First Advisor

Heather Hartley

Term of Graduation

Fall 2000

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Sociology






Video tapes in sex instruction, Sex instruction, Feminist theory



Physical Description

1 online resource (171 pages)


The manifest purpose of sex education films is to transmit factual information about sexuality to schoolchildren. However, films additionally contain covert messages informing students of proper and improper sexual roles. Films can reinforce patriarchal gender-differentiation within the sexual realm or, alternately, films can promote commensurate, non-patriarchal gender scripts for sexuality. This paper researches the ideological gender messages set within and transmitted by sex education films. Although sex education films represent only a small part of the sexual culture, the trends revealed in the films may indicate general parameters of US sexual culture.

The data set for this content analysis consisted of 28 films, dated from 1990 to 1998. Each film was analyzed for the presence of patriarchal and non-patriarchal statements in five sexuality categories. The films were first coded according to the ideology professed in each sexuality category. Sexuality scripts that were gender symmetrical were categorized as non-patriarchal; gender asymmetrical sexuality scripts that privileged the male above the female were classified as patriarchal. Scripts that included elements of both patriarchal and non-patriarchal ideologies were classified as dual element. Next the significance of the ideological differences was discussed. Results of the five sexuality script categories were compared to one another, revealing variation. Each film's multiple ideological messages were also compiled, demonstrating the film's overall ideological "picture." The ideologies of all the films were then compared to one another.

Analysis revealed that patriarchal messages were seen more often than non-patriarchal messages, indicating the persistence of patriarchal ideology within sex education films. 73% of all sexuality script category messages contained some patriarchal ideology. Concurrently, 100% of the sampled films contained both patriarchal and non-patriarchal sexuality script messages. The latter findings show that elements of patriarchal and non-patriarchal ideology exist contradictorily and cacophonously within sex education films.

This content analysis shows that films privilege males' sexuality script above females' and concurrently present gender-symmetrical sexuality scripts. No statement is made in the films reconciling the presence of both ideologies. The incongruent ideologies present in sex education films may also indicate the conflictual presence of patriarchal and non-patriarchal ideologies in US sexual culture.


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