Sexuality in the Media – part 1

I also, as many of you know, teach human sexuality at the college level.  Many of these students come into my classroom with vast misunderstandings of the reproductive system (“Isn’t it true that every time you jump or sit down hard you kill one of the eggs in your ovaries?”) and barely any experience with open communication about sex (“This class is the first time I’ve talked with anyone about sex – even counting the people I’ve had sex with.”).  Also, many of these students have not had much experience analyzing the sexual nature of the media images that surround them.  We address all of these issues, and many more, through the semester, but the media project might be the most fun.

The semester starts with the students bringing in a media image that includes sexuality – it can be an ad, a music video, a billboard, a television commercial, a clip from a movie or a television show, a website, or pretty much any thing else they find.  They present the image, and speak briefly to one theme they see as present in their image.  About mid-semester they bring in four or five more media images that include the same theme.  Their final project is to create their own sexuality in the media image that (1) includes their original them and (2) provides a healthy approach to sexuality (which few of their real examples do).

This semester, I told my students that I would share the three best projects here on my blog.  This is the first in that series.  I will post another image tomorrow, and the last one on Friday.

annearmMy student Shelly O’Donnell created a blog called Avant Garde Bodies where she asks people to send in pictures of their favorite body parts.  Arms, legs, toes, chins, butts, eyes, they’re all here, and the people who sent the pictures love them!

I would love to see Shelly’s blog grow more diverse in age range (mostly college aged right now), race, and body types, but it’s already a pretty neat little blog.  Here is what Shelly says about her blog:

I knew I wanted to do something with pictures and as brainstorming
goes, I had a friend tell me I should do a blog.  I loved the idea
of a completely anonymous blog where anybody can send in pictures
and admit "yes, this is my body and I love it."  There is no perfect blueprint
for what beauty is and what it should look like.  As my blog says "Beauty isdaveeyes

Thanks for sharing with us, Shelly!  I hope you keep your blog up and moving.

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. […] Yesterday I introduced a project I use in my college level human sexuality classes where students learn how to analyze media images for their sexual content (and the quality of that content) and then create a media image of their own. […]

  2. […] positive sexuality.  I am posting three best projects from my class this semester.  On Wednesday, I posted about the blog Avant Garde Bodies, yesterday I put up sexy advertisements that showed […]

  3. […] projects from my college students that were positive representations of sexuality in the media (Avant Garde Bodies, condom/bubble gum print ads, and True Beauty).  I have four more student projects to show you […]

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