I do hope one day a bigger chunk of this country's population can be comfortable with the simple idea that there's nothing wrong with teenagers - even teenage girls! - having healthy and safe sex lives if they're so inclined. I think we've actually gotten more hysterical about the whole thing since I was a kid, and I grew up in the "if you have sex you will die" era.
Turns out that there's another country where the population already is comfortable with the idea that there's nothig wrong with teenagers -- even teenage girls! -- having healthy and safe sex lives if they're so inclined. It's in Holland:
In 1950s Dutch society, most young people began having sex when they were in their 20s and were married or engaged. During the 1960s, unintended teenage pregnancies rose alarmingly. Seeing this, family physicians and clinics were quick to make contraceptives easily accessible to youth. Dutch teen pregnancy and abortion rates are now among the lowest in the developed world.
National surveys show that most Dutch parents accept that young people choose to have sex in committed relationships during their later teens. Research I conducted found that a majority of Dutch parents are even willing to permit such couples to spend the night together in their homes, but only when they see that they have formed a loving relationship, feel ready for sex and understand how to use contraception responsibly. By accepting teen sexuality within these parameters, Dutch parents can stay involved, monitor relationships and urge proper contraceptive use.
This shift from a "marriage-only" to a "love-only" sexual ethic happened because parents, aided by honest and informative public conversations about sex, grappled with how to marry their aspirations -- about the children they wanted to raise and the relationships they wanted to foster -- to times that were changing. The result is an environment in which young people receive support from parents and other adults as they learn about relationships and wise sexual choices.
Look, as a society, we've decided that it's worth the costs for companies to be able to use sex to sell their products. Maybe that's good; maybe it's shitty, but it's not changing any time soon. We've decided that it's worth the costs for ranchers to be able to pump their animals full of hormones and antibiotics that cause teens to mature earlier than ever before. Maybe that's good; maybe it's shitty, but it's not changing any time soon. We've agreed that preserving patriarchy is so important that it's worth making young women grow up in a society where "having a boyfriend" may be the ONLY sign of personal validity. OK, I KNOW that's shitty, but it's not changing any time soon.
And then we act appalled when teen-age girls have sex. And then we deny them the information and the tools (aka condoms) that could help to prevent teen pregnancy. And then we all pay the costs of teen pregnancy, although the teen mothers and their kids pay a disproportionately high share of those costs and the ad agencies, ranchers, and patriarchs pay a disproportionately low share of those costs.
They're a lot smarter in Han's Brinker's land of tulips.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."