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teenagers and sexuality   ...   elsewhere on the web
tue 2004-jun-08 15:18:55 pdt   ...   permalink

danah pointed out this article in the NYTimes on teenagers and sexuality... Part of her response to it was:

If girls are really calling the shots about sex, what are the long-term implications? Damn that's rad. ... And if a matter-of-fact attitude about sex is emerging, can we begin to be more serious about realizing that marriage is just a contract, not some hormone-driven fantasy about love?

As for girls calling the shots, I agree that it's great if girls are feeling empowered in this way. However, the fact that most of the hookups described in the article consist of girls giving fellatio to guys, and not getting anything themselves ... well, I don't think that fact necessarily makes it less empowering for the girls. After all, if they feel like they're in control, then when they're ready for more, they'll ask for it. But I do think that the reason cited for the asymmetry -- that guys are grossed out by the idea of going down on a girl, and/or girls expect guys to be grossed out by it -- highlights the need for better sex education; in part just because of the notion that cunnilingus is gross, but perhaps more importantly because of the implicit assumption that oral sex is the only way for a guy to pleasure a girl, and so if for whatever reason he's put off by that one activity, then there's nothing else they could be doing... If they're experimenting with their sexuality, then why aren't they actually experimenting, trying out different things to see what's good?

As for danah's other point, that this suggests the emergence of a more matter-of-fact attitude toward sex, which might possibly lead to more realistic notions of marriage and so on ... well, I agree that such a shift in general attitude would be a good thing, but I don't think that the article really suggests such a shift. I mean, even if we suppose that these kids are separating sex from emotion (which the article strongly implies that they aren't in fact successfully doing), they still clearly have the same old fantasies about finding the "perfect" mate and then settling down and getting married, etc. So the marriage fantasy is still very much intact.

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sat 2004-jul-31 12:27:49 pdt
posted by leigh

My sister is 19 and I've been around her and her friends and have interacted with quite a few girls near her age through livejournal and what not.

Attitudes are shifting. I have no doubt there are tons of females out there who suffer the normal insecurities, have the programming that enjoying sex is bad, and feel obligated to have sex but there definately seems to be quite a few girls that are demanding they get theirs.

On the flip side, I have noticed a difference between the mentality of guys say, my boyfriends age (he's 20) and guys a bit older than myself. That they are more aware that they have a "duty" to their partner.

It's much nicer to be with a guy who initially wonders what he should be doing for me, then to be with a guy that I have to teach SHOULD be doing something for me.

Ironically my current boyfriend is an exception to the stereotype that younger guys are a touch more educated because I've had to teach him more than anyone else I've been with and it's been a lot of work to undo preconceptions and what not (stereotypes put into his head by watching male orientated porn and having never talked to females about their bodies or even read about women's bodies). But now that he's seen the light, he's as enthusiastic as any other. ;)

I'm not sure that a change in women's mentalities about their sexuality will change ideas on marriage. I don't personally see how they are related.

I have always seen marriage as a contract. When I was married, it was for financial reasons. I was disgusted by the entire idea of marriage when I was 10 years old (probably related to my upbringing) and came to terms with it by viewing it as a functional thing.

I think that people *should* view legal marriage as a contract but it doesn't need to be devoid of the emotional bonds either. As surely, standing before friends and family, doing the whole "i love you" crap, can be bonding (for anyone but me). And some people may feel further commited by signing a contract of that nature.

I am just happy to know people who don't view marriage as the only way to have a moral relationship. I resent religious associations with it and think they should be completely seperated, at least from the bigger picture of society.

Hmm, I lost my train of thought. Anyway ... YAY! for sexual awareness. :)

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