Sunday 19 January 2014

Lamenting the loss of the "non-innocence" of youth

Writer BigLittleWolf at the Daily Plate of Crazy recently ran a series of postings on losing one's virginity: Your First Sexual Experience: Personal Essays. Ten women and two men gave their accounts of the good, the bad, and the ugly. If one thing is obvious, and I mean painfully obvious, most of these people were totally unprepared for sex. They had little or no idea of the mechanics of the sexual act, but more importantly, they had little or no idea about relationships, emotions, and the basic concepts of social interaction along with being polite and respectful. Why had these people not received any sex education? Why were they, both boys and girls, so ignorant of relationships? What happened to their parents? What happened to the school system?

In researching this posting, I have run across a few articles lamenting the loss of innocence of today's youth. Why are young Disney Stars like Miley Cyrus, once a role model as the character Hannah Montana, sexualised and transformed into something many parents fear? (Your Tango: 5 Reasons Disney Starlets Are Terrible Role Models For Your Kids) Why are kids not given the emotional and non-sexual messages of films like Disney's Frozen? (NPR: A Big 'Frozen' Ballad Speaks To Tweens)

My initial reaction to these articles penned by adults about an adult view of teenagers and tweens is that you're sh*tin' me. Loss of innocence? No, I see once again that adults are so uncomfortable talking about sex that they want to avoid it altogether. Damn the children; damn their sex education; and damn the hope of any of them having wonderful relationships.

I went through puberty at the age of eleven. "The average age of pubertal onset in girls is 10-and-a-half years old, but it ranges from seven to 13 years old. In boys, onset of puberty is from nine to 14 years, but on average starts at 11-and-a-half to 12 years old." (Duke Health, Durham, North Carolina)

I first masturbated when I was eleven and a half. "The average age at first masturbation was 13.1 and the median was 12.6. 87% of males and 68% of females learn to masturbate through self-discovery. FYI: The rest learn from another person or from media." (Healthy Strokes)

I lost my virginity when I was fifteen. "By their late teenage years, at least 3/4 of all men and women have had intercourse, and more than 2/3 of all sexually experienced teens have had 2 or more partners. Loss of virginity: Males: 25% by age of 15; females: 26% by 15. Males: 37% by 16; females: 40% by 16." (Kinsey)

When I was 11 and 12, there was a "health class" at school which gave some basic information about sex. If I remember correctly (I may have blocked this out), this included a banana and a condom. My parents never talked to me about sex except for one time. I was 16 years old and my Dad thought to have "the talk." At that particular moment, I had been sexually active for 5 years and had been without my virginity for a full year. Was that locking the barn door after the horse had been stolen or what?

I don't fault my parents so much as I see them as probably representative of what was going on in society in general way back then and what is still going on today. I'm sure there are wonderful parents who strive and succeed to raise their kids with a plethora of sex-positive messages but considering the above stories of first-time experiences, I can't help think that those parents are the exception to the rule.

You may think you're protecting your children and safeguarding their "innocence" but like me, they are going to go through puberty whether you like it or not. You may think postponing "the talk" means you postpone your kids from getting started with all that dirty stuff, but believe me or look at the stats I cited above, they are jacking off and jilling off whether you know it or don't know it or whether you talk about it or not. Sex is like lightning: you marvel at it; you are amazed by its power; and you accept there is nothing on Earth which can stop it.

More statistics
I am presenting the following numbers in order to indicate that a lot of people, and I mean a lot, seem to be conducting their lives in a manner which would indicate a lack of understanding about sexual matters.

According to UNAIDS.Org, there are 33 million on the planet currently living with HIV (2009). The same report estimates that in 2009, 1.8 million died from AIDS. In the United States, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 18,000 people die each year from AIDS.

UNAIDS reports that world-wide, there were 2,200,000 adults newly infected with the disease in 2009.

The CDC reports in its key findings for 2008:

Chlamydia remains the most commonly reported infectious disease in the United States. There were more than 1.2 million cases of chlamydia (1,210,523) reported to CDC in 2008, an increase from the 1.1 million cases reported in 2007. Women, especially young and minority women are hardest hit by chlamydia.

There were 336,742 reported cases of gonorrhea in 2008, a slight decline from 2007 (355,991 cases), making gonorrhea the second most commonly reported infectious disease in the United States. For the eighth consecutive year, gonorrhea rates among women and men were similar.

In 2008, there were 13,500 reported cases of primary and secondary (P&S) syphilis—the most infectious stages of the disease—the highest number of cases since 1995 and an increase over 2007 (11,466 cases). The majority of reported syphilis cases in the United States continue to be among MSM (men who have sex with men).

The CDC reports in its key findings for 2008:

Adolescent girls and young women are especially hard hit by these two diseases [chlamydia and gonorrhea]... This likely reflects a combination of factors, including biological differences that place females at greater risk for STDs than males, as well as higher STD screening rates among young women.

