Realistic Sex and Netflix
Written by Joscelyn Ervin // Illustrated by Alexandra Paquin
Even though a lot of schools have lackluster examples of sex education, there are a few Netflix shows that can pick up some of the slack.
Female sexuality and masturbation aren’t usually popular topics. In fact, and I’m sure you know this if you’re a woman, they’re viewed as being pretty shameful. Ohio, for example, is one of the 27 states that stresses the importance of abstinence until marriage. That means that a little more than 50 percent of the United States refuses to acknowledge the benefits of a full, comprehensive sex education curriculum. Even though a lot of schools have lackluster examples of sex education, there are a few Netflix shows that can pick up some of the slack. Over the course of the last year or so, there have been quite a few shows released that focus on sex. Sex has become less taboo in pop culture, but it’s still uncommon to find shows or movies that depict realistic and healthy sex. Here are some recent shows that do a - mostly - good job at depicting realistic sex and masturbation - especially with women.
“Sex Education” is the first show on our list. Even though I don’t believe it was initially created to serve as actual sex education, I’m sure that it’s helping teens feel more open about the topic overall. The main character, Miles, and his 16 to 17-year-old friends have a lot of questions about sex and relationships. Since their school is failing them, Miles and his crush Maeve decide to open a “Sex Clinic” - where they give their classmates sex and relationship advice for a small fee. Miles’ parents are very successful sex and relationship therapists, so he knows quite a bit more than he should about both topics. “Sex Education” is forward thinking in terms of realistically addressing how teens figure out their sex lives. What really stood out to me the most was a short scene in the second season where the main group of girls are stuck in the library together. They’re given an assignment to figure out what they all have in common and the only thing that they can come up with is that they have all been sexually harassed in some way. It was impactful, thoughtful and got right to the point of the issue. This is one of the first major times that a show has addressed this topic so openly and directly. It made a good impression.
Before I talk about anything related to this next show, you should know that “The Goop Lab” is not something I recommend watching. It’s a docuseries about the company created by Gwyneth Paltrow, that focuses on health and beauty products. If you search “The Goop Lab” on Google, however, you’ll soon find out that basically everything the show highlights is pretty sketchy. So why bring it up? Well, there is one episode in particular that talks about the wonders of female masturbation that I wanted to bring to light. In fact, there are some reviews that trash the show overall but also highlight this episode in an attempt to discuss how female masturbation is addressed in the media. Similar to the one sexual harassment scene in “Sex Education,” but with a more positive angle, I was glad that a newly released show took the time to focus on sex from the female perspective. “Big Mouth,” a cartoon based around the lives of a group of middle schoolers, also explores female masturbation with its characters Jesse and Missy.
“Sex Explained” is one of the shows on Netflix that always looked fascinating to me, but I never really took the time to watch it until now. This is a spin-off of the main show, “Explained,” which currently has two seasons and was released in 2018. “Sex Explained” released in the first week of 2020 and focuses solely on, you guessed it, sex. It only has six episodes, all highlighting topics like birth control, fantasies, attraction, etc. Unlike the other two shows on our list, it is a documentary-style show that is more scientific than the others. While “Sex Education” is completely fiction and “The Goop Lab” is pseudoscience disguised as a documentary, “Sex Explained” cites specific source material and interviews experts on each topic. It’s a nice change and a better source of information on the topics at hand.
Although these shows are breaking ground on mostly unexplored and generally taboo topics, they should not be used to answer any serious sex and relationship questions. I’ve always had the unfortunate habit, like many others, to use Google as a source for health advice and expertise as well. It isn’t a good idea to do that either. If you are looking for some professional opinions about sexual health, you can turn to Planned Parenthood, or find information at your doctor’s office. We’ve also taken the liberty to add a few helplines and other sources of information that might be useful.
Even though sex seems like an abused topic sometimes, these shows are opening up the conversation about sex and female pleasure from different angles. “Sex Education” not only addresses female masturbation, but also how common it is to be sexually assaulted, in whatever form - from groping, catcalling and rape. “The Goop Lab,” however incorrect most of their science seems to be, is also exploring the realm of female sexual pleasure. “Sex Explained,” on the other hand, pushes forward with all types of information about sex, like kinks, birth control and more. It may be more of a forbidden topic than most, but sex is taking Netflix by storm.
Free Condoms (for Ohio residents):
-CSU Counseling: Union Building 220, 216.687.2277
-LGBTQ+ services: BH 211, 216.687.2324
-Ohio sexual violence hotline:
-National domestic violence hotline: