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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sex in Media: Books, Magazines, Films, TV & More » Examples of Positive Sexual Communication in the Media

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Author Topic: Examples of Positive Sexual Communication in the Media
bluejumprope
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I've been trying to think of examples of healthy/normal/everyday sexual discussion in movies or television, and I haven't been able to come up with much.

I was reminded of what Heather wrote in Be a Blabbermouth:

quote:
Most of the media around us doesn’t portray sexual discussion realistically or wholly: we’re shown either only the super-fantastic earthshaking stuff or Very Big Problems, not all of the shades in between that make up most of our sexual experiences. Most of the talking about sex we see in the movies only happens when people are having sex, and tends to consist of little but monosyllables or the standard “That was great,” after sex is done.
I'm really curious to hear any examples you all have seen of healthy sexual discussion. Can you think of any movies or TV shows that have shown realistic, egalitarian conversations about sex, or even realistic/healthy verbal or non-verbal communications during sex?

One scene that pops up for me is the gay male three-way in Shortbus. That scene is one of the more playful/realistic sex scenes I've seen. As I remember, they change positions kind of awkwardly, tell each other what to do, take breaks, laugh etc.

Another is between Julie Delpy and Adam Goldberg in 2 Days in Paris. They have some very funny, un-erotic dialogue as they're working out using condoms (not that I've seen any realistic, erotic dialogue about using condoms in mainstream media either).

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Heather
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I hate to be such a perpetual fangirl, but I do feel like Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a LOT of really great conversations about sex in it.

I also thought the conversation in 2 Days in Paris was a goodie.

Alison Anders is a filmmaker I really like, and there are some bits in Gas, Food and Lodging and also in Le Vida Loca I think are very spot-on. She also did a film about recovery from childhood rape, Things Behind the Sun, which has some really good address about dealing with sexuality after rape, as well as a one-night-stand scene with a different character entirely that strikes me as very earnest and real.

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September
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One scene that I've always liked in that regard is a conversations the characters Jack and Joey from Dawson's Creek have when Joey is trying to figure out whether she's ready for sex. That whole plot line in season 3 is very well thought out for a teen show, what with a trip to the women's clinic, conversations about (and use of!) birth control, a talk about realistic expectations, etc.

And for a funnier scene, there's a middle-of-the-night trip to a drugstore for condoms in Must Love Dogs that I thought was very cute.

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PenguinBoy
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Six feet under!

Maybe a little morbid, but so am I! I find the way that the main characters stick up for their sexuality absolutely fantastic and the equality and communication in all the relationships, which constantly are changing with people's situations and how comfortable they feel. How everyone is so prepared to discuss things is so amazing - Oh God I love it. How when there's scenes when someone makes a confession and their partner is UNDERSTANDING whereas in so many tv shows that is such an easy opportunity to spin off a load of drama... I love how "risky characters" are explored and aren't automatic "bad guys" but their problems discussed... and especially how it delves into the sexuality of absolutely everyone of any age.

Yes, I like Six feet under.

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Jill2000Plus
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Weeds has that fantastic scene where uncle Andy talks to Shane about masturbation, other that that I can't think of much... The Slums of Beverly Hills I seem to remember had a good attitude towards sex (solo and partnered). Sex and the City, for all it's flaws, could be really good at communicating about sex (sometimes). Queer as Folk (UK) had some good, open discussion.

[ 01-27-2009, 05:08 PM: Message edited by: Jill2000Plus ]

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bluejumprope
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I just went through my whole Netflix history to see if I could think of more, and this is all I could find:

-Kinsey- I'm thinking of the scenes where Kinsey talks with his bisexual assistant in the hotel room before they become sexual, and during the time he and his wife first try to have vaginal intercourse.

-The Company- There's this one scene where a dancer goes out into her living room in the middle of the night to ask the people who are sleeping there for a condom.

-Jeffrey- Jeffrey talks to his partners about HIV, etc.

-Kissing Jessica Stein - The scene on the couch with the lesbian sex pamphlet, and just some of how Jessica and Helen work on becoming comfortable with each other.

