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The book you wish you had as a teen: Let's Talk About It - by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan

Posted on 31 May 2021 by Tara

Sex education in the late 90's was pretty rubbish. I wish that I had access to something like this book as a teen. One of my favourite things about the book is that it models healthy and gentle conversations between young people on the subject of sex. The authors have taken advantage of the comic form to provide diagrams as well as show a range of body types and gender identities. And there’s an index! Let’s Talk About It provides an affirmation of shared humanity.

A lot of adults would benefit from reading it too. There’s stuff in here about relationships, identity, gender and pronouns that I’m pretty sure teens know and will find validating but the adults in their lives may still be getting their heads around.

The Classification Office is interested in resources that help open healthy discussions about porn and potentially risky digital behaviour, such as sexting or ‘sending nudes’. Our research has shown that rangatahi are using porn to learn about sex. But they don’t have to. Let’s Talk About It is a ‘teen’s guide to sex, relationships and being a human being’ in comic book form. The authors' aim was to create a resource they would have wanted as teens. The book examines complex topics such as consent, porn, sexting, masturbation, sexuality, abusive behaviour and fantasies, using accessible and non-judgemental language.

The book is American, but not in a way that is jarring in a NZ context. It warns young people to be careful about sexting if they are underage, something that young people in NZ are unlikely to be charged for. The chapter dealing with porn is in line with the Classification Office’s finding about young people and porn, offering a reminder that it is a performance and to be mindful of the ethics surrounding its production.

Let’s Talk About It models healthy and gentle conversations between young people on the subject of sex. There’s advice on jealousy, unrequited love and how to give a good apology. It gives sentence starters for opening awkward discussions and, even better, ways to reframe negative thoughts about body image into positive ones.

But its not just for teens, adults will get stuff out of it, too. There’s stuff in here about relationships, identity, gender and pronouns that I’m pretty sure young people know and will find validating but the adults in their lives may still be getting their heads around. The teen perspective is an opportunity to gain insight into what young people are worrying about for people who haven’t grown up in a digital age. The chapters are short and easily digestible so you can dip into a topic you want without expending too much time.

Moen and Nolan have taken advantage of the comic form to provide diagrams as well as show an inclusive range of body types, ethnicities and gender identities.

This is a great resource for whānau, young people and even couples who are wanting to have healthy and safe conversations about taboo topics like porn and sex. It aligns with a lot of the messaging in our ‘Growing up with Porn’ report and will hopefully be a part of the positive change of encouraging conversations.

Tara works at the NZ Office of Film and Literature Classification. Her views do not necessarily represent those of the Chief Censor or of the Classification Office. Keep up with our blog posts by following us on Facebook and Twitter

Help information

For more information on how to talk with your whānau about topics like porn and sex, check out our resources on how to have these conversations. If the content of this blog has made you feel uncomfortable or concerned please reach out. Free call or text 1737 for more support.

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