Friday, December 19, 2008

Teens and sex and taboos

I've been challenged on my position that kids should be educated about sex. Because it seems kids these days already know about sex, and earlier than ever, and surely that can't be a good thing... According to this report, many even have it in public. And that is "shocking" according to their expert.

These are complex issues. Apart from not trusting a group called "MomLogic" to make an unbiased and scientific survey, my feelings are thusly:

1) An unexamined taboo is damaging.

2) Education is always good. If it appears to be damaging, it is faulty or unbalanced or incomplete.

3) To know about something is not the same as being educated about it. You can learn to drive a car in five minutes, but it takes months to become educated about it.

4) We must be alert for emotional arguments. That something is shocking is not a valuable datum. Why is it shocking? Is there real damage? What should be done about it, and what will be the consequences of those actions?

5) Supressing the biological imperative has consequences.

6) Telling people, adult or not, that they are not allowed to do something will make it more interesting.

7) Education comes from the whole world, not just "parents or school". It comes from books, friends, TV, Internet, school, parents, etc etc. When it comes down to it, a person, even a child, is the only person who can educate him/herself. And they will.

Karen Rayne, Ph.D. said...
Thanks for your post, Eolake. I certainly agree with you about teenagers needing appropriate sex ed. Here's something I've written in the past:
I have been asked what I believe is important in sex education in the family. So here it is:
I believe that…
…parents have to talk to their kids about sex.
I believe that…
…everyone has sex, and should therefore know about sex.
I believe that…
…sex is not all bad, even for teenagers.
I go into each of those points in some depth here.


Anonymous said...

Kids will either learn about sex from their parents and teachers or they'll learn it from porn. Stigmatizing and avoiding an issue as complex and as important as human sexuality only damages people.

Teaching a teenager how to use a condom isn't telling them, "Go have sex", it's telling them, "If you do have sex, don't have a kid." I think it's largely the property vs. personhood mindset. Many try to act like their kids like computers they can program to do exactly what they want given the right input.

It's not a failure on the part of the media, or the church, or even the family; the methods are inherently flawed. At the end of the day teenagers still have genitals, and some of them will not be able to resist the heathen call of their crotches. No method based on denying that reality will ever work.

Anonymous said...

We must be alert for emotional arguments. That something is shocking is not a valuable datum. Why is it shocking?

This is the most important one in my opinion. Many people react instinctively with emotion usually born of igorance.

Examine the reaction and in the cold light of reason it's usually groundless.

Karen Rayne, Ph.D. said...

Thanks for your post, Eolake. I certainly agree with you about teenagers needing appropriate sex ed. Here's something I've written in the past:

I have been asked what I believe is important in sex education in the family. So here it is:

I believe that…
…parents have to talk to their kids about sex.

I believe that…
…everyone has sex, and should therefore know about sex.

I believe that…
…sex is not all bad, even for teenagers.

I go into each of those points in some depth here:

Now back to getting ready for the big holiday party I'm hosting tonight!

ttl said...

2) Education is always good. If it appears to be damaging, it is faulty or unbalanced or incomplete.

I couldn't disagree more. Education is always bad, and nearly always damaging, no matter what the subject. To understand how disgusting education is, you only need to read this (from Wiki):

Formal education consists of systematic instruction, teaching and training by teachers. This consists of the application of pedagogy and the development of curricula.

See? Education is a dirty word.

Anonymous said...

Formal education consists of systematic instruction, teaching and training by teachers. This consists of the application of pedagogy and the development of curricula.

Dang. That's pretty damning. And you know I've got to know what I'm talking about, I have a Ph.D.

Raf Val said...

my experience is that prepubescent kids arent interested in sex at all, they are very interested in taboos tho, so, as an example, show them a photo of a naked woman and their normal response is that its boring, but hide them from them and they will hunt them out and show them to their friends

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

I've only found the time to have a quick glimpse at your blog (hectic life - don't ask!), but I can say this in all confidence: It. Is. Awesome.
More voices like yours are direly needed in the world. And, amazing as it feels to say this after the way I expected the future to turn out in my youth, in the world today more than ever. Because today we are regressing.

Re. this sex in school survey, I want to express a far more urgent concern: just how many kids living on a farm have witnessed sex? I mean, these animals, they notoriously go at it in public like... like animals!
And they're always going about NAKED! Won't somebody put a skirt on Clarabelle the Cow, for Big Pete's sake?
(This is no joke: Disney's Clarabelle started wearing a skirt because her udder was deemed offensive by the Prude Leagues: "It's a cow's breast!")

