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Posts Tagged ‘sexuality’

Here they be spoilers for the I Kissed a Girl, which is NOT a lesbian anthem by the way episode of Glee.  So if you haven’t watched the 11/29 episode of Glee or you think they handled their race and sexuality issues well don’t click this. Because I am quite upset about the episode.

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I was attempting to post a comment to a blog about teen sexuality in Young Adult novels, but the comment wouldn’t post. So I’m putting it here instead. The original post can be found here: http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/2011/08/on-ya-and-teen-sexuality.html This is the third post I have seen in a week about Teen sexuality in YA so I wanted to chime in.

Teens are much more comfortable about sexuality today than in years past. I’m 26 now and I remember being 13 and 14 talking with my girlfriends about sex. Not kissing. Not holding hands. We talked about sex. And what we wanted to do. And what it would be like. We were voracious readers and consumers of media, mostly to learn about what to do. We talked about practicing kissing our pillows and teddy bears. I remember feeling very comfortable and excited, though nervous, during my first sexual encounters, and by this I’m talking kissing and petting between the ages of 17 and 19. I think that by assuming all readers are naive and awkward is a huge discredit to your readers. I remember feeling nervous and insecure, as was described in the article, but I never felt sitcom like or doe eyed.

I’d like to see some research on what the author is calling “adult view.” The article states that teens are not experiencing sexuality in an adult way. Is she talking about how adults think about things like STDs and pregnancy? Teens think about that. Is she talking about coyote ugly and thinking the next day I shouldn’t have done that? Teens think those things. Is she talking about being curious about your body and your sexuality and wanting to express it? Or about insecurities with their body and how they feel? Teens go through that, and so do adults. What woman who is going through pregnancy or menopause doesn’t think those same things? Adults go through feeling awkward, insecure, and nervous. Adults go through the newness of the experience with a new partner. I think the author is discounting the maturity and savviness of girls today due to lack of experience in their time as a teenager.

I’m not promoting a hyper sexualized child populace where everything should be erotica or little lolitas. I’m saying teens are much more aware of what is going on and much more comfortable, at least for the most part. This argument seems to be more a debate of values, such as the insensitive comment about sexually active people not reading, than about the consumer. Teens are going to sources to get information so that they are comfortable and aware, and a lot of times these sources are wrong or myth laden. Other sources are value driven. People talk about teen sexuality as though it’s something new, but teens today were the adults of yesteryear. Look at the baby boomers, and even before then in medieval and victorian times where girls and dowries were exchanged like cattle. If we continue with this idea of the general population thinking teens have whimsical thoughts a la The Brady Bunch we are going to continue to drive teens to find information from places that may not be safe. I would want my daughter to know that I want her to wait till she’s mature enough to handle it, till she’s married, but if she decides this is something she wants to experience here is information about this, this and this to keep her safe. I want her to be confident enough to voice what she wants and likes so she’s not pressured into doing something she doesn’t want to do, or something she’s not comfortable with. As an educator, I could tell you stories about the three 11 year olds that carried babies to term, the 3rd grader that described and made the motions of how she was going to “give head” to her 6th grader boyfriend in front of her mother, or the countless myths kids came to me to ask questions about. Teens are more aware of their sexuality than before, but they are surrounded by dangerous myths. Statistics show abstinence only sex education programs results in teens waiting an extra to engage in intercourse with a serious partner, and they use no protection when they do. In Europe they start teaching sex ed very young, at about age 8 in school, and contraception is readily available. We have a very sophisticated teenage population when it comes to sexuality and relationships, which may or may not be to their detriment, but without support from family and adults they are playing a very dangerous game.

This argument isn’t so much about sexual expression as it is about control. Trying to control sexuality, specifically women’s sexuality because we all know guys are patted on the back and looked at as studs for spreading their seed to as many people as possible, is detrimental to our girls. And trying to force a value system of the “good old days” is naive and a farce. Watch Grease or read the book by Greg from The Brady Bunch and see what was actually going on in those wholesome, whimsical times. And to authors, as was mentioned in the comments, you’re not writing your own shy, insecure, story. You are writing your characters authentic experience. We need to be wiser and change with the times or else we could be looking at an impoverished, unhealthy, misinformed, powerful youth. I think as a society we should move to be more accepting of everyone and sharing information so we can all be safe and healthy.

For further reading:
*Generation Me
*The Lolita Effect
*Geographies of Girlhood (articles about what teen girls are experiencing right now)
*Fleming, Jennifer J. (2007).Critical Thinking About Sex, Love and Romance in the Mass Media: Media Literacy Applications
*Nymphomania: a history
*Lamb, Sharon. (2008). The ‘right’ sexuality for girls,
*Lyons, Paul J. (1991). Our young people need more education about sexuality, and the media should take some responsibility to provide it. The Oregonian,
*Monaghan, Peter. (2007). Sex ed for grown-ups.
*Pinker, Susan. (2008). The sexual paradox.
*Roberts, John. (1994). Surgeon general resigns in masturbation row.
*Tavris, Carol. (2002). Are girls really as mean as the books say they are.
*Whitmire, Richard. (2008). A tough time to be a girl: gender imbalance on campuses.

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