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Not Your Mother's Meatloaf: A Sex Education Comic Book

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As teenagers today navigate increasingly fluid identities and choices, there is a demand for an accessible, interactive tool to help share knowledge about sex and sexual health; one that demystifies the facts and speaks frankly about experiences whose lessons often fall into the grey areas. Since 2008, Miller and Bley have held an open call for young people to create comics As teenagers today navigate increasingly fluid identities and choices, there is a demand for an accessible, interactive tool to help share knowledge about sex and sexual health; one that demystifies the facts and speaks frankly about experiences whose lessons often fall into the grey areas. Since 2008, Miller and Bley have held an open call for young people to create comics that address a variety of topics involved with sex education. We have since produced several issues of a sex-ed comic called Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf. The work is chosen from a vastly varied group of submissions and attempts to challenge hetero and gender normative practices in sex education. The comics address topics like body image, safer sex, consent, and relationships, from positions that have historically been left out of sex education. These graphically illustrated personal narratives address different themes, such as “Firsts,” “Bodies,” “Health,” “Age,” and “Endings.” The book will bring together the best of the material from the Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf comics, along with new graphic stories and writing by the editors providing personal and sociological background.


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As teenagers today navigate increasingly fluid identities and choices, there is a demand for an accessible, interactive tool to help share knowledge about sex and sexual health; one that demystifies the facts and speaks frankly about experiences whose lessons often fall into the grey areas. Since 2008, Miller and Bley have held an open call for young people to create comics As teenagers today navigate increasingly fluid identities and choices, there is a demand for an accessible, interactive tool to help share knowledge about sex and sexual health; one that demystifies the facts and speaks frankly about experiences whose lessons often fall into the grey areas. Since 2008, Miller and Bley have held an open call for young people to create comics that address a variety of topics involved with sex education. We have since produced several issues of a sex-ed comic called Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf. The work is chosen from a vastly varied group of submissions and attempts to challenge hetero and gender normative practices in sex education. The comics address topics like body image, safer sex, consent, and relationships, from positions that have historically been left out of sex education. These graphically illustrated personal narratives address different themes, such as “Firsts,” “Bodies,” “Health,” “Age,” and “Endings.” The book will bring together the best of the material from the Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf comics, along with new graphic stories and writing by the editors providing personal and sociological background.

30 review for Not Your Mother's Meatloaf: A Sex Education Comic Book

  1. 5 out of 5

    Théo

    I really liked the idea of using comics to talk about sex-ed and was quite excited to read this. I really did enjoy these stories, but I would lie if I said I wasn't a bit disappointed because I was expecting something a little bit more theoretical? I mean... I understand that people sharing their personal experiences can be educative, and all of these stories really touched me, but the summary (and also the introduction, where the editors talk about how sex-ed classes and resources are not alwa I really liked the idea of using comics to talk about sex-ed and was quite excited to read this. I really did enjoy these stories, but I would lie if I said I wasn't a bit disappointed because I was expecting something a little bit more theoretical? I mean... I understand that people sharing their personal experiences can be educative, and all of these stories really touched me, but the summary (and also the introduction, where the editors talk about how sex-ed classes and resources are not always super useful/complete) really made me expect something different. If this book had been presented as a collection of feminist / queer comics about sexuality without the emphasis on being educational, I feel my enjoyment would have been improved, but when I read this, I kept thinking how really cool it would be to have a book with this vision and topics but with a more direct and theoretical approach. And thinking that made me lose my focus on enjoying the book I was reading. But oh well, it's still a very great collection and I don't want to be completely negative about it. I would still recommend it to anyone who is interested in these topics, just don't go into it with the expectations I had.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elena

    I would be happy to accept this book as my Bible. This is essential, basic, necessary reading for everyone. For the queer-questioning youth, too intimidated to seek out queer culture. For the parent of a queer child, curious about queer culture. For anyone who wants to learn about sex, really. This book has been my first proper Physical Education lesson about relationships, consent, STIs, and sex.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Liz Elsen

    This book was a good, healing, and funny read. Wish I could time travel and share with my past self. So much good stuff about when to get out of bad relationships and how to get what you need from good ones.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Douglas

    These cartoonists should take the time to learn lettering, perspective and editing. Good concept, very poorly done.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lorrie Kim

