So apparently preteen girls’ cramps and pads are sexual, according to Focus on the Family.
We have a little bit of a detour today because something blew up last week that I just had to address!
Rebecca noticed that in Focus on the Family’s PluggedIn movie review for Turning Red, they had put references to menstruation under “sexual content”, including cramps and pads. And they warned that some people may hear an “echo of menstruation” in the title of the film.
I posted about this on Twitter, Facebook, and instagram, and it blew up–and Focus on the Family actually amended their review! It’s not perfect, but it’s a start–and it’s the first time they’ve ever listened to me. So I’ll take that as a win (although I wish they’d listened to me about Love & Respect).
Today, we decided to share about why we thought this whole thing was inappropriate and shaming.
(Please note: This podcast is NOT about the movie Turning Red. We haven’t seen it; we have no plans to see it (we’re not the target audience). So this isn’t an endorsement or it, nor is it a critique of it. We merely want to talk about how Focus on the Family talks about periods!)
Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:
And you really should watch, if just for Rebecca’s beat poetry! Just check out the timestamps.
Timeline of the Podcast
0:10 Periods are sexy, apparently.
7:19 Rebecca’s “Echoes of Menstruation” Beat Poetry
9:10 Interview with Kyle Howard
35:20 Rebecca breaks down ‘othering’
44:30 Private vs Secret
48:00 Your kids deserve the whole story
56:30 Keith weighs in
Main Segment: Why Does Focus on the Family Consider Preteen Girls’ Cramps and Pads “Sexual”?
Originally I talked about this on Instagram and Twitter, with these updates:
So Focus on the Family labels “menstrual pads” and talking about cramps as sexual content, according to their Plugged In movie review of Turning Red.— Sheila Gregoire--The Great Sex Rescue is here! (@sheilagregoire) March 17, 2022
So anything to do with a young teen girl’s body is therefore sexual.
Is that the rule now? Gotcha.https://t.co/j7MoQYMt6k
Here was the original review that we were referring to. Note how the warning about menstruation comes under “sexual content”, and is flanked by paragraphs that are about relationships and fantasy and what we would more likely consider normal sexual content.
After the uproar, they did amend their review, to add a different introduction to the topic, and for that I’m glad:
But it should not have been done in the first place.
In today’s podcast, we bring on Kyle Howard, who participated in the Twitter thread quite a bit and agreed that the problem is that it’s inviting people to sexualize little girls’ bodies simply because they are now having periods. Kyle is a soul-care provider, abuse advocate, and racial trauma specialist, and he’s a great follow on Twitter!
We talked about how language has changed, and just because something has to do with the reproductive system does not mean it is sexual. For instance, in the review, they make reference to cleaning the labia as being sexual. But baby girls have labia too.
There’s a huge issue in the church with ascribing sexual motives to girls simply because they’ve reached puberty, or now have breasts. We assume they’re trying to flaunt their bodies when they’re merely getting busty. We assume that they’re trying to entice or be stumbling blocks when they’re merely attractive. And we should never invite others to see preteen and young teen girls as “sexual”.
We should also not make menstruation so taboo, that it needs to be “hush hush”.
We reiterated throughout the podcast that we would have had no problem if they had put the menstruation warning under “other” topics, or under “parental guidance”, because parents may want a heads up about this, and that’s fine. But it shouldn’t have been labelled sexual. We need to stop people sexualizing young girls merely because of their bodies.
You’re telling me WHAT goes WHERE?!
Talking about sex with your kids doesn’t always go smoothly.
That’s why we created The Whole Story, our online course that walks parents through the tough conversations and does the hard parts for you!
Things Mentioned in This Podcast:
- Our Patreon: Support our research for as little as $5 a month!
- Kyle Howard on Twitter
- Current review of Turning Red, and Original Review of Turning Red
- The Whole Story Puberty Course: A way to talk about periods and sex with your kids (there’s an older version and a younger version!)
- Our Period Series, starting with the article about teenage mortification and youth groups
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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