Tuesday, September 1, 2009


People hear about sex from all kinds of places. You've got your standard schoolyard talk, your awkward Mom/Dad conversation, you've got the perennially popular (but factually sketchy) University of the Slumber Party, and the ubiquitous (these days ALSO factually sketchy) Sex Ed in school.

I learned a lot about sex from those places, too, but there was one source above all of them that I think was most formative: NOVA's Emmy award-winning "The Miracle of Life", an hour-long program that first aired on PBS in 1983. It chronicles the beginnings of life from ejaculation to childbirth. It's been dubbed "the most popular NOVA of all time" by PBS.org.

Using magnification of up to half a million times, the filmmakers got some amazing shots. They got a penis ejaculating inside a woman's vagina (blows my mind to this day). They captured the very moment the zygote divided for the first time, and some incredible views of the developing embryo. It all culminates in some utterly terrifying childbirth footage that must have something to do with why I'm so devoted to my IUD.

TMOL doesn't cover the gamut of human sexual experience - it only really covers the biological basics. It introduces the basic plumbing - what each part is, what it's called and what it's actually used for. It doesn't encourage, it doesn't glamorize, it doesn't vilify - it simply provides the facts.

For me, it made sex unquestionably a part of nature - as natural as anything George Page or David Attenborough presented on any other nature show. Because it was so obviously a part of nature...there's never been anything to be ashamed of.

NOVA produced a 2001 sequel called "Life's Greatest Miracle", which can be viewed online here.

It's rated "TV-14", so I pass that on, though scoff loudly while doing so because I saw the original, complete with the above-mentioned cockshot (a scientific cockshot, to be sure, but it was still cock) when I was 6 flippin' years old and didn't burst into flames or anything.

To see if you or your children WILL burst into flames, the original program is available on DVD and can be ordered here.

You may be able to find it used or whatnot somewhere else, but PBS helped foster healthy sexuality in at least 1 young person - least I can do is try to return the favor. :)

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