The writer of Genesis makes it clear that in all of creation there is something different about humans. . . in some distinct, intentional way, something of God has been placed in them. . . a divine spark resides in every single human being.
Everybody, everywhere. Bearers of the divine image.
Picture a group of high school boys standing by their lockers when a girl walks by. One of the boys asks, “How do you rate that?” Then they take turns assigning numerical values to the various parts of her anatomy.
This scenario happens all the time, all over the world, every day. It’s a pastime for some. There are television shows and websites and endless discussions all devoted to deciding who’s hot and who’s not. It’s an industry, a form of entertainment, a culture.
And it’s everywhere.
The problem is that “that” is actually a “she.” A person. A woman. With a name, a history, with feelings.
For the first time in 15 years teen pregnancy is on the rise. In 2006 it rose by 3%.
It’s probably not that complex – the same parents who voted for Abstinence Only Education let their little girls wear Perfect Ass shorts and don’t talk to their kids about sex. Hello!
Kids aren’t stupid, they know there is a cultural conflict between what we say we believe and how we behave, what kind of media we allow and what we will tolerate from corporations as a people.
I finally got to watch the Oprah about teen sex where Laura Berman, author of Real Sex for Real Women talked to some 14 year olds about their pending decision to have sex.
Her interaction with those kids was brilliantly done.
Two 14-year-old kids are in love and say they are “ready.”
How long are you going to be together? Berman asks. A long time, they both agree. How long is a long time? Berman asks again. Like six months to a year, the teenage boy says to which the audience bursts out laughing. His girlfriend literally thinks he’s joking. What do you want? I’m in high school, he tells the audience.
Laura gets the girl to admit that when she’s saying “a long time” she’s fantasizing about forever. That poor girl has been naming their babies and practicing writing his last name behind hers on the back of her math homework for months. She’s in love. Do you still want to do it if you know he’s only planning on being with you for six months to a year? Berman asks his girlfriend. No, smart 14-year-old girl says.
It was so enlightening. I plan to keep that strategy in my back pocket. The thing is, it’s the different beliefs about what the relationship means and how long it will last that ends up breaking a girl’s heart.
Laura proceeded with her questioning and by the end the boy – who won’t be pregnant, go through labor, have an abortion or suffer heartbreak when he’s ready to move on – still wanted to have sex.
But the girl said, I’m slowly getting talked out of it.
On the other hand, I’ve been asking teenage mothers,
What could your parents have done to keep you from having sex?
Nothing, is the answer every time. They could have locked me up in a padded room with no connection to civilization, but that would be considered child abuse.
I hate that answer. My parents even tried that and it wasn’t effective.
Perhaps we’re fighting a losing battle with nature and hormones.
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Following last week’s show and talking to your kids about sex and the whole vibrator thing - I think America was somewhat shocked that it had you know. . . . gone this far.
Do girls masturbate? Well, yes Gail King, they do. And some of us are okay with that. (The ones who masturbate/masturbated? (wondering why Mark Consuelo can say he masturbated for three years straight and I feel like I’ve just crossed a major social boundary for implying I might’ve heard about it?))
Should we, their parents, buy them vibrators? Uh. Some of us are just not ready for that.
Maybe it’s a bad idea?
I do not have any insider information at all about today’s scheduled Oprah show in which she discusses what’s really going on with teenage girls.
I suspect it might shock me into conservatism.
See, here’s the thing. I’m a girl who did and wishes she didn’t. I’m a girl who well, set the bar too low.
It’s not that I’m shocked girls send their semi-nude and nude photos on cell phones – I’m just profoundly grateful they hadn’t invented cell phones when I was younger and my long-distance boyfriend probably deleted those email.
I just can’t tell you how much I pray that Ainsley’s not nearly as stupid as her mother.
If anyone gets why girls do the things they do – I do.
If anyone gets why girls shouldn’t do the things they do – I do.
For the same reason – because I did.
Old tactics for prevention and abstinence don’t work.
They didn’t work when I was a kid and they don’t work now.
So, I think it’s best that every parent tune into Oprah today and listen to what Laura Berman and the teenagers who say they are “ready” have to say. It will be useful information whether we agree or not.
We’re going to have to do something different. You know the definition of insanity: “Doing the same things and expecting a different result.”
Dr. Laura Berman, the beautiful and non-threatening sex therapist and author of Real Sex for Real Women, walked us through a very nice and forthright conversation we can have with our tweens. I was down with that. I even asked Ainsley if she wanted to watch that part of the show to answer any questions. No, I’m almost finished with my chapter book, she said.
