Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Sex Education

Posted by Planet Waves

John Oliver

In this back-to-school episode from last month of John Oliver’s late-night show on HBO, he takes on the sorry state of sex ed in the U.S. There’s an astonishing spectrum of what teens are — and, sadly, often are not — being taught about their bodies, decision-making, sexual health and consent. Abstinence indoctrination is still rampant; John Oliver breaks it down — with humor, pathos, and a couple WTF? moments.

12 thoughts on “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Sex Education

    1. Geoff Marsh

      I watched several segments on the first youtube link, Amy, and it always amazes me how different tv is in the States from what we have here in Britain.

      John Oliver reminded me a little of Monty Python’s Eric Idle. He was so totally fired up with the insanity of the situation that it was hard to believe what he’s describing is actually real.

      Thanks for posting.

  1. DivaCarla Sanders

    This is the best John Oliver expose I have seen yet. I wish the examples he offers were outrageous, but they are not. Periods and bowling strikes: wedding nights and dirty sneakers … equal misinformation 50 years apart. I could rant on every vignette, and I have at some point.

    The scariest part to me were the no screwin around gal yelling about one married partner forever.
    or was it the gang of Ivy Leaguers chanting violence that has nothing to do with sex at all, and everything to do with conquest and slavery.
    Or was it Version A of the sex ed video saying you are expected to be abstinent.
    Or the comparing women to tape or chewed gum,
    What is it with the sock and shoe metaphor for sex, and the dirty shoe metaphor for sexually active women.
    And no girl will recognize the scene where the boy’s opening line is, let’s have sex. By the time they are talking about it, well, it might be over.

    I think this piece works because as Oliver says, sex information is one of the few things you learn in school that you will need your whole life. Hoping kids will google sex and find Planet Waves or Laci Green won’t help the ones who have been scared off sex information, because they aren’t just teaching that sex is bad, they are teaching that information is bad. Asking questions is almost as big a sin as doing it. I remember. I finally did it so I could find out what it was.

    Watch and share.

    1. Amanda PainterAmanda Painter

      Carla — I am so with you. And thank you for pointing out the idea that even Googling sexual information is cast as “bad” and “scary” — though I do think that with teenagers being the curious, hormone-driven beings they are, most of them will not be stopped from investigating sex on the Internet. The sad, scary, maddening thing is that in in so many US states, they won’t have anyone helping them to form an informed context for discerning accurate and sensitive information from inaccurate scare tactics and blatant misinformation.

      Oh — and porn. Porn is everywhere, and serves a purpose. But its purpose is not to accurately reflect the complexity and nuance of sexual relationships — let alone a balance view of what women (and men) want and need, and how to go about talking about those things.

      And yes, comparing an non-virginal bride to a pair of worn-out shoes is horrendous, but in the case of the guy using the sock and shoe to demonstrate using a condom, I totally get that he had limited options after having been banned from using a banana or other produce to demonstrate proper condom use with an actual condom. There might be other things that would make equally good demonstrations, but they’re not popping into mind right now. :)

      This *has* to get better. We have to make it a priority — every single one of us.

  2. DivaCarla Sanders

    Every single one of us. The astrology is hollering at me to say it louder and prouder. btw, the sock condom demo is brilliant. It just resonated with the negative metaphors of old sneakers and things you step on while wearing them. a grim irony.

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