ParentingSkepticism

Afternoon Inquisition 9.22

We’re all aware now that abstinence-only education does not work, and often leads to increases in teen pregnancy and STDs. Though abstinence as an option must be included in any comprehensive sex education, it’s unreasonable to think that most people will choose to abstain until marriage.  So I’ve been wondering:

How important is it to instill a no sex before marriage ideology into our youth?  Is it even a good idea?  Is remaining a virgin until your wedding day worth doing?

Elyse

Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

Related Articles

155 Comments

  1. Even before “sex education” was taught in school, kids had sex. There has ALWAYS been pre-marital sex. Always. There has always been some forms of STDs floating around as well.

    I really, really do not like the way fetishes virginity.

  2. Not. No. No.

    Your wedding night is no time to find out that your sexual desires are sop different from one another that you’re completely incompatible sexually.

    The fact that the number of people in our country to have exactly one marriage in their lives is a staggering minority in my generation already, and the number is only decreasing the idea is lacking entirely from its original intent anyway, isn’t it?

    I’m far more worried about teaching young people the facts than I am about imposing an ideology upon them. Teenage rebellion isn’t just a stereotype, it’s a real thing, and instilled ideologies are easily cast aside in a wave of hormones.

    Cold, hard facts may not be the sexiest thing in the universe, and they’re easily forgotten in the heat of the moment… but they’re far less likely to be intentionally cast aside just to piss of an authority figure than mandates from on-high.

  3. What I have been working on with my kids is vrigin until marriage but virgin until you are psychologically ready to be sexually active. In my opinion. Many people start to soon. I am trying to make the case to my kids that they should wait until college. That being a high school parent or any of the other options that come from teen pregnancy are exceptionally difficult. But at the same time I plan to get my daughter the HPV vaccine and I have discussed contraception and condoms with them and I continue to do so. I tell them that they should never, ever, ever, under any circumstance have sex without a condom unless they want to make a pregnancy. Even if the female is on the pill. I’ve also discussed STD’s with them on multiple occasions.

    Well those are my thoughts on the manner.

    I also tell them that sex is wonderful but can sometimes be boring and that there are a lot of reasons to have it and a lot of them have nothing to do with being in love with the person you are having it with. But that sex is for adults not children.

  4. I was just working on a blog about this for my personal blog because a question was raised on if I could be a good role model for my younger sisters having been sexually active before marriage and even enjoying a one night stand.

    I would have to say that the ideology SHOULD be about self empowerment and responsibility. If that means waiting for you…. Then wait. If it doesn’t, then don’t.

  5. And what about those who don’t want to get married? Such as myself? Should I just remain a virgin until the end of time? Oh, wait, I forgot; “remaining a virgin until marriage” is very much a religious thing, and I’m not religious.

    Also, it completely forgets about same-sex couples, most of whom can’t get married.

  6. I agree with marilove and gabrielbrawley. You can try to instill those values in your children. There are no guarantees that they will “take” and your children will remain virgins until (if?) they marry.

    However, I think that all children should know the true “facts of life” when they hit puberty. They need to know what makes a woman pregnant. They need to know how to avoid that outcome – men and women. They need to avoid catching STD’s and what risky behavior can entail. With AIDS out there as a death sentence, they need to know about it. All the abstention education in the world is no barrier to raging hormones.

  7. waiting for sex until marriage is fine and all, supposing you plan to GET married. I think the best approach is to teach that you should wait until you’re in a solid relationship, won’t regret having sex with that person, and are sure you’re both STD free and are safe.

    and waiting until your wedding day is way overrated. after that day, you’re excited, exhausted, and probably drunk. NOT the best time to have a first time.

  8. Hmmm…this has always been something that I constantly think about. My parents are of the “abstinence only” ideology, and -at first- I was as well. Until I met my ex-boyfriend from high school. He is a very intensive skeptic, and although he was unhappy with my decision to wait on having sex, he still stuck with me for four years. There are plenty of fun things to do that don’t constitute as sex. ;-)

    Eventually, I came around. I honestly think that my increasing involvement in skepticism is what brought me around. My ex -never- pushed me into anything I didn’t want to do, and one day about the 3rd year of being with him, I decided that I was ready. One of the best decisions of my life. When I told him, we both went doing research together. How to put on and use a condom, etc. Despite the fact that we were both virgins (*ahem*)…we had a lot of fun. About a month or so after, I went looking into oral contraceptives through my university. I have been on them for 2 years now, and I am -very- happy with my decision.

    I am disappointed that I was not educated about condoms and contraceptives when I was younger, and my parents simply scared me into not exploring at all. I was a “happy surprise” to my mother at 19 years old (she was on the pill), so I’m sure they are just looking out for me… but I really would liked to have been better educated. I find it sad that I didn’t learn how to properly put on a condom until college.

    So, in answer to the questions, I believe that remaining a virgin is simply a matter of choice. However, education is a powerful thing, and can make things -much- safer. I am tremendously satisfied with my first experiences and choice to wait a bit, and I am -still- extremely grateful to my ex for not pushing me. His patience was greatly rewarded. :)

    I agree with Rystefn – sexual compatibility is a huge issue in marriage. I wouldn’t want to find out (on my wedding night) that we aren’t compatible. Talk about a libido killer.

    Also, as a Bio major, I find the topic of “no sex before marriage” as simply amusing. We are animals. What is the point of every organisms life? To live well and reproduce as much as possible. Sex is inherent in our nature and evolution. I say we roll with it (uhhh…safely).

  9. I think the first step here would be to figure out what constitutes a healthy attitude towards sex. Step two would be to promote that.

    Since the “no sex before marriage” thing promotes a guilty, icky, unrealistic view of sex, I don’t think society is well served by promoting it.

  10. From Gabrielbrawley @5:

    I also tell them that sex is wonderful but can sometimes be boring

    A friend once told me that “sex with a string of different people is always the same. But that only sex with the same person can be different each time.”

    And I certainly agree with your comment that “sex is for adults”.

  11. I think that marriage is an arbitrary goalpost with no real justification other than religion in regards to sex.

    Instead, I think it’s important to instill in children an appreciation for psychological, emotional, and even physical implications of sex. If people are taught a respect for sexuality in and of itself rather than a fear of breaking some lame rule I think our society would be much more healthy (sexually speaking).

    In short, sex should be taught as being a big deal, but for the right reasons.

  12. I don’t have kids yet, but I would say that the best pratice is to be open and do not mystify sex. Many people tend to make sex, and our bodies for the mater, seem like something from another world that should not be mentioned or be comfort with.

    Sex is tough, it can hurt (psychologically I mean) and have serious consequences (pregnancy and diseases), so one should be careful with who, when and how it is done, but it is otherwise completely natural, and kids will urge it and do it (given the opportunity), no matter what parents say to them, so it is better to teach them then let them learn in the wild.

  13. @drdave: I must respectfully disagree with your friend. No two of the people I’ve had sex with were the same except in the most basic of ways. Unless the friend meant something very specific by “sex with a string of different people” than it seems… the contrast from “only sex with the same person,” though, would seem to indicate that it was meant in this sense.

  14. I think abstinence only education is stupid and irresponsible. Sex is fun, and people are going to have sex, no matter how often you tell them not to.

    I think abstinence itself is valuable, both for society and relationships. It provides a check on the spread of STDs, even more so than condoms. I perceive sex as a strong symbol of romantic love. I like the idea of saving that symbol for the woman I love more than any other, and with whom I want to spend the rest of my life.

    This is not to say that everyone must abstain until marriage. Those who don’t plan on getting married aren’t looking for that one person, so there’s no reason to save sex for that relationship. Also, for those who plan on getting married later in life will probably find the other values from sex outweighing its utility as a symbol of ultimate love. You can only wait so long, after all.

    I got married young – 20. In my case, I found abstinence until marriage to be very beneficial, and an important part of my relationship with my wife partly because it has been reserved strictly for our relationship together. I probably would have made other decisions if I planned on getting married in my 30’s, or not marrying at all.

