Sitting in on a sex education class in Mississippi, you could be forgiven for thinking you were the victim of some sort of cruel time-traveling joke. But no, we assure you, it's 2014. And yes, teachers there are actually required to tell students that homosexual activity is illegal and that it is only appropriate to have sex within a monogamous, heterosexual marriage.
[Pause for facepalm here.]
Under Mississippi's mandated sex-education curriculum adopted in 2012, all teachers are required to instruct their students that all homosexual activity is illegal under the "unnatural intercourse" statute. All school districts are also required to follow an abstinence-centered curriculum, and some schools do not offer any sex education whatsoever. The curriculum makes clear that students should be taught “a mutually faithful, monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the only appropriate setting for sexual intercourse.”
The law also prohibits girls and boys from receiving sex education together in the same room, and one of the most important lessons in safe sex — the demonstration of how to put on a condom — is prohibited.
The Mississippi sex-ed curriculum wouldn't look out of place among these delightfully retro sex ed videos from days gone by — in fact, some of these videos might even be a tad more progressive. Let's take a look at some of the funniest.
Lesson: MASTURBATION IS NORMAL
This 1960s video opens with a young man, George, talking to his doctor about masturbating, which he feels compelled to do whenever he gets a "strong sex urge."
"When I do I feel awful, just like I've committed a crime or something," George says.
Firstly — awesomely — the doctor says he's pleased George feels he can open up about this. Then, he tells him that masturbating is totally normal and that he shouldn't be upset about it. Then comes something even better.
"Many people who have been reared on the premise that everything connected with sex is bad will carry this attitude in spite of themselves into their married life," the doctor says. "A healthy, happy sex life can be one of the most wonderful and exciting parts of a good marriage."
OK, so the doctor only talks about sex within the context of marriage (it is the 1960s after all, you can't expect miracles), but it's pretty awesome to hear him say that there's nothing wrong with masturbating and that enjoying sex is a really great idea.
Lesson: BINGE-DRINKING is Dangerous
Unfortunately, it seems attitudes have changed very little since this 1960s video instructing young ladies on the perils of binge-drinking. The video itself is pretty hilarious, but what's not hilarious is that there are STILL people out there today telling women that they shouldn't get drunk if they don't want to be sexually assaulted.
There is a moment where you think the clip might end up in some sort of horrific sexual violence, but fortunately, the man who drags the drunken woman away from the party seems to just drop her off at home, and she wakes up the next day with a bad hangover.
Lesson: Men Should know About Menstruation
This is hilarious, and well worth sitting through the whole thing. This video from the 1950s shows a coach talking his male freshman track team through the changes happening to their bodies and about female periods. Like the first video, what's great about it is the way the coach wants to have open and honest conversations about sex, which we could do with a lot more of nowadays.
Yes, the (extremely brief) conversation about sexual intercourse is couched in heterosexual marriage terms, but the coach does explain that dating women is generally much more about liking female company than it is about making babies. It's also nice to see that in the 1950s they bothered to teach male students about periods.
Lesson: Cramps Suck
There are many awesome things about this clip — the young girl, Molly, talking openly and honestly with her mother about getting her first period, the way she seems so excited about growing up and the way she's happy to tell her father about it too.
There's also some pretty amusing and outdated period myths that we definitely hadn't come across before. When Molly is talking to her mother about menstruation, she's slouching on the sofa with her feet up. Her mother tells her to straighten up.
"If you sit and stand straight, that'll give the organs inside your body room to function better, and that'll make you feel better," her mother says.
Everyone these days the way to feel better during menstrual cramps is to assume the fetal position on the sofa.
Molly also tells her friend on the phone that she can't go swimming with her; apparently going swimming during the first few days of your period might cause you to get chilled and catch cold. Right...
Lesson: JUST SAY "NO"
You know this one is going to be hilarious just from the title — "How to Say No (Moral Maturity)." And it doesn't disappoint. A group of five friends — three guys and two girls — sit around discussing all of the situations in which they find it difficult to say "no," and the others help them come up with solutions.
Then, inevitably, it comes to the girl wanting to say "no" to her boyfriend who's getting a little handsy. After they ascertain that it's probably impossible to make sure she's never alone with him, the advice seems to be "distract the hell out of him, and he'll stop." Doesn't exactly seem like a foolproof method...