When I was in high school, we were required to listen to a lecture about sex. Some organization was trying to advocate abstinence, and they had young adults (only a few years older than us) speaking to us about sex. At the end of the presentation, there was a Q&A. There was a lot of discussion about teen pregnancy and STDs, but one boy in my class asked, “What if the girl doesn’t get pregnant and neither of us get an STD. Why shouldn’t we have sex?” One of the guys on stage had trouble answering this question. He could only talk about how there’s always a possibility of the two. What I wish he would’ve said is that sex is such an intimate thing that there are such strong emotions associated with it, so you should wait until you and your partner are ready to handle such feelings.
Sex had been a topic discussed among my peers since middle school. Not everyone was involved in such activities that young, but many many people were talking about those who were involved. Curiosity starts at this preteen age, because it’s the time you are leaving childhood and becoming an adult (a very young adult).
As soon as I brought back my first question from home relating to anything sexual, my mom immediately started talking to me about sex (as uncomfortable as it was for us), and many aspects related to it. I have been under the delusion that many parents discuss this with their children, but they don’t. I am very thankful my mom has kept a healthy dialogue with me about this, because it has everything to do with my views on sex today.
What is heartbreaking, though, is where preteens to young adults are learning about sex now. Martin Daubney is an ex-editor of Loaded, which is known for its “frequent nudity and lewd photo spreads.” He wrote an article describing that porn is the “most pernicious threat facing children today.” He was once an advocate for porn and would argue its benefits for an increase in adult’s sexual intimacy. Now, he has a four-year-old son and is witnessing the invasion and growing industry of online porn and its effects on children, or young people in general.
His study was based in the UK, but his article is still very relevant to the American culture. He found that, “According to the survey, the boys appear largely happy about watching porn - and were twice as likely as girls to do so - but the girls are significantly more confused, angry and frightened by online sexual imagery.” He further explained, “When you interview young women about their experiences of sex, you see an increased level of violence: rough, violent sex. That is directly because of porn, as young boys are getting their sexual cues from men in porn who are acting as if they're sexual psychopaths.”
Cindy Gallop spoke in a “Talks With Ted” video that further emphasizes this point. She is an older woman who describes her sexual experiences (not explicitly), and points out the difference between having sex with older men as opposed to men in their twenties. The younger men, she has experienced, were clearly influenced by porn videos, which resulted in a lack of satisfaction on her part. She advocates “make love not porn.”
This new generation afflicted by a mass increase of porn watching is starting younger than ever before because of its accessibility. Daubney found that boys as young as ten are being exposed to porn and “unhealthy relationship with pornography… can begin when they are as young as 12.” Also, both boys and girl watch porn, but boys were twice as likely.
Most studies about teen sex are concerned with teen pregnancy and the spread of STDs, which are valid concerns, but what about the effects of sex on the relationship? On an episode of “The Doctors,” there is a discussion with seven girls ages 15-18 about their sex lives. They discuss many things, such as the pressure to have oral sex in order to keep a boy’s interest. “E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork is concerned that girls often place more value on their boyfriends' feelings and desires than their own. "It's not about what he wants," Dr. Travis says. "It's about what you want ... The one thing I didn't hear is what you [girls] wanted, what you want for yourselves.””
These issues on sex start young, and will progress into later adult years, as Gallop pointed out in her own experiences. The problem is that we are being bombarded with this idealization of sex and how it’s supposed to be. It’s not only in porn, but has invaded mass media and advertising. In the documentary “Killing Me Softly 4,” Jean Kilbourne describes that women are shown to be submissive and comply with whatever a man wants, no matter how aggressive and dominant it is.
Has sex become one-sided? Is it only about pleasing the man? Shouldn’t it be about the love and pleasure of both? That’s what I was taught.
When I was young, most likely between the ages of 10-12, my mom told me what sex was and how it should be. This is how she described it to me: Sex is a beautiful and sacred thing that should happen with the person who you love and who loves and respects you. It’s not disgusting. It’s not ugly. It’s beautiful when done right. It can only be done right when there is a mutual love and respect between the both of you, so that he wants to take care of you.
Maybe some people may not agree with how young I was when my mom told me this, but think about how young people are when they learn and start engaging in sexual activities. Children will learn about sex at school, from classes and peers, but their views on sex can be completely shaped by the people they respect and look up to.
Killing Us Softly 4. documentary. Jean Kilbourne.