SHIFT NC

“First Times” – Glee! Style

0 Comment(s) | Posted | by Elizabeth |
Note: In May 2015, the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina (APPCNC) became SHIFT NC (Sexual Health Initiatives For Teens).

Back in March, we live-blogged as the popular television show Glee! addressed school-based sex ed.  While the episode featured a completely inappropriate sex ed teacher, it did contain some very positive messages about sex – and possibly the best parent-child sex talk in the history of television.

Tonight – if the previews are to be believed – four of Glee!’s main characters will have sex for the first time. We’re bringing back our live-bloggers to see what happens when (or if) some of our favorite characters decide to have sex.

Why do this? Glee! has been both groundbreaking and boundary-pushing. It has romantic story lines for sexual minority youth; it portrayed sex ed in a school setting; it has a long-running teen pregnancy story line. We want to know:

  • What will influence the characters’ decisions tonight?
  • How will the show treat sex and protection?
  • Will those parent talks and sex ed classes make as much of a difference in Glee! world as they do in the real world?

Follow along and please add your own thoughts in the comments section. Glee! airs tonight at 8 p.m. on Fox.

Recap

We just wrapped up our live blog event! Thanks to everyone who blogged, read, and conversed with us on Twitter! The full live blog transcript is below for those who want the play-by-play. A few parting thoughts:

We know lots of adults are uncomfortable with young people having sex, but about half of all high school students have already been sexually active at some point. Television – and even a lot of us public health people – tends to focus on the bad: unplanned pregnancy, peer pressure, alcohol abuse, STDs, etc. It all fits neatly into our narrative of the terrible teen.

Glee! did a great job of showing balance tonight. The characters sure had their fumbles. Rachel’s initial motivations for wanting to have sex weren’t the best – and they were hurtful to Finn. Blaine used alcohol before pushing for a spontaneous hook-up. The episode also surveyed the experiences of other sexually active characters, bad or good. Quinn and Puck’s obviously ended with last season’s teen pregnancy, prompting Quinn’s strong statement about waiting. Tina on the other hand, talked about all she did to prepare. There was lots of responsible talk about condoms and the characters showed intention to use them. In all, it was very nicely balanced. It addressed safety. It addressed mutual respect  and the emotional aspects of intimacy for both boys and girls. It addressed different motivations for having sex, and illustrated both the good and the bad ones.

I can only see two short-comings in the episode itself.

First, the episode could have gone farther to address adult involvement. As adults, we have the capacity to stay involved in helping youth make healthy choices even after they’ve become sexually active. We can help them navigate peer pressure and increasingly complex relationships. We can help them determine the best ways of protecting themselves. Tonight, the show left the Glee! teens entirely to their own devices. I hope future episodes include more involvement from great, strong adults like Kurt’s dad.

Second, while the episode did a great job of addressing the peer pressure most young people feel, it didn’t do enough to dispel the myth that “everybody’s doing it.” The Glee! characters are almost all seniors in high school, so it’s realistic that most of the characters have had sex. (In North Carolina, about 70% of 12th graders have had sex and about 30% have not.)Glee! does a disservice to young people by not highlighting the stories of those characters who have not had sex yet.

Live Blog [Spoiler Alert]

9.12.pm

Elizabeth

Thanks, everybody, for following along! And thanks to my fellow live-bloggers, Mary and Melinda. Please feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section or engage with us on Twitter!

9.09.pm

Melinda

Well said, Elizabeth!

9.05.pm

Elizabeth

One thing I did like: They didn’t talk about what Kurt and Blaine did. While there are some downsides to that (not many LGBT youth get a lot of information from school or other adults), I think it alters the definition of sex. When I was young, the emphasis was all on protecting virginity by not having penis-in-vagina sex. It led lots of girls to do “everything but”. By not defining the sex that Kurt and Blaine had, I think they’re broadening the definition of sex for young people to one that includes lots of forms of intimacy. I think that’s a good thing.

9.05.pm

Melinda

Also – “Rachel and Finn” is trending on Twitter right now.

9.04.pm

Melinda

I’ll be interested to see how/if their relationships change after this episode. (Oftentimes, teens who have sex on TV are “punished” later on – esp. girls.)

9.02.pm

Elizabeth

It looks like both couples ended up having sex, and felt emotionally okay with their decisions. They were thoughtful, respectful, and planned ahead. I hope they all stuck to their earlier goal of using protection.

9.02.pm

Melinda

I’m glad they had several instances of people talking about protection. (Although did Kurt and Blaine ever discuss it?)

9.00.pm

Mary

final thoughts anyone?

8.59.pm

Mary

bravo for tastefulness

8.58.pm

Mary

I’m not sure how I feel about her using sex as a way to make him feel better…..though it does seem like they’ve both given it a lot of thought….

8.58.pm

Elizabeth

Finn’s level of stress – “Everything’s over for me!” – is so realistic for young people that age. Sex isn’t the solution, though.

8.57.pm

Melinda

Ugh – “I’m going to give you something that no one else is ever going to get.”

8.55.pm

Mary

YAY healthy relationships!

8.55.pm

Elizabeth

Hooray StayTeen PSA. StayTeen.org rocks!

8.55.pm

Melinda

Kurt and Blaine are making me teary.