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without tenderness, we are in hell. -Adrienne Rich

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bluejumprope
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I find it interesting how almost all of the queer movies and TV I've seen aren't much better in this regard. All of the classic/standard lesbian movies I know--2 Girls in Love, Go Fish, But I'm a Cheerleader, High Art, Better Than Chocolate, Desert Hearts etc.--don't show any sort of discussion about sex. They just plop into each other--sometimes really beautifully--but still there's none of the normal negotiations, communication, checking in (or safer sex discussion/practices with people who aren't long term monogamous partners.)

I haven't seen the British Queer as Folk, but I can't recall much in the way of regular sexual conversations in the American version. The L Word, especially in the more recent seasons is sometimes bizarrely sex-negative. The last episode I saw had Shane getting angry at this woman she was dating (Cybill Shepherd's daughter) for not feeling comfortable going down on her the first time they had sex, and then this woman profusely apologizing for being such a terrible lover. What the hell?

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fallchild
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I'm glad you brought up The L Word bluejumprope, because there have been quite a few instances in that show where I think safer sex practices and sex communication have fallen through. I have always thought it was interesting that whenever there are (albeit rare) instances of sex between men, they make it a point to show the lube/condom being brought out and put on. But in ALL the instances of sex between women I've yet to see one dental dam, one latex glove. In fact, in the ONE instance where a dental dam was even mentioned (when Alice threw some dams down on the table and said "Be safe ladies"), all the girls were looking at each other with this expression of "Ewww...". I wonder if this is an example of the stigmas around sex between men and how STI risks are blown WAY out of proportion to lesbian sex and how supposedly "disease-free" it is. Wtf?

And I agree, I remember seeing that conversation between Shane and Molly and thinking, "You just told a woman (who's never had sex with another woman) that the sex you had was terrible because she wasn't feeling ready to go down on you. This girl wants to be with you WHY??!!"

I also thought the scene where Bette and Tina agree to have a threesome with a strange man so Tina can get pregnant....without...telling...the poor man...the scheme they have going on, was totally ridiculous. Oh but he finds out. He finds out AFTER they tell him not to wear a condon, which is a huge disease risk for Tina, not to mention the bad situation Tina would've been in if she'd gotten pregnant along with an STI.

[ 01-28-2009, 08:18 AM: Message edited by: fallchild ]

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bluejumprope
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Totally.

And, on L Word, having multiple partners, going back to former partners and everyone having sex with everyone else are such constant themes, you'd think they'd show at least one instance of safer sex.

Shane is supposed to have had thousands of partners (both because of her history as a sex worker and because she's such a Casanova) and yet she never practices safer sex?

I think the prevalent idea that lesbian sex is risk-free is probably a factor in this. But I think it also has to do with how the show is stylized and that they're playing to the fantasies of straight audiences. For example, I think the continuing ad campaign with all of the characters looking breathy, dolled up and naked isn't about attracting a lesbian audience.

[ 01-28-2009, 11:09 AM: Message edited by: bluejumprope ]

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Jill2000Plus
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About the UK Queer as Folk, it's not the best, it's kind of a mixture of good and bad, it's very shameless with regards to sexual things (masturbation, rimming, oral, anal), though also way too keen to push relationships with large age differences involving one partner who is a minor, as if there were no power issues there, but there isn't really any discussion of safe sex (though condoms are shown).

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fallchild
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It might sound kind of lame, but The L Word really helped me before I came out. It made me feel less...alone? But yeah, I can totally see how a show where each character is (or has the potential to be) a lesbian would end up having to cater to a degree to straight fantasies otherwise it wouldn't get nearly the amount of exposure that The L Word currently does. In very few ways do I think it realistically portrays lesbians, lesbian sex, or lesbian relationships.

I think the stuff with Shane is completely unrealistic too. Talk about major potential cootie swap-page [Razz]

[ 01-28-2009, 04:15 PM: Message edited by: fallchild ]

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bluejumprope
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Fallchild, it doesn't sound lame at all. I hope it didn't sound like I was dissing The L Word; it's been really important to me too and I really enjoy it.

