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05 March 2009 @ 06:09 pm
Sex: get it over with, dammit.  
America, you are really ridiculous, sometimes. Economically, geopolitically, environmentally, you've really got a schizophrenic paranoia approach to nearly everything. In nothing, however, are you more ridiculous than the subject of sex.

People of America, you are prudish and prurient at the same time. You claim to hate sex because that's what upstanding, moral figures are expected to do. Meanwhile, some of you could stock a good-sized porn store with what you have in your closets. You want your society to be sparkling clean and simon pure, but still let you get your sticky jollies where no one can see. You wonder why teen pregnancies are as high as they are, apparently forgetting that you saturate the air with tittilation on the one hand and condemnation on the other. You seriously ask why kids don't avoid getting pregnant when you don't give them the whole story.

Kids are at once keenly discerning of bullshit and the most willing to deceive themselves when doing so leads to gratification, especially of the new urges their hormones cause. We adults give them mixed messages and expect them to either know truth from lies, however we individually and subjectively define those things, or to just shut up and do as we tell them. Talk about denial; do you seriously think that a kid who refuses to understand that not doing homework has consequences is going to listen to you over the seductive, silky voice of throbbing, passionate biological need?

We are idiots. Honestly, we are. How much suffering and nonsense does the average teen go through in order to get a taste of sex? How much angst is experienced by an unwilling virgin? How much psychological damage are we willing to accept? Needless psychological scars, ones that most of us have, all because parents forget what it is like to be horny and clueless, told in one ear that sex is natural and yet whispered or shouted in the other that it is dirty, sinful, a horrible thing that you only inflict on someone you love enough to marry?

Enough. It is time for a rational solution. Naturally, yours truly has a humble suggestion for how to help future generations avoid these pitfalls and pratfalls. I present you the following as a sensible course of action: teach kids the facts about biological reproduction and contraception, let them experience sex in a controlled environment, and make up their own minds.

Step 1
When: starting as early as basic science classes that discuss biology
What: teach the basics of sexual reproduction
Why: more information is always better than less and avoids bias
How: standard classroom teaching methods, including textbooks, filmstrips, other visual aids that do not include live performances

Step 2
When: as soon as a kid begins puberty and secondary sex maturation (menses for girls, nocturnal emission for boys)
What: allow controlled sexual contact
Why: delay of the experience disconnects the biological reality from the psychological situation, increases peer pressure, and experience is the only teacher for this kind of life event
How: Begin by determining a child's generalized sexuality. Folks, this isn't as hard as you'd like to think. If a kid responds sexually to men and not women, then I think we're safe to say that you've either got a generally homosexual boy or heterosexual girl. If you get a fairly equal response, that's a bisexual. Please take a moment to discard whatever personal issues you have with these three labels; they're all biologically natural and come from the wiring, not from the household environment. You don't become gay because of how you were raised; any hangups you have didn't come via your genes.

By this point, following step 1, your children know the basics. What they don't know is how life-changing one's first sexual experience can be. This is something everyone seems to agree on, that the first sexual experience is a milestone in a human life. The main point of contention on this seems to be the "proper" time to have that experience. Some want to argue that everyone ought to wait until marriage. Folks, people did used to wait until marriage. They got married around the age of 12, but they were married. Biologically, ovulation and sperm production are not tied to the moment you put a ring around a finger. Psychologically, that ring does not bring with it the maturity to handle anything, on its own. Some people want to argue that no one should have sex before the age of 18. Nothing magically happens to a person on his or her 18th birthday, other than being expected to sign up to be called on by America to go die for our lovely country as a member of the armed forces. Keep in mind that said soldier can't imbibe alcohol legally for three more years, but at least now can have sex with another person over the age of 18 without anyone being prosecuted... in most states, anyway. Depends on the act involved, in some places, but that's not the discussion at hand.

What it really comes down to is the following: sex is a life-altering experience. It can completely change your perspective on life. No one is ever really prepared for this. You cannot adequately describe how sex with alter one's life to someone who hasn't had it. Put it this way: it's like describing a rainbow to a blind man. You can tell him all the details, all the physics behind the thing, but it's all just data to someone who has not SEEN those colors hanging in the sky. Essentially, you cannot prepare for the effect sex will have on your life. There is no such thing as being more or less "ready" for it. There is no sense, therefore, in attempting to delay it against a person's will.

