This post is part of Fusion's Teen Month series, a month-long dive into the lives, loves, and language of teenagers.
Today's teen are free to learn about sex in any number of ways, provided they aren't in constantly changing number of states. There's the internet, their parents, school, boundary-overstepping neighbors, and even books.
1950s and 1960s teens though, didn't really have all of those things and in order to avoid embarrassing moments like having to say "penis" or "vagina" in front of people, teens were often just shown educational films. Were these movies any good at providing information? Were there a lot of giggle-worthy moments that make for good GIFs in these films? We dove into the archives to find out.
How to Say No (Moral Maturity) (1951)
Coronet's How to Say No is mostly about peer pressure, but towards the end it devolves into an argument among its teen panelists about who is to blame if a boy gets fresh on a date with his gal, but eventually everyone agrees to be a little more respectful. So what else can this film teach today's teens?
- Look as creepy as possible.
2. Be comfortable in your surroundings and always act in a natural way, like Marty and Lucy here.
Nora and Howie are also present and know how to act normally.
3. "Distraction" is a great way to change the topic of conversation if you're uncomfortable. One way to distract: playing cards in the face.
4. There's no stopping these boys! So ask about something else.
Lucy wants to know how to avoid having this happen, even when she's on a date with a boy who was good company. The solution: ask about his upcoming relay race.
Nora, judging her friend, tells her to avoid situations like that and always make sure there is a parent nearby. Plan ahead to avoid being alone with a member of the opposite sex. Good, useful advice.
5. Seriously, just get used to pushing these boys away.
6. Some fellas think that petting is a thing to do.
7. It's OK to want to get close with a boy or girl that you like, but both of you have to know your limits. "It's the 'so-ons' that are troublesome."
Boys Beware (1961)
Sid Davis Productions' Boys Beware is pretty famous for its very offensive depiction of the homosexual men who were apparently preying on America's youth at the time. Also, the Inglewood Police department financed it. What about today's impressionable, curious teens? Will they be scared straight as well?
- Never hitchhike!
You never know who will pick you up.
2. Even if you're driver is friendly and time seems to fly by as you two get lost in conversation, if they look like this:
They were a homosexual the whole time and already have their hooks in you. They'll give you car rides and make you feel like a grownup by making off-color jokes.
3. If someone offers to show you pornographic pictures while you're eating a sandwich on your fishing trip, you might already be homosexual, too.
4. Homosexuality is a sickness.
What Jimmy didn't know was that Ralph was sick. A sickness that was not visible like smallpox, but no less dangerous and contagious. A sickness of the mind. You see, Ralph was a homosexual: a person who demands an intimate relationship with members of their own sex.
5. If your older friend, who you enjoy spending time with, pays for the mini-golf, he's going to expect something more at the end of the day.
6. If you are molested, raped, perform sex work, or have a consensual relationship and then inform your parents, you will be arrested and released back to their custody.
7. Never be the last to leave a public space. Homosexuals prey on boys who are alone…
…but not before disarming them with a display of their basketball skills.
9. If your friend gets into a car with a man wearing a bowtie, write the license plate number down.
10. If you tell your friend's mother that her son has been kidnapped, don't lock up your bike.
11. The police will catch the abductor quickly.
12. Never use a public restroom, it's a homosexual breeding ground. From SF Weekly:
In scenario number four, we're informed that "public restrooms can often be a hangout for the homosexual." Bobby and his friends fail to notice a man lurking in the restroom while they change after a day at the beach, and Bobby separates from his friends, choosing to take a shortcut home.
13. Avoid the fenced-in pier if a homosexual is lurching toward you on the beach.
As Boys Grow…(1957)
Produced by Medical Arts and featuring the consultation work of several psychologists and doctors, As Boys Grow… is actually, gasp, informative. It's frank! It's almost as if young people are mature enough to handle this stuff they should really, really know. Like:
- Regardless of anything, your gym teacher is probably going to be the one who tells you these things.
2. Your gym teacher is also going to provide most of your medical care.
3. Mike is really filling out.
4. If your friend cut himself shaving, look in the mirror and get introspective.
5. You had a wet dream last night.
What's that your friend will ask? And, like a gym teacher would, you will provide the answer.
6. Your bones going to get wider and longer, like in this drawing of an alien your gym teacher will have.
7. Ben is going to be big all over.
8. Maybe a diagram can help.
9. When a penis is erect, sperm is ready to go and leads to…
One more time.
10. Your gym teacher will tell you about any number of ways you can achieve an erection such as a full bladder or horseback riding. He'll talk about wet dreams and masturbating.
11. Masturbating does not affect your mind or your manhood.
12. If you're confused about what female teens are going through: maybe these charts will help.
The film then clearly explains menstruation. This is a good resource for teens.
13. This is how sexual intercourse works.
14. Using the information found in this film, you'll soon be ready for a carefree day at the lagoon filled with being chased and pushing your crush into the water.
And kicking off a vicious cycle where everyone is pushed/pushes someone into the water.
The film does not mention the words "condom" or "birth control."
"Sex Education for Girls Part 1" (1953)
Like When Boys Grow…, "Sex Education for Girls Part 1" is written and produced by a team of medical doctors (as well as Medical Arts). Unlike When Boys Grow…, "Sex Education for Girls Part 1" doesn't have a title screen so we have to call it "Sex Education Part 1." It's full of useful information about getting your period, or "curse," and what you can and can't do during your period. There's also a scene where the school nurse returns a pair of gloves. Let's go to the tape.
- Your sister is going to catch you trying on her lipstick.
That's just a part of growing up.
2. A chance encounter with a feminine product will get you wondering when you will get your period.
3. Your sister, Jeanie, will tell you that it shouldn't be long now.
4. When you do finally start your first period, your mother, who is baking…
…will drop everything to talk about it.
5. Your mother will offer to explain everything to you as long as you help prepare supper.
6. If you sit up straight, that'll give your organs room to function better, so you're symptoms will be alleviated.
7. Don't go swimming two or three days after you start your period because you might catch a chill.
8. Avoid social obligations by informing your friends you've "got the curse." Mother will be pleased.
And that's all you need to know!
David Matthews operates the Wayback Machine on Fusion.net—hop on. Got a tip? Email him: firstname.lastname@example.org