For now, I'll just add a list of things that some countries find so ABOMINABLY offensive they would end you up in prison or executed, while other countries find them not at all offensive, and the latter still haven't seen their whole society and solar system implode in one furious backslap (Norris roundhouse kick?) of a wrathful God of Virtues:
- Drinking alcohol.
- Eating meat.
- Walking without watching your every step for fear of killing an ant, which is a living being.
- Living naked all the time.
- Letting your children, and those of your neighbors, see you naked. All the time.
- Letting a glimpse of your nipple be seen on TV without pre-prepared (pre-paired?) censorship bars.
- Being bare-chested in public when you're a fat man.
- Being bare-chested on a public beach when you're a woman.
- Going to the beach with a swimsuit that doesn't cover the knees and elbows.
- A woman going out without being chaperoned by a man of her family.
- A woman driving a car.
- A woman letting her hair show (the hair on her head, that is)
- A woman letting her EYES be seen.
- A woman letting anything of her body's shape be seen.
- A man not having had his foreskin amputated one week after birth.
- Telling somebody about Jesus instead of Prophet Muhammad PBUH (Prayer Be Upon Him).
- Telling somebody about Muhammad instead of Jesus Christ.
- Telling somebody about Jesus or Muhammad instead of the Party's Doctrin.
- Telling somebody about the Party's Doctrin instead of Jesus or Muhammad.
- Not going to Church.
- Going to Church.
- Having marital relations during lent.
- Treating some differently skin-colored low-life biped as a normal human being. Like, giving them your seat on the bus.
- Marrying such a biped.
- Refusing to marry your cousin or your uncle even though you are now nine years old.
- Having consensual sex when you're just 15.
- Smoking marijuana.
- Going with a hooker.
- Going with a guy who's ready to pay you for sex.
- Cursing God's name.
- Being homosexual.
- Cooking on a Saturday.
- Not believing in God.
- A woman wearing pants.
- A man wearing a dress.
- Not slaughtering your first-born on a pagan altar.

Each of these once were, and often still are, "offensive" and repressed by written or factual law somewhere in the world. Always in the name of "obvious morals".
It makes solid sense that things which harm someone else fall under the scope of what social laws control. (Not to offend TTL's moral principles, but anarchy still has some kinks that need working out.) Laws are theoretically intended precisely to protect people against abuse from others. But as long as "hurting" somebody's "offensensitivity" is considered as a valid criterium for limiting freedoms, you can bet your Mirandas that you're in a more or less fascist society. And on a slope made slippery by one dubious substance or another.
Who cares if Lisa Simpson fucks her brother, her dad, her mother, or even her dog on drawings that you have? She's not real, period. What next, hard time in maximum security for belching in public when there are old bats within hearing range?

Teenagers are children no more. They are not yet adults. They're in a transition period. A transition which lasts seven years, according to the english laguage definition of "teen" (from thirteen to nineteen). What they need during this period, is to grow up. Pardon the obviousness stating!
Ignorance is NEVER a part of education.

As I've already stated in the past, my own parents, in conservative Lebanon, taught me everything there was to know about sexuality when I was five. Well, everything that was known to the general public at that time! Some paraphilias I learned about later... But here's the thing: I *know* my parents were far less uptight than the average, including the families of my lebanese aunts and uncles. And guess what? In my teen years at school, while of course being under the expected effect of raging hormones which I had yet to learn to cope with, I found out that I was BY FAR less sex-obsessed than ALL my guy buddies. This observation extended to my early college years. I felt almost weird for not eyeing up all women's butts and bosoms on the street as if the outcome of Judgement Day depended on my watchful gaze.
Knowing "what it's all about", and knowing very early, specifically at the age when simply one starts wondering about that, made me far more confident, balanced, and trustworthy in relation with the other gender. Also, it allowed me to focus on learning how their minds worked, since I already knew about the body. The mysteries of psychology are complex enough as it is when you're 13. :-)

People who refuse to teach young people, and in fact children, about sex, are either completely IRRESPONSIBLE or plain awarely criminal.
Three guesses what's the main topic on the mind of every male in the arab world that's still not married. No, wait: I'll only give you ONE guess. Otherwise I'd be insulting your intelligence.
Okay, sure, in liberal France for instance, young people think about sex a lot. And they also HAVE it a lot. The age of consent in France is 15 years. But from what I can see in the American cinema and news articles, young people in the USA are practically as sex-obsessed as the Saudis or the Qataris, making the "permissive" French seem like rule-abiding monks by comparison.