A person's first time is going to be life-altering. The question is, for good or for bad? That depends on the experience. An unsatisfactory experience may well leave the now-former virgin more than simply unsatisfied. It may well catalyze any number of psychological issues, from trying more and varied experiences to quench that unnameable thirst to a hatred of sex altogether. Body image issues, loss of feelings of self-worth, it all results in unnecessary misery. Why leave so important a thing to chance?

There are, then, two ways to approach this, depending on what your'e more comfortable with; while one is more direct in achieving the desired goal, that method carries with it concerns of its own. Either way, frankly, is better than the haphazard nonsense we see now.
1) Arrange for contact between your subject and another virgin, preferrably around the same age, and who are reasonably attractive to one another. Determining what general body type is appealing is no more difficult than determining which gender a person's sexuality leans towards; show pictures, measure responses. Let them have sex, and that's the end of it.
2) Arrange for contact between your subject and a licensed sexual professional, again someone who is reasonably physically appealing to your subject.

The main plus of method 2 is that you are more likely to provide your subject with a positive sexual experience. You are also subtly conditioning your subject towards sexual attraction to adults as opposed to children. The main negative of method 1 is that you're putting two virgins together, two people who have academic knowledge of the subject rather than actual experience. While having a roadmap is better than nothing, you're always better off going into unexplored territory with a guide, someone who has already been to your destination. The obvious negative I expect to hear about method 2 is that you're putting a young adult into sexual contact with a just-pubescent teen. This is the very type of hangup that has led to the idea that one's 18th birthday magically imbues maturity and reason that no 17 year old could possess. Uncontrolled, it is certainly a concern; a pedophile stalking kids who don't know any better is a predator. One could make the argument that a cult leader is no less of a predator, preying upon the weak of mind, the unexperienced, the scared sheep in the flock who have never been taught how to tell a shepherd from a hungry fan of mutton.

There you go. You want to see an end to sexual hangups and to the dichotomy in our society between sexual reality and moral idolatry? End virginity. Stamp it out as soon as it appears. Treat it like an innoculation. Treat it, more than anything, like something normal, natural, and nothing to fear.

Postscript: I should have thought to say this in the first place. While no one has raised this objection and, I suspect, no one who has as of yet commented would dream otherwise, I want to make this much clear: while I would make classroom sexual education mandatory for all students, I would never suggest that sexual experience be mandatory at any age for any person. I would suggest it as part of truly comprehensive education on the subject, but no free person should ever feel like they are required to do anything with their bodies that they do not want.
 
 
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silver splits the blue: Blindfoldashbet on March 6th, 2009 01:54 am (UTC)
I do think there's a better way -- encourage masturbation. Seriously. Acting like partnered sex is the only way to deal with sexual urges is part of the problem -- we should honestly encourage masturbation for teenaged girls especially, because they're the ones who are least likely to be knowledgeable about their bodies and their sexual response, and teenaged boys are pretty damned clueless about how to be considerate and effective partners (and THAT is something that education for boys could focus on.)

Which isn't to say that the female orgasm should be the end goal of all teen sex education, but it's fair to say that boys are at least a little bit more straightforward on the point-and-shoot front ;)

-- A <3
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on March 6th, 2009 02:25 am (UTC)
I'm very much for masturbation, but as an adjunct to full contact. Masturbation, for the normal human being, has no identifiable downsides, especially as one part of a healthy sex life. It should indeed be encouraged as a part of normal sexual development, not the least of which because of what it can teach you about one's own pleasure responses. However, and I really must stress this: it is no substitute for partnered sexual contact. It definitely is not the milestone represented by the loss of virginity.
silver splits the blue: Burlesqueashbet on March 6th, 2009 06:55 pm (UTC)
I don't think it's a substitute -- but I think it's a fallacy to focus on partnered sex without giving a full and accurate curriculum on masturbation -- it's important for people to know how to please themselves before they go seeking out others.

Hell, I'd like to see mutual masturbation laid out as a very valid safe-sex alternative -- generally, teenagers who are "too shy" to masturbate in front of a partner will readily *fuck* that same partner. Why is this presented as being okay?

(Don't get me wrong, I'm all about the fucking, but I'm also an adult who knows what I'm doing and is aware of the potential consequences.)

