Watch Family Planning, Walt Disney’s 1967 Sex Ed Production, Starring Donald Duck

In 1951, Carl Djerassi, a chemist working in an obscure lab in Mexico City, created the first progesterone pill. Little did he know that, a decade later, 1.2 million women would be “on the Pill” in America, exercising unprecedented control over their reproductive rights. By 1967, that number would reach 12.5 million women worldwide. It was fortuitous timing, seeing that the post-war global population was starting to surge. It took 125 years (1800-1925) for the global population to move from one billion to two billion (see historical chart), but only 35 years (1925-1960) for that number to reach three billion. Non-profits like the Population Council were founded to think through emerging population questions, and by the mid-1960s, they began publishing a peer-reviewed journal called Studies in Family Planning and also working with Walt Disney to produce a 10-minute educational cartoon. You can watch Family Planning above.

Eventually translated into 25 languages, the film avoids anything sexually explicit. The family planning advice is vague at best and, perversely but not surprisingly, only male characters get a real voice in the production. But lest you think that Disney was breaking any real ground here, let me remind you of its more daring foray into sex-ed films two decades prior. That’s when it produced The Story of Menstruation (1946)a more substantive film shown to 105 million students across the US.

You can find Family Planning and The Story of Menstruation housed in the Animation section of our collection of 550 Free Online Movies.

Related Content:

No Women Need Apply: A Disheartening 1938 Rejection Letter from Disney Animation

How Walt Disney Cartoons Are Made

Donald Duck Wants You to Pay Your Taxes (1943)

Walt Disney Presents the Super Cartoon Camera (1957)

 


by | Permalink | Comments (9) |

  • Hanoch

    “Reproductive rights”? When antibiotics were discovered did people speak of exercising control over their microbial rights?

  • W Scannella

    Thank you for this excellent example of sophistry. Aquinas would be very proud of you, like a son, if he had had any children.

  • Truly S.

    I find it interesting that family planning is discussed directly only with the man–the woman has to whisper her own questions about it in his ear so he can ask them on her behalf–yet when it comes time to go to the doctor to find out the details, SHE’s the one who has to do it!

  • Michelle

    I love how there are only 4 sons in the picture, but when it’s time to split the land there are suddenly 7. Bias much?

  • Jessica

    I’m actually interested in the issues of race here. As far as I know, Post-War population was increasing rapidly mostly in “1st World” countries. Yet, “everyman” is clearly South American, and instead of showing how White American’s population increase is unnecessary, they focus on small poor farming communities, who’s multiple children would be a normal part of life–needed for helping farm the land.

  • Barrie

    If “everyman” were truly representative of the world population today, he’d Asian. China and India together account for 38% of all humans. Birth rates in “educated” countries (USA, Europe, etc) have trended downward. Multiple children are NOT needed to help farm the land–a single farmer with modern equipment can easily farm 200 to 400 acres by himself. Jessica is looking for racial animosity where none exists.

  • Noor Saadeh

    There is so much messed up in this. For starters we focus not on the traditional anglo saxon, white European but ‘other’ races such as Latino, Arab, Asian etc. The main character what? Latino perhaps. So once again it is ‘their’ problem and ‘those’ people we don’t want multiplying. Also note where the plague is located and where life is good! Hmmm…can we say propaganda Walt?!

  • Maurice

    I think we are missing the point. It’s sad that an “Everyman” chosen in 1967 can offend so many people in 2014.

    2 questions.

    1. Who would the information benefit(in 1967)? – A family unit.

    2. Who needed the most persuasion(in 1967)? – The douche… sorry I meant Dad.

  • August

    The issue of race is critical here and Barrie is an idiot. The farmer and family are suppose to be amalgams of people in the Global South, not represent any particular region or peoples. They are poor, non-white farmers, that is explicit. Although there were populations booms in the West post-WWII this tapered off and skyrocketed elsewhere (see demographic transition theory). This video was made by Disney for the Population Council, a Rockefeller NGO which focused on “health” in the third world. The video is as a propaganda piece to control population growth in the Global South which was a major imperial concern in the 60’s and 70’s (see Eduardo Galeano’s Open Veins of Latin America).

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