    Enjoyable read, thoroughly queer-inclusive. If you're looking for a comprehensive sex ed primer, this is not it. This is intended to be a necessary supplement to whatever sex ed a young person might pick up from the mainstream, formal or informal. Yes, some of the comics are reproduced small, so you might want a magnifying glass to read those captions, but the general feel of this collection is worth the effort. The zine aesthetic solves the problem of sex ed books feeling too clinical or awkwar Enjoyable read, thoroughly queer-inclusive. If you're looking for a comprehensive sex ed primer, this is not it. This is intended to be a necessary supplement to whatever sex ed a young person might pick up from the mainstream, formal or informal. Yes, some of the comics are reproduced small, so you might want a magnifying glass to read those captions, but the general feel of this collection is worth the effort. The zine aesthetic solves the problem of sex ed books feeling too clinical or awkward. Some of the stories made me sad. It takes a long time for humans to learn self-protection around sex. The cover blurb from Alison Bechdel did its job: I was impressed that the book got her endorsement. Are there flaws in this book? Probably. But I already feel stories from this book settling into my permanent memory. I'm going to shelve it next to other queer and feminist stuff that I treasure.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Charlie Hailey

    Very good but not as informative as I would have liked- doesn’t cover the basics enough. Also unhappy with the way they addressed potential toxicity of age gaps (that is, not at all, while assuring the reader that age gaps can be healthy- which is true but no info was given about how they can be highly abusive).

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    613.951 N899 2013

  8. 5 out of 5

    Basma

    Found it hard to read some of the comics because some weren’t very clear or readable.. The subtitle is a bit misleading but there was still a bit of interesting bits here and there.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Haley

    Very punk, super indie, room for all storytellers. Images vary (in content, composition, and drawing experience of the artist). It was such a pleasure to sit with these stories and images.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    Not Your Mother's Sex-Education Book! I like the premise of this book - using comic strips created by teens about different topics related to sex education and healthy relationships to educate teens about these subjects. The comics are sexually-explicit and no subject is taboo. They are also completely inclusive regarding sexual orientation and gender identification. This isn't a book I'd recommend picking up and trying to read straight through. It's much more of one to sample. There is something Not Your Mother's Sex-Education Book! I like the premise of this book - using comic strips created by teens about different topics related to sex education and healthy relationships to educate teens about these subjects. The comics are sexually-explicit and no subject is taboo. They are also completely inclusive regarding sexual orientation and gender identification. This isn't a book I'd recommend picking up and trying to read straight through. It's much more of one to sample. There is something for everyone here. Following are just some of the comic strips included: First Make Out, Nude Beach, Your Penis Rocks, My Small Boobs, Holes, The Appointment, Drunken Hookups, The Clap! Ghost Bulge; Sorry, Mom; Gray Sex; 15-Year-Old Mermaid; The Ties that Bind; Going to be Okay; Cucumber; & Smitten. Also included in each chapter are several essays by Miller and Bley, who edited the book. While they each add their personal insight and experiences, the comic strips are most definitely the real stars here. Many of them are funny, sweet, focusing on self-acceptance and all kinds of beauty. It's obvious that the teens involved worked hard on their submissions and how each person approaches this book will be subjective, of course. Product Details list this book as being appropriate for grade levels 8 and up. In all honesty, though, this isn't a book I'd recommend for a younger or less-experienced teen just starting to explore his or her sexuality. I think it might be a little too much information and end up being more overwhelming, than illuminating. However, I can imagine using it with an older and/or more experienced group of teens and college-aged students and based on my own experience as a Sex and HIV/AIDS Prevention Educator for At-Risk Youth, I'm sure that it would spark some incredibly thought provoking and worthwhile discussions. Favorite comics included Maisha's "Sex Talk," "Nude Beach" by Basha Smolen, and "Your Penis Rocks" by Perry Hohlstein. And sometimes it is the sheer artistry and not the words that shine through as in Kate's "Trouble with My Body." The poignancy of her pencil drawings is simply breathtaking. I was surprised to read Nik Sonfield and Jessica Ryan's "The Appointment" about a girl who is abused by her gynecologist during her first appointment. As a victim of something similar (but unfortunately far more abusive and painful), I could relate to the shame and despair she felt. Before reading this comic, I honestly wasn't aware that this was something that had happened to someone else and I was gratified that the girl depicted in the comic strip took steps to protect herself and expose the physician's abuse. All in all, an excellent and valuable addition to the field of sex education and healthy relationships.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tylyn

