YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

May 2, 2013

Teen-age sex

Zefirrelli Romeo and Juliet 1968

Zefirrelli Romeo and Juliet 1968

The ruling that the morning-after pill is to be made available over the counter and to girls of only fifteen years of age has caused conservatives to fret and oppose the move. This blog will surprise some of my readers because I will take a feminist position on it, and one that is also aware of changes in life expectancy. Some of it will be autobiographical.

Although teen-agers often perform Romeo and Juliet, Franco Zefirrelli’s film of 1968 reminded us of how young the star-crossed lovers were. It is often forgotten that until modern public health measures were taken, and the discovery of the germ theory of disease, plus developments in surgery and antisepsis, the life span of homo sapiens was shockingly short. As a teen ager I recall that life expectancy for women was 65, while men could expect to live to 62. In pre-modern times, those who made it past thirty-five were lucky.

Not withstanding our longer life-expectancy today, biology continues to prepare pubescent boys and girls for sexuality and reproduction. A general hyper-sexualization promoted by mass media and modern contraception, plus an unfortunate reading of the feminist movement (aided and abetted by ambitious pseudo-feminists), has resulted in premature experimentation with sexuality in the teen-age population.

When I was in high school in the 1950s, it was not expected that love-making would go much beyond necking and petting. To be pregnant was scandalous, and abortion was confined to back alley butchery. Even in college, girls who indulged the general animal eagerness of college age young men, kept it to themselves, for there were curfews, and the sexes were confined to separate dormitories. Many of my classmates, if they did have premarital sex, married their boyfriends. We didn’t talk about sex much at all. In those days, we might be husband shopping, but we were also intent on our education, then as now, the route to upward mobility, even if that meant marrying an engineer or pre-med or pre-law student, achieving vicariously through our husbands’ accomplishments.

After my divorce in the early 1970s, I met several men of European extraction who confessed that they never any sex whatsoever until they were roughly twenty-one years of age. They were intellectuals of middle-class parentage, and I thought nothing of their late initiation into sex.

As the feminist movement proceeded, along with my immersion in the daring life styles of the counter-culture, I had plenty of opportunity to see how differently men and women experienced the new libertine excess. Women, I concluded, took sex very seriously, and did not expect to be treated like toys, used once and then discarded. Leftist men, however, not unlike some prominent lesbian feminists, were proudly promiscuous and indifferent to the feelings of their “liberated” “community of women” and insisted that it was politically correct to sleep around, and to relate to sex as men did, not as mothers-to-be did, expecting at least serial monogamy and suffering from feelings of abandonment when their sex partners were indifferent or hostile to feminine responses.

There is no rational reason for not teaching middle school children about such matters. They should not only learn about the difference between boys and girls and how they relate to sexuality, but girls should learn to stand up for themselves and not to be doormats for predatory males (and as the comment below reminds us, women can be predatory too). The pressure on girls to conform to male demands is appalling.

Some religious parents may hide like ostriches from these facts of life and pretend that their children will be persuaded by demands for abstinence, and some children probably will conform out of religious commitments and fears. But I think that these parents are deluded at best, and wrong at least. For they are up against the most powerful impulse in the years of  adolescence.

We need a  national conversation on this sensitive matter. Personally, I surprise myself by a renewed interest in separate education for teen age boys and girls. Girls can then focus on their education, and not their clothes, make-up, and sex appeal. The teen age years are dangerous for the emotional and physical health of all children, for they are susceptible to the appeals of forces and social movements that do not have their best interests at heart.

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9 Comments »

  1. Segregating males and females in middle or high schools for some or most classes is an excellent idea. It need not be (should not be) all classes, with common gym class, breaks, and lunch, etc, and the curriculum and even instructors need not be different for boys and girls in a multi-class scheduling environment.

    Comment by Mark Leavenworth — July 25, 2014 @ 8:41 pm | Reply

  2. Reblogged this on YDS: The Clare Spark Blog and commented:

    I’m making this my home page till I come back, because my daughter Jenny, aka Shula aka…. likes it a lot.

