Many years ago I worked on a safer sex initiative to encourage safer sex references and portrayal (NOT x-rated) in TV shows and movies. While I got media attention for my efforts, the initiative failed.
Let me make this very clear: I was NOT advocating for showing men and women unwrapping a condom or putting one on. I was advocating for adding references in the dialogue or visually showing a condom box to reinforce the need for safer sex.
I was just forcefully reminded of this safer sex initiative failure of mine while watching (via on demand) episode 4 of Freeform show THE BOLD TYPE, a TV series created by Sarah Watson (original episode air date of July 25, 2017).
According to imdbpro.com:
“The Bold Type” is inspired by the life of “Cosmopolitan” editor in chief, Joanna Coles. The show is a glimpse into the outrageous lives and loves of those responsible for a global women’s magazine. Their struggles are about finding your identity, managing friendships and getting your heart broken, all while wearing the perfect jeans to flatter any body type.
The show is about young people in their 20s, and clearly targeted at teens and people in their 20s.
In episode 4 the steamy sex scene — which had been built up to over several episodes — the young man says to the young woman words to the effect, “What would you like?” and she could have simply said, “Use a condom.”
But there was nothing in the scene to indicate that safer sex was practiced or that sex without protection could lead to several nasty STDs.
Why is this safer sex reference important to include? Why don’t I accept defeat and stop trying to encourage references to fictional people having safer sex?
Because, as I said years ago, teens are especially vulnerable to what they see on media. Fictional characters — and their “on screen” behavior — are often very real to teens. Including safer sex references in TV shows and movies can encourage healthy behavior in teens.
My safer sex initiative years ago failed. Yet perhaps today more of the people responsible for fictional portrayals of sex scenes will be sensitive to the responsibility they have to promote safer sex.
And if you are one of the creators of fictional portrayals, I hope you’ll take this responsibility to heart!
Click here to read post “Respect for Others: Real Life and Fiction” — relevant for this safer sex blog post and for all the sexual harassment news.
© 2017 Miller Mosaic LLC
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the author of fiction and nonfiction books/ebooks. Phyllis is available by skype for book group discussions and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Her Kindle fiction ebooks may be read for free with a Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription — see www.amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermiller — and her Kindle nonfiction ebooks may also be read for free with a Kindle Unlimited monthly subscription — see www.amazon.com/author/phylliszmiller