Sex and the NEMO Science Center
Early on in our Netherlands trip, Ryan Somma and I noted the credit card receipts didn’t have a line item for “Tip”. Solution? We started carrying around cash so we were able to leave an extra 20% to our wait staff. So it turns out there is a reason the credit card receipts were different. There was already a service charge automatically added to the bill! That was probably the most expensive cultural difference we ran across. Zwarte Piet was definitely the most perplexing cultural difference. The cultural difference that was most interesting… and inspiring… is the open attitude towards sex.
And I’m not talking about the famous Red Light District with the sex shops, the peep shows and the window ladies. I’m talking about what you can see in the NEMO Science Center— the children’s museum.
The exhibits were not squeamish about nudity and did not shy away from the topic of sex. On the nudity front, you could see it throughout the museum. One of the many optical illusions on display asked viewers if they could see lovers or dolphins. A great “Bizarre and Beautiful” exhibit displayed photographs to show how beauty varies from culture to culture.
Another exhibit allowed you to press a button and see how different hormones and proteins sounded if they were translated to music. Next to each item there was a representation so you could see what you were playing. So say for example you were playing the DNA of a mosquito. Next to the button was a mosquito. One of the musical scores was the “Human Sex Hormone”. For that representation, they simply put two naked dolls on top of each other.
And then we got to the third floor which featured more detailed exhibits geared towards teenagers. They had a display demonstrating sexual positions.
They had multiple displays on contraceptives, including novelty condoms.
The museum is a hands-on museum. What kind of hands on display can you do with sex? Hmm…How about allowing two children to move giant tongues to simulate a French Kiss?
A cartoon movie explaining the changes of puberty featured a confused cartoon boy ejaculating.
They even had a booth were you could put on headphones and watch snippets from Beautiful Agony, a site which captures the human orgasm… from the neck up.
With so much talk about sex, surely the teenagers must be running wild in the Netherlands. It’s got to be worse than any invasive species– their teen birth rate must be through the roof!
NOPE! According to a 2001 Unicef report, their births per 1000 women, ages 15-19 was 6.2. Ours– 52.1, over 8 times as much.
Oh gawd, silly me. Of course! The reason their birth rate is so low is there are more abortions!
NOPE! Their teen abortion rate per 1000 women, ages 15 – 19 was 3.9. Ours — 30.2. That’s 7 times higher.
| United States
|Births per 1000, women ages 15-19||52.1||6.2|
|Abortions per 1000, women ages 15-19||30.2||3.9|
Numbers from a 2001 Unicef Report
As a recap:
Easy and encouraged access to information to make knowledgeable decisions.
Less teen births.
Less teen abortions.
What exactly is the drawback here?
I may have my doubts and reservations about the Dutch’s Zwarte Piet, but not their attitute towards sex. I left the NEMO Science Center with a great respect for their culture.