I'm amazed by how explicit both Queer as Folk and The L Word have been. I'm just noticing more clearly now how much the sex scenes are fantasies. They often hit on real, beautiful, sexy stuff, but they skip over pretty basic communications. I know it's given me a very distorted idea of what (particularly first time) sex should look like.

It would be so cool if they included more elements like:
-discussion of attraction
-asking the other person how they feel about proceeding with such and such activity
-talking about what sort of sexual activity each person is interested in
-talking about the last time they were tested, how they want to approach safer sex
-showing a partner what they like

Are there any other things you all would like to see?

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without tenderness, we are in hell. -Adrienne Rich

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joaniehippopotamus_theninth
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This is such a great topic! One movie that I thought had some good pre-sex discussion between partners was "The Other Sister" (this movie also had a lot of problematic elements). Both members of the main (heterosexual) couple are young adults in their early twenties who have cognitive disabilities (which is one of the things I liked about the movie because there aren't a lot of mainstream films that have main characters with cognitive and/or developmental disabilities who are sexual beings and are the romantic leads) and they have two sex discussions. One where one of them broaches the topic of them having sex and they talk about if they both want to and are ready and what are the parameters that they both need/want. Then on the night when they're going to have sex with each other for the first time they talk about what specific activities they each are interested in (we don't actually get to know what activities, they got a sex book and show each other the pages with the activities that they are interested in). Also they talk about and use protection. He gets condoms from a clinic and he talks about how they showed him how to put them correctly, and if I remember correctly she had her sister help her get the birth control pill.
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Lilerse
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Heather, could you give an example of what you like in Buffy? I'm a HUGE fan, but the way they dealt with Buffy's and Angel's first time was a little weird in my opinion...I mean, she nervously covers her breasts when she's wearing a white t-shirt and Angel looks away; then suddenly they have sex? Had he really not seen her naked before? And if you're going to have sex with someone shouldn't you feel comfortable revealing your breasts?

I do like how Oz reacts to Willow first trying to seduce him, though...what a sweetie:)

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Heather
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I agree that whole scenario isn't a good example of positive sexual communication, though at the same time, I think it does a great job (that whole arc, really) of illustrating some very common POOR communication and some other very problematic, but common, dynamics in a lot of first-time intercourse situations IRL.

I also agree that was a GREAT example with Willow and Oz. In fact, that's only one of a few where I think there's good examples between them. When Oz comes back after being gone for a season and a half, I think there's some good communication there, too. Tara and Willow also have a couple times where they have some good stuff shown up when it comes to positive sexual communication.

I also really like the very honest and candid communication between Anya and Spike in the second-to-last season when they both hook up out of -- very honestly voiced -- hurt and loneliness.

There's another goodie at the very end of season 7 between Faith and Principal Wood after they've had sex, when she's posturing and he calls her out on it in a very frank, but still kind, way.

One of my faves is when Anya first tries to initiate sex with Xander, too.

Near the end of my day, so my brain is not at its freshest, but those are a few off the top of my head.

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September
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Let me see if I can help out! [Smile]

Another good example, I think, is the way that Buffy's thought process is shown during her whole relationship with Spike in season 6. She recognizes why she's been sleeping with him and why that is a bad idea for her at that point, and she manages to tell him so honestly.

There's also a couple of really cute scenes between Willow and Xander, both when they navigate their affair in season three, and later (in season 4, I think?) when Willow comes to him for sex advice when she is concerned that Oz is cheating.

And Xander and Anya, just in general. There are so, so many scenes where because of the whole ex-demon thing, Anya brings a whole different perspective to the table and calls out a lot of behaviors and feelings that we have come to accept as normal but that are really pretty iffy. Also, she brings condoms when she comes to seduce Xander ("some of them are black").

Also, while the whole first-time sex with Angel is a bit of a disaster, I do think there are some good examples of communication happening around that. Buffy and Willow have a lovely, honest conversation when Buffy is considering sleeping with Angel, and the scene with Giles in his car later is absolutely heart-breaking.

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Johanna
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