Monday, May 09, 2005

The Red Hour strikes

Courtesy the Barking Spider comes a link to a tale about an occupation slightly older than motherhood.

It's interesting to come across this a few days after the mighty chastity debate over at Dawn Eden's. (Click the comments for the full treatment.) Nobody's saying that following (for example) Planned Parenthood's precis for psycho-sexual fulfillment will of necessity lead to the red light district; one of the organizations under their umbrella, the Sexuality Education and Information Council of the US, tries to be careful (and click at your own risk on this one - the page is relatively tame but I'm sure the rest of the site offers "far more," if that's the apt phrase). The linked page starts off by mentioning how many kids regret not waiting longer and offers a helpful checklist for the ambitious young virgin. Taken piece by piece one can say that it's a responsible overview - but taken as a whole, there are a few problems. (Dawn delves into some of them here, my source for the SEICUS link, so do send some hits her way.)

First, it's apparent that they presuppose a level of reflection and maturity that most teens simply can't have. They haven't lived long enough, nor seen enough. In fact, seeing too much too soon usually causes problems for us. (There's a reason why we set legal age requirements to drive, vote, sign contracts, and go to war.) A teen is going to tick off a lot of these items based on feelings and not thought.

Second, they assume that going some of the way first is a prerequisite for completing the trip. They never seem to consider the alternative - that it would cloud one's moral judgement instead of clarifying it.

Third, they never mention any sort of commitment, much less actual marriage. They talk about empathy, intimacy, pleasure...anything but a promise. CS Lewis once observed that people who pooh-pooh promises to keep betray that they have never been in love themselves; love cannot be deterred from swearing fidelity and steadfastness. If you consider what sex entails, it's clear why. The safest possible environment for it is in a permanent relationship, bound by oaths and sanctioned by witnesses. Some will yet say that there are other arrangements, not as desirable but still acceptable; I'm not trying here to debate where the line falls, but it's clearly a line, and not a broad fuzzy scale, slowly running through every shade of gray. This is a black and white thing - either you have the promise, or you don't; either you've had sex, or not.

This is something that teens suspect for themselves. That very first line, mentioned and then ignored, about all the people who gave their whole consent to sex, only to realize later that they had been fooling themselves? That phenomenon is not an accident, and it's not caused by lack of education. There are facts chock-a-block, but those only get you half-way home. This is a moral choice. There are a world of clever cons out there; intelligence just makes them better at being naughty.

Mark Twain once said that at 17, he thought his father was an idiot. "Then I was 24, and I was amazed at how much the old man had learned in seven years." Kids still need the strong example from adults about sex; they need to know who they are, they need to stand against peer pressure and rash emotional impulse. They may hate it, and fight to break away, because by nature kids are meant to stand on their own when reaching adulthood. This raises the natural question: how will they learn to stand if their parents spend the teen years rolling over on the big issues?

That checklist is ultimately ridiculous - it's all about impulses and pleasures, how far you've gone, what you enjoyed and what you talk about doing next. SEICUS presents sex as an entree for the discerning palate, a recipe to refine until one's epicurian tastes are fulfilled; they don't mention that it calls upon a whole person, body, mind and soul. They don't acknowledge how it changes and molds the man and woman to each other (cleave is the Biblical term). They culpably omit every consideration save sensation.

So forgive me, dear readers, but I have to note the affinity between something like the SEICUS claptrap and the "Are You Happy in Your Work?" approach to the sex trade as outlined by the AP. The only difference is the target demographic.

1 comment:

John R. said...

The "menu" approach is something very desirable for men. If you ask a typical man what
his "sexual fantasy" is, you're likely to get a Top Ten list with a variety of different locations,
partners, and sexual activities. It would surely look like some kind of checklist with boxes
you could tick off as each new feat of sexual strength and virility is accomplished.

I would suspect a woman's list would be very short, and far more personable.

And there's the rub. The lustful and sexually domineering man inside me sees all this SIECUS
claptrap going on, and he thinks "Why wasn't that happening when I was in school!" The
way that girls are being taught to accomodate the rapidly declining sexual values of the boys
is astonishing to witness. Girls and women used to be the chief warrior on the front line of
civilizing boys and men.

SIECUS' advice is deficient for all the reasons you mention, nightfly. Keep up the good work at trying
to enlighten.