is always going to be a tough customer for films like Lets Talk About Sex. Im putting that out there right now because having seen the film, I’m critical about both its delivery and approach, although I very much appreciate its intent,

The film bills itself as taking “a revealing look at how American attitudes towards adolescent sexuality affect today’s teenagers.”

“We live in a society that uses sex to sell everything from lipstick to laptops. Yet fear and silence around sex and sexuality also permeate our culture. Teens are paying a terrible price for this confusion in unintended pregnancy, STDs, and even HIV. And American taxpayers are paying nature 12 inch dildos billions to treat these entirely preventable problems.”

Ultimately, the primary message of the film is that negative outcomes resulting from teen sexuality would be remedied if only parents and other adults would just talk more about sex and sexuality with young people, and do so with more openness; with more facts and less fear.

Working with young people directly both internationally and domestically in sex education for over 10 years, nothing in this film was news to me, and its impossible for me to view the issues brought up as only being about one nation, since I see them worldwide. Because Ive worked with these issues and in this field in such an immersive and broad way for so long, the flaws in a piece like this are bound to be far more glaring to me than its attributes; because doing this work has instilled a high sensitivity and protectiveness on my part for young people and parents alike, and those things are always going to have an impact on how I experience and what I take G-spot away from a piece like this.

The film was produced in collaboration with Advocates for Youth, but I think its important to keep in mind that director James Houston is a fashion and beauty photographer, not a sex educator, nor a parent of teens (from what I can gather) or even someone who (probably) has worked with teens before this outside of the fashion industry. His viewpoints throughout the film make it clear that a lot of what he found out was a shocker to him, while for plenty of us, even people who dont work in this area, little to none of this is big news, so the approach of the film as exposing facts and truths with a constant gasp of surprise may be lost on a lot of viewers.

For parents and adults who honestly dont know they should be talking openly and factually with young people about sex and sexuality or dont know how important that is, and to whom much of what the film explores is news, I think the film could be a good entry point, even with its flaws, and thats no small thing. I think it would be most ideal when viewed by adults AND youth, and discussed together by both (as opposed to being seen as something for adults discussed by adults).

For those just coming to the table, or better still, for those who are parents of or work with very young children who are years away from adolescence, the film provides good reality checks around the inaccuracies in abstinence-only anal beads education from, some statistical information about health outcomes for young people with sex right now, and scenes which illustrate important and problematic dynamics that often come up in sex education and sexual communication with young people.

For instance, theres a telling scene in which a teacher of exclusively pregnant teens is giving them a lesson on contraception which ultimately is anything but: instead, she insists to this group of pregnant young women that abstinence is the only real way to prevent pregnancy. Theres another scene in which a young woman who took a virginity pledge that her father wanted makes clear that, while he thought it was meaningful for them both, she didnt have any understanding of what she was agreeing to do or not to do.

I think much of what the young people in this film voice—more than the adults—is important for people to see and hear. I also dont think you can miss the intentionality on the part of the filmmaker. While some of how he approaches this is, in my view, limited and in some ways strongly problematic, I think his good intent is clear and meaningful.

The film contains great calls to parents and adults to communicate with young people about sex and sexuality and to do so with more honesty, openness, factual information and a keener sense of reality, rather than their own ideals. Theres an excellent focus on the language often used around sex and sexuality—which I found to be one of the strongest parts of the film—and the impact language laced with fear or shame can have on how people brutal dildos experience, act on, and communicate about sex. The other portions of the film that I thought were very strong, and provided viewpoints less often heard, were those which involved religious leaders who viewed their faith communities as places in need of comprehensive and realistic sex education. I also was glad to see discussion about how sex education and communication about sexuality needs to start well before a time when young people may start to become sexual with others.

I confess, though, that I found more in the film that bothered me or disappointed me, and plenty of moments where it felt like something so-so could have become fantastic if this all hadnt been so brand new to the filmmaker. I think if it hadnt been so new to him the film would .

d cost to have high participation, and how much money -- and how many lives -- it might save.

The target population seems generally very well-disposed to participate in these types of programs at prices which are consistent with other social programs currently in place in Mexico for preventing other health risks, Galárraga said.

Men on the street

To gather the large sampling of data, the researchers recruited and trained young members of Mexico City's gay community in 2008 to present the surveys to their peers in discotheques, metro stations, bars, and streets in the city's red-light district. The interviewers briefly explained that they were conducting a survey about HIV risk behaviors and ways to reduce infection.

Consenting subjects were then given a handheld computer with software that administered the confidential and anonymous 40-minute survey. The intentionally discreet technique, Galárraga said, allowed the survey process to appear as if each subject was simply using a cell phone.

The survey software asked subjects about personal traits, risk behaviors, such as the number of recent sex partners and condom use, and health, and then took them through a bidding sex dolls and bargaining exercise in which they ultimately declared the level of payment they'd accept for participating in either or both of two programs: monthly talks about HIV prevention and STI testing and quarterly check-ins to verify a pledge of remaining STI free.

Monitoring for STIs, Galárraga said, is a proxy for monitoring HIV risk behaviors.

You want to condition on something you can observe, Galárraga said. The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of sex partners and to increase the use of condoms -- to increase safe sex -- but that cannot be observed directly. A reduction in the incidence of STI's is correlated with the ultimate goal.

The data show that there is an optimal price for a conditional cash transfer program. Just for the monthly prevention.

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