Hey Pearl-Clutchers, try not to accidentally strangle yourselves when I say this: I let my kids see sex in movies. What? Really? Yes, Estelle, really. I mean, I don’t let them watch porn. We never cuddle up on the couch, pop some popcorn, and binge watch Ron Jeremy’s greatest hits (pun absolutely intended), But if there is a movie that is otherwise appropriate, yes, my ten-year-old can see a little boinking. Maybe even a boob.
I have never understood the rationale behind censorship. How do they decide what is okay and what is not? Why are movies like Infinity War and Black Panther rated PG-13, but movies that say “fuck” more than once get an automatic R-rating? Why is it more harmful for a kid to hear “fuck” two times than it is to see graphic violence and bloody death? By movie standards, the fact I used the word twice in this paragraph would render this article 18+. My kids hear swearing around the house no problem, and no one cares, but we would never allow violence in our home. Why is it reversed for movies?
To me, it’s the same with sex. Sex is a normal, natural thing between two consenting adults. If the sex in the movie is between two consenting adults, how on earth is that less okay than seeing someone with their guts hanging out? Which is more likely to disturb children?
I’m not saying I don’t allow my kids to see some violence in movies too, I do. My ten-year-old loved Infinity War and Black Panther. Last weekend, I showed him Speed. He is able to distinguish between movie violence and real violence, and the violence he is allowed to see is always fantastical, rather than situations involving abuse, etc.
Isn’t the same true of sex? For us, it opens up an opportunity for discussion. We can use movies to let kids know that just like movie violence, movie sex is fantastical. It isn’t an accurate portrayal of real sex most of the time. Isn’t that a primer for when they inevitably watch porn? And they will, you know. Since the time of cave people drawing Ron Neanderthal Jeremy drawings on the cave walls, kids have always found a way to come across porn, and you never know when that will happen. Seeing some less-graphic sex scenes in a movie is a good starting point for the discussion about porn being unrealistic and often demeaning.
Not sending your child out of the room when a sex scene comes on sets the boundary that sex is not off-limits or weird to talk about with your parents. If they can handle watching a sex scene with their parents in the room and not spontaneously burst into flames, then they will know that you won’t feel weird or awkward if they want to discuss sex with you.
It’s also a chance to discuss consent. Frequently in movies, they play the no-means-try-harder game. One partner will protest at first, the other partner will ignore the protest and persist, and then the first partner gives in and seems to enjoy themselves. This is a terrible example of consent, and a great educational opportunity. Having this talk when they are tweens or young teens, with an actual example of what not to do in front of them, means that when they are old enough to watch movies with sex scenes on their own, they will be viewing it through the lens you gave them, instead of simply thinking that game is “hot.”
And then there is the activity I like to call, “spot the objectification.” Usually women, but sometimes men, are frequently objectified, especially in romantic comedies. Taking the time to say, “Hey, that was sexist and not cool,” plants seeds for both future viewing and interactions with real people.
I’m not suggesting finding all the movies with sex and nudity you can get your hands on so you can stage these discussions. Many times, it’s not just the sex or nudity that makes a movie inappropriate for kids. I’m simply saying that I won’t discount an otherwise good movie because it has sex in it (think Dirty Dancing!) I would rather educate my children about sex than shield them from it entirely.
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