Maybe the Midwest isn't as boring as I thought. After all, it has The Midwest Teen Sex Show, a racy video podcast hosted by a 20-something mom of three who has taken sex education into her own hands, dispensing birds-and-the-bees info in a humorous, wisecracking way.
The three- to five-minute monthly episodes (http://midwestteensexshow.com/), filmed for the past year on a shoestring budget primarily in Waukesha, Wisc., tackle everything that makes teens (and their parents) squirm: masturbation, oral sex, break-ups, dry humping, porn, the penis, fetishes, the horrors of gym class, condoms, homosexuality and the pros and cons of abstinence.
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In one episode that attempts to describe an orgasm, the "sex police" search for the elusive G-spot and the clitoris.
OK, I've probably lost about half of you right there. For many moms, the idea of showing your teenage daughter where to find her clitoris is akin to showing her the "on" button for intercourse. I understand it's uncomfortable. But take off your mom mantle just for a minute and think back to that moment in your life when you still had the number 1 in front of your age. Remember when everything to do with sex was a big mystery that you couldn't wait to get your Nancy Drew on and solve?
Now would you rather your teenage daughter get her clues from you or that horny boy with the chin hairs who keeps text-messaging her?
I for one learned about orgasms in my teenage boyfriend's basement while watching Jane Curtin on Saturday Night Live. I remember it vividly. In her Weekend Update role, Jane The Ignorant Slut described the big-O as feeling like you're on the verge of urinating then succumbing to the rush. Does anybody remember that circa 1982 episode? Well, it was a turning point for at least one teenager in suburban Washington, D.C. One of those a-ha – or rather ahhhhhh-haaaaa – moments.
The point is that teenagers are going to get their information from somewhere. And unpreachy podcasts like The Midwest Teen Sex Show start the conversation, or at least stop teens from feeling like a freak for having all those questions. In her refreshingly impolite delivery, host Nikol Hasler is the cool, older sister we all wanted. You might not agree with everything she says (any girl over age 8 should be on the Pill; abstinence is unrealistic and boring), but her goal is a healthy one: to create a safe community for the discussion of teen sexuality and prompt family conversations. After all, as the site puts it, "Teen sex. It happens."
"We like to call it sex information," Hasler and her sex show compatriots claim on their website. "We'll leave the formal education to classrooms and textbooks…We won't pretend to be experts, but hopefully a few of our own embarrassing experiences and insights will keep you out of trouble."
On one controversial show, Hasler advises young girls: "If you're in junior high and dating someone out of high school, he's a pedophile. Pedophilia is a disease. Would you date someone with cancer?"
The comment drew tons of protests from people who disliked Hasler comparing pedophilia to cancer. But I think she made her point. In one TV interview, Hasler says she often receives e-mails from young girls struggling with their sexuality. One e-mail came from a sixth-grader who wanted to know how to let her boyfriend know she was ready to go all the way. Hasler's response: "You're not ready to go all the way. You're in sixth grade."
In one podcast, Hasler talks about how scary dating can be. "Practice rejecting yourself in a mirror so it will hurt less," she jokes. The website's discussion board opens dialogue up about everything from favorite break-up songs to how girls are protecting themselves from getting pregnant. There is no nudity on the site and most curse words are bleeped out.
If you're the mom of a teenage girl (or boy) I urge you to watch and laugh over this site together. Then again, your kid may already be tuned in. Every month, the website attracts about 125,000 viewers. That's a lot of kids looking for their a-ha moment.