Guttmacher Institute - Feb 24/2009
1.94 million unintended pregnancies and 810,00 abortions are prevented each year by publicly funded family planning services
By providing millions of young and low-income women access to voluntary contraceptive services, the national family planning program prevents 1.94 million unintended pregnancies, including almost 400,000 teen pregnancies, each year. These pregnancies would result in 860,000 unintended births, 810,000 abortions and 270,000 miscarriages, according to a new Guttmacher Institute report.

Learning Sex From Porn
It's terrible. It's unrealistic. It's fake and doesn't give anybody a good view of human sexuality. Let's ban pornography!

Wait. What?

A mommy blogger recently wrote about how her 13 year old son was somehow changing, getting more distant, a little quieter, and sometimes argumentative. She brought up about him becoming interested in sex and her fear that he would learn about sex from porn. She wrote that the "thought of him thinking [sex] is like it is in porn makes me want to set my own hair on fire." (my blog: Talking to kids about sex: Okay, how did I learn?)

[Naomi] Wolf writes, "The young men talk about what it is like to grow up learning about sex from porn." (my blog: Men are just a bunch of @#$%^* sex addicts! - Jul 11/2011)

"I don't want my child to learn about sex from porn." Then teach them. Yes, it's just that simple: teach them. I don't want my children to learn about driving from watching the movies Fast and Furious. I give them driving instructions and I also enroll them at a driving school. If I don't want them to get a distorted view of sex, or the opposite sex, or life in general, I must explain the realities they must deal with.

But keep in mind, it's not just porn but society and media in general.

Women are taught to suppress their sexuality and men are taught to suppress their sensuality.

Sheila Kelley is an American actress, fitness guru, founder of Pole Dancing Workout, and a motivational speaker. In a TED Talk given in 2012 (see my blog: Sheila Kelley: Let's Get Naked: TED Talk), she discusses the suppression of female sexuality in our society. At the age of seven on a hot summer day, she and two neighbour boys took of their tops and lay down in the cool grass. The mother of the boys yelled out the window to the 7-year-old Ms. Kelley to put her top back on, that she was a naughty girl and that she should be ashamed of herself. Mom then sent the 7-year-old girl home. Kelley points out that a young girl is taught at an early age her body is different and should be hidden.

A study pointed out that boys are less aggressive when raised by a lesbian couple. As reported by the University of Southern California, a study of children raised by gay parents showed differences in their behaviour from those raised by heterosexual parents. For example, boys raised by lesbians appear to be less aggressive and more nurturing than boys raised in heterosexual families. While the aggressiveness of males may be attributed in part to the genes of the species, is aggressiveness also a learned behaviour? A study showing that lesbian parents have less aggressive boys would seem to point out that if Junior's a tough guy, he may have gotten that way from imitating dear old Dad.

Okay, now that I've stated the obvious, "teach them," does that mean any of us can just go right out there and start teaching sex to our kids?

Are parents capable of teaching their children about sex?
On my posting "What the @#$%^* do I know about sex?", a fellow blogger Chloe Jeffreys made a telling remark:

It is rather shocking how many women don't even know they have three openings on the bottom of their bodies. I think what passes for sex education in our culture is pretty piss-poor, and is causing lots of damage to boot.

What? Do we even know what the heck is going on? Just what may we, the collective we, be passing on down to our kids?

Are we as parents capable of educating our children about sex? Are we capable of educating them about relationships? Or are we passing down to our children messages deliberate or otherwise which contribute to the cacophony of misinformation not just children but all of us are subject to?

A curious thought. Kids are sent to school to learn math. At school, they learn history, geography, and a host of subjects of which I may not be knowledgeable enough to teach. Is school the best place for a demonstration of a banana and a condom? Maybe parents should leave the teaching up to experts and at home, teach more by example. (We are living good lives, right?)

A number of questions come to mind.
  • Do you talk to your children about sex? Do you discuss relationships, emotions, and the basics of respect for other people?
  • Do you or would you talk about the mechanics (and yes, I admit this could be embarrassing): pleasuring yourself (masturbation) or pleasuring others (oral sex)?
  • Do you or would you provide birth control such as condoms or the pill to your children?
  • Would you let your children have sex in your home in, let's say a supervised atmosphere or would you forbid them and therefore condemn them to having sex elsewhere in probably not the best of circumstances?
Teach by example? My father was a kind man. He always hugged and kissed his wife, my mother. He held the door for her and held her chair. They were together not just as a married couple but as partners. He was respectful, courteous, and never in any way the typical traditional male who may have been sexist and followed the "double standard." He was my role model.

