The sex talk, minus "the parts"

A PSA tells parents they "don't have to be explicit" about the birds and the bees

Published August 28, 2009 9:01PM (EDT)

Every once in a while there comes a dramatic reminder of the magnitude of our country's sexual hangups. A new advertisement from the Department of Health and Human Services' "Parents Speak Up" campaign, which Feministe alerted us to, is just that. It's like a collective psych analysis distilled into a 30-second TV spot, and our sexual subconscious is personified as a father scared shitless about having the sex talk.

The ad opens with the panic-stricken pop walking over to his daughter, and then -- blam! -- he runs into an invisible wall. Like a mime, he works his way around it only to stumble backward when he sets sight on his little girl clad in a modest pink frock. Then he labors to pull himself across the room with the help of an invisible rope.

Throughout this juvenile act, his daughter -- or a girl meant as a representative youth voice -- instructs in a voiceover: "Just tell us how you feel. Tell us what you want us to do. Tell us to wait to have sex." On its own, that's a fine message for an adolescent; yes, it's a great idea to wait to have sex. But the ad also explains to parents: "We know it's hard to talk to your kids about sex. It's embarrassing." She continues, "You don't have to be explicit about it. You don't have to talk about 'the parts.'" God forbid having to utter the words "penis" and vagina" in front of your kids -- how humiliating.

You really ought to check out the public service announcement below; after all, you helped pay for it. Afterward, feel free to contact the campaign organizers and tell them to grow the hell up.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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