University of ArizonaNorton School of Family and Consumer Sciences

Stephen Russell Publication in the Huffington Post

Telenovelas, Erections, and Raising Sexually Healthy Teens

When Enrique first joined our family, we agreed to one hour of television per night. He was 13 and had been used to non-stop TV, so this was a big change. He didn't resist, but I realize now that to him, one hour was a shocking restriction. Spanish was still his dominant language, and he chose his then-favorite nightly telenovela, Sin senos no hay paraíso. I disguised my horror when he provided the translation (he said "boobies," which my partner and I immediately corrected with anatomically correct English).

We were just becoming a family, and we needed time to simply be together, so I committed to watching Sin senos with him each night. (I never, ever watch television.) We sat on the sofa and watched; in a few days or weeks we had a habit of sitting with my arm around him, and during the commercials he would update me with translations of the plot. For my part I would tease, question, and even scold him about the glamorized portrayals of sex and violence. And over time, Sin senos opened up the possibility of talking about not only sexism and violence but gender, relationships, and, of course, sex.


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