Birds Do It, Bees Do It: A Century of Sex (Mis)Education in the United States

From junior high school hygiene films, websites, public health campaigns, scientific studies, children’s books, bodice-ripper novels and (sometimes) parents, Americans have always found ways to learn about sex. That information has at times been incorrect or incomplete, and has rarely been delivered without a larger political or moral agenda.  While attitudes towards sex education swing from the blissfulness of ignorance to the empowerment of liberation — and back again — every generation finds new ways to answer the old questions.  The message and the media have changed over the decades, but our desire to learn about desire has not.         

This exhibition explores the many ways Americans have employed over the last century to teach and learn about sex.  It draws from the resources of campus libraries, from our academic programs and from social services provided for the Berkeley campus community.