  15. @nighean_ruaidhe: There are plenty of fun things to do that don’t constitute as sex.
    That’s one of the other things that gets kids into trouble. Sex itself gets so mystified and tabooified, that everyone tries to work around the issue.
    You know… They didn’t have sex, but did everything else they could think of. Well, from a pregnancy standpoint, that’s (nearly) as good as abstinence, but from an emotional or a health standpoint, well, they might as well be having sex.
    Not being critical of your experience, nighean_ruaidhe,just using it as a jumping-off point. If you make a rule, people will try to circumvent it. But if you educate, you make better and stronger human beings.

  16. @drdave: I would have to disagree with your friend. My experience with boring sex has been for two reasons. One I have been with a partner a long time and two I am with a woman who isn’t that bright. But being with a lot of different parnters hasn’t by itself been boring.

  17. @tarrkid: Which brings us to the always thorny question: What does and does not qualify as sex?

    By about 80% of the definitions I’ve heard, there’s no such thing as lesbians, since nothing women can do without a man there counts as sex…

    My rule of thumb: if you’re doing something because it’s not “technically” sex – you’re wrong, it’s sex. Not that those things aren’t a Hell of a lot of fun in and of themselves, they very much can be. Let’s just be honest with ourselves out there.

  18. @marilove:

    Also, it completely forgets about same-sex couples, most of whom can’t get married.

    This reminded me of a questions that every out of the closet gay I know has asked me at some point. It usually is along the lines of.

    “Will you still love your kids if they are gay?”

    Well of course I will. Whether they are sexually attracted to men or women is not important.

  19. @Gabrielbrawley: I an horrified that such question need ever be asked. Sometimes I hate the world I live in… Love is love. I don’t care who you point it at, more love in this world can only be a good thing. Sex is sex. Pretty hypocrite I’d be to judge someone because their tastes don’t jive with mine, yeah?

  20. @ tarrkid: Yes…I understand where you are coming from. But that is why I put the ;) – I know that what we were doing was sex. I know good and well. (Also note the “*ahem*” about my comment on us being virgins.) What I am talking about is intercourse.

    …either way, I still satisfied with my decisions on the subject. I’m just sad that not all women can be as happy with theirs.

  21. …either way, I still satisfied with my decisions on the subject. I’m just sad that not all women can be as happy with theirs.

    …and that’s the crux here, really. Though I’d be inclusive of men in the sentiment as well. Everyone is different, and everyone’s life is different. No one is qualified to make the choice for you. Trying to do so does a disservice to everyone involved. Probably my greatest fear in this world is of being someone’s first and having them regret it after.

  22. @Rystefn: Very, very close to the conversations I have had when that would come up. It would just break my heart when some of the gays I know would tell me what happened when their parents found out. Not all of them but many of them had just terrible experiences. To sad.

  23. @Gabrielbrawley & @Rystefn:

    I think it’s a very weird question, but I’ve been asked the question “What will do you if your kid is gay?” a lot.

    Um… well, probably whatever I was doing before unless he needs me/asks me to do something differently.

    One of my friends summed it up nicely. She said she doesn’t want her kids to be gay. Not because she has an issue with homosexuality (quite the opposite I’ll say), but rather because other people have issues with it.

    I don’t want Moose to be gay any more than I want him to be poor or ugly or have a learning disability. If he falls into any of those categories or none, I’ll love him the same.

    How sad that anyone would think differently about their children.

  24. @Elyse:

    One of my friends summed it up nicely. She said she doesn’t want her kids to be gay. Not because she has an issue with homosexuality (quite the opposite I’ll say), but rather because other people have issues with it.

    I had almost this same discussion with a lesbian I met in a bar one night. When I told her the only reason I didn’t want my children to be gay was that it would be easier for them if they weren’t she understood and agreed with me that it was easier if you weren’t gay.

    The last time I had this feeling of deja vu this strongly is when I first found these skeptical websites and found out that so many people had had experiences that mirrored mine so closely.

    For crying out loud. Of course I love them if they are gay. I’ve told them this on several occasions just in case they might be gay. I don’t ever want my kids to wonder if I will love them or not. Not ever.

  25. I’ve always wondered if the whole “wait until you’re married” line was meant to be said with a wink.

    I’d hear the same people preaching the whole wedding day crap then making snide remarks about someone being in their late 20’s and still a virgin. I’d wonder how that person was supposed to not be a virgin if they weren’t married. Being 30 and never married isn’t strange, even if we assume everyone *wants* to get married.

    For the record, I have no intention of telling my son that he should wait. I will have to explain to him that some people think that’s the only correct thing to do, but it’s his decision and there is no right or wrong.

  26. Abstinence only…
    Oh, I could go on for days.
    Let me put it this way, to avoid explicitly naming names.

    Every person in my close family who got pregnant out of wedlock, did so because one of the parties involved had an irrational fear of the simple act of slapping on a condom.

    Every. One.

    My zeroth approxmation (it’s too painful to go through and actually count) is that this irrational fear has added at least 20 blood relatives to my family.

    Because one party or the other couldn’t be bothered to provide/use a condom.

    I can think of only two out of the twenty who are actually in a stable, functional family. Not a good percentage.

    I have three daughters.

    Each of them will be clearly and graphically instructed by me (at an appropriate age) on exactly when, why, and how to use a condom.

    “Purity” won’t even be a part of the conversation – it will be part of different conversations, but not the condom talk.

    They will all also be instructed on how to physically disable any boy who refuses to wrap his pecker. A knee to the groin is not good enough.

    A full-on chop to the throat is more like it.

    And they shouldn’t be above breaking collar bones or tearing off ears in case they haven’t made their views clear yet.

  27. Ideally, it becomes less hard to live as a gay person as we go on, and it has in many ways, but so many people fight so hard against it that sometimes I wonder if it will ever be as easy as it should be. So far as I’m concerned, it shouldn’t be any more important or life-altering as preferring chocolate over strawberry, minivans over SUVs, or sci-fi over mysteries.

    …and that when people make fun of the people who choose differently than they do, it’s with no more malice than when we do it over any of the above.

  28. Not to shift gears too much….

    But if one goes with the (very true) notion that one is born gay and does not choose to be gay… then sure, a guarantee of parental love is obvious… just like being born with a learning disability or being born ugly or being born freakishly tall or being born with an allergy to chocolate….

    But choosing to have sex outside of marriage… choosing to be promiscuous… choosing to have a nontraditional view of marriage or relationship roles…. That seems like a different issue.

    I know my mother would love me if I was gay.

    I still shield her from knowledge of my “deviant” sex life.

    Because though she wouldn’t necessarily approve of either… she would HATE thinking of me as a slut.

    Did that makes any sort of sense to anyone besides me?

  29. Why do we even refer to it as “losing” virginity? Physiologically, you’re not losing anything you couldn’t lose by using a tampon or going for a jog.

    Emotionally, aren’t you really *gaining* something?

  30. @misterpost: Let’s be clear that we aren’t talking about the guy who refuses to use a condom and walks away because of it. There’s no call to go hurting people for saying “then I won’t be having sex with you.”

    I’m pretty sure that you meant the guy who tries to force sex anyway, which is rape, and violent response is certainly warranted in such cases, but clarity never hurts, yeah?

  31. I think no sex ’til marraige is totally unreasonable, and the only ideologies that truly promote it are ones that think the invisible sky-daddy is watching. Even then it’s clearly not ubiquitous. Obviously in cold states like Alaska it’s pretty much required in order to stay warm and entertained… or at least that’s the way it’s been in Wasilla for at least two short generations.

  32. @Kaylia_Marie: Actually, you can’t say someone is born gay with any amount of certitude. The science is pretty much completely inconclusive on that front.

