Tyra Banks, Sex Ed Teacher?

"Does this help?" is what I wondered watching Tyra Banks try to pin down a squirming, monosyllabic Levi Johnston on whether he and Bristol had used protection each and every time they had sex.  "Even when the baby was conceived?"  "Yup," came the response.  When Levi finally conceded that they had used protection "most of the time," Tyra, admittedly a dogged interviewer, broke into a grin, and the audience laughed and applauded.

Okay, so she caught him. There’s a tiny chink in the raft of pretenses swirling around the conception of Tripp Johnston.  As entertainment, it’s not bad (Tyra worked in a "wardrobe malfunctions" joke).  But it’s a sorry excuse for sex ed.  A persistent, almost meddling adult; a young person who really doesn’t want to be there; and a studio audience laughing along — I really can’t imagine anything worse.  And yet there’s something appealing about Tyra’s no-nonsense approach — she’d make a pretty good big sister, if a bad sex ed teacher. But in our sexually schizophrenic society, a talk show host takes the place of a big sister who takes the place of a sexuality education teacher.  Can we just get some comprehensive sex ed into schools already, so these conversations can happen organically, between people who know and care about each other, and not televised to millions?

Levi’s response to Tyra’s questions about how he and Bristol could have sex while presidential candidate Palin was pushing abstinence-only was perhaps the most telling moment of the interview.  Tyra asked whether he had ever thought, "Bristol’s mom is teaching this stance, and we are totally not doing that?"

"We didn’t really think about it like that," was Levi’s response. Sounds about right.  Abstinence sounds good to a lot of people in theory — including those who sign True Love Waits pledges.  And then, research suggests, they don’t wait.  If only we tried to figure out how teens do think about it, and talk to them on those terms.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact press@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • http://heritagerockers.com invalid-0

    In today’s world, it’s very difficult to preach abstinence, let alone not having intercourse until after you get married. There are just too many temptations and our society pressures people to do it before they do get married.

    Even if we knew what teens were thinking, they would most likely ignore the good advice of elders, the way it always has been for hundreds of years.

    But hey, we can try right?

  • invalid-0

    It’s not “difficult” to “preach abstinence” (read: be a complete and utter hypocrite/head in the sand denyer of basic human issues).
    What would be difficult is realizing that MOST PEOPLE HAVE SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE.
    It’s not difficult to let teens know that there are ways of preventing the unintended and life altering consequences of sex- STDs and pregnancies.

    Where’s the “difficulty” here?
    Oh wait- it’s withholding necessary, often life saving and life enhancing information. Right. Gotcha.

  • invalid-0

    I totally agree.

    I think Tyra’s approach is totally bogus. How does she expect these kids to not walk away from this show without a feeling a resent after she has just badgered them with her uberly pretentious, condescending “advice” that are often mere backhanded insults… she makes me sick to my stomach.

    This show is just a mockery of youth and that can only backfire. Especially in this society where that attitude only results in more children taking part in more adult activity to prove themselves.

    Someone needs to cancel Tyra.
    Even as a teenager, I’m not taking my sex advice from an overzealous ex-supermodel. GIVE ME A BREAK.