“A SEXPLANATION”— Talking About Sex


Talking About Sex

Amos Lassen

In most of the world, sex is just a biological function – there’s a time and a place for it, but talking about it is not a big deal. In the US it has been subject to ongoing panic, with the result that even well-meaning, well- educated parents often have no idea how to talk to their kids about it. For Alex Liu who is gay faced years of shame and uncertainty, poor communication with partners and worry about his private fantasies. In this documentary, he sets out to set that to right.

Liu is known for being undaunted by social taboos but it’s clear that this film has strained the limits of his courage. Amongst other things, he takes on the challenge of talking to his own parents about sex for the first time on camera. We see his fear and get their apologetic explanations of why they said so little when he was growing up. They reflect on their own relationship with humor and break down barriers, and the family come closer together as a result.

This film is designed to educate and to facilitate communication. The joy that Liu finds in the learning process is infectious and gives viewers a new respective on the subject. His openness is reciprocated by many of his interviewees. A conservative politician comes across warmly and a Jesuit priest surprises Liu by talking about sexuality as an important part of what it means to be human.

The film focuses on conversations with scientists, doctors and other experts who look at myths about sex and pose new questions, inviting viewers to wonder exactly what we mean by the term in the first place and explaining the still poorly understood complexity of orgasm. Many will find their questions answered as well as learning surprising facts which has it never occurred to them to wonder about.

 Sociologically, the film explores a historical approach to sex educations that was focused on trying to terrify teenagers with images of diseased genital organs, and looks at how educators today are trying to move beyond mechanics and talk about relationship skills and the importance of consent. There’s some reflection on objections to sex education and on the purity movement, but these do not dominate the film. The message is that society is changing and has room to change further, making room for much healthier and happier sexual experiences.

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