    It’s also pretty clear that having nontraditional views isn’t a choice. Just as I didn’t really choose not to believe in a god, I didn’t choose not to believe in a “one and only” view of love or marriage. It’s the natural end result of my experiences, my thought processes, the world around me, and probably some level of genetic influence.

    In the “nature vs nurture” debate, I think the answer is almost always “some amount of both.”

  33. @Kaylia_Marie:

    I think you can support someone’s sexuality without having to know that they just had an on-camera three-way in a rest stop bathroom on their way to your house.

    And it’s certainly your right to divulge or keep secret whatever details you want.

  34. @Rystefn: No, I won’t be teaching them to beat up the boys who say “then I won’t be having sex with you”.

    I’ll be teaching them to put some serious hurt on boys who refuse to use a rubber, but think they can get in anyway- forced, sweet-talked, or otherwise.

    The boys who say “then I won’t be having sex with you” will be rewarded with the next decade’s equivalent (my daughters are very young) of shiny new iPods, and I will pick up the bill for all of their dates from then on.

  35. I think it’s a choice – or a mistake – that people have to make for themselves, really. Everyone has to live their own life, live with themselves, and live with their partner. The big thing is just arming kids with the facts and making sure they’re capable of making informed choices and understanding what the consequences of those choices will be.

    In all honesty, I think the entire societal obsession with virginity is a holdover from a much darker and incredibly sexist time.

  36. @Rystefn: Whether someone is born gay, and I think it is the most reasonable explanation of homosexuality or someone chooses to be gay isn’t important. Who you have sex with isn’t important. If it isn’t rape or child molesting, which I think is really child rape, who cares. No one should care if you are gay or straight or bi or something else.

    I was talking about this with my thirteen year old son one day. He said he agreed and told me that there was a transexual boy in his class. I asked what he thought about that. My son told me that the boy was a nice guy and otherwise it didn’t matter. I was really proud of my son for that.

  37. @misterpost: Damn… That’s a sweet deal. Why didn’t the fathers of anyone I dated ever do anything like that? Wait… probably because they didn’t tell their fathers anything about our sex lives. Also, I never refused to have sex with someone because they insisted on a condom. Still, for a slick piece of tech and free dating after, I’d consider it… unless we were using my previously stated definition of sex… I’m a creative person that way, and staying ten feet away with no communication of any kind between us would be a terrible date.

  38. @Elyse:
    Sure, why not?
    They’re 9, 2 1/2, and 1 year old, and we live in Minnesota.

    Getting back to the point, I’m pretty convinced that none of those 20 mostly-illegitimate children would have come around, if the adults of my parents’ generation had set simple, easy-to-understand rules like the ones I’m setting up for my girls.

    Guilt and fear (they’re Catholic, big surprise) obviously didn’t work. I often wonder how these families would be different if they hadn’t been taught that contraception is wrong.

    I have relatives who have 4 kids from 3 different fathers, never got a college education, never held a real job, but refused to get their tubes tied.

    So it’s really bizarre to me that the Republicans who’d cut off welfare are the same ones who push these religious ideas against birth control.

  39. @Gabrielbrawley: That is the best news I’ve heard in ages. The world needs more people like that. It does my heart good to hear things like that. Hope in the darkness and all that sort of thing.

    Raising a kid who thinks like that just raised my already not-low respect for you.

  40. @Elyse: It goes back to religion! It always does! See, for women, virginity is considered a “gift” to “give away” to the man they marry.

    It all goes hand-in-hand with “purity” too. And those “Purity balls” which are beyond creepy, where fathers basically claim ownership of their daughters sexuality.

  41. @marilove: Seeing it as something “lost” or “taken” is a religious thing mostly, I think, but I can’t really see anything wrong with considering it a gift. You only get one first time, and It certainly made me feel very special on the couple of occasions when someone chose me for it…

    Of course, sex is kind of like a gift you give each other at the same time, in a way. Much of the time, anyway.

  42. Me thinks the absence of sex in ones life leads to more dysfunction and potential mental health issues than getting some on a regular basis. And as sexual beings I advocate the frequent and positive affirmation of our natures.

    The ascetics, moralists and advocates of privation and abstinence more often than not seem obsessed with the dirtiness of sex and don’t accept that sexual behavior out side marriage can be caring, responsible, safe and even loving. That being said I really like being married and have for twenty two years. Wouldn’t like it if the nasty weren’t part of the mix however.

  43. I’m probably still considered the youth of which you speak :) Yet, here are my thoughts on the matter:

    If I had waited until marriage to have sex, I would have ended up marrying my now ex-fiance. As it was, however, my wonderful mother taught me to make sure you are 100% compatable before making such a big step as marriage. When I decided I was ready to have sex (and this is the big thing – readiness!) I made several moves on my ex. Not until after did I realize he had absolutely no interest in me at all. Needless to say I was heartbroken and broke up with him, AFTER he proposed to me and after I said yes (I was a silly girl). We were both in love, but there was no chemistry between us. Only now does he realize why I left him of course.

    I am now in a wonderful relationship with another person, engaged again – but this time it is for real. We’ve been living together for a few years now, and I’ve never been happier (nor has the sex been better! ^^).

    I don’t think we should teach kids to wait until marriage, for you don’t truly know somebody until you’ve made love with them. If I had married my first love without first having sex, I would have ended up in a terrible marriage, unhappy and probably afraid. I think the most important thing is to teach kids to do it when they are ready and capable of dealing with any consequences (or, atleast, knowing about birth control in its many wonderful forms).

  44. you don’t truly know somebody until you’ve made love with them

    QFT

    [Insert dirty joke about “getting to know” Skepchicks and commenters alike – or even dirtier joke about large meetings where we all “get to know” one another]

  45. I think it’s crazy to subvert the natural course of things for a contrived event. It’s not ever really about waiting until marriage, as much as it’s about waiting.

    I know at least two people who got married (and divorced) just so they could have sex. Not a scientific stat by any measure, but one could argue that did no good at all, and set them up for more pain than was necessary.

    I think the kernel of good in that axiom has more to do with waiting until one is ready for sex. For some, that might be at 16, for others maybe they wait until marriage.

    It would be good to know that people are sharing information about STDs or pregnancy, or how sex might complicate an otherwise simple relationship. Those things might be worthwhile.

    Also, not for nothing, but sex can be so much less than that, you know? There’s a lot of high stakes and drama and lifelongedness in marriage, even if the marriage is not lifelong. And even within a marriage, sometimes sex is just sex.

    These things are heavy enough on their own without doubling up.

  46. @ Kaylia_Marie: I agree with you. My parents and I are on a “don’t ask – don’t tell” policy. They certainly may not support what I’m doing (as shown by their “abstinence only” policy)…but I pay for my own contraceptives, toys..etc. and they never hear a word about it.

    Along the same lines as homosexuality: I have a theory about the “rise” in gay people (not sure I believe that statistic right there), and some people have found it offensive – others not so much.

    For most that know about population ecology, populations can either 1) hit an equilibrium and sail for a while… 2) hit a maximum and then dive back down to the equilibrium… 3) max out and crash (thus leading to extinction in that area) ….or 4) simply never get off the ground.

    From what I can tell, the population of mankind is set on either #2 or #3. Every time I look at a population graph I marvel at the exponential growth of mankind. I’m wondering when we will hit our max and start heading back down again.

    My theory: homosexuality is -an- evolutionary mechanism put into place to slow down population growth.

    Now. I see many flaws in my theory…I just wanted to run it by some critically thinking people to see if you could find anything MORE wrong than I did.

    My first flaw – there aren’t necessarily -more- homosexuals in the population NOW than there were THEN. People might have simply been more inclined to hide it (due to societal issues). Society now is far more inclined to accept homosexuals now than, say….300 years ago. I’m not saying it’s all peachy-keen, but it’s much better.