I don't know what the answer is -- I'm not sure that either matching virgin teens OR having Licensed Practical Sexual Technicians (to steal a Lois Bujold reference) is the answer. I think that letting teens experiment in safe surroundings is a good idea, I think that talking to them openly and *saying* "Look, if you're in a relationship, you may want to have sex -- here's what you can do to provide mutual pleasure with less danger of pregnancy and STDs" is a good idea . . . but I don't know The Answer.

(Trust me, if I did, I'd be trying to talk The Answer into my own teenager -- as it is, I'm just doing my best to be sex-positive, to be factual about the dangers, and to be open to discussion. And I've been rewarded thus far -- I have a very sensible child who has come to me with questions and with discussion about how she sees her own orientation. And that is AWESOME. But I don't know how I'm going to handle it when she becomes sexually active at some point -- it still scares the hell out of me.

-- A :/
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on March 6th, 2009 10:28 pm (UTC)
What to do to encourage safe practices seems like an easier problem to tackle than getting the first time and "ramp up" out of the way, to me. My answer as presented here only addresses up to the first time. Get them past that hurdle and I'd hope that growing into a healthy sex life would become easier. Build the foundation first, that kind of thinking.
(Deleted comment)
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on March 6th, 2009 02:26 am (UTC)
Fair enough. There's no overnight solution to this problem, if only because there's no WAY to institute this into this society in the span of one generation.
(Deleted comment)
Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on March 6th, 2009 02:49 am (UTC)
I'd be lynched, if not classified as a sexual predator. Thrown into general population, that would be worse than being lynched.
Ace Lightning: nannyacelightning on March 6th, 2009 01:32 pm (UTC)
i've been saying pretty much the same thing for decades. American society is so totally fucked up about sex - as you say, simultaneously horrified by it and obsessed by it. just about every civilized nation on Earth wonders why America reacted so violently to Bill Clinton's blowjob, or Janet Jackson's nipple, because to them it's Just No Big Deal. their health-care plans routinely cover birth control, abortions and/or the "morning after" pill, and treatment of STDs (along with prenatal care regardless of the woman's marital status or living arrangements, and day care for working parents). our national hysteria over everything and anything even vaguely related to sex is probably a remnant of our Puritan origins, and i'm rather ashamed to be descended from some of them.

and you're right about the utterly arbitrary "age of consent". if an adult male has consensual sex with a woman at 11:30 PM on the night before her 18th birthday, he's a child molester, and is labeled as a "sex offender" for the rest of his life, with serious impairments to his civil rights. if he waits half an hour, it's perfectly okay (subject to laws regarding things like adultery, incest, prostitution, and public lewdness).

meanwhile, instead of teaching our children simple biological facts about their reproductive systems, we have "abstinence-only" programs, "born-again virgins", grown men vowing to "protect" their daughters' virginity... and rates of teen pregnancy and STDs that climb higher and higher. because when those hormones kick in, teenagers are going to fuck, whether we want them to or not... but if they're ignorant about their own bodies, a lot of things can go terribly, tragically wrong.

and don't even get me started on what happens to people who don't fit a very narrow definition of hetero-monogamous "normality"!


Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on March 6th, 2009 01:35 pm (UTC)
Precisely why it's time for a rational, calculated approach to take hold.
Ace Lightning: razzrabbitacelightning on March 7th, 2009 10:57 pm (UTC)
the question is, of course, how the fuck do we get that to happen?

Traveler Farlandertwfarlan on March 7th, 2009 11:08 pm (UTC)
In this society? You don't, not in less than three generations, anyway. It might be possible to do so in upcoming years. The groundwork for the first phase is there: more and more young people seem to be rejecting the idea that sex is something inherently "wrong." Get that generation to have stable households and start creating the next generation, and they may represent a majority of parents and voters who won't resist sex education in classrooms. Let THAT generation come up and become parents and voters; at that point, you might stand a chance of having a conversation about allowing truly open and comprehensive sexual teaching to begin.
Ace Lightning: wtf-01acelightning on March 8th, 2009 09:07 am (UTC)
here in the godless liberal Northeast, young adults are cheerfully practicing polyamory, bisexuality, BDSM, and every other form of polymorphous perversity they can invent. and some of them are continuing to do so even as they settle into households and begin to reproduce. however, out in flyover country it's still one man and one woman in holy wedlock, and any other arrangement is filthy and sinful, against the laws of god, and downright un-American. those are the people who need the re-education the most.