If there’s one thing Gonads taught us, it’s just how complicated human reproduction is. All the things we thought we knew about biology and sex determination are up for debate in a way that feels both daunting and full of potential. At the same time, we're at a moment where we’re wrestling with how to approach conversations around sex, consent, and boundaries, at a time that may be more divisive than ever. So host Molly Webster thought: what if we took on sex ed, and tried to tackle questions from listeners, youth, reddit (oh boy), and staff.
But instead of approaching these questions the way your high school health teacher might’ve (or government teacher, who knows), Molly invited a cast of storytellers, educators, artists, and comedians to grapple with sex ed in unexpected and thoughtful ways. To help us think about how we can change the conversation. In this episode, an edited down version of a Gonads Live show, Molly's team takes a crack at responding to the intimate questions you asked when you were younger but probably never got a straight answer to. Featuring:
How Do You Talk About Condoms Without Condom Demonstrations? Sanford Johnson. Wanna see how to put on a sock?
What Are Periods? Sindha Agha and Gul Agha. Check out Sindha's photography here.
Is Anything Off-Limits? Ericka Hart, Dalia Mahgoub, and Jonathan Zimmerman
Why Do We Do This Anyway? And Other Queries from Fifth Graders Jo Firestone
"Sex Ed" is an edited* recording of a live event hosted by Radiolab at the Skirball Center in New York City on May 16, 2018. Radiolab Team Gonads is Molly Webster, Pat Walters, and Rachael Cusick, with Jad Abumrad. Live music, including the sex ed questions, and the Gonads theme song, were written, performed, and produced by Majel Connery and Alex Overington.
One more thing!
Over the past few months, Radiolab has been collecting sex ed book suggestions from listeners and staff, about the books that helped them understand the birds and the bees.
Check out the full Gonads Presents: Sex Ed Bookshelf here! For now, a few of our favorites:
*Our live show featured the following additional questions and answerers:
How do you talk to your partner in bed without sound like an asshold or a slut? Upright Citizens Brigade, featuring Lou Gonzales, Molly Thomas, and Alexandra Dickson
What Happens to All the Condom Bananas? Rachael Cusick
With live event production help from Melissa LaCasse and Alicia Allen; engineering by Ed Haber and George Wellington; and balloons by Candy Brigham from Candy Twisted Balloons Special. Special thanks to Larry Siegel, Upright Citizens Brigade, and Emily Rothman and the Start Strong Initiative at the Boston Public Health Commission.
Radiolab is supported in part by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science. And the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, enhancing public understanding of science and technology in the modern world. More information about Sloan at www.sloan.org.
Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.