The rePROFilm Periodical – featuring a new film and podcast each month – is generously underwritten and is FREE and available to anyone.
Through film and conversation, rePROFilm advocates for reproductive health, justice and bodily autonomy. We lift intersectional issues, using the power of storytelling as a catalyst for knowledge, intention and action.
VOLUME 14, Part 2:
OSCARS GONNA OSCAR, DICKS GONNA DICK
Oscars gripes, we have at least one…
On Sunday, we had a rePROFilm horse in the race at the Oscars: “My Year of Dicks,” our vol. 14 selection, was up for best animated short. We’re with Slate writer Dan Kois, who penned a piece titled “That Oscar absolutely should have gone to ‘My Year of Dicks.’”
“[E]ven in a year where the Academy gave plenty of awards to a truly unique movie, they could not bring themselves to reward the weirdest—and best—of the animated short films,” he wrote.
Sara Gunnarsdóttir and Pamela Ribon didn’t go home with a golden statuette, but they certainly killed it on the red carpet. And we love that the acceptance speech they prepared centered reproductive rights. These are filmmakers after our own hearts.
For our mid-month update, rePROFilm resident expert Dr. Julia suggests a series of questions to help you reflect on the film in the context of sexuality and sex education. Try using these as a jumping-off point for a discussion among friends (or with your teenager).
MY YEAR OF DICKS
We fell immediately for this animated, angsty tale of teenage sexual exploration (but mostly rejection). We’re also a bit obsessed with the story-behind-the-story of “My Year of Dicks.” Writer Pamela Ribon and animator Sara Gunnarsdóttir didn’t know one another before they began to work on the project, but the mutual respect and affection between the collaborators is obvious.
In a way, it’s the off-screen culmination of this story: Pam grows up and, with the help from Gunnarsdóttir, turns the grist from her teen years into an Academy-Award-nominated, critically acclaimed film.
You can learn more about how Ribon and Gunnarsdóttir (and a whole team of animators and other filmmakers) did it in this four-minute “making of” video. And don’t forget to check out their conversation on the rePROFilm Periodical podcast.
“(Sara) really brings out the truth inside a young woman’s mind … People act like teenage girls are some big mystery. It’s not that we’re that complicated, it’s that no one bothers to really listen.” — Pamela Ribon
Periodical Podcast Volume 14 with Special Guests Pamela Ribon and Sara Gunnarsdóttir
“My Year of Dicks” writer/creator Pamela Ribon and director Sara Gunnarsdóttir talk to Asha Dahya about their unique collaboration and how they hope their film will encourage parents and their teens to talk to each other about sex.
“I am so happy to open up the world of teenage girls, and to share their humanity and vulnerability. I think Pam put herself and her heart forward in such a smart and thoughtful way and with great humor. Bravely, she bared her teenage soul, and I am so honored to have been a part of bringing her stories to life.” — Sara Gunnarsdóttir
Sexual fantasies from a teenage girl’s perspective
‘My Year of Dicks’ discussion questions from Dr. Julia
“My Year of Dicks,” based on the memoir by Pamela Ribon and directed and animated by Sara Gunnarsdóttir, brilliantly and humorously reveals the inner thoughts of a teenage girl determined to lose her virginity.
It’s refreshing to see teenage angst about sex from the perspective of a girl. Much more commonly, we see films about sex from the male perspective. Pam, the determined teenager, richly imagines what having sex will be like. Her fantasies are elaborate and involve idyllic scenarios that are alternately beautiful, thrilling, slightly dangerous, consensual and loving.
Her actual experiences are uniquely disappointing and fall far short of the mark. I found the film to be quite thought-provoking.
Here are some of the questions that arose as I watched:
- Is it surprising that we see the film from the viewpoint of a 15-year old girl? If so, why?
- Were you surprised she is 15? Does that seem “too young?”
- What has influenced Pam and given her ideas about what sex will be like? (Clearly not her parents!) Are these reliable, realistic sources?
- If Pam had had sex with any of the boys in in the first four chapters, how do you think she would have felt? Relieved? Regretful? Happy? Disappointed? Satisfied? Deceived? More knowledgeable? Coerced?
