Promoting Sexual Literacy around the World through Film: A Review of WWW.SexSmartFilms.Com

By Bayer, Carey Roth | The Journal of Sex Research, March-June 2012 | Go to article overview
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Promoting Sexual Literacy around the World through Film: A Review of WWW.SexSmartFilms.Com


Bayer, Carey Roth, The Journal of Sex Research


Promoting Sexual Literacy around the World through Film: A Review of www.SexSmartFilms.com

Reviewed by Carey Roth Bayer, Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine/Pediatrics, Morehouse School of Medicine, 720 Westview Dr. SW, Atlanta, GA 30310; E-mail: drcareybayer@grnail.com

SexSmartFilms.com is a web site that was launched in June, 2008 by award-winning filmmaker and sexuality expert, Mark Schoen, Ph.D. The web site serves as an online library of more than 300 classic and contemporary films on a multitude of topics related to sexuality education, counseling, and therapy. The purpose of the web site is to help promote sexual literacy around the world through film.

As a filmmaker with a doctorate in human sexuality, Schoen has been making films since 1974 and has watched how sexuality education has changed over time. He recognizes the challenges in accessing accurate information related to sexual health, especially since the invention of the Internet. He developed SexSmartFilms.com to serve as an easily accessible educational tool for a variety of audiences. Each film uploaded on the site contains a short synopsis and has been screened to ensure that the information presented is accurate.

It is clear from the plethora of film categories present on the site that Schoen takes a holistic, lifespan approach when it comes to sexual health information and films. Film categories include abuse, advertising/ sexuality, aging, anatomy/physiology, bisexuality, circumcision, disability, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, erotica, female sexuality, G-spot (Grafenberg Spot), gay and lesbian issues, gender identity, heterosexuality, historical sex education, HIV prevention, Kinsey collection, male sexuality, masturbation, menstrual education, planned parenthood, pregnancy, religion and sexuality, sex research, sex roles, sex therapy (gay), sex therapy (hetero), sex therapy (lesbian), sex education (children), sex education (teens), sexual orientation, sexual power play, Stag films, STIs (sexually transmitted infections), and trans health (transgender health). While the site currently contains more than 300 films, many of the films apply across categories and are listed on the site under multiple categories. The site contains a mix of both classic and more contemporary films.

The most recent films added to the site are public service announcements (PSAs) on HIV/AIDS prevention and teen pregnancy prevention from countries around the world. In addition to film viewing options, Schoen created a continuing education module option comparing the various PSAs for learners seeking continuing education credits for sexuality educator, counselor, or therapist certification through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (see www.aasect.org).

SexSmartFilms.com is intended to help increase sexual literacy among professionals, as well as the lay public. The films can be used in numerous settings, including homes, therapy offices, academic institutions, research settings, and professional conferences. Regardless of venue, processing the viewing experience is essential. As Schoen describes:

In the ideal sexual health classroom, a film is introduced letting the audience know what they are about to see and what they might get out of seeing this film. After viewing, questions would be asked to give viewers a chance to process the information.... Viewers are encouraged to watch [the films] in groups and discuss the information they see on the screen. (www.SexSmartFilms.com, "About Us," June 17, 2011)

A comments section is present next to each film for viewers to leave opinions or engage in discussions. However, no formal discussion guides exist for the films outside of the PSA continuing education module.

All of the films under the "Free Videos" tab are non-explicit films openly available to anyone who visits the site. Explicit and non-explicit films housed under the "Premiere Videos" tab are available for a fee.

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