Courtesy of Jenna Emerson/Isora Lithgow Productions
Still from 'I Want to Be a Sex Educator'
Sex educator Jenna Emerson envisions a whole new world free of sexual stigmas and taboos in her new musical comedy video, "I Want to Be a Sex Educator."
Released Thursday, the clip parodies the classic Disney animated feature The Little Mermaid, specifically the titular mermaid Ariel's heart song, "Part of Your World." In the video, Emerson, a University of Vermont staffer, basks on the rocks at Burlington's Oakledge Park as waves crash around her. It's an uncanny recreation of a pivotal, iconic scene from the 1989 movie.
"[The video] imagines a world without sexual shame and oppression," Emerson told Seven Days by phone.
In the video, which was shot and co-directed by photographer/videographer Isora Lithgow, Emerson plays Areola, a bikini-clad siren with "butt plugs and dildos aplenty," and "nip clamps and floggers galore." At one point, she displays a puppet of the female anatomy that she regularly uses as part of her on-campus learning sessions.
"Talking about the internal — what is it called again? Oh, clit!" she giggles while lifting the puppet's clitoral hood.
Pre-pandemic, Emerson hosted the comedy variety show "Sex w/Jenna" at the Queen City's now-defunct comedic arts space Revelry Theater. The show featured various sex-centric segments, including comical and educational song parodies. "I Want to Be a Sex Educator" is the second Little Mermaid tune Emerson has lampooned as part of her comedy act — the first was "Under the Sheets," a song about lube set to "Under the Sea."
Though the video is primarily meant to amuse, Emerson sees it and her other comedy work as a disarming and entertaining way to legitimize comprehensive sex education.
"I want to create things that affirm ... the field of sex ed," she said. "This is important. It's not a hobby, not an Instagram account, not a one-hour session every four years in high school."
Recently, Emerson and some colleagues created a series of slides for UVM's recently returned student population that color-codes the various risk levels of sexual behavior during the pandemic.
"People are going to want to to date and be intimate. I want students to understand the different risk levels," she said. For instance, her infographics list low-to-no-risk actions such as sexting and socially distanced mutual masturbation, all the way up to kissing, which is considered a high risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Emerson noted that the fact that first base is now viewed as one of the most dangerous sexual activities is completely new territory for sex educators.
"I've been trained in virus prevention, but never in mouth-to-mouth viral protection," she said. "Sex educators are figuring this out."
In May, she dropped "Don't Kiss Me," a pandemic-themed send-up of one-hit-wonder Sixpence None the Richer's 1997 hit, "Kiss Me." She says more comedy videos are on the way.