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Lawrence Swiader:

Every month at CreativeMornings, we fill out little name cards with our Twitter handles and an answer to a question. The question always has something to do with that month’s theme—for instance, “Favorite Toy” for the Childhood theme. This month’s theme being SEX the question was: “Favorite term for sex?”

Personally, I wrote down what my Mom uses: “Necking” (she learned a lot of her English from I Love Lucy reruns). But for the first time, watching attendees line up, signing in, and getting name tags, I heard the awkward refrain, “Hah, oh, well I don’t know” or “Do I have to?”

Lawrence Swiader knew exactly what he was doing. He asked the uncharacteristically sheepish audience: “What did you write?” A few offered, and then he asked:

“Why do we use euphemisms for sex?” —Lawrence Swiader

He reminded us how hard it can be to talk about sex, but why? Then he offered a great video (below) that his group produced with him as the Senior Director of Digital Media with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

A montage of foreplay fails set to French music plays then ends with the phrase: “You didn’t give up on sex. Don’t give up on birth control.”

The video, for Lawrence, captures the Bedsiders’ focus and mission. When they began their process to lower unplanned pregnancy rates in Americans, they looked at what existed out there, in terms of resources and education. What they found, and what you can imagine, were sterile, prescriptive, and overall uninteresting sites that promulgated these already-present issues broaching sex and birth control.

Lawrence showed us samples of pamphlets on vaginitis, whose designs were so generic they could just as easily be used for first-time homeowners or IT support. “Why do people with Vaginitus look so happy?” He joked, flipping through stock photos of smiling middle aged men and women.

To meet their goals, their team searched for solutions that met people where they were coming from. Lawrence triumphed the benefits of human-centered design at the fore of social impact. He argued, if you put human desires at the center of the process, you wind up with effective insights for promoting change.


What they found and what serves as the pillars to their work were:

”Education happens at the wrong time and in the wrong context.”

Just think, he said, when you first learned about sex. It was probably way before you were having it. It’s like testing a kid on driving, and then handing him the keys years later and thinking they won’t get in a car accident, he argued.

“In the heat of the moment, all bets are off.”

Lawrence had a great way of communicating with the audience. He casually asked, isn’t the spontaneity what makes sex fun? To mix the business with the fun made people avoid it completely.

“Booty trumps Jesus.”

Easily my favorite quote from the topic, their findings suggested that time and again, religion came up short in having a place in the bedroom.

To move forward in the country against unplanned pregnancy, the Bedsider team found, you need to be able to first talk about sex, then birth control. That means making it relevant to your life without being medical. See video demystifying sex in the hot tub.

If you visit their site—and you really should because it’s equal parts funny as it is educational—you’ll find a repository of mythbusting videos, interactive side-by-side guides to the 17 (yeah, 17) kinds of birth control out there, as well as reminder apps that send you facts and jokes when it’s time to take the pill.

If you’re like me, you probably are also thinking: What about the Guys? Almost on cue, Lawrence ended his talk with this hysterical (etymology of which comes from “of the womb” in Latin hystera) video:

Joel and the CreativeMorning/Washington, DC team couldn’t have done a better job picking a speaker who’s relevant to the social impact and education scene of DC, while engaging the month’s theme in a clever way. As always, I can’t wait to see who speaks next.

Watch Lawrence Swiader’s talk here.

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