Is the sex advice in 'Transformers 3' better than nothing?
July 7th, 2011
08:55 AM ET

Is the sex advice in 'Transformers 3' better than nothing?

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex on Thursdays on The Chart. Read more from him at his website, GoodInBed.

Last week, upon learning that one of my books was featured in the summer blockbuster "Transformers 3," I rounded up my two boys and eagerly headed off to the multiplex.

I seriously had no idea. The book’s cameo comes about a third of the way in, when Sam (Shia La Beouf) gets some unsolicited relationship advice from his mom in response to his girlfriend woes: You have to work at a relationship, she says, shoving a copy of my book "She Comes First" at him.

Sam recoils, the audience laughs and Dad adds with a sigh, "Happy wife, happy life."

The book’s subtitle is "The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman," and I wrote it to help guys better understand, respect and, I hope,  satisfy, female sexuality.

But throughout the years I’ve also received numerous e-mails from moms and dads who have either given a copy of "She Comes First" to their teenage sons or wondered if they should.

Of course, it’s up to parents to decide how they want to educate their kids about sex, if they want to at all: Many simply to choose opt out of the conversation altogether, so even if it was just the movie, I was happy to see Sam’s mom at least try to help him out.

I grew up with a single mom, and we didn’t have any such conversations about sex - and I’m sure, like Sam, I would have cringed had she tried. But, in retrospect, I would have ultimately appreciated it.

As I’ve written previously in this blog, children are awash in a tidal wave of sexual bits and bytes, now more than ever.

More than any Internet filter we can install on our their computers, we can help them by trying to give them the information and self-esteem they need to make smart, healthy decisions about sex and intimacy - decisions that don’t just protect them in the short-term, but also allow them to enjoy healthy intimate relations when they grow up. Isn’t that what we want for them?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of U.S. teens in ninth to twelfth grade have had sexual intercourse. If your child is sexually active, it is most important to make sure he or she is well-informed about matters of the heart as well as safer sex.

Talking about sexuality makes many parents feel nervous, as many are unsure of the best time to begin. Ideally, sexuality education starts in infancy; however, no matter what the age of your child, talking now is better than never.

Start with your own relationship. Almost from birth, children model and imitate what they see at home. If you and your spouse don't treat each other with respect, you can't expect the same from your child.

At Good in Bed, we have many free resources dedicated to the topic of communicating with kids about sexual intimacy. Don't avoid “the talk” - embrace it.

Sex educator Amy Levine writes, “Think of the important points that you want to share with your child. Maybe you want them to know that if they are having sex, your hope is for them to always use protection to prevent pregnancy and reduce the risk of STIs. You might want them to know that even though you would prefer they wait until they were older, you are here for them if they have questions, concerns or feelings they want to share. Starting this type of conversation isn't easy. Pick a time when you think your child will be most receptive. Let them know your hunch, without being accusatory, and see what they say. Then share your messages in such a way that your child knows without a doubt that you are a source of support, rather than strife.”

While the scene in "Transformers 3" was mainly played for laughs, some people in the blogosphere thought it was inappropriate for a PG-13 rated movie.

And while I had nothing to do with the book’s placement, I have written things (sometimes in this very column) that have sparked similar debate. Take last week’s post on “The Joy of Comfort Sex” in which I praise the benefits of long-term monogamous relationships, and the following thread from the comments section:


A teenager: This has GOT to be better than all those TV shows and movies and music and ads that tell all young people to be cool and popular means sleeping around with everyone. At least this article supports long term relationships and responsibility toward your partner.

Brian: Come on Jenny!! I think you are way too sensitive. This article is probably mild at the max compared to what your twelve year old has seen on MTV or even at school.

Diana: Oh please. If your 12 year old is on the internet, they are encountering things far worse than an article focusing on the relationship side of physical relations. And what's wrong with that? If they are old enough to be curious, they can learn that physical relations are a normal and healthy part of a relationship. And articles like these help depict more how it is in real life vs. the fantasy focus by rest of the internet.

hspringer: C'mon JennyTX! S3x is part of life, is normal and the more we make it out to be taboo and not talk about the more that children dabble in it on their own and sometimes get hurt. I didn't find anything offensive in this article and would have no problem if my 11 year old happened to read it. Besides, 11 year olds don't usually read news sites unless having to for an assignment. It never even crossed my mind when I read this article that my daughter might be negatively impacted. There's worse things to see on network TV or in public than this!!

Many parents have strong religious or cultural values that dictate what they believe—and what they want for their children's personal lives. One of the most effective ways to talk with your kids about sex is to have ongoing, open conversations that encourage them to share, rather than you telling them what you want them to do (or not do).

