Say What? Top Queries From Teens About Sex + Adult Responses Pt.2

Feb. 20, 2010 Remember the old adage ‘There’s no such thing as a stupid question?’

Wish I could say the same for some of these answers, muttered by adults groping for verbiage to handle tense talks about sex.

It’s all in good fun though, as ISIS-Inc., host of the Sex::Tech Conference asked youth about their craziest comments (or best advice) received from an adult, to boost awareness of this week’s upcoming public health event dealing with sex/sexuality, safety/prevention and more on Feb. 26 & 27. Join me? (yep, buying a coupla teen tix, too)

13,208 Say What?!? entries later, ISIS and partners proudly unveil the winners of the their Sex Ed Contest who will be flown to L.A. for a walk-on role in a Funny Or Die Sex Ed PSA based on their anecdote…You’ll hear from them at 9:30PT on Feb. 26, with snippets of the audio here. (fun little promo for the contest after the jump to get the idea)

Essentially, they asked young people 15-21 across the country to call in and share their funniest ‘Say What?!? moments, now captured on audio forevermore.

As I wrote yesterday in the  Teen Health Dialogues post, there’s a blatant need for open, honest, and forthright communication, as the NPR California report recently revealed in their “coming of age” coverage about the stresses of being a teen today.

Personally, I’ve had a bee in my bonnet on this issue for quite some time, since our sex-saturated media and marketing culture is spewing mixed messages and what I consider to be blindingly obvious sins of omission…

“Sex sells” but at what cost? It doesn’t take a medico to see how this is landing on kids’ sideways impacting their health and well-being both physically AND emotionally.

As it is, we’ve got oopsie-doodle storylines, stilted dialogue and dramarama episodes that have little or nothing to do with factual prevention, safety, and a healthy sense of self…

And no, slapping a PSA on the end of ABC Family’s Secret Life of An American Teenager isn’t gonna cut it for me in the media literacy realm…(sorry media producer pals)

How can we possibly be so hypocritical as to pretend teens aren’t sexual beings and close off their ears to health ed leaving them instead with campy/vampy plotlines sans any cause-effect dynamic? Oh, sure, there’s MTV Teen Moms for a tad more ‘realism’ but the rise of teen pregnancy and/or causal links to media influence is a whole ‘nother blog post.

My point is simply this… Sex on TV is increasingly uncut, unavoidable, and unrealistic, as this USAToday article explains in the ‘whys and hows’ of the ratings game…and profiteering on the backs of kids’ sexual health, well-being and behavioral angst, while setting false normative cues without giving any accurate information is deplorable and irresponsible.

So, that’s my full disclosure regarding where I stand in the media mix of (ir)responsibility when it comes to teens, sex, and media messaging…

As awkward as ‘the talk’ can be between parents and kids, the media has taken a ‘dumb and dumber’ approach to sexual literacy that is mind-numbingly surreal…

Just like junk food has the polarity of ‘eat this, but look like that (supermodel) TV portrayals of sexual innuendo and ‘everyone’s doin’ it’ behavioral cues have given me my own version of ‘Say What?’ reality backlash.

Anyone read the latest online survey by youth market research firm TRU for Seventeen magazine and National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy? In a survey of 1,200 guys ages 15 to 22, 78% of teen boys feel uncomfy about being pushed beyond their readiness.

Here are more interesting stats recapped in this USAToday article.

Not surprisingly, they mention boys’ kiss and tell stats reveal:

60% of males LIE about having sexual encounters from media/peer pressure to do so…

“60% said they had lied about something related to sex

…30% lied about how far they have gone

…24% lied about their number of sexual partners

…23% claimed not to be a virgin when they were.”

(via USAToday article)

And 45% of the group were, in fact, virgins. So ahem. Can we say mixed messages, people?

The ‘hookup’ (graphic at left, gawd, how I hate that term) is also added into the survey, defined as:

…”A no-strings attached/no expectations intimate physical encounter, which may or may not include sex.”

Find out how you can best advocate for youth by setting the record straight and talking with candor, concern, and credibility…at the Sex::Tech conference, or in your own living rooms. Fergawdsakes, sound off on the issues that matter to you most. As my friend Lisa Ray over at Parents for Ethical Marketing recently reiterated, “Talk to your kids. Constantly. Because marketers do.”

By the way, I should add that in the first year of the Sex::Tech conference they created an AMAZING Fresh Focus video contest to ask teens themselves how they’d overhaul the sex-ed system…LOVED this idea, and the hotshot student talent produced stellar outcomes still viewable on DoGooderTV. Here’s my post about it—still ranks as our ‘most read’: Top 10 Teen SexEd Videos

We’ll get to the grand prize Say What?!? winners in a jiff , but for context, I’d like to share a firsthand chat with some of the questions rolling off of teens’ pens and into the anonymous Q&A box at our local sexed advocacy concern that spoke out our own high school recently.

I chatted with Anacely Vazquez-Carrillo, Latino Outreach Health Educator at Teen Talk Sexuality Education to find out if the questions TEENS were asking were as far flung as some of the Say What?!? winners from the adult realm…OR if the majority of anonymous questions were  medical, technical, conceptual, or socio-emotional.

Though these are not the most ‘crazy’ questions, they ARE the most popular, most often asked, and most muddy in the minds of teens…

So listen up health educators, and be sure your programs at SexTech are addressing these types of issues upclose and personal. It’s important, for the health and safety of all…

Anonymous Question Box

by Anacely Vazquez-Carillo

Latino Health Educator

Can a girl get pregnant if she has sex on her period? Yes–Many teenage girls have irregular cycles;  it’s possible for sperm to stay alive inside a woman’s body long enough to fertilize the next egg that is released from her ovary.