    Second flaw – I have many complaints (from both heteros and homos) that it makes it sound like homosexual love isn’t real. I never said that. By all means, fall in love, get married…etc. I think homosexuals should be able to get married…even though, honestly, marriage is simply the legal documentation of what the couple should already know. Yes there are lots of “perks” associated with marriage, and I think that homosexuals should get these as well.

    Thirdly – it would not be the ONLY mechanism put into place to counteract population control. Rising pandemics of diseases and cancers are other theoretical mechanisms for population control.

    I think I digress a bit….

    As an aspiring Evolutionary biologist, this is how I think – in terms of evolutionary advantage.

    And -please- PLEASE don’t think I am against homosexuality. I have had a couple people get pissed off at me for this theory and I do not understand why. I love all my of my gay friends as much as my straight friends, and I detest people that cannot accept them for who they are.

    Does my theory make sense to anyone?

  47. Let me put it this way: I want to have sex before marriage. I am an adult, so the decision is mine. To hell with waiting; if I love someone, and she’s interested, I want to shag her.

    Teaching “no sex until marriage” not only attempts to enforce an unrealistic ethos on children, it deprives them of their adult autonomy. Teenagers rapidly become adults, and no one has any business telling an adult what they can or cannot do with their body (unless it involves harming another person).

  48. @nighean_ruaidhe:

    If evolution were a pro-active process, I’d be more inclined to buy into your hypothesis. Mechanisms are not “put into place”, but rather changes happen that end up serving a purpose that benefits the species.

    If homosexuality causes an equilibrium, then so be it, but homosexuality cannot arise from the need for population reduction.

    Does that make sense?

  49. @ Elyse: Very true. Very common mistake that I REALLY need to beat out of my brain.

    You are right – Evolution is not proactive, it always looks backwards. I can already see my Evolution teacher scolding me for that one.

    …..or perhaps Evolution is already looking back at something we can’t see?

    Ha. That might be a stretch :)

  50. I think you’re all a bunch of godless heathen sex-a-holics! Everyone should wait until they either have a marriage licence or explode whichever ‘comes’ first. So there.

    hehehe
    I couldn’t type that with a straight face.

  51. @QuestionAuthority:AIDS isn’t necessarily a death sentence. Yes it is a horrible disease that can and probably will eventually kill you, but there are many who have lived and are living relatively normal, long lives with AIDS. I mean heck, how long has Earvin “Magic” Johnson been living with the disease? And like all such types of diseases, left untreated (or in some situations where the afflicted are unable to get proper treatment) it will lead to death, but that is becoming a bit of a non-issue in many cases. Just a thought.

  52. Agreed. For me that would have meant being “remedied” at age 10… that’s… not… right…

    Frankly, I find the idea of anyone hitting puberty at age 10 to be bit odd. I’d give anything for the average age of puberty to be about 20 years or even more, to give children more time to get educated and not have to worry about sex, parenthood, or even periods before they get out of high school.

  53. @wb4: That makes it sound like you are advocating child molestation. That is wrong, wrong, wrong. As a father who just had to buy pads for his 11 year old daughter tonight no one had better be remedying her from virginity any time soon. I will respond in an extremly violent manner to anyone who does. I also do not think that either my 13 year old or 15 year old sons have the neccesary maturity to deal with a sexual relationship no matter how badly they might want to. As I said earlier sex is for adults not children.

  54. I am pleased to see that the general consensus is one of “wait until you’re READY” and not “wait until your married” or “You have to do it NOW!”

    The basic problem that I see is that we in the U.S. have a culture that tends to be puritanical towards sex, and as a result people often trend towards prudishness or react against it and behave irresponsibly. Now, the majority of people of course fall somewhere between, but the two extremes are common enough that it would seem to indicate a society with a very sick understanding of sex.

    Nighean – I don’t have the time or space to go into it here, but I suspect that there is something to your hypothesis, and you are not the only one who argues in favor of that position. I would add one further bit o’ info: sexuality is neither binary nor “trinary” – while straight, gay, and bisexual are handy labels, they don’t accurately describe the vast majority of people unless you are talking about general trends in desire or are speaking ins trictly behavioral terms (and even then, they may be insufficient). So, there is probably alot of things going on that influence sexuality,a nd it is likely something more complicated than a shift in the number of homosexuals.

  55. @Rystefn:

    It’s included when you register with Skepchick.

    I’m pretty sure you’ve had at least 9 drinks with me, though… and there’s a photo of you taking at least one shot OFF of me.

    Maybe this is a new game to learn prepositions. A preposition is a single word that can fill in this blank:

    Rystefn had drinks ___ a Skepchick.

  56. As a father who just had to buy pads for his 11 year old daughter tonight no one had better be remedying her from virginity any time soon.

    ———————-

    You know, when the Highlander was gestating, I didn’t have this feeling of impending doom. But with Dark Phoenix on the way, I’ve come to this conclusion: All Men Must Die. Why wait until they remedy her virginity? Start now!

    On the other hand… and I’m moving into creepy territory, just to warn everyone…

    Is this a healthy attitude for me to have, or for Gabriel to have? Why shouldn’t kids learn about erotic play at younger ages? Why not 10?

    And yeah, I know, I’m expressing some very taboo thoughts here. I’m not comfortable with them myself. But its not like the curiosity isn’t there. We use shame and guilt to slow them down, but why?

    What is the negative consequence of such early experience of erotic play? What are we protecting our kids from?

    Oh, and the gross response is:
    Rystefn had drinks via a Skepchick.

  57. @nighean_ruaidhe: …and a few other people as well. To the best of my knowledge, there’s no real evidence that it does mess with kids. The shame dumped on them can mess with them, and being violated by an adult can have some serious ramifications… but it’s not exactly like running the experiments on that would be very ethical, so all we can really do is observe, and try as best we can to make the right choice.

  58. @sethmanapio: Well, since kids start touching themselves in the womb, I’m going to go ahead and venture to say that at least some degree is perfectly healthy and natural.

    Full disclosure: I’m far more open to concepts of eroticism and sensuality outside the general consensus than most people, and I’m very much not overprotective of children in general, so my opinion on this is likely to be skewed pretty wildly away from general consensus.

    Disclaimer: No matter what it looks lie I might be implying by anything I say in the ensuing discussion, I in no way advocate child molesters or sexual relationships of any kind between children and adults except in a general information-passing capacity (“the talk” so to speak).

  59. @sethmanapio: What? It’s not like I described blood-drinking escapades in pornographic detail or anything…

    The Rystefn will neither confirm nor deny any drunken blood-drinking escapades with any Skepchick, so no e-mails asking for said pornographic details…

  60. I don’t really see a good reason to even suggest to teens that they should wait until marriage. Sex is something we should be teaching kids that they need to do responsibly, like drinking, driving, spending money, and so on. These are things that are part of adulthood, and we should teach children to respect and understand these things, not to fear them.

  61. @sethmanapio:

    I don’t know that the details of “erotic play” are necessary for the “young” depending on how you define “young”.

    If you are talking about teenagers, it’s not really that big of a deal. In fact, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to discuss with a teen the differences between real sex and what they see in porn. I could be wrong, but my experience has been that porn as an erotic tool=awesome but porn as a learning tool=no seriously that doesn’t feel good.

    If we’re talking about discussing “erotic play” with 8-year-olds, I don’t have any data to back me up, but I’m just going to go with the general consensus and my gut and say it’s not so appropriate.

  62. @Elyse: I don’t know that the details of “erotic play” are necessary for the “young” depending on how you define “young”.

    —————

    I’m thinking, really, about preteens. And I’m thinking more about their own exploration and curiosity than anything else. I’m wondering… if an 11 year old girl/boy is curious about sex, about her/his own body, what’s the responsible and ethical parenting move?

    The general consensus is that Jesus is going to come back in our lifetimes, and that man and chimpanzee did not evolve from a common ancestor. So its not a good place to go for data.

    My gut is with your gut. But you know… George Bush followed his gut into Iraq. Maybe guts aren’t all that reliable.

