Let's talk about sex

Apparently I'm a good deal more grumpy about this than twitter has characters for. There is a book out promising to break the silence on teenage girls and promiscuity. Based on the product description, and it's promised interviews with "self-selected loose girls" there's not much silence left on this particular topic to break, as this is one more in the line of "WOE! The girls are all having the sex and acting like sluts and the nation will fall because of these sex-having girls!" books.


Look, I don't want anyone having sex before they are ready for it, and I get that for a lot of people "teenage sex" is a lazy short hand for "too early sex." And I might disagree with a book that tried to speak in absolute terms about when people were and were not ready to have sex, but so long as that book spoke about *people* having sex too early - you know, boy people as well as girl people - I could respect it. But I have absolutely no respect for the argument that a teenage girl who has sex is destroying her life (or undervalues herself or is desperate for love or is a slut) whereas a teenage boy who has sex is totally cool, and is engaging in a normal and age appropriate rite of passage, or is a stud.

Do I think there are some problems with the interactions between women and sex in our culture? Sure. Like, oh, I don't know, the idea that if you sleep with a guy on the first date you're a whore, but if you don't put out on the third - I mean at least a blow job, am I right? - you're frigid. The idea that if a woman ever wears anything that any man ever might be turned on by, or has a drink in a bar, or is alone with a man, that's she's giving up her right to say no to his sexual advances. The idea that if a woman has ever had sex voluntarily before, and she is raped, a jury will be told she's a slut. The idea that women don't actually like or want the sexual act in and of itself, but will use it and their bodies to manipulate men into doing things for them. That any woman, no matter what her age, who has casual sex is a slut with self esteem issues. These are the ideas about sex that are bad, and problematic, and that cause huge issues in society when it comes to sex.

These are the dirty secrets we should be talking about.

But Kat, you say, you are being disingenuous. These are issues about adult women and sex, not about teenage gir.. oh, fine, teenagers and sex. You're missing the point. They're just too young. 

Well, leaving aside the issue that attitudes towards women and sex do not emerge from the void when women turn 18 or 21 or whatever age society has decided it can safely say they are adult sexual beings, high school covers a wide age - and development - range. I started high school when I was 13, and there were 19 year olds in my graduating class. That's a range from people who can just barely get into movies with swearing and people who can die for their country in the armed services. So even if we were to be beyond reductive and say the only thing that mattered in whether or not someone was ready to be having sex was their age, that's a lot of years to consider. I'm willing to guess that while many if not most people would feel 13 is too young, that many if not most people would think 19 is okay. (And no, just for the record, I do not feel there is a magic age at which everyone is ready for sex.)

If we're going to break silences around sex, let's please speak loudly about things that matter, rather than trying - yet again - to shame women for their choices.