Teenage Sex: Letting the Pendulum Swing

  • Share
  • Read Later

(7 of 10)

and which from females. No more. "At last, both young men and women are beginning to express their sexuality without regard to stereotypes," Sarrel declares with satisfaction. "We're getting rid of the idea that sex is something men do to women." As Jonathan Goodman, 17, of Newton High remarks, "I'd probably want to talk it over with a girl, rather than just let it happen. Her reasons for doing it or not doing it would be as important as mine."

Most observers think the equality movement has weakened, though not demolished, the double standard, and reduced, though not ended, male preoccupation with virility. There is somewhat less boasting about sexual conquest. Jonathan, for one, asserts that "I respect my girl friend and our relationship enough not to tell everyone what we're doing." Anyway, reports recent Columbia Graduate Lou Dolinar, "Now that girls are living with their boy friends in the dorm, it's pretty hard to sit around with them and talk like a stud. Male bull sessions of sexual braggadocio have been replaced by coed bull sessions about sexual traumas."

Identity Crisis. Can teen sex be harmful, apart from causing such problems as illegitimate pregnancy and disease? Manhattan Psychoanalyst Peter Bios believes that the early adolescent, however physically developed, is psychologically a child and lacks the emotional maturity necessary to manage sexual relationships. If a child tries to grow up too fast, Bios says, he may never grow up at all. Says Catholic Author Sidney Cornelia Callahan: "Sexuality is very intimately related to your sense of self. It should not be taken too lightly. To become an individual, the adolescent has to master impulses, to be able to refuse as well as accept."

Even on campuses where sex is relaxed, says Sociologist Simon, "kids still experience losing their virginity as an identity crisis; a nonvirgin is something they did not expect to be." Sexually involved adolescents of all ages are sometimes beset by guilt feelings, though less often than were their elders. Admits Ellen Sims, a Tenafly girl of 15 who says she has turned celibate after sleeping with three boys when she was in the eighth grade: "I was ashamed of myself. Sometimes I wish I didn't even know what I've done." Similarly, University of Pittsburgh Junior Kathy Farnsworth confesses that "I know sex isn't dirty. It's fun. But I always have this nagging thing from my parents in my head. They'd kill me if they knew, and I've never been able to have an orgasm." Occasionally the pangs of old-fashioned conscience are so strong that a student drops out of school and requires months of therapy before he is able to resolve the conflict between his "liberated" behavior and the standards, acquired from his parents, that he still unconsciously accepts.

Experts also detect a frequent sense of shame and incompetence at not enjoying sex more. "A great many young people who come into the office these days are definitely doing it more and enjoying it less," says Psychiatrist Holmes. According to Simon and Gagnon, sexual puritanism has been replaced by sexual utopianism. "The kid who worries that he has debased himself is replaced by the kid who worries that he isn't making sex a spectacular event."


  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10