I am obsessed with sex.
I have no idea what images to use to illustrate this post.
I have no idea what images to use to illustrate this post.
Not that I have a sex addiction, but more I am fascinated by the very concept of it. I love talking about sex, and I love learning about it. I obsessively track down sex-related things and consume information like some sort of sex-seeking vacuum. My hunger for more information will probably never be satisfied. I realized a while ago that I could count "watching videos of animal penises" as one of my hobbies. I am deeply intrigued by others' fetishes, sexuality and bodies. I love everything about sex from basic erotica to birth control to sex toys to animal insemination to politics.
And yet, I have barely talked about it on my blog.
This is very strange to me. I figured it was about time that I say something about it.
I think I'll start where most of us started: with teen sex.
For me, it was this slideshow. What startled me was the realization that the attitudes we hold toward teen sex are not the same globally. I have long figured we were approaching sex completely wrong, but hadn't been aware that were were places doing it right.
Teens will have sex. Period. All the abstinence-only education in the world, all the religious pressure, and the promise rings and purity balls and motivational speakers in the world won't stop it. It's the strongest urge our bodies feel, and that we somehow expect keeping kids in the dark about sex will make them less likely to have it simply goes to show how retarded we all are.
Or at least, how retarded some of us are.
From the slideshow:
In both Europe and America, the age at which most people start having sex is 17. [...] Teen pregnancy rates in the United States are three to six times higher than in Western European countries. [...] The gap between Europe and the United States for sexually transmitted diseases is even greater.
Many, many studies have shown this. Not only does abstinence-only or shame-based sex education not prevent teen sex, it makes them less likely to be smart about it. The only difference between teens who have pledged purity and those who haven't is that, when the "pure" kids inevitably have sex, they are less likely to use protection. Yea. Good job guys. Not only are you fostering damaging, unhealthy views about sex and their bodies with this purity bullcrap, you're risking their health too.
So, what's an effective way to prepare teens for sex? Just giving them informaiton about birth control and STIs won't work. It might protect their immediate health, but it does nothing to encourage healthy relationships and self-respect.
Research shows that 74 percent of Dutch teens are in a committed relationship with their sexual partner and 80 percent enjoyed their first sexual experience...
The majority of U.S. teens—63 percent of boys and 69 percent of girls—wish they had waited longer to have sex, compared with only 5 percent of boys and 12 percent of girls in the Netherlands. This is perhaps the saddest statistic of all, because it suggests that for most American teens, their first sexual experience is not a good one, it is not with the right person, and it happened before they were ready.
This is what came up when I searched for "used tape" to illustrate my point. I think it does a nice job of it.What could possibly cause this? We have created a culture of shame around sex. We depict sex as "giving something up" - especially your first time. That idea implies that we lose something when we have sex - and that it's somehow worse when the people having sex are young.
We had a speaker at our high school once. They called two volunteers up on the stage and pulled out a roll of packing tape. The speaker taped the two students' arms together, and said "This is you having sex."
They then pulled the tape off and held it up to the audience. "On this tape there are little bits of skin, sweat and hair that the tape pulled off. When you have sex, it's just like that - you give a little bit of yourself away, that you can never get back."
This is atrocious, and I only wish I knew then what I know now, so I could stand up and challenge that idea. Sex is what you make of it - it can be an intimate bonding experience, full of love and emotion, or it can be something fun with no intimacy. Either way, we need to get over this idea that sex is a battle where someone takes something from you. We need to recast it as something enjoyable you share, freely, with your partner(s).
Many American parents don't believe that teenagers are capable of experiencing real love. We also have a Hollywood view of true love as rare and extraordinary—it only happens to a few lucky people... If you don't have the expectation of falling in love, why would you wait to be in love to have sex?
The Dutch see love as common, ordinary, and something teens as well as adults can expect to experience. Their corresponding expectation is that sex only occurs within a loving, committed relationship.
I have to say, I am ashamed I have fallen into this thought pattern before. "What could young people possibly know about love?" I would say. "You're just in lust right now. You'll grow out of it." That is an extremely damaging view to take. What could young people know about love? Everything that an adult can. The only reason we believe teens can't possibly "love" is because we've just grown up hearing that message. Love doesn't have to be full of unicorns and fireworks and "forever"s - it's a simple connection or union between people. One can love and move on. One can love until death. All that matters is that we should be encouraging healthy relationships between teens - not dismissing their experiences and emotions as if we somehow know better.
Another difference across the pond is the role that parents play. In the United States, sex is generally kept secret from parents. In a 2004 study, Schalet asked parents: "Would you permit your son or daughter to spend the night with a girlfriend or boyfriend in his or her room at home?" Not surprisingly, nine out of 10 American parents said, no, often adding, "Not under my roof!"
Nine out of 10 Dutch parents told Schalet they have allowed or would allow a romantic sleepover under the right circumstances: With a child who was 16 or older and in a loving committed relationship that the parents observed develop gradually. It is common for Dutch teens to sit down together with each set of parents to discuss why they think they're ready to have sex, and to seek permission.
Most amazing is this. A culture where parents are not afraid of their children's sexuality - and in fact, encourage them to develop. Instead of parents stamping out early sex-ed programs, they are taking matters into their own hands and having these conversations in their own homes. This renders me nearly speechless.
Clearly, they are approaching teen sexuality correctly - the results don't lie. Whereas we have a continent full of people who regret, are ashamed, confused, diseased and pregnant, they meet the problem face-on with information, friendliness and teaching love and self-respect.
This has been a srspost about sex. I suspect there will be more to come - both srsposts and sillyposts. Happy sexing!