  63. No shocker that a question like this has received over a hundred comments already, is it? People are ovbiously interested in sex.

    My comment is slightly off-track, and involved the definition of sex/virginity. I’ve seen a couple of comments and heard dozens of real-life conversations about what is and is not “sex” according to your particular religion or parental guide or ideology or… whatever.

    There are certainly people out there who wish to remain “virgins” and will do so by enjoying “other” activities (@13, mainly). What this means is that they’re doing everything they want apart from parking the pink bus. I’ve heard tell of people who will go for oral, anal and even nasal for all I know, but they consider themselves to be virgins because of that all-important.

    It’s like saying “f**k” on a blog. Everyone knows what you mean, you just haven’t actually done it. The terror of saying “fuck” is still a nervous giggle away.
    To me, this is where the abstinence-only pushes people. There’s nothing wrong with those activities, but because a line is drawn, people will press up against it. if you included kissing, or rock’n’roll, you’d get people holding hands behind the bike sheds and the world would go, uh, footloose.

    And if you’ve performed as many other erotic acts ad you feel you can get away with, then sex is a step backwards, anyway. It becomes like saying you can have any fruit you like, apart from the ones hanging on that particular tree over there. Bad analogy, probably.

  64. How important is it to instill a no sex before marriage ideology into our youth?

    As it is written, extremely unimportant. But if you can change marriage to maturity, then define that in a way that kids will listen, then I think it is extremely important.

    Is it even a good idea?
    No. Bottom line is most people have pre-marital sex, so trying to hold onto a tired tradition is pointless, and maybe even counter-productive. Kids may stop listening at all it they think you are that crusty.

    Is remaining a virgin until your wedding day worth doing?

    That is a personal decision, and whatever the choice I do not think either is worthy of ridicule.

    If someone wants to be a virgin on their wedding day, fine. If not, that is fine to!

    I doubt there are any credible studies that can show married virgins have it better than nymphos.

    As long as two people love each other, and are compatible, and their individual sexual histories are indeed history, I think it matters not.

  65. Pfeh. It’s not pre-marital sex if you don’t plan on getting married!

    Besides, how exactly would you plan to instill a “no sex until marriage” value in, say, a gay boy if (a)you don’t know yet that he’s gay, and (b)you can’t really promise him he’ll be able to marry whomever he falls in love with?

    It’s way better to teach kids to value the sex act as a very enjoyable, very intimate experience; and honestly teach them the risks (not just pregnancy and STDs, but regrets and such). A parent’s job is to guide the child to making the right decisions themselves, not to make the decisions for them.

  66. @sethmanapio:

    I’m not saying “general consensus” or “gut feeling” are the best or most reliable decision-making tools, I’m just agreeing with them.

    As for masturbation, boys seem to work that one out for themselves. Most girls don’t. I don’t think most girls really even know where to start.

  67. Ugh, This stuff gives me the willies. I know my oldest is punishing the chimp. I think my middle son is also. I don’t think my daughter is involved with it yet but I am sure she will be someday. I always answer my children’s questions as honestly and completly as I can. I’m not worried about a girl or boy the same age as my daughter playing “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” or “Doctor” but the area I live in has way, way to many 10 and 11 year old girls getting pregnant by having sex with adult men in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s or older. If someone like that trys to engage in erotic play with my children they are taking their lives in their own hands.

  68. @Elyse:

    Thank god for my mother! As soon as I hit puberty she taught me that masturbation was healthy. Yep, that’s right, HEALTHY. She said even though I might get horny and think that sex was a good idea, there were alternatives – like helping yourself. I think we all recognize that kids will start to feel sexual at a fairly young age. I wonder if they’re less likely to have sex too early if they realize there’s a safe, natural and acceptable way to relieve the pressure.

    I don’t have any children myself, so I’m wondering what the general feeling is of this for most parents. Do you feel comfortable with your children masturbating? Or does it creep you out and you think they should stop?

  69. True, as mentioned above, AIDS is not necessarily a death sentence – IF you have access to good health insurance or can afford treatment on your own. Many in our country don’t or will have their insurance revoked if they turn up with AIDS or something else nasty. However, the best way to avoid STD’s and AIDS is to use a condom if you are having sex.

    There is definitely a lot of societal hypocracy about sex and virginity in the US. Virginity is definitely a state and religious idea that goes back to ancient property rights and inheritance. Women were viewed as chattel and only had societal “value” if they married as virgins, because the husband wanted to ensure that offspring were his and they commanded a much higher dowry to their parents. I HOPE that we have managed to move past some of that, at least in the West.

    Ultimately, I think kids will do well if they have the appropriate knowledge and the maturity to handle it. Little kids playing “Doctor” is not what I mean here. That’s just play and is normal. Adult/child sex is definitely off the table and the adult involved should be locked up and treated, if possible.

    I don’t think hetero or homo really is the issue – it’s broader than that. I have a lesbian sister-in-law and many gay friends,and the issues we have talked about are very similar to the ones discussed here. I like bevans comment above that it should be handled with kids much like the drinking alcohol talk. That’s how we handled it with our daughters. Mom is a registered nurse, which helped.

    By the way, the comments above about puberty occurring at younger ages has been well documented and is thought possibly to be caused by all the pseudo-hormones that humans have let loose in the environment – similar to the feminization of fish. Nice thought, isn’t it? :-(

  70. @Elyse: A lot of girls DO discover for themselves. TRUST. Not to get TMI, but I was more like a boy when it comes to that.

    How often do mothers and fathers shame a child for just exploring themselves as kids do? They tell them, “That’s bad! Don’t do that!”

    My parents didn’t do that. My mom was pretty open about sex. “It’s normal and natural to masturbate.” That was it. And I believed her.

    Honestly, if teens were so SHAMED into thinking sex was dirty and bad — it probably wouldn’t be as big of a deal as it is for most kids today. They’d feel a hell of a lot more comfortable talking to their parents (and their peers) when they have questions.

    I don’t think kids need to be taught “erotic play” so much as being told that it’s perfectly normal and natural to explore your own body, just keep it behind closed doors, and hey, if you have any questions, ask away! Also, go to the library and pick up some books! Or bookmark a few online sites.

    Also: Regarding homosexuality as population control, I don’t believe that is the case because I don’t believe we’ve had much of a climb in homosexuality. I think it only seems that way because more people are coming out, because it’s a hell of a lot more accepted now. No longer do you have to hide behind a marriage and kids. If you come out, you likely won’t be shunned (or as shunned) and there is a plethora of support groups out there, and it’s a lot easier to find a partner now too.

  71. @QuestionAuthority: “I HOPE that we have managed to move past some of that, at least in the West. ”

    We really, really haven’t. Why do you think reproductive rights for women is such a big debate? And why staying a virgin (especially girls and women) until marriage is SUCH a big deal? Even in 2008? And why is there this huge push towards “purity rings” and “purity dances” and whatnot? It sure isn’t ‘cuz our society is comfortable with people having sex, especially women, or making their own choices about their body, that’s for sure.

  72. @Gabrielbrawley:

    One is way way too many.

    @AmberEyes:

    My son is only 13 months old, but no, I have no issue with masturbation.

    When he discovered his penis, I didn’t make a big deal out of it. I just tell him that’s his penis. He has one because he’s a boy. Sometimes when we do diaper changes, I ask him where his penis is… just like I ask him where his nose is or his mouth is. And I don’t make him stop playing with it until it’s time to get off the changing table.

    God… that sounds way creepier than it is.

    I just treat his penis like any other body part. It’s his. If he wants to touch it and see what it does, he can. Right now it’s super interesting because he doesn’t have access to it. My dad kinda freaks out about it. He hold’s Moose’s hands during diaper changes to stop him from playing with it, and is very uncomfortable with the “where’s your penis?” game.

    I don’t think it’s a big deal.

  73. @marilove: Well, we aren’t as blatant as they were back then. We don’t see too many dowries in the West anymore. I take your point, though.

