You know, for kids
November 21, 2008 6:34 AM   Subscribe

Sex: wot's the big deal is a sex exhibition for kids currently taking place at the Cité des Sciences in Paris. Pre-teens can learn about love, puberty, making love and making babies, and they can also experiment a little bit. The show is based on Willies: a user's guide (in French: Le zizi sexuel) by Swiss comics creator Zep, and features the rising star of French playgrounds, Titeuf (NSFW unless you're a French preteen)
posted by elgilito (42 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I wonder what the long term effects of the scientization and infantilization of sex are, if any.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 6:43 AM on November 21, 2008


o that how babby formed. thx
posted by burnmp3s at 6:51 AM on November 21, 2008 [2 favorites]



I wonder what the long term effects of the scientization and infantilization of sex are, if any.

People are not so freaked out about it when they are teenagers? Less unwanted teen pregnancies?
posted by edgeways at 6:58 AM on November 21, 2008 [6 favorites]


Exhibitionists
posted by DU at 7:07 AM on November 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


I wonder what the long term effects of the scientization and infantilization of sex are, if any.

yeah god forbid people look at something in a scientific way.
posted by delmoi at 7:07 AM on November 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


Six percent of French girls under the age of 20 give birth; in the United States, that figure is 22%. I'd say the French are doing something right. cite
posted by rtha at 7:08 AM on November 21, 2008 [24 favorites]


Titeuf is very much the already risen star of French comics, as it sells probably three times as much as the next best selling comic book.
posted by LVdB at 7:13 AM on November 21, 2008


I wonder what the long terms effects of the scientization and infantilization1 of astronomy are, if any.

1Misuse Of Word Alert
posted by DU at 7:30 AM on November 21, 2008


Ok, honestly. This link? I am not a prude and am all in favor of sex ed, but: What the hell? Holy crap.
posted by fusinski at 7:36 AM on November 21, 2008


The age of consent in France is 15; yet the average age of mothers having a firstborn child is 29.4 and increasing.

There are many explanations for this: more efficient use of contraception, longer studies for women, the relative deterioration of the image of the mother in the working world, difficulties in finding child-care solutions [here]
posted by kid ichorous at 7:39 AM on November 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


i think it's an idea that has potential, however i totally agree with fusinski.

anything that might potentially teach a person that stomping on a sack is the best way to give someone an erection gets a big red flag from me.
posted by bryak at 7:46 AM on November 21, 2008 [5 favorites]


Unwanted teenage pregnancies are the result of low socioeconomic status, not lack of sex education.

There isn't some noble purpose behind this stuff other than profit. People are fascinated by sex. If we can sell it to them under the socially-approved, hell even subsidized, guise of "education", then chick-ching!
posted by norabarnacl3 at 7:52 AM on November 21, 2008


This hugely popular French cartoon character, Titeuf, is already teaching quite a few things to kids about relationships. I know for a fact that, in quite a few French schools' libraries, this book is borrowed regularly all year round, as in taken out as soon as it is in. It allows kids to learn things without going through biology or pornography, through a 'popular' medium they don't feel ashamed of borrowing (Oh, I just took a book of Titeuf out!).
Sure, some things, like fusinski's link shows, might seem weird, but in the end it tends to make people treat sexuality in a way that allows conversation and experimentation (however dodgy they seem, give the kids some credit into knowing this is hugely simplified and unlike reality), which is a good thing when you are dealing with teenagers.
And yes, teenage pregnancy doesn't seem to be that much of a problem we talk about in France. I am glad they have done an exhibition about this book, especially with clear educational purposes behind it.
posted by tweemy at 7:59 AM on November 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seems like an excellent program. If kids who are 10 years old don't understand the physical mechanics of sex and its consequences, their parents or teachers have failed them.
posted by modernnomad at 7:59 AM on November 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Unwanted teenage pregnancies are the result of low socioeconomic status, not lack of sex education.

How do you untangle the low status from the bad education?

..the average age of mothers having a firstborn child is 29.4 and increasing.

In the future, the French will live to 300 while Americans live to 30.
posted by DU at 8:03 AM on November 21, 2008 [5 favorites]


This is awesome, I wish I could take my kids to this.
Those videos are hilarious.
posted by chococat at 8:20 AM on November 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


fusinski, bryak - that's just to show how ephemeral the male erection can be, especially with those new to body ... stuff. Heh.

Being in the US and not knowing a whole lot of other cultures, I wonder how sexuality is treated in other "developed" countries? rtha's link is interesting by itself, but is presented without context. Is it because the US still discusses abstinence as a valid form of STD prevention and a way to avoid pregnancy? Is there less informal education for US kids? Maybe religious discouragement of contraceptives plays a larger role in the US?

I want to know more (and I don't). Interesting subject, but the high rate of teen pregnancies makes me sad, and reminds me of the day care center at my high school. From that small window, it seemed the less well-to-do teens were the ones getting pregnant, and it wasn't really a big deal for them. I'm not saying they should be scolded and ostracized, but it felt a bit too accepted (to me, as a upper-middle class white male, looking ahead to college and all that).
posted by filthy light thief at 8:25 AM on November 21, 2008


Great post title.

