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“It Felt Good, Didn’t It?”: 8 Vintage Sex Ed Films
July 23, 2013
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Watching these vintage sex education movies, it would be easy to feel a little smug. Most of them are badly acted, strangely staged, and full of outdated language.

But some people would argue that our contemporary take on sex ed isn't all that much better.

On Wednesday, July 24, Eve Ensler, the writer and activist who created 'The Vagina Monologues' and 'V-Day', is in the red chair.

She'll talk to George about the current state of sex ed, and share her belief that it's letting young people down and contributing to feelings of shame and confusion.

"I interview so many young teenagers, and so many boys have no idea what sex is. They don't have a clue. Girls don't know," she tells George.

"So they get together in sexual misery, right? Somebody jumps on somebody, and the girl goes 'that's what sex is? Oh my god, that's a nightmare, I don't want it.' And it begins the pattern."

Catch the full interview with Ensler tomorrow at 7 pm on CBC Television, and enjoy a squirm-inducing trip down memory lane below.

Ricky Caught Masturbating

It's hard to say whether this is a sexual education film or a short horror movie. Either way, it's off-putting.

Growing Girls

This is a post-war instructional film on menstruation that mainly focuses on teaching girls about how to use sanitary pads, but also gets into some odd advice: don't get your feet wet while you have your period. Make sure not to catch a chill. And look around for a nice hot drink if you're feeling out of sorts.

Girl To Woman (1965)

It may be a little dated, but one of the most interesting aspects of this film (a sequel of sorts to 'Boy to Man', another educational film released three years earlier) is hearing young women talk informally about their lives. Styles may change, but people are still people.

A Girl's Guide To Menstruation: Go Easy On The Square Dancing

This is the second part of a documentary about menstruation from the 1950s, and it's well worth watching for the pipe-smoking, fight-watching '50s dad (he shows up around the 0:30 mark) and the chart of what kinds of things you can and should do while menstruating (that starts around 5:38). Hair washing? Sure! Square dancing? Maybe not.

Masturbating: It Feels Like A Crime!

You've got to feel a little bad for the young guy who kicks this video off by talking directly to camera about his masturbation habits. It's just the beginning of a very frank and open three-and-a-half-minute odyssey through the sexual insecurities of teenage boys. Watching it in a classroom full of teenage boys must have been tons of fun for everyone.

Sex Outside Of Marriage: It's Irresponsible, And Possibly Disastrous

This circa-1960s video from the UK draws on some pretty questionable "science" to make its point: which is that "sexual intercourse outside of marriage" is "irresponsible, and possibly disastrous." The narrator goes on to say "we're not trying to influence anyone. Facts are our business just now."

Imagine what Dan Savage would have had to say if he was around back then.

Early 1960s Instructions On "Drawing The Line"

It's a little unclear what's going on at the beginning of this video, as two young people sit behind picture frames talking about how attracted they are to one another. It looks a little like an early episode of 'Star Trek', especially when "the line" from the title appears out of nowhere. And then it turns into a heated, and kind of self-aware ("don't get upset! It's only a movie"), round table discussion.

Dating Dos And Don'ts (1949)

Daniel Reynolds, the YouTube user who uploaded this video, points out that one of the most interesting things about it is that "it reveals what dating used to be like: talking it over with the parents, putting on a suit." In fact, the whole video offers more instruction on how not to screw things up with a girl than on sex itself. An interesting window on another time.


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