    A very solid collection of comics. Does a great job of exploring the topics of sex & sexuality between both queer and hetero partners/pairings. Each chapter starting with alternating textual, personal stories from the editorial pair was a nice introduction, and set a very nice mood and tone for each coming chapter. Rather than a formal introduction to have you intellectually ready, the stories instead opened you up to a particular emotional state, often giving you (or at least, me personally) a A very solid collection of comics. Does a great job of exploring the topics of sex & sexuality between both queer and hetero partners/pairings. Each chapter starting with alternating textual, personal stories from the editorial pair was a nice introduction, and set a very nice mood and tone for each coming chapter. Rather than a formal introduction to have you intellectually ready, the stories instead opened you up to a particular emotional state, often giving you (or at least, me personally) a sense of nostalgia and empathy as you get further into the different strips. Being a collection from various artists, the reader is exposed to many different styles and, frankly, levels of talent. Some artists are also more straightforward while others are more surreal, and admittedly some of the experiments don't seem to work as well as they could. However, they are all still valiant efforts, and mostly every comic in this collection was enjoyable. One significant problem I had (strictly int he realm of personal taste): Some of the comics are taken from zines, which usually aren't my style. This is mainly because zines tend to focus a lot more on text with accompanying images than, in my opinion, using the full visual medium to develop and portray an idea, and many of the zine excerpts in this book fell in line with this. Some of the formatting was also slightly confusing to me - the different comics are only marked by the footer on the bottom, instead of any particular author page or panel. Though this a minor complaint, and as stated above, the stories in this book are well worth reading, and are also important for saving for future generations as voices of the modern queer and sexual liberation movement.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mars R

    I have two of the original zines from this series. They are some of my more treasured literary possessions, acquired at a time when I was just starting to come out of my shell sexually and filled with people who seemed just-slightly-more experienced than me giving frank advice. The theme of self-acceptance, of honest discussions of the parts of sex that weren't all roses or porn movies, of radicalism and queerness as commonplace, really resonated with my younger self and were exactly what I need I have two of the original zines from this series. They are some of my more treasured literary possessions, acquired at a time when I was just starting to come out of my shell sexually and filled with people who seemed just-slightly-more experienced than me giving frank advice. The theme of self-acceptance, of honest discussions of the parts of sex that weren't all roses or porn movies, of radicalism and queerness as commonplace, really resonated with my younger self and were exactly what I needed then. Now, about 8 years older than that little peanut, I was thrilled when I learned the zines had been collected into a published book, and even more excited that my library had a copy. But as I was reading I grew less and less thrilled. I finished the book feeling underwhelmed and a little bored. Maybe it's that I'm older and more experienced now, and do not need reassuring stories of novicedom. Maybe I magically managed to collect the two zines that contained stories vastly superior to all the others. Maybe the full-book format was not the best way to absorb these stories. I'm pretty sure it's mostly a combination of the first and last reason. I have no doubt that these stories will still speak to plenty of young people experimenting/experiencing sex for the first time. I'm glad to know that when I returned the book to library it went back to it's place amongst the graphic novels in the teen center.

  13. 4 out of 5

    jimmy

    I just read this over the weekend and I have some thoughts. First, there’s not enough “sex ed” on the emotional aspects and Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf deals with exactly that– not necessarily the mechanics of sex, because really, who doesn’t have at least an understanding of those, but the emotions of sex. The contributors touch on a whole array of emotional “side effects” of sex: unrequited affection, abuse (getting out of it and being in it and maybe not wanting to get out), polyamory, gender, I just read this over the weekend and I have some thoughts. First, there’s not enough “sex ed” on the emotional aspects and Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf deals with exactly that– not necessarily the mechanics of sex, because really, who doesn’t have at least an understanding of those, but the emotions of sex. The contributors touch on a whole array of emotional “side effects” of sex: unrequited affection, abuse (getting out of it and being in it and maybe not wanting to get out), polyamory, gender, and etc… It’s a really beautiful coming-together of different voices and opinions. The diversity of this book is astounding. We hear from all kinds of people, cis and trans and everything in, all sorts of sexualities, vanilla and kinky, mono or polyamorous/sexual, and any combination thereof… It’s a book I can imagine nearly anyone feeling they fit into. I think that books aimed at teenagers that deal openly with sex are super important. The stories in this book could help a young girl get out of an abusive relationship, transfolks come to terms with their genitals, help young people who may be experimenting with BDSM feel out the dichotomy of what is healthy and what is not. It’s honestly a wonderful thing. That isn’t to say it’s perfect– some of the stuff in the book could definitely be trigger warning-ed as some of it fairly graphically deals with rape or abuse– but it’s definitely a great jumping off point and read overall.

