Planned Parenthood partnered with actress Rachel Bloom and Refinery29, a media company that targets young woman, to produce three not-so-subtle comedy sketches about STDs, female anatomy, and "rape culture." The "Her Shorts" series includes a takeoff on the popular 1990s animated children's show The Magic School Bus, a women's anatomy game show, and a conversation with Satan and his lawyer about "rape culture."
The sketch with the devil and his advocate (get it?) is ostensibly an attempt to get young people to take "rape culture" seriously. It is unclear, however, how a comedy routine that goes for laughs while simultaneously decrying "ways that rape and sexual assault are normalized and trivialized in our society" is supposed to accomplish that.
Bloom names pop songs such as "Blurred Lines," references standup routines about "slipping a roofie" into a woman's drink, and points to "prison rape jokes" as examples of normalization. However, in a 2016 interview about her TV show, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Bloom was asked if anything was off the table or taboo in the show. Bloom says context matters:
"No, it's just if it's funny and it feels earned," she said of the show's comedy. "There are things we legally can't show, and there's FCC violations, but we work with them. If a song really demands a dirty version we'll post it online, but we stopped doing it just a little because of costs…it's all context. It's like when people say you can't tell a rape joke. It's like, well, what are you talking about. Is the butt of the joke that rape is funny? You can tell that. It's frankly trite in addition to being offensive."
One jarring portion of the routine is Bloom's explanation of how rape is not just committed by "monsters," but by "friends," "co-workers," and "otherwise upstanding citizens."
"Rape and sexual assault are not just committed by monsters. For years, we did think that. We thought that rape and sex crimes were only committed by men literally driven insane by sex; they were put in mental institutions instead of prisons. But now we know that's not true... it's not just insane men... it's all sorts of people, it's friends, it's co-workers, it's otherwise upstanding citizens, like everyone you can think of..."
Another sketich features a send-up of Bloom as "Ms. Drizzle" and her "Enchanted Mode of Education Transport" (not Ms. Frizzle and the Magic School: "No, we don't want to get sued, so I am Ms. Drizzle!") Ms. Drizzle takes her reluctant class of students inside the body of a "terrible boyfriend" to explore the STDs floating around in his system. Drizzle uses her powers to prompt the "boyfriend" to suggest to his girlfriend that they go get tested for STDs together, a suggestion the girl finds "thoughtful and romantic," particularly since he refuses "to wear a condom."
Planned Parenthood often mixes sexual messages with pop culture allusions, even appropriating wholesome if banal references for its purposes. In 2017, the organization produced a series of videos titled "Taking Care of Your "Pu**y," literally featuring cats, playing off one of the most common internet tropes, yet instead covering topics such as sexual health and masturbation.
Planned Parenthood says the "Her Shorts" series is a companion to its new “Sex Education Is..." campaign, designed to "help people understand how essential sex education is for young people" and "give parents resources for supporting their children, and encourage them to take action for sex education in their communities."