    The ways of coercion aren’t as harsh as they used to be, at least in the West. Compare with the Middle East and Asia, for example. Women here aren’t burned alive or doused with battery acid for an alleged lack of virginity on their wedding day. At least, not for now.

    The so-called “Purity Balls” and “Promise Rings” are just creepy, IMHO. What sane girl wants her Dad to take her to a virginity ball? Forgive me, but that’s just bizarre to me. It seems to be limited to the evangelicals, anyway.

  74. @marilove:

    Yes, a lot of girls do discover for themselves. Most women learn to orgasm years after they become sexually active and only because they masturbate.

    But let’s face it, our equipment is way more complicated than theirs… and there’s tons of misinformation out there. How many women still think they’re somehow “broken” because they can’t have an orgasm from intercourse? It seems like it’s the most asked question when I’m watching/reading sex advice shows/columns. There’s still debate about the existence of a G-spot.

    A boy turns 11, tugs on it a few times and BOOM! From there it’s all about making it even better. Girls have to do a lot of fumbling around… and, at least for me, there didn’t seem to be much in the way of good advice on how to do it.

    It’s actually one thing that porn gets right in the way of entertainment vs. reality. There’s a lot of really spot on female masturbation… it’s not all jam-it-with-a-dildo. (though, that’s certainly a valid way to do it for many women)

  75. @QuestionAuthority: Oh, it’s better in some ways, but it almost seems worse in others because it’s all so freakin’ subtle, you know? And because now we’re taught that we’re not “pure” if we have sex before marriage, and that we’re somehow “tainted” etc. At least back then there were monetary reasons!

    @Elyse: And indeed, I agree 100%. It doesn’t help that women are taught from a young age that they shouldn’t care about sex, that women don’t really care about sex, only men do. We’re taught it’s shameful to want sex, or to want to masturbate. Meh.

    Parents should be 100% open and honest (and age-appropriate) when it comes to sex, and that includes masturbation.

  76. I think female sexuality is similar to homosexuality, et al. in that it’s getting better, but there’s still quite a way to go to go. Especially in a certain subsets of our culture. I don’t find it surprising in the least that it’s nearly always the same people resisting both.

  77. @Elyse: I’m not saying “general consensus” or “gut feeling” are the best or most reliable decision-making tools, I’m just agreeing with them.

    ————————-

    I get that. I’m just saying that maybe we should question our guts on this one.

    For the record, I’m not just talking about masturbation or playing doctor. I’m thinking more in the “Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys” kind of way.

    I know that in small towns, when I was growing up, 7th graders were having sex. That’s what… 11 or 12? If someone is old enough to masturbate, they are old enough to be curious about sex. With another person.

    If someone is old enough to get pregnant, why do we assume that they somehow aren’t mature enough to handle sex? Shouldn’t we question our assumptions about that, if what we think should be happening and what is actually happening are so completely out of line with each other?

    Where do these age restrictions come from? If a really nice, considerate, skilled 18 year old agreed to teach an 11 or 12 year old about sex (by request, okay, and remember, the 11 and 12 year olds are curious and already having sex, so this isn’t farfetched), why is that worse than a clumsy, ignorant, callous 13 year old teaching them about being used?

  78. @sethmanapio: “Where do these age restrictions come from?” Ideally, they should come from the parents. Why? Because they probably know their child better than anyone else in the world. Society should have a role, too. Why? To prevent sexual child abuse by the unscrupulous.

    As a parent, I can honestly say that I have never seen a child of 11 – 12 that is mature enough for sex or pregnancy. None. Ever. My wife is an RN and has worked in Pediatrics ICU (PICU) in a major city. She can tell you stories of kids that young having babies. It ain’t pretty. Ever see a little girl being wheeled into Delivery clutching her teddy bear in fear? My wife has.

    Note: This is becoming more prevalent as the age of the onset of puberty drops (see above).

    Let’s say your 12 year old kid gets pregnant: Who is going to raise the baby? Most likely Grandma and Grandpa, because daughter has no income or insurance.

  79. @sethmanapio:

    Maybe I’m confused about what you mean by “erotic play”. If you mean you want to arm your preteen with tips and tricks on how to please his partner, I think you are way off.

    If you are talking about basic info like “penis goes into vagina”, then yes, I agree. And I think that can be touched on much earlier than middle school. However, I don’t call that “erotic play” I call that “biology”.

    Just because a 7th grader is HAVING sex does not mean he/she is emotionally ready to have it. Sex comes with some pretty hefty responsibilities and risks.

    Also, releasing an egg does not mean that a girl is physically ready to start reproducing. It means that her body is in the process of becoming ready to reproduce. Menstruation begins before the breasts are fully developed and before the pelvis is strong enough or large enough to adequately sustain a pregnancy.

  80. @QuestionAuthority: Who is going to raise the baby? Most likely Grandma and Grandpa, because daughter has no income or insurance.

    —————-

    So what? Where is it written that Grandma and Grandpa are lousy caregivers. If we set the trend so that the average age of childbearing dropped to, oh, sixteen or so, wouldn’t grandma be in her 30s?

    Which is about the age that a lot of parents are now. Why is that a bad way to run a society? Says who?

    =================
    @Elyse: If you mean you want to arm your preteen with tips and tricks on how to please his partner, I think you are way off.

    —————

    I know you think I’m way off. My question is: why am I way off? Aren’t we trying to impose our sense of how children ought to be on the reality of how preteens actually are? They are having sex. If they aren’t mature enough to handle sex, whose fault is that? Is it biology, or might it have something to do with our societies obsessive infantilization of women and our fetishism about the magic of childhood?

    Point taken on the biology of puberty. How fertile are girls in that stage, though? I’m more or less clueless about the biology of puberty.

    Hence all the questions.

    =================

    @Gabrielbrawley: Just because you are old enough to become pregnant doesn’t meen you are mature enough to handle it.

    ———————

    Yes, I know you said that. My question is, is this biological necessity or a self-fulfilling prophecy?

  81. Since marriage was an exchange of PROPERTY in the past, I have always thought that was why the whole virginity thing came from.

    Since, you know, boys will be boys…but girls are sluts.

    I would not have married my husband by choice–my good LG friends are unable to marry, and there is that nasty history. However, you can only get insurance if you’re married, alas.

  82. @sethmanapio:

    Girls are VERY fertile. In fact, it’s not unheard of for a girl to get pregnant before she gets her period (during first ovulation).

    I’m no prude, but I am really having a hard time understanding how and why you think we need to be sexualizing our preteens. Or forcing them to be ready to have sex.

    My guess is that the kids who ARE having sex in middle school are the products of dysfunctional families, abuse or are not being taught properly about sex… not that the kids not having sex are the victims of puritans and being denied all the glory and fun that goes along with trying to keep your voice from cracking while you’re asking your girlfriend to give you a rim job.

  83. @ Elyse : “….fun that goes along with trying to keep your voice from cracking while you’re asking your girlfriend to give you a rim job.”

    I know it is terribly wrong, but I laughed hilariously at this. The image is just ridiculous.

  84. @sethmanapio: I have yet to see any proof that a 10 or 11 year old is capable of living on their own. If you can’t take care of yourself how can you raise a child? An 11 year old is a child. Very few people in there teens can care for themselves. I know plenty of people in their 20’s who aren’t mature enough to take care of themselves. Some studies suggest that the brain isn’t even fully matured until you reach your midtwenties. No children shouldn’t have sex. They aren’t ready for it.

  85. sethmanpio is asking some interesting and challenging questions. Why are the only responders to his questions so frightened? It seems that most, perhaps almost all (leading us to ponder Pinkers’ brain function and social constants) parents lose the capacity for a specific set of rational reponse functions when it comes to their whelps and sex. What is the great fear? Cultural? Genetic? Some uncomfortable mix of the two?

    sethmanpio said:

    Is this a healthy attitude for me to have…. Why shouldn’t kids learn about erotic play at younger ages…. What is the negative consequence of such early experience of erotic play? What are we protecting our kids from?…. if an 11 year old girl/boy is curious about sex, about her/his own body, what’s the responsible and ethical parenting move?