    Comment by clarespark — May 22, 2013 @ 1:02 am | Reply

  3. As a shy, sensitive, artistic 17 year old who took sex-love-relationship VERY seriously when I arrived at the rural-uber-hip Vermont college I attended in the early 70’s, I can tell you that free love was also a disaster for the romantic male; many ended up victims of women using their newly unleashed sexual power to explore themselves or make a political point. Some men, too, “took sex very seriously, and did not expect to be treated like toys, used once and then discarded”. If, as you allude to, “some prominent lesbian feminists, were proudly promiscuous and indifferent to the feelings of their “liberated” “community of women””, they were, in my experience, even more indifferent to the feelings of their feminist male compatriots.

    Comment by MAO — May 19, 2013 @ 10:07 pm | Reply

  4. I agree! I support the morning-after pill for fifteen year olds. When I was fifteen, knowing that I had condoms, pills and other devices available to me and my partners did not inspire me to immediately throw an orgy. Far from it; but knowing those options were available gave me a profound sense of security. Fifteen-year-old girls shouldn’t be having sex, I agree, but it’s up to parents to supervise them and instruct them not to, and if they are still having sex even after all that, they shouldn’t get pregnant merely because society is feeling punitive towards them or their parents don’t want to teach them. Birth control did not become widely available until around 1972 and Roe v. Wade came in ’73; prior to that, millions of American girls and women got pregnant and were forced to surrender 1.5 million babies. I also (surprisingly!) agree that sex-segregated education might bolster the confidence of girls. That’s plenty of things I disagree with in the Haredi, ultra-Orthodox, Hasidic or Chabad subcultures. But girls growing up in this environment have a whole different sense of themselves, a confidence and assertiveness that depends less on the male gaze and male valuation.

    In some gay men I’ve known, promiscuity seems to be a coping mechanism for feelings of alienation and low self-worth. Men feel they are unworthy of a long-term partner, so they sleep around. Or if they feel they are worthy, they might not have the means to find a partner. This is also why so many gay men are “drama queens” who make tempests in teapots; they’ve received so much negative feedback that they vomit it back on others, an emotional bulimia. Certain folk are so desperate for any kind of attention that they will create drama just to have negative attention. Being “in the closet” creates a fundamental lack of integrity for some, forever after, even after they are “out”, a distortion in personality where emotions and feelings are either exaggerated or repressed, formidable foes to any natural emotional health.

    Comment by Yitzhak — May 13, 2013 @ 9:47 pm | Reply

  5. “The teen age years are dangerous for the emotional and physical health of all children…”

    And it’s so nice that our schools address this danger by locking hordes of teen agers together in a building and telling them work everything out on their own. It’s like trying to tame a wild monkey by throwing him in a cage with a thousand other wild monkeys.

    Comment by Bugs — May 9, 2013 @ 5:58 pm | Reply

  6. […] marriage while still wet behind the ears. Sadly, our biology lags behind emotional maturity. (See http://clarespark.com/2013/05/02/teen-age-sex/.) The mass media sell sexuality, princess weddings, and adorable babies to the detriment of a […]

    Pingback by Power in gay and/or heterosexual attachments | YDS: The Clare Spark Blog — May 3, 2013 @ 8:41 pm | Reply

  7. I share your opinion about separate education for boys and girls. I went to an all boys high schooI, Brooklyn Tech and I am glad I did. Brooklyn Tech has become coed though, for good reason. Girls should have equal opportunity to pursue a high quality technical curriculum. If we separate the sexes, we must assure equal opportunity.

    I am shocked at the content of TV shows for pre-adolescents, and I am totally opposed to schools handing out condoms to under age girls. The peer pressure is great enough without such sanction from the authority fighure that school represents..

    Comment by Bob Ennis — May 3, 2013 @ 1:29 am | Reply

    • The public silence regarding education is a disgrace. I agree that girls should have equal access to a fine technical education.

      Comment by clarespark — May 3, 2013 @ 1:42 am | Reply


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