Parents Make Sex Film With Their Little Girls

27 02 2008

Yeah, a sensational slug but not altogether unfair for this NYT story

So far it has been seen only at film festivals and at schools of public health, including those at Harvard and Johns Hopkins. But the film will soon be available here.

In it, two incredibly sweet and precocious sisters — Vineeta and Sevilla Hennessey, ages 6 and 4 — accompany their parents, the filmmakers, to the 2006 International AIDS Conference in Toronto. They interview top AIDS experts, gay activists, condom distributors, a sex toy saleswoman, a cross-dresser playing Queen Elizabeth II and an Indian transgender hijra in a sari.

. . . one childish question leads to the next. . .

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4 responses

28 02 2008
Crimson Wife

I’d like to see a follow-up on these little girls in 20 years to see how they’re doing. The parents have a right to raise their daughters as they choose, but I’d be concerned that they’re exposing them to information before the girls are mature enough to handle it. Just because a child can intellectually understand something does not necessarily mean that he or she is emotionally ready to handle it.

With my 5 year old, I’ve discussed AIDS as a disease caused by a virus that is spread by exposure to the bodily fluids of an infected person. That’s all I feel she needs to know at this age. We can get into the details when she’s closer to puberty.

28 02 2008
JJ

If anything ever related to the social contagion investigations, this does. 🙂

Granted, we are light on math and hard sciences around here, heavy on the liberal arts, humanities, history and culture, philosophy — power of story. I guess my own approach to helping my kids understand themselves and the world has always leaned naturally on exploring what anything can mean to people and why. Power of story! It just wouldn’t occur to me to reference the biology and leave it at that, rather than the other way around.

I remember having a very smart, engaged elementary aged daughter during the Monica Lewinsky scandal and how we handled that power of story within every context imaginable except the hard science of sex. We talked and talked and talked, but none of it was about semen stains. Come to think of it, I’m not sure I have ever even used that word in a conversation with now almost-18-year-old Favorite Daughter — but somehow she seems to have risen above it. 🙂

Reading this story and then discussing it, Favorite Daughter and I both zeroed in on the thoughts and feelings of the different participants, how they all were affecting (infecting?) each other with their roles and choices and questions (more than the answers even.)

And how it matters utterly WHO is asking the question, in what context, to what answer — if any — will be offered in return, and what it will really mean versus what the mere words are. Like watching the Democrat debates!

So the disease science itself, BY itself, just wasn’t interesting to us, compared to all that. I think CW’s five-year-old already has more info on that than Young Son does at age 12! I just always figured sex science should follow age-appropriate power of story to explain Santa Claus (science was no help there!) and for me, one of the great luxuries of unschooling has been handling both Santa and sex stories within our family, reasonably confident that the culture wouldn’t wrest away control of either one.

28 02 2008
Crimson Wife

I studied human biology and biopsychology in college so I tend to have a scientific bias in my thinking about the world. I guess I’m much more comfortable discussing the clinical aspects than all the cultural aspects. IIRC the topic of AIDS came up because we were in Golden Gate Park and visited the AIDS Memorial Grove there.

With Santa Claus, I stress the historical St. Nicholas, Bishop of Smyrna. When my DD is old enough to figure out that it’s not the real St. Nicholas leaving gifts, I plan to tell her that we do it to honor the kindness and generosity that tradition tells us he showed.

28 02 2008
JJ

For us, AIDS came up much like most things, from musical theatre. Her dance friends were crazy for the Rent cast recording . . .

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