Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sex and the teenager of this millennium

My child is 13 months old, not out of diapers yet and is still innocent. But I am worried and concerned because children of today have lost their innocence. Images in the media, friends, and to a certain extent I would have to say parents, are encouraging a new generation of children to grow up too fast, exploring sex and sexuality at far too young an age.

I had a conversation with one of my best friends the other day about her nephew who is 15 and she shook her head saying - "fast, he is fast and the girls around him are faster." I was taken aback for a moment and asked "is he sexually active?" her reply "yes, and given the girls around him there is no question why." At this moment my feminist sensibilities sprung up and I tried to stand up for young women but my friend (the mother of boys under 10 said )- "you will see - young girls today are hyper-sexualized and pursue the boys, early".

That was some food for thought. Today I visited myspace (I regularly visit facebook, enjoy it more but still have a myspace account) and saw an image that upset me. A profile picture of a young woman that I have been fairly close to over the years posing seductively in a bathing suit. Technically speaking since she is at college now I suppose she is "grown" and can make her own decisions but everything in me wants to cry out to her "Stop, you are more than your body image, don't you know this?" But then I look at profile images of woman in their mid-thirties, church going women with similar profile photos and wonder is there really any hope? Will my few words make a difference?

Probably not, given the young woman in the bathing suit is sexually active and has dealt with other issues that could certainly contribute to an already low self-esteem. And, the thing is I can relate to her - I made some poor decisions when I was young, but how do you utilize your personal life experiences to help a teenager find their way? Some may even argue that her self esteem is high - if she has the body why not flaunt it? So many images in the media are doing it and it is reasonably acceptable.

My question is - so, what do I do? A mother of a baby boy who will one day become a young man? How do I keep him from exploiting young women? How do I keep him from regarding woman as play things in this society full of misogynistic images of women gyrating in every music video? I guess I can only be the best example possible of womanhood for him, I can continue to raise him in a loving home, teach him to respect woman, hope he follows in the footsteps of his father and of course pray.


Zen Ventures said...

In THIS day & age, we, as parents have tougher role to play to protect our kids from EVERYTHING! I'm sure you'll do a good job with your son!

Annette Piper said...

Gee this is a hard one! My son is 10 and still fairly anti-girls - he kind of likes them but freezes in their presence! We have tried to lead by example and TRY to instill some old world values of honour and respect. And also that he has to show responsibility and make his own decisions, not be led by the crowd. Hopefully one day he will remember all the comments, prods and hints and become the man we hope he will be. It's a scary thought though - them growing up!

Thanks for popping into my blog too - I really appreciate it!!!


Tammy Warren said...

Hey...I am a mom blogger too. I started a question on the mom blogger group (sorry can't remember now the name) that addressed this same issue. I have a 13 year old boy. I had only two responses. The two I did get were great. Just try to raise your boy to respect women. Be open to the fact that they are probably going to try things we did not during their teen years, but keep the communication going. I talk with my 13 year old son a great deal. It is true that girls seems looser, but I think in general they all are. Boys and girls. It is all over the media, internet, and really, they cannot get away from sex. It is so scary. I feel as though my son will be one of those that will. I have stressed to him what it means the first time and especially what it means to a girl. It has been a difficult issue for me to talk about. I was one of the few that waited. All of my friends did not. You will be fine. Take time to talk, talk, talk....even now.

Christy said...

I think you're absolutely right--you have to be the example he learns from. I think about this all the time as the mom of 2 girls, but I guess there's something to worry about with boys too.

I'm considered pretty liberal politically, but I am somewhat strict w/my kids in some ways. They are not allowed to watch tv (except PBS, Animal Planet or Discovery, and only pre-approved, educational shows w/o commercials.) They are allowed only 1 hour of screen time per day (computer or tv) and many days they don't have any. I don't allow magazines in the house. I try to keep them from the over sexualization, the marketing, the gossip--all of that stuff that seems to drive our culture right now. It's difficult sometimes. And I have no idea if I'm doing the right thing. Now, they mostly complain b/c their friends get to do, watch, go to...whatever. I guess I really won't find out if it had the impact I hope it will until they're older.

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