Teenage Sex: Letting the Pendulum Swing

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stigma. As Coffin explains, "The danger of premarital sex while it was verboten was that it covered up a multitude of gaps. A girl had to believe she was in love because, she told herself, she wouldn't otherwise go to bed. As a result, the real relationship never got fully explored."

Many psychiatrists have come to agree that the new openness has much to recommend it. One of these is Graham Blaine, until recently chief psychiatrist of the Harvard health services. In 1963, Blaine wrote that "college administrations should stand by the old morality" and decried relaxed dormitory rules that allowed girls to visit boys' rooms till 7 p.m. In 1971 he switched sides. "I have been convinced by the young that the new relationships are a noble experiment that should be allowed to run its course."

Today Blaine elaborates: "I thought we college psychiatrists would see a lot more emotional problems. I was wrong; most students are not being hurt. The pendulum should be allowed to swing." It will swing back—at least part way back—he predicts, as it did after the easygoing days of the English Restoration. "It's much more in keeping with human nature to make sex a private thing and to have some elements of exclusivity." Mrs. Callahan, speaking to student audiences, has found on campuses "a new puritanism or perhaps a lingering puritanism," and she usually gets a smiling response when she calls on her listeners to "join the chastity underground."

Yes or No. Whether or not the chastity underground is the wave of the future, as Mrs. Callahan hopes, some youths, at least, appear to be searching for firmer guidelines. "Sometimes I wish I were a Victorian lady with everything laid out clearly for me," admits Sarah Warren. Warns Coffin: "It's much easier to make authority your truth than truth your authority."

At Yale, the Sarrels, who had dropped a lecture on morals, were asked by the students to add one on sexual values and decisionmaking. But to search for guidelines is not necessarily to find them. Most of the proliferating courses, clinics and handbooks detail, meticulously, the biology of intercourse, contraception, pregnancy and abortion; few do more than suggest the emotional complexities of sex. For instance, The Student Guide to Sex on Campus (New American Library; $1), written by Yale students with the help of the Sarrels, has this to say on the subject of "Intercourse—Deciding Yes or No":

"When a relationship is probably not permanent, but still very meaningful, it is more difficult to decide confidently ... There is so much freedom ... The decision is all yours, and can be very scary . . . No one should have intercourse just because they can't think of any reason not to. The first year in college can create confusion about sexual values. Your family seems very far away, and their ideas about almost everything are challenged by what you see and hear . . . Girls who have intercourse just to get rid of their virginity usually seem to find it not a pleasurable or fulfilling experience."

Sense of Trust. In personal counseling sessions, the Sarrels offer psychological support for students who would rather not rush things, telling them that "it's just as O.K. not to have sex as it is to have it."

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