I laughed really hard of the video of the girl pushing the willy-inflator over and over until the willy wouldn't inflate anymore.

The whole thing reminds me a bit of Brave New World.
posted by nosila at 8:29 AM on November 21, 2008


Unwanted teenage pregnancies are the result of low socioeconomic status, not lack of sex education.

This is not entirely true, or at least, it's not that simple:
The study did find, however, that across all of the focus countries, young people growing up in disadvantaged economic, familial and social circumstances are more likely than their better-off peers to engage in risky behavior and have a child during adolescence. It is true, therefore, that pregnancy and birth are more common among U.S. teens in part because the United States has a greater proportion of disadvantaged families. (While the United States has the highest per capita income of the study countries, it also has the highest percentage of its population who are poor.) However, at all socioeconomic levels, American teenagers are less likely than their peers in the other study countries to use contraceptives and more likely to have a child. For example, U.S. teenagers in the highest income subgroup have birthrates that are 14% higher than similar teenagers in Great Britain and rates that are higher than the overall teen birthrates in Sweden and France.
(emphasis mine.)

filthy light thief, you might be interested in the stats I posted in this thread, addressing the difference in approaches to sex education between the U.S. and European countries; the fact sheet I linked to is currently down for updating, but the crucial (to me) bits are:
* Research is the basis for public policies to reduce unintended pregnancy, abortion, and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Political and religious interest groups have little influence on public health policy.
* A national desire to reduce the number of abortions and to prevent sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, provides the major impetus in each country for unimpeded access to contraception, including condoms, consistent sexuality education, and widespread public education campaigns.
* Governments support massive, consistent, long-term public education campaigns utilizing the Internet, television, films, radio, billboards, discos, pharmacies, and health care providers. Media is a partner, not a problem, in these campaigns. Campaigns are far more direct and humorous than in the U.S. and focus on safety and pleasure.
* Youth have convenient access to free or low-cost contraception through national health insurance.
posted by rtha at 8:50 AM on November 21, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm going to laugh and point at the funny country.

Thats you, puritans.
posted by Artw at 9:14 AM on November 21, 2008


Heh heh, he said "country".
posted by mosk at 9:26 AM on November 21, 2008


In the future, the French will live to 300 while Americans live to 30

and such a Brave New World it shall be.
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:30 AM on November 21, 2008


HA! I wish I had that when I was a kid. Oh wait, I'm still a kid. HA!
posted by tehloki at 9:33 AM on November 21, 2008


It allows kids to learn things without going through biology or pornography

I like how you phrased that. That's exactly what's needed, imho.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:54 AM on November 21, 2008


"Nadia, if I stick my willy in your tummy one day... do you promise to give it back?"

PRICELESS.

My parents were really liberal about sex-ed - my mom was an OB nurse who proclaimed "If I see you at work before you're 23, I will kill you myself." She put me on the pill at 14, after I went to the prom with my first boyfriend. (She actually asked at dinner, in the manner that you would ask someone to pass the butter, "Are you going to have sex after the prom?")

Sex was discussed casually like any other bodily activity. And being in a home with a nurse, you can imagine how often and how casual these conversations were. I did indeed start having sex young, but I was safe every time - both the pill AND condoms - and I never felt the need to have casual sex or "experiment" in the ways that many of my peers did. I can count the number of partners I've had on one hand - which isn't to say that this is any big accomplishment or that I'm some kind of prude, just that talking about sex openly in the home didn't lead to my not taking sex seriously. Quite the opposite. Knowing the risks involved and not feeling like sex was taboo or an act of rebellion, I never felt the need to have sex with someone unless I also wanted to have a relationship with that person. I may be bisexual, but I do have the lesbian urge to bring a UHaul after the first date, so my sexual relationships quickly turned into long-term monogamous relationships.

And no, I did not end up pregnant as a teenager, judging by the fact that I am still alive at 27.

This is exactly the sort of sex-ed stuff my mom would have used, had she had materials at her disposal and not just an endless selection of anecdotes and information that honestly, I would have rathered NOT know.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:01 AM on November 21, 2008 [4 favorites]


So this is a serious question: How about European countries making immigration and naturalization as easy for Americans as we did for Europeans in the 20th Century -- because honestly (my euphoria over Obama notwithstanding) I think there are huddled masses here in the States yearning to breathe free (and non-repressed, etc., continental air). I promise my family and I are not loud and poorly dressed.
posted by Toecutter at 10:04 AM on November 21, 2008 [4 favorites]


The paperworks way less of a pain than it is the other way. Off you go!
posted by Artw at 10:07 AM on November 21, 2008


(Omigosh, the "Feeing the Fetus" game is awesome. You put the vegetables in the box, and it FARTS. HA.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:12 AM on November 21, 2008


This program sounds like it will do a good job of demystifying sex and reproduction, and it's a huge pity that the U.S. can't have a sensible program like that. Thank you SO much conservative Christians, for your continuing efforts to eliminate sex education in America. All the teenagers who have misguided notions about sex have you and your "family values" to thank.
posted by happyroach at 10:13 AM on November 21, 2008


Oh I should have prefaced my question with a wow -- this is great and *exactly* the kind of thing a parent needs to demystify sex and take the cringe factor out of sex ed. But it will never, ever happen here in the States.
posted by Toecutter at 10:17 AM on November 21, 2008


Régis Fait Une Farce A Sa Collègue
posted by Zambrano at 10:22 AM on November 21, 2008


Love it. I live in Paris right now and I've been seeing those posters everywhere on the subway. I want to go check it out, but I'm 30. I feel a bit odd going on my own, but I don't think it would be a good idea to ask my colleagues if I could "borrow" one of their kids to go to a sex-ed exhibition.