    To date, the only responses have been laden with somewhat of a flow of uncritical thinking, logical fallacies, and sundry other unhelpful, nonconstructive slams.

    Sexual curiosity is normal, healthy, construcutuve, and joyful. And it usually begins at a very, very early stage. What is the basis of the fear that causes so many folks, (parents in particular) to deny this reality? Is it their own sexual dysfunction? Is it the rather twisted social mores of oppressive/repressive Western sexuality? Is there an evolutionary root to it? These are the kinds of questions we might ponder. Not the false, flawed, misdirected, and irrelevant arguments of:

    – “I have yet to see any proof that a 10 or 11 year old is capable of living on their own….”
    – “I am really having a hard time understanding how and why you think we need to be sexualizing our preteens. Or forcing them to be ready to have sex….”

    Everyone has different ideas of what sexual oppression/repression means. One person’s oppression is the next person’s Roman orgy. I’m pretty sure that what Sarah Palin would think of as unwarranted and immoral sexual freedom I would view as a nunnery of sad and lonely masturbators.

    However, children brought up in reasonably open and non-oppressive, non-repressive household tend to openly and comfortably express playful sexual curiosity at around the same time that they notice that Mom and Dad have different plumbing, which is usually somewhere between the ages of 3-5.

    I have not read every study on sexuality and child development in the world. I, like most people, scientists, teachers, the masses, am prone to confirmation bias. Nonetheless, every study I have read shows pretty clearly that oppressive/repressive households beget children who exhibit a great deal more irresponsbile sexual behaviour than do the children of open, nurturing, sexually expressive households.

    That’s the kind of thing we could discuss if we want to approach some clear thinking on sethmanpio’s questions. We’ll not find many answers though. Societies have been battling these questions, in one form or another, for generations upon generations.

    And it seems to me that for the most part once parents get into the debate, the gloves tend, please note I said tend, to come off, rationality and crticial thinking bury their heads in the sand, and objective skepticality changes its name to certainty.

  86. @SicPreFix:

    You seem to think that sethmanpio is simply talking about being open and honest regarding sexuality. I am 100% for that… but encouraging preteens to have sex seems silly. I’ve never met a 12 year old who was ready to face the consequences, emotional or physical, of having sex.

    And I certainly see no data that indicates that sexualizing children is a GOOD idea. You show me a solid study saying that pre-teen sex is a good idea and the benefits outweigh the risks, and you can all come with me when I take Moose to a brothel on his 10th birthday.

    Again, discussing the details of sex is one thing. If my son comes up to me when he’s in middle school and asks me what a blow job is, I’ll tell him.

    Sex is fun. Sex is wonderful. Sex is as good, if not better than, sex! It should be embraced. People should not feel dirty or ashamed of sex or sexuality. Parents need to be open and honest with their kids about sex. They need to be non-judgmental about their children’s curiosity about sex. But that doesn’t mean that sex isn’t a big deal. The consequences are not minor ones.

    The data that I’ve seen says kids this age are not ready for sex and that it does harm to sexualize kids too early. Show me otherwise and I’ll concede the point.

  87. The data that I’ve seen…

    That’s hardly the Ultimate Argument of Logic(TM), is it? The question was originally why we think something. The correct answer would be to cite the data and show the evidence if we have any, wouldn’t it?

  88. To define my term, I’m not talking about masturbation, but I may not be talking about sex, either. I’m not being as clear about this as I should be because I’m as uncomfortable with this as everyone else.

    EROTIC PLAY: What I’m talking about, I guess, is anything that an adult in a monogamous relationship would consider outside the rules for your partner. So this goes from foot rubs to rim jobs. You know. Erotic Play. All the games we play what that are erotic.

    Now, some kids are more curious than others. They want to know what sex is like. And they are going to find out, from somebody, somewhere. And for a lot of kids, that somebody is going to be someone a lot older. My first sexual partner was, I think, about 10 years older than me. My experience is not uncommon, about 14% of girls have had sex by age 15 <a href=”http://www.newstrategist.com/productdetails/Sex.SamplePgs.pdf”(pdf), and the younger their first sexual encounter, the older their partner.

    So that’s the context I’m looking at. The kids are having sex. By 17, most of them, male and female, have had sex. That’s the reality. It exists.

    @Gabrielbrawley: Some studies suggest that the brain isn’t even fully matured until you reach your midtwenties. No children shouldn’t have sex. They aren’t ready for it.

    ———-

    Are you seriously suggesting that humans shouldn’t become sexually active until their brains are fully matured, in their mid twenties?

    And if not, what point are you trying to make? Because nothing else you wrote has any relevance to the question of how early children start erotic play. If your criteria for determining when sex starts is when people are ready to live on their own, that seems pretty arbitrary to me. Where’s the connection between those two things?

    ===================

    @Elyse: The data that I’ve seen says kids this age are not ready for sex and that it does harm to sexualize kids too early. Show me otherwise and I’ll concede the point.

    ———————–

    Sexualize kids? Who the fuck is talking about sexualizing kids? Let’s review: my question was specifically about kids who are curious themselves, and who are seeking out sex. They do. They don’t have to be “sexualized”. They already are.

    My information contradicts yours. So I’m not sure what to make of that. And that’s my question, really, why do we think that sex is bad for teens and preteens?

  89. Here’s Elyse: “If kids are curious about sex, we should give them information about it.”

    But since she’s apparently some kind of mega-prude, according to y’all, I can only assume that your preference would something more like: “Issue all kids a condom when they turn 10 and tell them to get busy or else.”

    Right? That’s what your suggesting, isn’t it? Because if it’s not, then you’re not talking about anything different than she is. You’re just being bigger assholes about it.

  90. Actually, all I’m suggesting is that when someone asks an honest question, with clear personal discomfort at even bringing it up, that person deserves as straight an answer as anyone can provide. “My gut tells me…” and “I don’t like it” are not good answers, and no one here should be getting all upset when he responds with “but why?” and “where’s the evidence?”

    I think we all know how I feel about seth around here, so if I’m here backing him up, maybe you should take a step back and ask yourself if maybe you should lay off the emotional responses and start talking about facts.

  91. @Rystefn:

    Yes, the correct thing to do would be to cite the information. However, sometimes I have to make a decision to do either engage in a conversation and let everyone involved assume that I’m not making shit up and that the information is out there or I have to drop out of the conversation because I don’t have time to find all the data.

    I can either try to find sources from research papers I wrote a few years ago or I can tell you that the data that I’ve seen contradicts what he’s saying then go back to taking care of life and such (Moose gets all demanding about eating several times a day and getting his diapers changed… sheesh! grow up already!). Since I’m not proposing any crazy out-of-the-ordinary ideas, I figured that, for the purposes of this conversation, assume that I’m being forthright with you about what I’ve seen. Or you could Google it if you think I’m wrong.

    It’s not perfect, but it’s all I’ve got some mornings…

    @sethmanapio:

    That’s an interesting article… I need to chew on it for a little bit.

    For the record, I don’t think that sex is bad for teens. Sex is bad for some teens. Whether it’s good for them, I don’t know… and that grayness definitely separates into clearer blacks and whites as age decreases.

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding what you’re saying about “erotic play”. If you are saying, “Hey your girlfriend will really enjoy a backrub.” That’s one thing. If you’re giving your kid a point-by-point instructional about how to perform cunnilingus, that’s different.

    I guess I think we should be stressing how to show affection over how to get each other off. Besides, a step-by-step tutorial on sex is bound to fail. What I like is not the same as what another girl likes, and what I’ve liked with one partner changed with the next. What Rebecca likes hard, I might like soft, and Rystefn might not like it at all while Gabriel Brawley really likes it, but only as a spectator.* It’s important to learn these things for yourself and explore them yourself and with each partner.