But what is everybody else doing? Back in 2013, I wrote about a situation in Steubenville where two boys not only raped an intoxicated girl at a party, but penetrated her with their fingers. People took pictures so there was irrefutable proof they were, in fact, guilty of the crime.

my blog: Steubenville Rape Case: It could be your daughter. - Jan 13/2013
The media is filled with the back and forth debating of whether the boys are guilty or not. ... The bigger issue is what's going on in our society. This type of situation has cropped up so many times that anybody who stands back and looks at the big picture has to ask themselves whether or not we fully grasp what's going on in society. You go to a party and see a girl who has made the mistake of drinking too much. What do you do? Try to help her out by sobering her up. See if she has a purse and try to find the telephone number of her parents and call them. Pull off her panties and insert your fingers in her vagina.

Final Word
The first experiences published by Ms. Wolf were in some cases heart-breaking. We all should have good experiences but what else could anybody expect when uninformed or misinformed novices are thrown together in a situation for the first time. How was your first time riding a bicycle? How was your first time driving a car? Wait. Kids get together to have sex and have no experience whatsoever? It's a miracle there aren't more disasters but considering the previous stats about infections, disease, and pregnancy, I'd say there are already enough "preventable" disasters. Note what I said, "preventable."

I am not the least bit envious of a kid starting out. They go through puberty and they are pretty much left on their own to figure out one of the most important parts of the human experience. Is it any wonder any of us manage to get together and stay together? Is it any wonder not more of us have a cautionary tale to tell about infection, disease, or pregnancy? I had a friend who died from AIDS. He made a mistake. He paid for it with his life. If there is one thing I would wish for, it's that future generations don't make the same mistakes we're making. Life can be good. But life can also be a bumpy road. Let's try to help one another smooth that journey out.


Wikipedia: Tween (demographic)
A tween is a person who is between the ages of 10 to 12 years old. The term is often described in popular media as referring to a preadolescent (usually female) who is at the "in-between" stage in their development when they are considered "too old for toys, too young for boys".

Daily Plate of Crazy - Jan 1/2014
Your First Sexual Experience: Personal Essays by D. A. Wolf
The “first” series is a collection of essays on the first sexual experience, however one may define it. With contributions from a variety of writers, both women and men, the intent of this series is to explore the emotional and behavioral terrain that is born of our early forays into sexuality.

Good Dirty Woman - Jan 11/2014
Painful First Time Lessons and How to Avoid Them by Ms. Quote
The more I resisted, the more he said things like, "If you don’t have sex with me, I won’t be your boyfriend anymore." I relented. I didn’t want to be dumped and left without a boyfriend.

my blog: Talking to kids about sex: Okay, how did I learn?
I've joked about learning about sex from friends, porn or the graffiti on the walls of toilet stalls. While amusing, it begs the question how any of us learn about one of the most fundamental functions of the human body. Is sex competing with politics to be the topic with the most misinformation floating around about it? If I can paraphrase Winston Churchill by saying that never have so many said so much while knowing so little.

Wikipedia: The Sex Education Show
The Sex Education Show is a British sex education television show. It is presented by Anna Richardson and GP, Dr Radha Modgil and shown on Channel 4.

Published on Sep 22, 2013 by MrHelpmeplssss
Sexual education uncensored (47:01)

Other Materials
Somebody commented on one of my posting with this information. I know nothing about it but somebody somewhere is making an attempt to codify the teaching of sex to children.

Wikipedia: Our Whole Lives
Our Whole Lives, or OWL, is a series of six comprehensive sexuality curricula for children, teenagers, young adults (18–35-year-olds) and adults published by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries. Publication was the result of seven years of collaborative effort by the two faiths to prepare material which addresses sexuality throughout the lifespan in age appropriate ways.

Wikipedia: Harmful to Minors
Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children From Sex is a 2002 book by Judith Levine. The foreword was written by former United States Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, who resigned after suggesting that masturbation be promoted as a means of preventing young people from engaging in riskier forms of sexual activity.


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1 comment:

Ms. Quote said...

I remember the night when I picked up my oldest son from his first middle school dance 13 years ago. As I waited in the car, I couldn't get over how provocatively some of the 12 and 13-year-old girls were dressed ... skin-tight Lycra pants, back-baring tops, provocatively high heels.

At that age I had to wonder, "Who bought these clothes for these girls and who let them walk out of the house like that?"

I'm not a prude; I'm a sex blogger (although I wasn't at that time. I was in middle school in the "good old days" of the mid-'70's. It wasn't until I was in college when my female cohorts started dressing like that when they went out partying and clubbing.

I'm not for shielding teens about sexuality, but there is a sense of appropriateness that parents have the responsibility to convey to their teens.

I never taught my kids the concepts of abstinence or that sex was for married people only, but we did talk a lot about the concept of sexual responsibility and why it would be a good idea to wait to have sex until they were mature enough to handle all of the aspects of sex..