Again writes Levine, “Start by asking a question to see what your child thinks about any sex-related topic. Maybe start the discussion as a result of a television show that you are watching together that tackles a sexual storyline. Let your child know your messages and values, and why you have these particular beliefs and feelings. Ultimately, the less you put a child on the spot about what they are individually experiencing, the more likely they will share with you.”

Stay in tune with their world. Talk to your child’s teachers and other parents to get a sense of what's happening in and out of the classroom. Let your child make mistakes. You made yours. You can't shut the world out, but you can help your children live in it.

soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. Ebok

    the movie is rated PG-13, not PG

    July 7, 2011 at 10:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • marycnnhealth

      Hi Ebok. You are absolutely right and we fixed the mistake. Thanks!

      July 7, 2011 at 10:41 | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      marycnnhealth...please tell me you are not an editor? write? really? Come on people, even our editors can not spell correctly!

      July 7, 2011 at 11:02 | Report abuse |
    • TforTexas

      It's right – not write!

      July 7, 2011 at 11:09 | Report abuse |
    • marycnnhealth

      Hi Lisa. I really do know the difference between write and right. Thanks for pointing out my mistake. It's fixed now.

      July 7, 2011 at 11:26 | Report abuse |
    • Bill Sargent

      Wow, you people a re really really rude. Stop being the spell-checking police. It's very rude and offensive. People do make mistakes and typos.

      July 8, 2011 at 03:42 | Report abuse |
  2. Quillos

    Nice CNN! Way to plug another lame "self-help" book as a news story.

    July 7, 2011 at 10:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • adamhermann

      They never said it was a news story. If you would direct your ever-meandering attention to the address bar, you'll see that it reads "http://thechart.BLOGS.cnn.com/ etc." BLOGS. Thus, opinions, not news stories.

      But hey, I'm sure your comment got a laugh... or not.

      July 7, 2011 at 10:43 | Report abuse |
    • huh?

      @adamhermann – nothing in the word "BLOG" infers "opinion". Blogs are publishing mechanism, nothing more. Blogs are used for opinion, instruction, news, etc. Common usage only implies that it's more personal/informal, but that is not the same as OpEd.

      And if it were OpEd, then the idea that it's a marketing shill is equally unsettling as hiding it in news.

      July 7, 2011 at 11:17 | Report abuse |
    • WebLog

      Blog is short for Web Log. Mean that someone is logging their thoughts and opinions on the web. The point of view is strictly the athor's and should be regarded as such.

      July 7, 2011 at 11:47 | Report abuse |
    • Tracy

      I like self help books. Grump!

      July 7, 2011 at 20:26 | Report abuse |
  3. Radtech01

    One thing that needs to be brought up with children is how much it costs to raise a child. The STD talk is grand and all, but it costs a lot to raise a kid.

    July 7, 2011 at 10:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • todd

      Costs about $100k to get that kid from birth to college, and 100-200k in college.

      A condom costs 5 cents.


      July 7, 2011 at 13:23 | Report abuse |
    • Tracy

      Where are you buying your condoms? They're not 5 cents anymore!

      July 7, 2011 at 20:27 | Report abuse |
    • meg

      Yeah, because kids will really hear and appreciate the abstract (to them, for a looooooooooooong time, even if they have jobs) "cost of kids" discussion...

      July 9, 2011 at 11:11 | Report abuse |
    • djk

      If your condoms cost .05 then you will be supporting many kids fairly soon.

      July 10, 2011 at 12:22 | Report abuse |
  4. S-EX


    July 7, 2011 at 10:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Bubba

    I'm just relieved that he wasn't getting advice from the robots: "And then you bend over backwards and transform yourself into- wait, where are you going?"

    July 7, 2011 at 10:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Optimus Prime

    See, you have to fold along Line A until you can insert Tab B into Slot C, and then she rotates along her axis until her ventral side is facing up, and then when she comes first you both turn into 18-wheelers.

    July 7, 2011 at 10:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Elita1

      You never tried that position with me, Optimus. I guess you're not so Prime anymore.

      July 7, 2011 at 10:54 | Report abuse |
    • Optimus Prime

      Sometimes I have to use an . . . extension cord.