  14. 4 out of 5

    typewriterdeluxe

    I'm used to textbook style sex ed (which removes the humanity and emotional aspects of sexuality) and so these personal, confessional-style stories were refreshing and a good addition for any sex ed collection. (there really is no "catch-all/cover-all" material for sex ed... though that would be convenient!) This won't be everyone's cup of tea (or slice of meatloaf) but that's okay. It's there for people who need it/want it. I have three notes on the perspectives in this book: 1. I recognize that I'm used to textbook style sex ed (which removes the humanity and emotional aspects of sexuality) and so these personal, confessional-style stories were refreshing and a good addition for any sex ed collection. (there really is no "catch-all/cover-all" material for sex ed... though that would be convenient!) This won't be everyone's cup of tea (or slice of meatloaf) but that's okay. It's there for people who need it/want it. I have three notes on the perspectives in this book: 1. I recognize that these came from low-tech zines and amateur artist/writers, but a few of the stories are basically unreadable due to poor copying, light/dark/midtone contrast issues, or hard-to-read handwriting. It's a shame, because I would like to have known what they were about. 2. I wish there was more information in the beginning of the book to describe how collecting these stories happened. It's an interesting variety of perspectives and I'd like to know more. 3. This may be an unpopular opinion but... I felt like Liza Blay and Saiya Miller (the editors) took up too much of the book. They were obviously integral to the creation of "Not Your Mother's Meatloaf" and they do have perspectives worth sharing, but when I was reading it I wished they had stepped back a bit.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Scott Neigh

    A series of comics from contributors as well as a mix of comics and memoir-ish narrative vignettes from the editors exploring the complex messiness of relationships and sexuality. The contributed comics vary a fair bit in quality, and this is certainly not a 101 kind of book in terms of how it approaches things. Still, I like it's story-based pedagogy and really respect its insistence on offering insights into a wide range of heavy and complicated questions. I appreciate how it makes very clear A series of comics from contributors as well as a mix of comics and memoir-ish narrative vignettes from the editors exploring the complex messiness of relationships and sexuality. The contributed comics vary a fair bit in quality, and this is certainly not a 101 kind of book in terms of how it approaches things. Still, I like it's story-based pedagogy and really respect its insistence on offering insights into a wide range of heavy and complicated questions. I appreciate how it makes very clear that complexity and messiness are almost unavoidable in this sphere of life, and how (for the most part, anyway) its focus on individual stories and insights allows it to bust through the suffocating hold of dominant norms that so successfully erase that complexity and messiness even at times in our narratives of ourselves, but very much so in the narratives that we frequently share with (and presume about) each other. I have a great deal of admiration for the brave folks who shared such intimate stuff in the making of this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    This was a hilarious and frank discussion about sex education. The graphic novel format is much more insightful than a traditional sex ed class and expands beyond the traditional idea of education by covering topics such as identity, consent, and gender - among other things. I can imagine that, had I read this at a younger age, I would have been comfortable with myself and with communication. There is a "no judgement" theme in general which is so absolutely necessary when having these discussion This was a hilarious and frank discussion about sex education. The graphic novel format is much more insightful than a traditional sex ed class and expands beyond the traditional idea of education by covering topics such as identity, consent, and gender - among other things. I can imagine that, had I read this at a younger age, I would have been comfortable with myself and with communication. There is a "no judgement" theme in general which is so absolutely necessary when having these discussions with youth. Each chapter is introduced by the two authors' own experiences in the subject matter. Between the authors and the contributors, each person will undoubtedly find some narrative to connect to.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kricket

    i love the idea of this book- comics drawn by many different submitters illustrating many different ways to experience sex. but the comics definitely vary in quality and readability. some were awesome- beautiful images and writing. with some i could barely read the artist's handwriting, which was annoying. and there was one particularly obnoxious one about STI testing written in rhyming couplets. so yeah, a bit hit & miss. still, i really enjoyed the written introductions to each section by mille i love the idea of this book- comics drawn by many different submitters illustrating many different ways to experience sex. but the comics definitely vary in quality and readability. some were awesome- beautiful images and writing. with some i could barely read the artist's handwriting, which was annoying. and there was one particularly obnoxious one about STI testing written in rhyming couplets. so yeah, a bit hit & miss. still, i really enjoyed the written introductions to each section by miller and bley. i liked the focus on consent, comfort, and knowing that the concept of "normal" is pretty fluid when it comes to sex.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Willa Simmet