Get this: in France, and also with your buddy Pascal here, you can actually discuss with a person of the opposite gender (assuming you're both hetero) without necessarily having the topic of potential lovemaking hanging over your every verbal exchange. Really! The French -and I- keep marvelling at that incredible American quirk, that if you show some basic courtesy to a woman at work, like yielding passage or holding a door open for her, you can verily expect a subpoena for sexual harrassment. In the US mentality, this is automatically assumed as having flirtaceous intentions, if you do such a thing an American woman will immediately understand it as "I'm subtly informing you I want us to have sex". Pardon the pun, but... wnat the fuck???
French TV and cinema has no qualms about showing nudity and/or sex. Sex is usually naked, BTW. And get this: women who've just made love in French movies don't hurry to friskily hide their body, nor do the men when they exit the bed, "oh don't look honey I'm shy". And yet, brace yourselves for a shock: in French movies, there is actually much LESS sex, innuendo and torrid flirting than in mainstream Hollywood productions. It's just treated as another ordinary fact of life. They show a LOT less hyper-enticing scanty attire on women, far less sexual symbols and "vixen" roles, etc... In a word, they're immensely less obsessed by sex. And so far, Society in France hasn't imploded, the earth hasn't opened up to swallow it whole, and nobody has been turned into a pillar of salt by a hail of flaming lightning meteors. On a side note, France is rather efficient in catching and dismantling pedophile networks.
"I wonder where they find the time... I mean, with all that distracting permissiveness around." :-P
Maybe because they don't think like this desolating sicko.

Same goes for the "War on Drugs", which would be better named the "war on drug users", while mexican cartels can cross the border to freely buy unlimited firearms in the USA. And that unending U.S. practice of arresting hookers but never the pimps and other white slavers. As if the crime was to have sex, but not to force/pressure/con people into prostitution.

Hypocrisy? Or insanity?
I know this at least: I feel "frighteningly" sane.
Don't get me wrong, I love sex as much as the next guy. I just don't let it control my life. Still single, because I only want to marry a woman with whom there will be harmony in personalities. And, hopefully, wild fantastic sex till we both beg for mercy! :-)
But in the village where I've lived for a meager 25 years, in rural Lebanon, ALL the girls got married between ages 18 and 20. Why? Happiness, love? Get outta here! Most of these marriages are lukewarm at best. They get married, because they want to wait no more to know sex.

"YOU MIGHT BE A LEBANESE IF" items # 20-21:
"Your family is always trying to get you married ; all your aunts want to hook you up with a "very nice" guy/girl they know.
Your aunt is always asking -very subtly!- when she can belly dance at your wedding"
Just last evening, I got that again. And in no small dose. One of my aunts is hounding me to travel to Russia and find myself a gorgeous bride there (marrying a Russian is the latest craze), she'll pay me the trip and all expenses, but she wants me to get married with some splendiferous babe before my handsome youth starts wilting away. I even got called a "promise breaker", because she considers that I've made a commitment to her.
Sure, I'm in my late thirties. But I'm in no hurry. Thinking about it, sure. But level-headed. Thanks to not being obsessed with sex, I'm able to think long and hard about the OTHER elements of marriage. Have you any idea how easy it is in Lebanon to end up with a big spender, a nag, or some neurotic hysteric / obsessive-compulsive? (Shivers) I've already escaped SEVERAL of those, mercilessly ignoring their goo-goo eyes to "the Doctor" (handsome, educated, a GREAT catch) and their more or less subtle hints.

One of the prospective candidates I DIDN'T promptly turn down, is a former neighbor of ours. Distinctive sign? In 2006, she was elected Miss Lebanon. More interesting to me, is that she seems to be educated, intelligent and full of sense.
We'll see. If I tie the knot, there'll probably be a note on my blog. At the very least, something in the lines of: "CLOSED FOR HONEYMOON." ;-)

I hope that didn't feel too much like going Kuzco, "all about me". I think it's relevant to the topic. After all, how many people can comment from the POV of an oriental conservative country?
And how many countries do you know that are so tiny, just anybody could turn out to be neighbors with a national Miss? (Her mom has been a good friend for 20 years, too!)

