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The Naked Truth The Sexual Health Blog

Safer Sex In The Movies

July 5th, 2013 by Sondra



Pop culture and erotic pleasure don’t always play well together. Or, they don’t always integrate well for active, engaging audiences.

A Google search for “safer sex in Hollywood film,” returns very few results. In fact, the first article to pop up is a Los Angeles Times article from 1993, twenty years ago. Another article that appears in the search is entitled “Hollywood Films Enter AIDS Era” — from 1987. One would think, after finding articles so old, that perhaps the trend of safer sex scenes in pop culture movies might have taken flight, but not so much.

The most contemporary and comprehensive article on the issue comes from Crushable.com in 2010: “Dear Everyone: Can We Talk About The Lack Of Condoms In Every Movie Ever?” The author lists only a few films “off the top of [her] head” as examples of movies that do include safer sex practices:

  1. The 4o Year Old Virgin
  2. American Pie
  3. Knocked Up
  4. Juno
  5. Trainspotting

One film that comes to mind – that directly addresses high school, not adult, audiences – is Superbad. The entire movie is pretty much about sex, but it also covers condom use and the concept of carrying condoms “just in case.” One of the “sex” scenes in the movie – at a party – refers to something a character “learned in health,” which, even in a comedy, showcases an interest bringing sex education to the movie screen. It’s a bold, awkward, and hilarious moment, yet it progressively alludes that students are learning about sex in health class.

Bold, awkward, and hilarious – not unlike how many adult sex scenarios actually are in real life, not just in Hollywood. But the sex scene in Superbad appears in a list of “The Most Awkward Sex Scenes in Movies (with video).” The assumption here–and even in the short list of movies above–is that in order for a sex scene to be realistic and include safer sex, it must be awkward or appear in a comedy. Perhaps that’s not true always, but the number of comedies that include “awkward” sex scenes and safer sex seem to outnumber “serious” sex scenes and safer sex practices. It perpetuates the assumption that in order for intimacy to not be awkward, it must not include the act of pausing to put on a condom (even though this can be done very sensually and erotically).

This is an odd juxtaposition against L.A.’s recent law that requires porn stars to always use condoms when filming. Why isn’t a similar law requiring condom use in sex scenes in Hollywood films?

Collecting statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a recent Psychology Today article titled “Why James Bond Needs to Use Condoms” states:

“If condoms were shown to be a normal part of a successful love life, people exploring their first sexual experiences wouldn’t be as prey to the myth that condoms kill romance.”

Can you think of any contemporary Hollywood films or TV dramas that directly address condom use in intimate sex scenes? Please list them in the comments section – we would love to know!

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