Using Humor and Mannequins to Talk Sex with Teens

By Teen Voices editorial intern Kimya Kavehkar

Navigating the different and sometimes confusing messages about sex from your parents, the media, or friends can be frustrating. Filmmaker Kari Nevil wants to make the process a little easier for teens by giving websites with accurate facts to answer questions and provide guidance.

Nevil, of JuneBug Films Inc., was tongue-tied about how to speak to her own pre-teen daughter about sex, so she decided to get together a group of mothers from California’s Bay Area to create a YouTube PSA called “Mannequins: Teen Sex Education with A Twist.”

“I made a film with twisted humor and a place to take action for responsibility of self. I asked my daughter to help me write and edit the PSA and we had the discussion in an organic way as a result,” Nevil tells Teen Voices. “I still gave her the speech. When it was over she said, ‘Are you done with the lecture now, mom?’ Evidence that lecturing is the last thing teens want.”

“Mannequins” steers away from clichéd sex talk and gives straight facts about what sex is. It also dispels a few rumors in the process. The video is visually appealing, with humorous and historical photographs to accompany the no-nonsense voiceover, which directs viewers to websites for reliable information on sex, STD risks and contraception. These sites include PlannedParenthood.org, SeriouslySexuality.com, and Teen TalkCA.org.

According to a 2009 report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), less than half of teen girls and only 35 percent of teen boys get advice on methods of birth control from their parents. Because teens primarily digest information on sex from the media, this media portrayal of sex, including contraception, can deceive and confuse teens.

“Mannequins” emphasizes each person’s right to choose their own sexual path—which includes actively seeking the facts for themselves.

“The media is loaded with sexy images, songs and advertising campaigns. They [media aimed at teens] have a tendency to show that sexy equals cool, but do young people understand that sexy means something different to each of us?” Nevil asks. “You are the one who gets to decide when — or if — it is time to share your definition of sex/sexy, including if it means no sex at all. I just want youth to know what is what. Knowledge is power.”

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