      July 7, 2011 at 13:48 | Report abuse |
    • Tracy


      July 7, 2011 at 20:28 | Report abuse |
  7. dragonwife

    Any parent who thinks that sheltering their child and "not talking about those things" is going to keep him or her from learning about "the birds and bees" is either completely in denial or totally naive. Kids are bombarded with information and misinformation constantly – from TV and movies, from hearing adult conversations, and from other kids. No matter how you try to insulate your child from the "evils" of normal hormonal urges, they WILL learn it from somewhere, and it will most likely be the most confusing and inaccurate ideas they'll pick up first. If you're too embarrassed to have "the talk" with your kids, find another adult you and your child can both trust, and have him/her talk about it. And sadly, you better start talking about it in elementary school, because the awful truth is that nowadays even pre-teen kids are engaging in activities that our generation didn't even have a clue about until high school. We had a horrific case here recently of a 6 year old girl and her 7 year old brother who were assaulted by two boys who are 12 and 13 – the older boys even videoed it on their cell phone! Anything that can help teach a child the "acceptable" and "not acceptable" of adult physical relationships is fine with me.

    July 7, 2011 at 10:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. nmae

    This is a great article that more parents these days need to read.

    July 7, 2011 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Oh Please...

    None of the Decepticons are female... just saying

    July 7, 2011 at 10:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • The Decepticons

      Actually, we are ALL female, and ready for some hot robot-on-robot action. Wait until you see us transform!

      July 7, 2011 at 13:19 | Report abuse |
    • todd

      Are Decepticons A/C or D/C?

      July 7, 2011 at 13:24 | Report abuse |
    • The Decepticons

      A/C or D/C? We're A/C-D/C. and we're here to ROCK!

      July 7, 2011 at 13:45 | Report abuse |
    • Edge

      You obviously haven't seen the 2nd Transformers (Revenge of the Fallen)

      July 7, 2011 at 19:13 | Report abuse |
  10. Mike, Cleveland OH

    @Optimus : Lol.

    Warning: Please ensure your model is compatible before attempting to insert tab D into slot A. Do not confuse slot V with slot A, as this may void the warranty.

    July 7, 2011 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Optimus Prime

      " . . . and when I finally got her covers off, she had a left-hand thread- hey is this mike on?"

      July 7, 2011 at 13:21 | Report abuse |
  11. Roger Ogilivy Thornhill

    That's much better advice than the advice from the first Transformers movie: "Bros before hos. I realized my mistake taking my impressionable 9 year old boy and 13 year girl to see that stupid movie. What kind of message is that? Needless to say, there will be no more Transformer movies in my future viewing lists.

    July 7, 2011 at 11:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Thinking7

      Luckily, I saw the first Transformers without my children. That first movie was enough for me to say no to letting my children see any of them. It was so tasteless that I did not want to see any of the other Transformer movies. Holllywood needs to stop trying to ruining our kids with movies that seem so fun for them and then throw in cra–y words.

      July 7, 2011 at 11:43 | Report abuse |
    • Optimus Prime

      3/8s before 7/16s

      July 7, 2011 at 14:18 | Report abuse |
    • Seriously?

      Wait, were you taking them to the movie to teach them something? The message a movie sends is not specifically meant for your children, especially if it's a joke. Also, do you really think that Hollywood has an agenda of ruining kids? I mean you were fine with all the violence and explosions, but a "bros before hos" joke was what pushed it over the line.

      July 7, 2011 at 16:58 | Report abuse |
  12. Greg

    Can't tell from your nick if you are male or female so ... if you're a guy, you have obviously not read the book, if you're a girl, bravo!

    July 7, 2011 at 11:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. sbp

    Another advertisement for Kerner's books. Every article is just a plug. I hope he pays CNN and not vice-versa.

    July 7, 2011 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Thinking7

    The lines in Transformers 1 was enough to keep my kids from seeing any of the episodes.

    July 7, 2011 at 11:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • THX

      Same here. As a long-time fan of the Transformers, I gave the series a shot but some of the scenes are too crass to be funny. It's potty humor level and I just don't find that entertaining. Special FX were nice but not nice enough to bother paying to see the sequels. I waited to see #2 till it hit Netflix Watch It Now. I'd watch the 3rd one that way too, if only to hear Leonard Nimoy do another voice for the series.

      July 7, 2011 at 21:03 | Report abuse |
  15. Joe

    Please stop trying.

    July 7, 2011 at 11:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joe's wife

      No, no! Keep trying, I'm almost there, Joe!

      July 7, 2011 at 13:17 | Report abuse |
  16. cheekbrown

    That's a real book? I thought "She Comes First" was a double-entender.

    July 7, 2011 at 11:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Flora

    Nice to see someone advocating "the talk" again. It's something that most definately needs to be done & done right if you want healthy, s e x ually responsible children.