How old should you be before you have sex? There is no “correct” age to begin having sex. If you are thinking about having sex for the first time, these are some questions you can ask yourself to make sure that it’s a positive experience…e.g.

(1)    What are your reasons for wanting to have sex? Are you doing this because you want to or because your friends or your partner is pressuring you?

(2)    Do you have a plan to protect yourself from pregnancy and have you talked to your partner about it?

(3)    Do you have a plan to protect yourself from getting an STD? Have you talked to your partner about it?

(4)    Finally, do you feel comfortable and relaxed around your partner? Have you talked about what having sex will mean for you?

Other Top Teen Questions Included:

Can you get AIDS from kissing?

Can you get pregnant if the semen just touches your “area”? How about THROUGH clothes?

How do lesbians have sex?

Does it hurt your first time?

Can you use 2 condoms at once?

How long does it take the pill to start working?

How do I know if I’m gay?

What exactly is an orgasm?

For answers to these FAQs  check out their 10-minute TeenTalk video and various resource sites listed in the link roundup below.

Meanwhile, the author of’s  “Your Most Embarrassing Sex Questions, Answered” captured my own incredulity explaining,

“Why do we freak when we read some of your email inquiries on the topic of sex? Because it scares us how much some sexually active teens DON’T know about sex, pregnancy and STDs!”

Then the author proceeded to give sarcasm-free, no nonsense responses to some ‘yougawdabekiddingme’ teen questions…Read ’em. All of ’em.

It’s an interesting snapshot into the minds of teens, making me realize ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’ in some levels of naivete, …yet media and marketing culture have changed light years, making “that was then, this is now” comparisons galaxies apart.

As the Pew Internet & American Life Project reports, one third of teens go online for accurate medical data so it’s vitally important to steer them to the CORRECT information from trusted sources.

Personally, I’m lobbying others to see the agenda at SexTech and show up Friday and Saturday to get informed…

TEENS, parents, youth/health educators, public policy folks, we all need to get REAL with factual info, hear directly from teens to achieve the best impact and outreach…

…And of course, abstain from wild-n-wacky comments like these winning responses in the “Say What?!?” contest that ADULTS have given teens about sexual health!

From Deb Levine, founder of ISIS and SexTech (drum roll please)

Top  Tier Prize Winners of Say What?!? (Actual audio is PG13 to R on their site; so this is the abridged version sans expletives 😉

Grand Prize Winner

Janelle, 18, Richmond, VA

I caught my brother with a girl in the room. I asked him what he was doing and he said, “I guess you’re old enough. Don’t ever let a guy put his ‘thing’ in you because you’ll explode.” I’ve been scared every since and haven’t done any of those kinds of things.

Runner Up

Jeffrey, 22, Lawrence, MA

I was with a girl and she asks for missionary position. I run out of the room to ask my uncle what that means. He tells me to crouch down, and yell orders, like I’m on an army mission. I go back to the room, turn out the lights and start doing what my uncle said. The girl leaves.

Random Prize Winners

Emma, 18, Sacramento, CA

Maggie, 21, San Rafael, CA

Savannah, Monterey, CA

Now on to Part 3 with some of the topics that will be covered at SexTech by sexperts like Logan Levkoff (interviewed here on sharing advice on sticky situations with younger kids, from ‘playing doctor’ to walking in on parents)…

And more of our interview with Deb Levine who graciously answered my exhaustive questions, running the gamut from the political (which states do/don’t allow comprehensive sex ed) to media and pop culture glamorization of teen moms (LATimes photo gallery) ’ and the pregnancy uptick.

Stay tuned…

Related Resources for Youth

More Resources

Amplify Your Voice (Youth-Driven/Sexual Health Activism)

TV/Internet: Advocates for Youth Factsheet-Sexual Health Info The Media

Project: Enterainment Industry Resources on Sexual Health

Managing the Media Monster (Influence of Media)

The Kinsey Institute: FAQs on Teen Sexual Activity

CDC-YRBS National Trends in Risk Behaviors

2010 Efficacy of a Theory-Based Abstinence Only Intervention Over 24 mos

Abstinence Only Programs Might Work Study Says

Abstinence Only SexEd Statistics: Final Nail in the Coffin

CDC: 1991-2007 Trends in the Prevalence of Sexual Behaviors

Related Posts on Shaping Youth

Sex::Tech Top 10 Teen Sex Ed/Safety Videos (By Kids, For Kids)

Sex:: Tech 2010: Teens & Public Health Converge (Part 1 of 3)

Teen Health Dialogues Coming of Age in  Sex Saturated Times

Kids Prime Time TV Health Cues Ingested (For Better or For Worse)

Influencers, Accountability & the Global Cost to Youth

Text Monster: Teen Tips On Digital Dating Obsessions

I’m Not a Prude, But…

Interview w/Amy Jussel on The Girl Revolution (sex ed/media)

Interview w/Amy Jussel on The Girl Revolution (sex ed/media Pt2)



  1. Those are some pretty crazy things to hear. 🙂

    By the way, I wanted to drop by because I’m also going to be attending the Sex::Tech conference this Friday. I’m also a contestant in the IWHC’s Young Visionaries contest and my proposal deals directly with reforming sex education for youth using social media. I’d appreciate any feedback you have, and especially a vote if you think it’s worthy.

    Thanks, and please say hi to me at the Sex::Tech conference if you’re willing; I’d love to meet you.

Speak Your Mind