Friday, October 06, 2006
From Here to Maturity
There's been a lot of exciting sex talk on the blogosphere these days, and even I entered the mix before I heard what everyone else was saying. ... All more points to ponder, don't you know, as the discussion becomes more defined.
Some believe our puritanical society, which links sex and violence, as a cause of many ills. That if we were comfortable in our own bodies we'd be more comfortable in the world and less likely to snap from all the repression. Others believe that the sexualizing of "everything" from baby dolls to instant coffee is leading our nation down the path of critical debauchery, where the only thing we can look forward to is the white-knuckled waiting for results of our twice-yearly STD tests.
There are SO MANY great arguments on all sides of the debate that I have to wonder if the real problem (and solution) isn't somewhere in the middle? In some ways many of us seem to think birds are eating all the breadcrumbs intended to lead us back to reality.
Perhaps we should begin by agreeing that sex isn't bad. It is part of our biological makeup to ensure the human race is continuing to attract new runners. (Repeat it to yourselves a couple of times: SEX. ISN'T. BAD).
I think the problem really isn't S-E-X. It isn't that girls and boys (and any combination therein) are engaging in an activity that we don't even want them to know about. I don't even think it's about which is worse, repression or expression. I think it has more to do with maturity and security. And the quest for maturity shouldn't end just because we've reached the age of it - maturity that is.
We might all agree that a 12-year-old probably isn't mature enough to fully deal with the emotions that come with sex. It doesn't mean that he or she won't initiate the deed, nor think to themselves that they are fully prepared and they know what they are doing. All one must do is transport ourselves back in time to just about their age. If your memory hasn't failed you, and you can admit it, you we're once just as clueless.
But do we ever consider that women and men put off by public breast feeding probably aren't terribly mature either? Same goes for the people who can't turn off the televisions without doing their part to make sure you can't make the same choice for yourselves. I don't think I have the energy to discuss all those people who put their own need for satisfaction first.
We all know (and accept) that our society makes rules that govern what it collectively deems to be a standard ethic. As times change these mores also evolve. Sometimes the ideals seem to conflict. It seems the only thing we all typically agree on is that adults cannot have sex with children. Otherwise, just about everything else is gray area. Is it good? Is it bad? The only thing for sure is that it's a tough call.
Brittney Spears, Bratz Dolls, rap and hip-hop, provocative clothes, fellatio and cunnilingus clubs (in junior high school) ... we think that the world's going to hell in a handbasket. Yet there are many who say it's pretty much the same now only different. Kids are no worse today than 25 years ago. They grow up, the grow out of it. Life moves on.
And every moment of every day I'm stuck right in the middle.
I have known people whose parents encouraged them (as teenagers) to have sex when they felt ready. They allowed them to bring their significant others home, rationalizing in a time -- a decade after Son of Sam -- that it was safer for them to have sex at home, under their roof, than in a parked car on the sly.
Although I'm not offering empirical data, it has been my observation that those kids fared no better in long-term relationships than those whose parents wouldn't let them date until they were 17 and refused to accept any behavior other than abstinence (whether their kids heeded the warnings or not). And isn't that what we're going for? To make sure that our kids' early experiences ultimately lead them to make good choices in mates later on so that they don't have to deal with divorce court or domestic violence.
I can honestly say I have NO idea what is best course of action here, or if there even is a best course. I happen to be modest by nature, so my feeling is that sex should be a personal expression. The details, especially. I also think that the only way sex is fulfilling is when each person really is safe rather than just feeling safe: when each person knows where they stand (so to speak) when they are laid bare (literally and figuratively). Honesty and maturity is where I think the security part comes from. How we get there, I suppose, will always be an individual journey.
Perhaps, though, as we're working on teaching our kids to understand how precious they are and how wonderful sex is, maybe we have to work on our own maturity. Maybe we parents have to realize, again, what's really harmful before we label everything with a skull and cross-bones.