Using Sexually Explicit Media To Educate

Using Sexually Explicit Media to Educate

her original art from the 1950's to the present day.

Today I am still producing films, managing SexSmartFilms, and presenting a talk at numerous colleges "Sexual Health: 100 Years in Film" in which I use about forty film clips of educational films to illustrate a rich history.

Producing educational videos has been very personally satisfying. Most universities that teach human sexuality courses use them and the American Association for Sexuality Educators and Therapists ( requires the completion of a SAR (Sexual Attitude Reassessment) Program that utilizes SEM as part of the requirement for certification as a sexuality educator, therapist or counselor.

Personal stories have shown me how valuable my films have been to people's lives. For example, one evening a woman called to inquire about a film called "Treating Vaginismus." I explained that this film showed a woman diagnosed with vaginismus, a disorder that... and follows her through step-by-step self-treatment for the problem. I further explained that this film was sexually explicit. At this, she replied, "Well that's not for me." I was about to hang up, when suddenly I heard the words out of my own mouth, "Why isn't it for you?" She said because of the "graphic nature." I told her that I was not trying to sell her a film, but if she were a friend of mine and I knew she had vaginismus, I would strongly recommend she watch this film. She then said, "Okay send me a copy." I asked her if she were sure and she said, "Yes."

Weeks went by and one day my secretary told me a woman was on the phone that would not give her name and insisted on talking to me. I took the call and it was this same woman and she only wanted to say two words, "Thank you."

I also get letters from people attesting to the helpfulness of my films. I received this letter, which is a typical response to the videos. "My husband and I have wanted to write to you to let you know how much we enjoy your videos. We have watched all your educational films and have learned so much. We enjoy them together which serves to open lines of communication and share thoughts and ideas on the various techniques presented by the couples. They are sensual and tastefully explicit. I have some physical discomfort during intercourse, which has caused us to explore different methods of pleasing each other. We have explored new techniques and have purchased some sex toys. Both of us have become more comfortable with our sexuality and our body image. Thank you for your research and products. Your work is very valuable."

SEM Background

Instructional films about sex have made a significant contribution to both our formal (in the classroom) and informal (outside the classroom) sexuality education (Kleinplatz, 1997). Whether it is a TV show, an online video, an adult film or SEM, we learn from observing and listening. There are far more adult films than SEM available today. I will define an adult film as a film whose purpose is to produce sexual arousal and to entertain. The participants are "actors" and the sex may be somewhat choreographed. It's fantasy sex. There are many young people who get their early sexuality education from adult films. In the 1960's the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography (1972) stated that the average American saw their first adult film at about the age of fifteen. With video and the Internet today I would speculate the age has dropped. With this in mind I would urge sexuality educators to address this issue. Acknowledge the adult industry, but put their films into the proper perspective.

Two observations that I have made over my more than 30 years of producing SEM demonstrate the social impact of the adult film industry. The first, and most obvious, was the state of the couples that I hired to appear in my films. These couples were real couples, not actors. After the early 1980s, they ALL showed up with their pubic area either shaved or groomed. No one told them that this was required, but this was about the time the adult industry began this practice. Another example is the young, married, college-educated couple that was about to do a sex scene. The male came up to me and inquired, "Where should I come?" My interpretation was that he thought I wanted it to be like the "money shot" in an adult film. This is where the audience clearly sees an ejaculation. I asked him, "When you make love at home, where do you come?" His response, "When we have intercourse, I come inside." I told him we are looking to portray sexual realism, so please do just as you do in your bedroom at home." The point being that we are trying to portray sexual realism. Although many of the instructional films may be sexually arousing, their primary purpose is to provide information and model sexual techniques.

I believe the adult industry can play a stronger role in sexuality education by emphasizing that their films are sexual fantasies, made for entertainment and sexual arousal purposes for ADULT viewing. I emphasize this because the easy access the Internet provides, makes it difficult to monitor young people whose first form of sexuality education may be exposure to explicit adult material. We need to be proactive with providing age appropriate films for children and teens. We know that young people are seeking sexuality information so why not use the very technology we fear to provide it?

Why Sexually Explicit Media

In support of SEM, I must emphasize that films are merely tools. In the hands of a skilled craftsman these tools can produce wonders. Used in an age appropriate context by a well-trained sexuality educator or therapist these films rid people of "sexual insecurities, fears and myths" and actually help people clarify their sexual attitudes and sometimes helps improve their sex life.

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In any other subject the thought of studying a behavior without the opportunity to observe it would be absurd.