5 Reasons Sex Ed Videos Are So Awful — & How They Could Be Better

For a number of years, I worked as a sex educator at an adolescent pregnancy prevention program — and as part of that job, I was presented with an impressive collection of sex education films. These were films I screened for my students approximately zero times, because, well, they were mostly awful, and I wanted the kids to take me — and the messages I was trying to send about healthy sexuality — seriously.

I left that job in 2008, but I took those sex education films with me. For a while, they just sat on my bookshelf collecting dust, but then, in early 2014, I had an idea: What if I started screening these videos…and making fun of them? From that spark of inspiration, The Wonderful World of Boning, the site where I've rounded up the most cringe-worthy videos, was born — and suddenly, I had a reason to start collecting even more sex education videos.

Over the years, I’ve watched a lot of different variations of these videos. Videos about puberty, videos about condoms, videos about the horrors of STIs (or, to use the words of many of the films in my collection, "VD"). Videos for teenagers, videos for adults, videos for students, and videos for soldiers. I’ve seen videos from the 1940s and ones from the 2000s — and if there’s one thing that unites all the videos in my collection, it’s that they’re really, really bad.

But why? Why are we so unbelievably bad at creating videos about this incredibly important topic? Is there something inherent to sex education that just makes for a bad video — or are there other factors that contribute to the overwhelming awfulness of this genre?

I’ve had a lot of time to think about these questions, and I think I’ve come up with a working theory. There isn’t one specific reason why sex education videos are often awful; it’s more like a collection of different issues that merge together to create one laughably awkward video. Let’s take a look at a few of these factors (and, of course, check out some terrible sex ed video clips in the process).

The gap between what we learned in sex ed and what we're learning through sexual experience is big — way too big. So we're helping to connect those dots by talking about the realities of sex, from how it's done to how to make sure it's consensual, safe, healthy, and pleasurable all at once. Check out more here.