It's no secret that sexual education in China is not all that it could be. Open discussion about sex isn't just avoided at parties - it's avoided altogether. The topic is considered so uncomfortable by many Chinese parents that it's actually common for children to believe they were salvaged from - wait for it - a garbage dump.
Chinese Sex Ed Cartoons: No Kids, You Didn't Come From a Garbage Dump
To combat this, The Nutcracker Studio, a three-person team of artists, has created three cartoon shorts explaining different aspects of the birds and the bees. The first, "Where Babies Come From," begins by debunking the myths that babies come from the trash dump, or were hatched in an enchanted forest, or were crystals that formed inside their mum from their parents' love. Actually, that last one is kind of cute ... (Watch the videos with English sub-titles here.)
What's really unexpected, though, is just how hilarious "Where Babies Come From" is. It explains that sperm "drilled its way into your mum's egg" and goes on to describe liquid coming out of a syringe. It also informs kids that just because the sperm is smaller than a human hair, that does not indicate the size of the syringe from which it is uhhh ... launched. By the time it got around to saying that sex hurts a little - and that's why you'd better be nice to your mum - I was seriously giggling!
The narration is accompanied by cool pencil drawings of sperm meeting egg, the forest, and of course, a stately and impressive syringe.
The second video, "Why Boys and Girls Are Different" is a little more confusing, which it shouldn't be. I mean, I already know how boys and girls are different and I still felt completely lost. "Why Boys and Girls Are Different" explains that boys and girls are like two different things you can order off a menu ... I think. Something about wood-ear mushrooms, and then a whole bunch of drawings of light sockets. But this has to be my favorite line:
What? That boy says that because he's got a penis he's way cooler than you? Don't listen to him. Having a penis just means it's easier to pee standing up.
Despite a vaguely homophobic message, "Why Boys and Girls Are Different" does end with a rather nice message: That diversification makes the world more beautiful.
The videos have become wildly popular in China and are going viral in the U.S. as well. The one-minute videos are currently topping Chinese search engines and China's equivalent of YouTube. They are not intended to be viewed by children necessarily, but as a jumping off point to initiate discussion between parents and their curious children. It's believed that the videos will also be useful for teens and young adults who were never given age-appropriate sex education.
Knowing that the videos aren't aimed at children made the title of the third video slightly less infuriating. "How Can Minors Prevent Sexual Harassment?" uses a drawing of a doll (and another of Garfield for some reason) to illustrate the places on the body a child shouldn't allow another person to touch. It lists examples of inappropriate touching and behaviors and explains that "bad people" might bother boys and girls, and that "bad people" might not be strangers, they could be your teacher, uncle, or coach.
Title aside, that's pretty forward thinking given that "Stranger Danger" was the dominant philosophy taught to American children in the 70's and '80s. This video ends with a powerful message that if anyone tries to do something bad, "you should tell your parents because they will definitely protect you."
Well, I guess it's better than nothing. Check out the videos for yourself (this site provides English sub-titles) and tell us what you think in the comments.
Wednesday Lee Friday is an eclectic writer of fact and fiction. She has worked as a reptile wrangler, phone sex operator, radio personality, concierge, editor, fast food manager, horror novelist, and she owns a soap shop. She prefers jobs that let her sleep during the day. Everybody knows all the best art and literature happen at night!