Eric premonitioned...
"Kids will either learn about sex from their parents and teachers or they'll learn it from porn."

And we all know how educational porn is. Like teaching police officers with Inspector Callahan's flicks and The Shield. Or Stephen Seagall as a procedures example to marines on their way to Iraq...

There is, actually, a problem with sex education in France. Namely, among the immigration-born youngsters: poor education, and parents either absent or very conservative. They learn ALL they "know" from porn movies, and then they get into gang rapes, while terrorizing their own sisters into staying at home and veiling her hair.
Because, as porn clearly shows us, all women are berzerk nymphomaniacs, they can't go buy a loaf of bread without the word "buns" being studied in all its possible meanings. And Allah preserve us if they want to buy sausages or vegetables! "Hey, they need to remain virgins until marriage! *I* certainly am not going to marry some whore who's already known another man! Later, I'm going out. Got a hot date with an easy chick tonight. Either I get lucky, or I'll just remind her that women all love to be forced and to pretend they don't enjoy it."

"Many try to act like their kids are like computers they can program to do exactly what they want given the right input."
I won't even begin to comment on how twisted an education such parents must've received!
Love is knowing when to let go. Birds are typically excellent parents. They take great care of their chicks, until the day when they teach them the final lesson: how to fly from the nest, to in turn become good parents.

Even the much despized cuckoos have proven to be good parents: it was found out that they monitor the "adopting" nest of their egg. If the foster parents reject it, they'll trash the nest mob-style as retaliation!
If your children love you, and they'll love you if you've raised them with TRUE, generous, non-possessive love, then they'll come back to you. But they'll come back as adults, not as a frozen nostalgia of the past, to remain your babies forever.

I'm not even engaged yet, but I'm already well in training with my brother's children and applying my principles. It seems to be going great: they absolutely worship me! And don't think I'm overly lenient, on the contrary. Never strict, never lenient, always with sense guided by love. Already into preparing them to be their own persons.
For some strange reasons, this is earning me incredible amounts of love in return. :-)

Joe Dick claimed...
"Many people react instinctively with emotion usually born of igorance."

Do you KNOW this, or are you just emotionally reacting? ;-)

BTW, I never had sex in my teen years (not with another person, I mean). But this doesn't in any way prompt my jealousy to say that "if I could do without it, all teenagers should as well". I might have had a little more incentive if the girls at school weren't so similar to the desperate prospective housewives who tried to fish themselves a Doctor.
Don't underestimate the social prestige that such a title will earn you in Lebanon. Items #79-80: "Your mother wants you to be a Doctor, and your father a lawyer. Both careers will later allow you to get elected in Parliament without any other qualification."
I may sound picky. But think about it: the hot-in-the-buns girls from a rural lebanese village...? They wanted me, but what did they have that *I* would want? None of them was remotely like the mother I'd want for my children. Or the companion I'd want to live with.
(sigh) What was worse, I wonder? Growing up during the war, or having such little choice at the age when sex sounds SO supremely attractive? None of these girls attracted me, that's saying something!

If teenagers are responsible, and they'll be if properly educated, then there's no reason for the stigma associated with sex to be any more relevant for them than for consenting adults.
Clinging is NEVER love, it's possessiveness. After high school, I met this one girl, and I got smitten with her real bad. But... she was already in love with another. What could I do? The only thing one can truly do when his love is sincere: I let her go, left her to her happiness, and her happiness was not with me. She did not *love* me back.
That's life. And that was a lesson in maturity. A hard one at times, but profitable. :-)

TTL spoiled everyone's party...
"I couldn't disagree more. Education is always bad"

Well, it all depends on what you call an "education", doesn't it?
Trying to program young malleable minds into what you consider desirable? I'm all with you, it's a crime. It's been attempted on me by the OCD bigots.
But transmitting relevant knowledge, awareness, and training young minds into making their own thinking, do you consider this as bad too? That's how *I* view true education. Before answering a question from the little ones, I often ask them: "What do YOU think is the answer to that?" You'd be surprised at how clever a three-year old can be, and how positive it is for him to find out that he is. Always a great joy, to tell an "ignorant" child: "Yes! You see? You knew that already."
And if not, then I share the knowledge which I have. For them, not to make anyone into a symbolic copy of myself for after I die.

