My childhood did not include a lot of discussion of sex. In fact, I distinctly remember having a moral dilemma in the third grade about whether or not to tell our teacher that one of the other kids said S-E-X on the playground (that’s right. They said it. Out loud. Pretty sure that was a sin). So while I didn’t want to talk about it and didn’t want other people to talk about it, it did work its way into some of my favorite TV shows and movies. Whenever jokes about sex came up, my strategy was always just to sit there stone faced and silently pray: “Lord, please don’t let my parents turn off the TV. Please help them to realize that this show will go back to be family friendly in like two seconds. Two seconds of sex talk is okay right? Please forgive me if it’s not. Amen.”
Below I have listed some of the specific instances I was worried would bring about the most terrible fate ever to befall eight-to-twelve-year-old me: no more television.
“Virgin Mary” scene, Gilmore Girls
This happens in the very first episode of Gilmore Girls and led to stern instructions to Change The Channel. I continued to watch GG every chance I got but just kept a vigilant finger on the previous channel button.
“Don’t have sex. ‘Cause you will get pregnant. And die.” – Coach Carr, Mean Girls
The jokes in Mean Girls move pretty quickly so you have a pretty good chance of getting through them without prolonged awkwardness. Also, while obviously inaccurate, I’m pretty sure this myth of sex-pregnancy-death was not entirely unwelcome by many parents.
“It’s not that she’s afraid of the wedding. She’s afraid of the wedding night! Innocent girls are terrified of the one-eyed snake. Why, when I was a virgin bride, I took a knitting needle to bed with me.” – Grandma, Runaway Bride
Runaway Bride was the first movie I ever saw in the theatre and it instantly became my favorite. I still have the VHS tape to prove it. This line was delivered by a grandma, and she didn’t say “penis,” so my parents could easily think I would have no idea what she was talking about (they were right).
“Undapants!” – Cory Matthews, Boy Meets World
There are actually a lot of sex-related examples from the greatest show of all time, but enough of it takes place within the confines of Cory and Topanga’s marriage so it’s technically parent-approved. The iconic “undapants” line is actually a false accusation of sexual tension between Topanga and Shawn, so no harm there. Then there’s the Shawn’s proclamation of “Virgins never die,” which was momentarily uncomfortable, given that Eric and Jack both then admit that if virgins never die they’re both dead, and Shawn is “as sick as you can get without actually dying.” But Cory and Topanga are safe! Let’s focus on that!
The Bend and Snap – Legally Blonde
Is this sexual???? I’m still not sure.
“What’s wrong pookie?” scene – 13 Going on 30
A sexually aggressive male cheating on his wife and calling Jennifer Garner pookie?! You better hope your mom stepped out to make a snack during this cringe-worthy scene. Excellent lesson in self-defense, though.
“Listen, if you are gonna name m… my member, alright, you gotta name it something hyper masculine, okay? Something like a Spike, a Butch, a…Krull the Warrior King.” – How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
My best friend would watch this clip at her house and just ROFL every time. We would just rewind over and over again. I remember knowing it was funny but not really knowing why.
“Digital Get Down” – *NSYNC
This was the one song on my No Strings Attached CD that my mom wouldn’t let me listen to. We would always just skip track eight immediately, no question asked, no awkward conversations to be had.
“I’ll let you get back to Reginald’s quivering member” – Kat Stratford, 10 Things I Hate About You
Peak Allison Janney right here, but with numerous parental triggers: “engorged,” “testicle retrieval,” “heinous bitch,” and of course, “Reginald’s quivering member.”
“I want you to draw me like one of your French girls.” – Rose, Titanic
Titanic was all the rage when I was in first grade. All the six grade girls on the bus had posters of Leo DiCaprio, dreamboat to end all dreamboats. I was not allowed to watch it. I finally found out why when I watched it ten years later.
“It’s my twenty-five cent insurance policy” – Kenickie, Grease
Legitimately thought he was unwrapping a piece of candy. In a movie full of innuendos, I didn’t catch a one.
Okay but actually why did my parents let me watch this. It’s like someone was like, “Let’s make Grease, AGAIN, but this time replace all the euphemisms with blatant sexual references.” This one’s on you, Mom and Dad.
Catherine Kramer (’14) has a degree in English and works in publishing. Her continued existence is made possible by grace, warm hugs, and iced chai lattes.