No creepy uncle here, thank you.
posted by LMGM at 10:49 AM on November 21, 2008


Yeah, looks pretty much like Where Do Babies Come From?, interactive French version.

I'm with grapefruitmoon. Watched the video of Where Do Babies Come From? at age 7, and went on the pill in my teens, Mom was never shy about helping me pick a contraceptive and stick to it. Went straight into a good, sexual LTR. A nullip to this day, and I daresay a nulligravida.

The elephant in the room is, you have to start teaching sex to kids at a young age or they'll never become SEX JEDI.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:52 AM on November 21, 2008


This program sounds like it will do a good job of demystifying sex and reproduction, and it's a huge pity that the U.S. can't have a sensible program like that.

Growing up, there was a book called Where Did I Come From?, which you can still buy from Amazon (also by the same author: What's Happening to Me?) that was at once humorous and informative. You could also talk to your kids. I really would love to see a national standard of sex education in public schools that included teaching abstinence, birth control and a frank discussion of the emotional as well as the physical aspects of sex and sexuality. My sex ed class was taught by an old woman who seemed painfully embarrassed with every sentence she uttered, and answered any of our questions as curtly and briefly as possible.

Also, this bit of pricelessness:

There isn't some noble purpose behind this stuff other than profit. People are fascinated by sex. If we can sell it to them under the socially-approved, hell even subsidized, guise of "education", then chick-ching!

I have now idea how you crawled inside the mind of the creator of this exhibition and saw Scrooge McDuck, laughing and rolling around on a pile of gold coins and jewels, but if this exhibition manages to make sex less a mystery to children in a way both fun and scientific, as opposed to keeping sex in a cloud of taboo that they stumble into blindly and out of with a baby in their arms, all because a few prudes think unwanted pregnancies and STDs are preferable to teaching children about a few natural facts, then I personally couldn't care less if this man gets filthy rich from his idea.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:29 AM on November 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's an exhibition in a science museum, in partnership with the department of health, youth and sport.
posted by LVdB at 11:38 AM on November 21, 2008


People make a big fuss about 17 year olds getting pregnant, but they're not considering just to what degree 17 year olds are just walking around DARING you not to make a baby inside them.
posted by Rangeboy at 11:39 AM on November 21, 2008


The elephant in the room is, you have to start teaching sex to kids at a young age or they'll never become SEX JEDI.

*whooooosh. brrrrr. brrrr. brrrrrrrrrrr*

The obvious problem here, and this is entirely aside from the religious aspect for many families is that a fairly typical reaction of many parents to grapefruitmoon's excellent personal account is:

I did indeed start having sex young, but LALALALALACAN'THEARYOU
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:06 PM on November 21, 2008


"Sex was discussed casually like any other bodily activity. And being in a home with a nurse, you can imagine how often and how casual these conversations were."

Yeah, I expect to have the same kinds of conversations with my kids. Of course, since I have a daughter I expect to have a bright red face and steam rising from my head from all the internal angst build up while we're chatting (a'la homer simpson "yes, that's a real pickle").

On the upside, I'll be in fantastic shape given that I'll be fight training throughout the age she's having sex and I could turn pro at a later age (and I suppose I'd be undefeated since I'd be relatively immune to physical pain given all the psychological pressure).

...of course, I'll have to remove all the firearms from the house when her dates come over.
And I expect to have several heart attacks on prom night.

But yeah, you have to have a healthy discussion about this stuff. Just kinda tough for some of us midwestern U.S. types.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:48 PM on November 21, 2008


But yeah, you have to have a healthy discussion about this stuff. Just kinda tough for some of us midwestern U.S. types.

Smedleyman, it might hearten you to know that my own mother is midwestern to the core. She's from Lake Wobegon. Literally. She and Garrison Keillor went to the same high school. And she managed! Her head never once exploded!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:15 PM on November 21, 2008


I have to admit, I'm surprised and feeling I should perhaps be alarmed that you have kids, Smedleyman. Not that I've any real reason to feel this way. Just that... well, I've never got the sense that you were kid-compatible.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:07 PM on November 21, 2008


Why? I’m pretty kid-friendly. I’m extremely family oriented. I fact I’m strongly opposed to corporal punishment.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:38 AM on November 24, 2008


I'm not sure why I got that impression. My mental picture of you usually involves the idea that you're large and have several guns slung around your chest.

I admit, it isn't an accurate mental picture. :-)
posted by five fresh fish at 5:33 PM on November 24, 2008


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