"See? [Formal] Education is a dirty word."
You're right. That sounds practically X-rated. Reminds me of words like "defecation", "indoctrination", "predication", "Y2K election"... sorry, didn't mean to be the motormouth! I'll stop now.

You know, Professor Dick? This photo of you reminds me of something... But I's rather not say what, I fear it might be awakening in me some subliminal lewd images.

Raf Val experimented...
"prepubescent kids aren't interested in sex at all".

What, you mean they're not all abominable mischievous gremlins, these little things?
OK, I'm jesting. But some nationwide mediatic prudes would love nothing more than to convince us that Man is intrinsically evil and needs to be kept tightly chained since birth, by decree of its absent-minded and bizarrely helpless Maker.
It's like that Original Sin, I mean what's the deal with that? Somebody's trying to convince me that a newborn baby is already guilty and/or wicked? Fuck off!
Especially when the scam continues furthermore by telling us that "the Virgin Mary was born without the Original Sin". Hey! Why her? Why not me? That's SO unfair: I was born a virgin too! In fact, I know hundreds of women who were still virgin at birth.
Nepotism, that's what it is. It's just because she was the mom of the Boss's Son. And He never even married her, in spite of the child. Talk about double standards.
What a gyp! That's it, I'm turning Buddhist. Uhm... well, okay, I guess it can wait until after I've received my Christmas presents, right?
"Joy-to-the world, la-la, la, la"...

Guess what, Raf: that theoretical experience you mention? I once saw a few schoolmates of mine perform it, when they got hold of a Playboy calendar and all snickering and guffawing, something embarrassing. The kid reacted just as you describe. Which explains why there was no reporting and ensuing expelling for the "exhibitionists". It was just... uninteresting.

More interesting is the fact we received a smart contribution on this blog from someone named Raf, of all names! Let me guess: you're NOT related to Resident Anonymous Flamer, a.k.a. Jalan Raja Omar. ;-)

Karen Rayne, Ph.D. said...

Pascal, will you marry me?

Sorry, I couldn't help myself. :) I'm quite happily married myself, with no designs on any other man, doctor or not!

Reading your comment was fascinating! I have had a little niggling desire to collect individuals' stories of and ruminations on sexuality education from around the world - and it sounds like you would be fascinating to include if I ever pull myself together!

I would love to pull you into conversation on some of the topics you started here - but in addition to this not being quite the right forum I think, my time is at least as limited as yours, if not more!

So for now this will have to suffice: Thanks for the props on my blog - I'm delighted you like it.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

Shucks, just my luck!
Ah well, when I say "the perfect woman still hasn't found me", I know there's more than just one perfect woman on this planet. Besides, if she's available, that even MORE perfect for me! (no offense, Karen ;-)

"it sounds like you would be fascinating to include"
Be my guest, have a blast. That's potentially a very interesting project there! And you're just the person to do it right. By all means, do pull yourself. (Don't just lie around in pieces, woman, it'll look messy. Maybe that blast you had was too much?)

Ideally, such in-depth conversations would be better in voice: tele-conference or meeting during a travel. Maybe some day... In the meantime, you can contact me whenever you want by leaving a comment on my blog (for instance, on some relevant Dourak article), they're automatically forwarded to me. I suppose it's the same with yours.

Karen Rayne, Ph.D. said...

Gosh, Pascal, you want perfect AND available? HA! :)

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

So... you think I'm being too picky? ;-)

Hey, "perfect" for me isn't like "perfect" for others. I'm not asking for Anna Nicole Smith's body.
On second thought, I really wouldn't want ANS's body. Even before she died and became a corpse! I never dream of bimboes at night, only of ladies such as you'd find on Domai. Natural, graceful, true, confident, relaxed, genuine smiles... Beauty from inside, the only one that is timeless.

They're the best, sure. But not the most in demand. Ask Hugh Heffner. ;-)

These last years, I bought only two issues of Playboy. Each time because of my one pet topic: video game beauties. Well, honestly, the rest doesn't make me want to subscribe! It's become that I can spot an Anerican "beauty" in a heartbeat, they're all identically formatted and hollow. A grinning mask.
Shoot, who needs these phake-o-shop boring Barbies when you're a member of Eolake's fine club?

She won't marry me hoping to change me, and I won't marry her hoping her body never changes. "To mock a killing cliché."