    (*note to self: schedule a meet-up with Rebecca, Rystefn and Gabriel)

  92. I understand that we don’t all have the time to do all that all the time. Believe me, I know how limited time can be sometimes… but it gets frustrating to see someone asking for specific information being more or less brushed off and actually being (verbally) attacked for even bringing up the question at all.

    Also, I’m game if the other three are. Just saying.

  93. @Rystefn:

    “My gut tells me” is a good answer because it’s honest. No one’s saying “my gut says therefore I’m right” (except Jenny McCarthy)… I was simply saying “gut says”=”gonna need some good convincing here”

    I apologize if anyone felt attacked by me.

    @Gabrielbrawley & @Rystefn: Dinner at my place on Saturday?

    I’ll call Rebecca ;)

  94. @Elyse: Maybe I’m misunderstanding what you’re saying about “erotic play”. If you are saying, “Hey your girlfriend will really enjoy a backrub.”
    ————–

    Well, I mean, you can’t stop backrubs. At least, you couldn’t have when I was a kid.

    I’m suggesting whatever the people involved are comfortable with. I’m suggesting that maybe–and I could be really wrong–young people should feel extremely comfortable saying “yes” or saying “no”.

    As in, yes, you can touch me there with that, or no, you can’t. Wherever “there” or “that” is, and whoever they are comfortable being touched by.

    I’m wondering if maybe the guidance on what’s okay for teens and preteens, sexually, shouldn’t be more of a conversation, and more about individuals, than about these arbitrary guidelines, guidelines that I haven’t seen any evidence for the validity of.

    Gabriel would kill an adult for touching his daughter. Fine. What if she literally asked, in writing, notarized, after a consultation with a child psychologist, to be touched. Is this still a death sentence?

  95. @Elyse: I apologize if anyone felt attacked by me.

    ———-

    I don’t feel attacked. This is touchy ground. As a practical matter, if Gabriel only likes to watch, and Rystefn doesn’t like it at all, I think you could be a person short in your meet-up.

  96. @sethmanapio:

    I’m wondering if maybe the guidance on what’s okay for teens and preteens, sexually, shouldn’t be more of a conversation, and more about individuals, than about these arbitrary guidelines . . .

    I agree. If a kid is hell bent on having sex, there needs to be a discussion, a frank and honest discussion about it, the risks, the rewards, the commitments and respecting his/her partner.

    For a pre-teen couple, I would still encourage waiting. Marriage is a silly and arbitrary line to draw, but if your kid still needs to be reminded to stop watching cartoons and finish his homework, he’s probably not emotionally ready for a sexual relationship.

  97. @Elyse: Marriage is a silly and arbitrary line to draw, but if your kid still needs to be reminded to stop watching cartoons and finish his homework, he’s probably not emotionally ready for a sexual relationship.

    —————-

    Well, there’s go the sex life of every graduate student on earth…

  98. @Elyse: For a pre-teen couple, I would still encourage waiting.

    ————–

    I would too. I just don’t know what the honest information would be to give them… is it, wait because you’re not emotionally mature enough? Is it, wait because a pregnancy would be physically dangerous?

    And on a serious note… I’m not sure I agree on the cartoon thing, because I don’t know if we have a really good understanding of the actual effects of having sex. Do we? Can we say with confidence what the effects of a sexual relationship must be, versus what we create by being so freakin’ weird about sex?

    Seriously, so many skeptics seem to be essentially non-monogamous… why would we assume that sex has a dimension that is so… potent.

    Am I making sense, here?

  99. If you’re giving your kid a point-by-point instructional about how to perform cunnilingus, that’s different.

    ——————–

    By the time my kids are old enough for that to be an issue, they will know that the secret to this, or any other similar endeavor, is always the same: Practice, practice, practice.

  100. Rystefn said:

    That’s hardly the Ultimate Argument of Logic(TM), is it? The question was originally why we think something. The correct answer would be to cite the data and show the evidence if we have any, wouldn’t it?

    No, it’s not the Ultimate Argument of Logic(TM), and yes, although I take some exception to the word “correct”, the correct answer probably would be to cite the data and show the evidence if [I] have any.

    But I do not have any evidence to hand, and anyway I already qualified my response and pointed out that it was insufficient because of my lack of convenient evidence and my confirmation bias. That does not make me wrong; it only weakens the ice I slip around on.

    Anyway, as no one seemed to be exactly quoting chapter and verse from this-that-or-them studies anywhere hereabouts, I guess I sort of thought it might just be sort of all right if I added my small say as well. You know?

    Lastly, what I was really trying to do was steer the conversation back to sethmanapio’s question. I felt it was much more interesting, more important, and far more universal than was Elyse’s original question: “How important is it to instill a no sex before marriage ideology into our youth? Is it even a good idea? Is remaining a virgin until your wedding day worth doing?”

    Aside from the fact that it makes the rather uncomfortable proposition that it might be okay to “instill … ideology into our youth,” that original question seems too vague and yet too culturally specific because it rests on so much ambiguous culture baggage — marriage, which invokes religion; virginity which evokes different cultural determinations, and so on — whereas seth’s question rests on the much more universal question of what age should kids start having sex at.

    Elyse said:

    You seem to think that sethmanpio is simply talking about being open and honest regarding sexuality.

    No, not at all. sethmanapio has extensively responded here, so obviously I am not going to put words in his mouth. However, it seemed, and seems, to me that you and I are both adding in our own interpretation to his statements. My interpretation was not that seth was suggesting encouraging kids to participate in early sexual activity so much as he was suggesting we not discourage them from participating in early sexual activity when the intent comes from mutual interest, mutual curiosity, mutual desire.

    And so, to take it out of sethmanapio’s mouth and assume my own responsibility for it, I would say that that is my perspective on the issue: inform as fully as seems possible; answer questions as honestly as can be; allow for choice and self-governance within reason.

    But of course we all know that’s where the wicket gets so darn sticky: w5 “within reason”.

    I think sethmanapio is asking a lot of really profound questions, questions that have been asked by many people, wise and otherwise, over the years, and for which we may never find truly effective and acceptable answers. But we should always be willing to debate and ponder them.

  101. @SicPreFix: Please to understand – when I referred to the original question, I was talking about seth’s original question, not the Inquisition question. Apologies if I failed to make that clear.

    As I understand it, seth is applying a healthy skepticism to his own opinion on the matter, which seems to generally agree with the societal one. His question was whether or not good information, beyond emotive responses, was out there, and if so, could he please see it – at least, that is what I got out of it. I haven’t seen him actually suggest any answer to the question of when a person is “ready” to participate in sex at all. Personally, I am rather curious to know the answers to the questions myself.

    Lacking said data, I’m strongly inclined to say that no one is qualified to determine whether another person should or should not engage in sexual activities. Parents often think they know their children best and are most qualified to decide what is best for them, but this is just not true. Much as parents do not like to admit it, few of them are pediatricians, child psychologists, or even capable of seeing their offspring with even a modicum of objectivity. Witness the anti-vax movement, for example.

    Is a twelve-year old “ready” to engage in sexual activities? I don’t know. How the Hell could I? I am not that person. I am no more qualified to make such an assessment that I am to judge whether or not Rebecca should sell off all of her worldly possessions and travel the world for five years.

    If either person asked me for advice, I’d respond with far more questions than answers and wind up saying “it’s really up to you to decide” several times.

  102. Rystefn said:

    Lacking said data, I’m strongly inclined to say that no one is qualified to determine whether another person should or should not engage in sexual activities. Parents often think they know their children best and are most qualified to decide what is best for them, but this is just not true. Much as parents do not like to admit it, few of them are pediatricians, child psychologists, or even capable of seeing their offspring with even a modicum of objectivity. Witness the anti-vax movement, for example.

    Yes, I think you are quite right.

Leave a Reply

You May Also Enjoy

Close
Close