    Would you like to learn about sex and healthy relationships? Did you learn jack shit about it in during your formative middle school years?The authors of these comics speak from the trenches of real experience about communication, consent, the continuum of age and experience, and the variety of ways to give and receive pleasure. Voices ranging from gender queer to as straight as they come share stories conveying true vulnerability and lessons learned from deep heartbreak. I wish I would have had Would you like to learn about sex and healthy relationships? Did you learn jack shit about it in during your formative middle school years?The authors of these comics speak from the trenches of real experience about communication, consent, the continuum of age and experience, and the variety of ways to give and receive pleasure. Voices ranging from gender queer to as straight as they come share stories conveying true vulnerability and lessons learned from deep heartbreak. I wish I would have had access to this book when I was 15, and am so thankful that this collection exists as a resource especially for all the Queer youth of the world!

  19. 5 out of 5

    April

    Alison Bechdel's blurb for this book is, "I wish I could go back in time and learn about sex from this book." I completely agree. However, without going back in time, I've also managed to learn about sex from this book. Sex means a lot of things to a lot of people and everyone has different experiences. Combining multiple perspectives and styles, Not your Mother's Meatloaf reminds readers that regardless of the sex you are having, not having, wish you were having, or wish you weren't having, it Alison Bechdel's blurb for this book is, "I wish I could go back in time and learn about sex from this book." I completely agree. However, without going back in time, I've also managed to learn about sex from this book. Sex means a lot of things to a lot of people and everyone has different experiences. Combining multiple perspectives and styles, Not your Mother's Meatloaf reminds readers that regardless of the sex you are having, not having, wish you were having, or wish you weren't having, it is most important to make sure that your sex is the right sex for you. Nicely done.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emilia P

    I read more anthologies than I should and most of them are middling with some great talent and some friendly additions that are snoozers and a loose theme so they come off somewhere between professional and amateur. This one is completely amateur and zine-y and sketchy and bold and great and I love it and I don't understand the title, but that's ok. I enjoyed this! Though also, the sex education part is a little loose -- it's sex education memoir at best, supplemental material rather than a guid I read more anthologies than I should and most of them are middling with some great talent and some friendly additions that are snoozers and a loose theme so they come off somewhere between professional and amateur. This one is completely amateur and zine-y and sketchy and bold and great and I love it and I don't understand the title, but that's ok. I enjoyed this! Though also, the sex education part is a little loose -- it's sex education memoir at best, supplemental material rather than a guide, per se.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    As a pedagogical collection of comic strips about sexuality, the main lesson is that there's lots of diversity in sexual experiences. Three strips that I particularly liked were: Grey Sex, Bare Naked Ladies, and Nude Beach. one that particularly didn't work for me was Cumbers, being both hard to read (as in poor lettering) and a wordy anti-sex diatribe not in sync with the rest of the book exactly, but a valid point of view to include. As a pedagogical collection of comic strips about sexuality, the main lesson is that there's lots of diversity in sexual experiences. Three strips that I particularly liked were: Grey Sex, Bare Naked Ladies, and Nude Beach. one that particularly didn't work for me was Cumbers, being both hard to read (as in poor lettering) and a wordy anti-sex diatribe not in sync with the rest of the book exactly, but a valid point of view to include.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    The quality (both in terms of sex ed content and visual presentation) is of widely varying quality, which unfortunately makes this book feel much more forgettable than had hoped. Many of the selections are so good I would love to be able to share them in sex ed classes I'm teaching, but the collection as a whole doesn't seem pitched correctly for that. The quality (both in terms of sex ed content and visual presentation) is of widely varying quality, which unfortunately makes this book feel much more forgettable than had hoped. Many of the selections are so good I would love to be able to share them in sex ed classes I'm teaching, but the collection as a whole doesn't seem pitched correctly for that.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    http://michelleakin.net/review-not-yo... http://michelleakin.net/review-not-yo...

  24. 5 out of 5

    elissa

    Looks like this could be interesting for OWL.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Elisabeth

    nnnn-ehhhhh...not so much.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nicky Jones

    The best! I wish I had this when I was a teen.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bailey

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany Marie

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