You know that notorious sex education scene in Mean Girls when Coach Carr tells his students not to have sex because they’d get pregnant and die? When the movie aired in 2004, it was legal for him to tell his class that false information because at the time, Illinois didn’t mandate sex-ed to be medically accurate.
Today, only 13 states require high schools to teach comprehensive sexual education, leaving millions of students susceptible to believing harmful myths about sex. Studies show that many teens first exposure to sex-ed comes from television, and that the sexual content they see is linked with their level of sexual activity.
Hollywood has the potential to be an excellent source for sexual education, but instead of portraying the realities, most movies and TV shows perpetuate sex myths.
1. There are no awkward moments during sex
Sex with new partners is always the worst because I have to learn what makes their toes curl. Every touch, moan and squirt is a surprise, and it can be awkward navigating each other’s bodies. Unless you’ve had sex, you probably don’t know how weird it can get because of movies like Endless Love and The Titanic. David deflowers Jade next to a romantic fire on a wooden floor, and Jack takes Rose’s virginity inside a car. To all the romantics out there, I’m sorry to burst your bubble but cars and floors are like, the most uncomfortable and awkward places to have sex.
Awkward sex leads to incredible sex, and it’s never going to be great the first time. But that’s ok! The only way to improve is to communicate with your partner and verbally tell them what you like and what you don’t. Don’t be afraid to share what turns you on, because everyone’s different — that’s what makes sex so exciting!
2. If you have sex without a condom, you will definitely get pregnant (because apparently birth control doesn’t exist)
Remember that time your favorite female television character took her birth control pill, got an IUD or explored the implant? How about the time she had unprotected sex and took Plan B afterward? If so, I’d like to know what show you were watching, because the best example I can think of is Knocked Up which, spoiler alert, resulted in an unplanned pregnancy.
The reality is, TV rarely depicts contraceptives. Only four percent of sex scenes discuss risk behavior, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. But there are plenty of options for birth control that can fit with your lifestyle and preferences. Birth control has many benefits including pregnancy prevention (thus the name), period regulation, acne reduction and PMS symptom alleviation. Talk to your doctor to decide what’s right for you. This is also an important conversation to have with a partner. Oh, and just because you’re on birth control doesn’t mean you can’t contract an STI. Condoms make an epic sidekick.
3. Women can orgasm instantaneously
I used to think there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t orgasm from sex. I knew I could climax, I was masturbating before I learned the multiplication table. But I thought vaginal penetration was supposed to be even more euphoric than clitoral stimulation, because that’s what I saw on TV.
I was baffled by my inability to orgasm from someone else’s touch. How did Brittany Murphy’s (bless her soul) character in 8 Mile simultaneously climax with Eminem in less than two minutes? And why could Allie orgasm instantaneously the first time she had sex with Noah in The Notebook and I couldn’t?
Because movies are magic and those sex scenes are as fake as Cardi B’s nails. The truth is, only 18 percent of women can orgasm from vaginal penetration alone, according to a study published last year in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy. Kissing in the rain and a couple pumps isn’t enough to make most women orgasm, and Hollywood should give their characters a map to the clitoris instead of reinforcing false narratives.
4. Jealousy and stalking are super romantic
I hate to be the one to break this to you, but most of the couples we idolize on TV and in movies are actually pretty unhealthy. Aria and Ezra? Well, not only did he pursue an illegal and immoral relationship with a minor, he also stalked her and her friends for years. He might not have been “A,” but he was definitely… a creep. Chuck and Blair? This pains me to say, but also totally toxic. They both use and manipulate each other endlessly. Young Bass also traded Blair for his hotel, made countless attempts to control her dating life, and emotionally abused her with displays of extreme jealousy and fleeting romantic gestures. Edward and Bella? The vampire we all fell in (unrequited) love with was completely controlling over Bella’s decisions, stalked her both at night and during the day, and caused her to have strained relationships with her friends and family.
Not all abuse is physical, and it is important to identify the traits of an emotionally abusive relationship. Your #relationshipgoals should include honesty, mutual respect, open communication, trust and boundaries. If something feels off, it probably is. Always trust your gut.
Arielle Kaplan, Tabú, [email protected]