This widespread cultural message could not be clearer: Men’s sexual urges are uncontrollable and therefore not their responsibility. It’s a fairly insulting view of male morality and sexuality, but it’s also one that allows the culture to put the blame for men’s bad (and criminal) behavior on women’s shoulders.
But making women responsible for men’s sexuality isn’t just about excusing rape and sexual harassment. It’s a cultural rule that enforces the idea that this is a man’s world—women just live in it.
These are a few of my favorite things! (Forgive me, Julie Andrews.) Seriously though, on the heels of last week’s “You’re Never Too Old for ‘The Sex Talk’,” what better example of the need for sex education at any age than Parks and Recreation’s most recent episode, “Sex Education”? In her “You’re Never Too Old…” post, Bisi notes that twenty-somethings are due for a refresher on the birds and the bees, since the last time they had a real, clinical rundown of the logistics was probably around the same time they were getting their braces on (a.k.a. the orthodontic approach to abstinence). But now, since the majority of people in their twenties are actually sexually active, and more than half of all unplanned pregnancies are among unmarried women in their twenties, perhaps it’s time for Sex Talk: The Quarter-Life Edition. Even then, are we educated for the duration of our lives, or will we need a booster shot of information later on?
And that brings us to the Parks and Rec episode, or what could also be referred to as Sex Talk: The Geriatric Edition. Councilwoman Leslie Knope takes on the town’s controversial local laws on sexual education when Pawnee’s Senior Center experiences record levels of STIs (sexually transmitted infections). Knope hilariously teaches a room full of elderly folks how to put on a condom using a banana (a demonstration, by the way, I’m advocating should come with some sort of disclaimer, just for show, so as not to disappoint the inexperienced masses). She then comes under fire and is censured for breaking an abstinence-only sexual education law. Knope is forced to emphasize waiting until marriage before having sex, a message that I’m pretty sure doesn’t apply to a room full of grandparents.
This particular generation probably doesn’t have to worry about an unplanned pregnancy, but that doesn’t mean they should let safe sex practices fall to the wayside. Nope, you’re never too old for the sex talk. I don’t care if you have an AARP card, endless supplies of sucking candies in your purse, tissues up your sleeves, and shoes that saw the Taft Administration. I’m all for you putting your new titanium hips to work and doing the horizontal tango (or the Charleston) on the reg; just make sure you’re doing it safely.
Lauren Mann works in The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy’s Entertainment Media department. She’s been blogging about sex, love and relationships among twenty-somethings since she first joined the Campaign as an intern in 2009. Check out her personal blog at whatjewtalkingbout.tumblr.com.
This was such a good episode!