Well, not new, really. The terminology and the trends might change, but the fundamentals remain the same. (They remain the same, right? There’s not been any big changes I should know about?)
Last summer, my coworker and I gave our teen girls’ group a sex talk. It was a real learning experience for all those involved. The girls learned about how to access services at their local Planned Parenthood, how to avoid STDs, and about the effectiveness of various forms of birth control. I learned that, if 14 year olds don’t know how to do something, they will make it up. And no matter how many times I say “ejaculate,” I always want to giggle.
I’m actually rather comfortable with sex talks. Anatomically correct terminology, and shockingly specific hypothetical questions really don’t faze me. (“So like, if a girl’s having sex, and she hits her head on the ceiling because they’re in the top bunk, and she gets pregnant, would there be anything wrong with the baby? No, it never happened, I was just wondering.”)
What makes me uncomfortable are some of the girls’ attitudes. They are at best old-fashioned, at worst Puritanical, and almost always sexist.
We started with a pretty common activity. We listed the reasons that people have sex, and then broke down which of these reasons the girls thought were good, and which they thought were bad.
Amongst those reasons listed were wanting to have a baby, wanting to feel grown up, trying to keep a boyfriend, feeling pressured, wanting to fit in, being in a relationship, and being in love.
None of those were considered good. And none of them involved the woman enjoying herself. That concept, in fact, was considered radical, and a little inappropriate for discussion.
Hey, ladies, was that journey over on the Mayflower rough? I was waiting for them to tell me that they just, “lie back, and think of
the Bronx England.
They fear sex. They think of it as nothing but bad and dirty, and something boys are trying to get out of them so they can brag to their friends. Even when they were asked about why a woman might want to have sex with her husband, or partner she was in love with, their answers were disturbing. “To prove to him she loves him.” “Because you’re supposed to then.” “Christians say it’s OK to have sex if you’re married.”
Well, if Christians say it’s ok…
Some people might think it’s good for these teens to be afraid of sex. If they’re afraid of it, then they won’t do it! Here’s the thing–I’m afraid of clowns. So I don’t go to the circus. Problem solved. But attending the circus is not a normal part of human development and relationships, at least where I’m from, so I’m in the clear.
Not so with sex. It comes up. (Stop snickering.) And scaring the shit out of these kids by telling them that their “junk will fall off*” doesn’t help. Because eventually, they want to find out for themselves. They might get curious, they might feel they’re ready, they might be pressured or coerced. But it happens. And then they find out that, while it might not be the be all end all of human existence, they made it through, junk intact.
I find that with these girls. Their views on sex, and their actions that they admit to in group, just don’t match up. They think it’s bad, but they’re all doing it.
And apparently they, and their teenage boy counterparts, are quite inept. The boys are enjoying themselves, but the girls? I think they do their nails throughout.
This is how they think things are supposed to be. They don’t expect to get anything out of these types of relationships, except maybe a baby or a broken heart.
Suddenly, I feel like I’m writing a country song.
The idea of telling kids that sex is something that should be enjoyable seems a little taboo. We’re supposed to be preaching about the responsibility and the risk.
But maybe if these girls start thinking that there’s actually something in it for them, they’ll be a little more selective, and develop some new standards.
If not, at least some nutty social worker gave them a transit map of the Bronx, with all Planned Parenthoods circled.