We’ve already had the nuts and bolts discussion about what sex is. I know it seems young, but it kept coming up and like Laura, I think it should be an ongoing and honest conversation devoid of fear and anxiety. I wrote how that went for Ainsley and I in Empowering Girls: Anti-Climactic Birds and the Bees.
I was totally on board when Laura said we should talk to our kids about touching themselves as well. Small children – girls and boys – know it feels good to touch themselves on their private parts. I have been having a dialogue with Ainsley about this since toddlerhood. The conversation was centered around safety issues:
No one is allowed to touch you there except you. You need to be very gentle when you touch your vagina (I’m not saying labia or clitoris to a toddler – shut up). You never, ever put anything inside your vagina, because that’s not gentle and you could harm yourself. No one, ever, is allowed to put anything inside your vagina ever. That is never, ever okay and if anyone ever tries to, you kick and scream and bite and then come to mommy or daddy and tell on them.
Menstruation? Easy. Just answer the natural questions “what are those for?” when you buy tampons or pads or they find them in your purse. We bleed. It’s how God made women. We do it to carry babies.
I’m totally down with the talking about sex thing, I thought.
Until the junior high girls came on. I swear to you my first instinct was, Screw that! I’ll just put her in an All Girls School or Home School. Who doesn’t want to be spared the singular social nightmare of junior high anyway?
Here’s the part I’m confused about: Was there some evolutionary shift in the Universe that made girls way more desperate for love and affection than teenage boys are to touch boobs or have sex?
Evidently, teenage girls are desperate to be loved and claim a “boyfriend.” So desperate, in fact, according to the teen survey in Seventeen Magazine and O Magazine, that boys can extort nude photos to show their friends and demand sexual favors of girls simply by saying “if you don’t put out then I won’t talk to you anymore.” And girls are falling for it.Read the article about the teen survey here.
Steve Harvey claims that girls lowered the bar for boys. In his book, Act like a Lady, Think Like a Man, he claims that the fact that girls require nothing – no dating, no roses, no commitment or basic level of respect - before they will have sex is responsible for the declining behavior of men.
When I wrote about this theory before, a several adult women responded that they don’t “withhold sex” to get stuff. They felt the men they dated respected them anyway and it was mutual. But, when we’re talking about teenagers it seems teenage girls ought to get some level of dating signifyingrespect before they do it for nothing! And nothing about it seemed mutual.
Girls are giving blow jobs as Third Base (30% of teen girls admit to oral sex). Boys don’t perform oral sex in return. Foreplay is a Sext demanding sexual acts, for which the girls get . . . .what? Evidently nothing. No love, commitment, romance or affection. No movie, no dinner out, no flowers, no love poem, and no “I’ll love you forever.” She gets to claim she has a “boyfriend” for five minutes, until another girl sends nude photos of herself and trumps her claim.
Surely this is an extreme example? Those middle school kids on Oprah acted like this is run-of-the-mill, every-day reality for them.
“Seventy-eight percent of surveyed girls who are no longer virgins say they’ve had sex without using a condom, and 65 percent of them admit they lied about or hid it from their mothers. Most troubling, a sobering 56 percent of girls who are no longer virgins have had sex without any form of birth control: Sixty-six percent of these girls have kept that a secret from Mom. Even among the few girls who had an abortion, many didn’t tell,” says the article.
Boys no longer have to do anything to get sex from girls, girls do it for nothing and they aren’t using condoms and 25% of them now have STDs. Brilliant.
A few weeks ago I suggested parents, teachers, mentors and counselors talk about sex so often, so openly and so honestly that we claim sex back from the media with the truth and make it a middle-aged serious-as-hell, kinda grody thing to do in Real Sex, Take 35.
The survey holds this theory to be true: “It’s the girls who talk to their moms before their first time who are less likely to have regrets and risky sex.Also, girls who have The Talk are half as likely to get pregnant as those who don’t,” says the article.
Toward the end of the show Dr. Laura Berman made Gale King nearly die of a heart attack when she suggested mothers buy their daughters vibrators. Truth be told, I also nearly choked.
Her logic holds that if girls are able to fulfill their sexual needs by themselves, they won’t be so likely to have sex with a partner.
But, what’s wrong with good old-fashioned tools like shower heads and water faucets? Or their own hands? Why do we need to buy our kids vibrating gadgets? Will it be the new status symbol like the hottest cell phone or Wii? It’s just too much.
And really, the vibrator solution does nothing for my biggest concern – the obvious desperation of girls who will do anything sexual for no emotional pay-off from boys who treat them like they are nothing.
What did you think of the Talking to Kids About Sex Oprah Show?
Download an easy-to-use freehandbook about how to talk to your kids about sex here.