- Why has the concept of virginity persisted? Why is such value placed on virginity in some cultures?
Why do teens talk so much about and place so much emphasis on losing their virginity?
Is the entire concept of losing one’s virginity exclusively heteronormative? How do teens who identify as LGBTQ+ think and talk about sex?
- Assuming Pam means having vaginal intercourse when she discusses losing her virginity, why is this act more intimate or meaningful than oral sex, for example?
- What did you think about the sex talk Pam tried to have with her mother and ended up having with her father? How do you think Pam felt after those “conversations?” Shame? Humiliation? Confusion? More determined than ever to never mention anything close to sex with either of her parents?
For me, these questions come back to how teens need access to comprehensive sexuality education and frank, frequent and accurate discussions with their parents or another trusted adult. Whether you think 15 is too young or not, teens are thinking and talking about sex. Some of them are sexually active.
And the sex talk Pam tries to have with her mother and then is forced to have with her father? Yikes! (Although brilliantly animated and hilarious, truly masterfully done!) I would like to think it’s obvious that this is in no way how it should go when a kid asks a parent a question about sex. The mother resorted to anger and name-calling. The father was weirdly invasive and then just wrong and then recommended … just sticking with oral sex in the end?
Unfortunately, this is how some parental sex talks go. Given this, it’s crucial that all kids have access to comprehensive sex education (CSE) in school.
Getting and giving sexual consent: talking with teenagers
How do you talk to a teenager about sex without them wanting to physically tear their ears from their heads? An Australian parenting publication lays out the basics. Try watching TV and movies that touch on teen sexuality together and bring up the topic more than once.
The limitations of requiring enthusiasm in consent (and some better words we can use instead)
In this Instagram carousel, Mia Schachter explores more trauma-informed replacements for the “E” in Planned Parenthood’s “FRIES” consent model (freely given, reversible, informed, enthusiastic, specific).
17 sex positive YA books
Kids have been learning about sex from books since (practically) the dawn of time, but we can guarantee this handy list of sex-positive young adult novels is superior to the trashy romances you used to read while you were babysitting.
5 Sex-positive Instagram accounts
Bonus: Give your Insta feed a sex-posi glow-up with five new follows. Savannah Taylor recommends a variety of sex education content, a Black-owned condom company, and an account focused on Afrosexology.
Smells Like Teen Spirit
Pamela Ribon has said that working on “My Year of Dicks” felt like “making a mix tape.”
With its angsty teenage vibes and 90s visual style, we found ourselves wanting to make one.
From Courtney Love to PJ Harvey, we’re feeling the vibes.
What song reminds you most of teenage longing and/or heartbreak? Comment on our instagram post with your jams.
A Playlist of Dicks
We just couldn’t resist: Allow us to introduce “A Playlist of Dicks.” As it turns out, it’s a shockingly serene selection of songs (minus Run-DMC).
“While Richards everywhere have borne the modern weight of the penis-name burden, they aren’t alone. In fact, ‘Roger’ was the first in a long line of names applied to the penis. ‘Thomas’ was second, introduced in 1811, followed by ‘Dick,’ ‘Peter’ and ‘Willie.’ In general, these poor gentlemen are simply victims of having a common name.”
More than Sex-Ed
More than Sex-Ed is a Los Angeles based nonprofit educational outreach project that works to nourish healthy development through honest conversation about sex — in schools, homes and workplaces.
If you have kiddos at home, you may want to look into their affordable online classes “for adults with children of any age who want to have more than ‘the talk.’”
Their website is also full of resources for both kids and adults.
Sex Positive Families
Sex Positive Families provides education and resources that help families raise sexually healthy children using a shame-free, comprehensive, and pleasure-positive approach, including online interactive puberty workshops and self-paced courses for tweens and parents of all genders, helping families have shame-free talks, without having to leave the home. Sign us up.
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Through film and conversation, rePRO advocates for reproductive health, justice, and bodily autonomy. We lift intersectional issues, using the power of storytelling as a catalyst for knowledge, intention, and action.