    And no, sticking your head in the sand does not work. Most people I know do that because their parents did it to them – they never learned how to be open & frank with anything. My mother literally RUNS when I try to broach the subject. And we had "the talk" when I was 10 – she picked up a book from the library after work, threw it at me, and went in the kitchen to make dinner.

    Thankfully, I was already pretty mature for my age & knew how to find the (accurate) information I needed online and in books. But most kids are not so lucky or wise, so they need their parents to be honest with them.

    July 7, 2011 at 12:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Optimus Prime

      "sticking your head in the sand does not work" Unless you don't mind your offspring inspecting your private parts while your head is beneath the ground. That might prove educational.

      July 7, 2011 at 17:18 | Report abuse |
  18. Wonderella

    "OMG, Little Pinky! You're a robot spy?"

    July 7, 2011 at 13:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Optimus Prime

    "Afterwards I said 'Get me a beer' and she turns into a refrigerator. She was the perfect woman- hey, is this mike still on?"

    July 7, 2011 at 14:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Brandi

    why is everyone tripping on this? i mean look at the different cartoons children have access to that are way worse! like family guy, american dad, simpsons, heck even spongebob was orginally not made for children. why not try to boycott them?

    July 7, 2011 at 16:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. DiamondKids

    I really feel sorry for kids in rich countries. What garbage they feed on love and s-e-x! S-e-x must be remain a beautiful, wonderful and fearful mystery for children and youth until appropriate time. Gradual disclosure of bits by bits that human life has wonders, something deeper, fearsome, fulfilling and ultimate – that kind of feeling. And waiting with purity until one can commit his/her entire life to the only beloved. Modern society made the sky unviewable and as well as destroyed the most wonder-filled years from young humans.

    July 7, 2011 at 22:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. DiamondSky

    Permitting kids making fatal mistakes never profit them!! I didn't make mistake and I don't want it for my children! Permissive-ness is a grave disease in the West. Can anyone or any kid stay normal at all? A thoroughly toxic society.

    July 7, 2011 at 22:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Optimus Prime

      Wow, I never knew before that fatal mistakes were bad for kids. I am going to go out and tell everyone I know about this. Thanks!

      July 8, 2011 at 10:15 | Report abuse |
  23. Nate

    Way to plug your book, D-Bag. People like this guy never pass up an offer to gloat over themselves – Never ceases to amaze me!

    July 7, 2011 at 22:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. DiamondSky

    ??? Parents should teach every child not to be s-e-x-ually active at all until the child grows and gets married. Non-virgin girls usually act and live like pro-sti-tutes and non-virgin boys live as predators. Both boys and girls must be taught to keep purity until marriage. When I was a kid, Transformers taught true love waits.

    July 8, 2011 at 03:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      "Non-virgin girls usually act and live like pro-sti-tutes and non-virgin boys live as predators." You must live in a rough neighborhood of a rough town in a rough country, It isn't like that in most places.

      July 8, 2011 at 10:18 | Report abuse |
  25. DiamondSky

    With the obesity pandemic, why not teach kids abstinence? Clean people are beautiful. Don't give up, America.

    July 8, 2011 at 03:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bubba

      So they'd be chubby virgins, but very clean? Why not get them to lose the weight?

      July 8, 2011 at 10:47 | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      ... wait, what? What does obesity have to do with this topic? *confused*

      July 21, 2011 at 17:08 | Report abuse |
  26. DiamondSky

    S-e-x is not a game, pleasure or entertainment. It is only for true love between one committed man and one committed woman. By treating it lightly, one loses its lifetime value altogether. Get married first.

    July 8, 2011 at 03:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JustLiberty

      Good grief, it can still be a game, for pleasure, and entertainment if you are married!

      July 10, 2011 at 22:16 | Report abuse |
  27. studdmuffins

    Hollywood usually gets it wrong. Remember folks, it's just a movie. Teach your kids reality v movies .. problem solved.

    July 8, 2011 at 06:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Amy

    Interesting column, but your typos were distracting. I proofread for a living. Let me know if you need help.

    July 8, 2011 at 06:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Anathoth

    I agree that the conversation about the big "it" should be early, and often. Be honest with your children!

    July 8, 2011 at 09:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bubba

      Tell them the truth: "Kids, I have a big It."

      July 8, 2011 at 10:19 | Report abuse |
  30. Poodles

    Put thing in peoples' bums without their permission!

    July 9, 2011 at 17:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. BigNutz

    Ian: You need to bank something for that. If they used my book in a movie without my knoweledge, I would want some cheddar!

    July 21, 2011 at 09:36 | Report abuse | Reply
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