8.54.pm

Elizabeth

Seconded, Melinda! In fact, I was only in plays before I’d had sex. Little Shop of Horrors, Our Town… Sex wouldn’t have helped my performance one bit. I’m just a terrible actress.

8.53.pm

Melinda

Fox? A show called “I Hate My Teenage Daughter” is a horrible idea.

8.50.pm

Elizabeth

Great realization, Rachel: The emotion you want to show on stage is about the relationship you already have – not about the sex you could have had.

8.50.pm

Melinda

Okay, being virgins does not mean you are doomed and can’t be in plays.

8.41.pm

Elizabeth

About 20% of sexually active NC students used alcohol or drugs the most recent time they had sex, according to Youth Risk Behavior Survey data. Blaine being drunk isn’t unrealistic.

8.41.pm

Melinda

Which is why I’m really glad that Kurt put the brakes on things.

8.39.pm

Mary

Being drunk when you have sex for the first time lowers the chances that you’ll use a condom….

8.39.pm

Mary

I like the positive resolution to the bullying situation, but I don’t love them showing high schoolers getting drunk….

8.38.pm

Melinda

Aww…baby steps.

8.38.pm

Elizabeth

Yay! I’m so glad the bully is at the gay bar! “People like me here. They accept me.” (But booooo to them being at a bar!)

8.35.pm

Elizabeth

That last comment makes me want to revisit to @jessicavalenti’s The Purity Myth. Great book about the consequences of hyping “virginity” in the way we do.

8.34.pm

Mary

Love Tina’s positive view of her first time…so often all young people hear are negative horror stories…

8.33.pm

Elizabeth

Thumbs up to Tina: “Losing my virginity was great because it was with someone I loved…” Good job for telling Rachel about the mutual respect involved.

Thumbs down to Quinn for perpetuating silly ideas about the concept of virginity. She’s right that sex can complicate things. But her “giving away something you can never get back” is part of a silly narrative about purity that does a real disservice to both boys and girls.

8.32.pm

Melinda

Except for Brittany’s alien invasion…:)

8.30.pm

Elizabeth

Their girl talk about sex is pretty realistic. Just sayin…

8.29.pm

Mary

melt….

8.29.pm

Elizabeth

An aside: Major congrats to @leestorrow. He tweeted with us for the sex ed episode. Then he graduated college and ran for office. Now he’s elected to Town Council! And, he’s now the youngest gay elected official in the US! Go Lee!

8.24.pm

Melinda

Maybe it’s good that they’re showing that wanting to have sex just to get it over with, or to feel more adult, is not the best choice.

8.24.pm

Elizabeth

But yes! Great job Rachel being prepared! She also could’ve gone ahead and started a second form of birth control – like the pill or an IUD – to make sure she’s completely protected from pregnancy.

8.22.pm

Mary

Oh no Rachel…..bad form…

8.22.pm

Elizabeth

Finn and Rachel are cool and collected in a way only TV characters can be. Not sure that’s realistic!

8.22.pm

Melinda

Alright Rachel – it’s important for women to be prepared with condoms.

8.21.pm

Mary

Yes!!!!!  Every modern girl is prepared!!!

8.20.pm

Melinda

Good point, Elizabeth.

8.20.pm

Mary

Truth Elizabeth!

8.19.pm

Elizabeth

Even though I don’t like the boundary crossing between Artie and the adults, I like that the show points out that relationships are hard for adults, too. So many shows only point out the sexy, romantic side of growing up without helping young people understand the hard parts.

8.18.pm

Melinda

Blaine-seducer – you are pretentious.  Please go away.

8.17.pm

Mary

Oh Blain…planting the seeds of peer pressure….

8.17.pm

Elizabeth

Yay! They’re talking about condoms! Also glad to see Puck say he’s happy for both Finn and Rachel, rather than just pushing his friend.  I think he’s maturing a little.

8.15.pm

Melinda

Yay, for talking about condoms!

8.15.pm

Mary

Way to go Fin!  Thinking about protection ahead of time!

8.14.pm

Melinda

Thoughts so far? I agree with Mary – Artie shouldn’t have been asking an adult TEACHER about her sex life.  (And she certainly shouldn’t have answered.)

8.12.pm

Melinda

I do, however lurve West Side Story.

8.10.pm

Melinda

I agree about Billy Joel…

8.08.pm

Elizabeth

Oh no! It really is a repeat of the sex ed episode – at least in terms of the music. I feel the same way about Billy Joel as I do about Fleetwood Mac

8.08.pm

Mary

Booooo sexy librarian stereotype!

8.07.pm

Elizabeth

Blaine has the best attitude ever toward sex. Remember, he’s the one who encouraged Kurt’s dad to talk about sex.

8.07.pm

Mary

Seems a little inappropriate for an adult to be talking about her dating life with a young person?

8.07.pm

Melinda

Nice to see Kurt and Blaine talking about sex and what they’re comfortable with.

8.01.pm

Melinda

Here we go, everyone!

7.46.pm

Elizabeth

Keep an eye out during tonight’s episode for the new PSA from our good buddies at StayTeen.org! It’s a fantastic place for young people to get info on sex, relationships, and safety.

Who is live-blogging?

Mary, Melinda and Elizabeth are all staff members at the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina. Unfortunately, previous live-blogger Lee can’t participate because he’s running for Town Council. By the time Glee! airs tonight, he might be the youngest gay elected official in the United States. Go Lee!

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