See more about this Episode
We were already huge Mae Whitman fans. Our desire to be best friends with the Parenthood and The Duff star has only intensified thanks to her new video, "Talking To Kids About Sex," the second installment of Refinery29 and Planned Parenthood's Her Shorts series. In it, Whitman sits down for a candid chat about her sex life — with her mother, Pat Musick, as her conversation partner. In other words, this looks like our worst nightmare, but Whitman and Musick make it look almost fun. "I've always been really open with her and talked with her a lot about sex, and so [this video] seemed like a really natural fit," Whitman tells us. "When I was younger, my mom worked really hard to establish a safe place where there wouldn't be judgment of whatever aspect of my sexuality. I'm not scared to be like, 'Jesus, Mom, I ate a giant onion burger three times in a row for six days,' and then ask her questions about my sexuality." Whitman adds that while said burger consumption was ill-advised, her honesty with her mother was not — and she hopes that their video will inspire people to reach out to their parents (or whomever they trust) for guidance in matters of sex.
When I was younger, my mom worked really hard to establish a safe place where there wouldn't be judgment of whatever aspect of my sexuality.
Whitman says she's especially pleased to partner with Planned Parenthood after using its services herself. "There was a time where I had a pregnancy scare and I was out of town," she explains, "and I went to Planned Parenthood just to ask questions without being judged. It felt like having parents there." Now, she says, "I will do whatever it takes to keep those lines of communication [that Planned Parenthood provides] open [for other people]." As for how parents and other mentors can offer the best support for young people's sexuality, "they have to let go of ego and fears," Whitman says. "It's the same thing with all parenting situations: You have to find a way to escape your big fears so that you can give someone the chance to cultivate their own opinions and be confident enough to ask questions and make decisions."
I went to Planned Parenthood just to ask questions without being judged. It felt like having parents there.
Whitman's grateful that her mother didn't tell her what to do and what not to do; rather, Musick provided Whitman with information and included her in an ongoing conversation about sex. "Sex is complicated enough anyway!" Whitman says. "It can become really convoluted and scary when you don't have a place to communicate about it openly and honestly." Just remember: Too many onion burgers = bad. Honest and open communication about sex = very, very good. Watch the video above for an example of what it can look like.