fingerlakeswanderer

fingerlakeswanderer
Birthday
May 09
Title
cassandra
Bio
Lorraine Berry lives in the Fingerlakes region of New York, although it's her transplanted home. On weekends, she can be heard throughout the area, cheering on her beloved Manchester City F.C. When not writing at Does This Make Sense? or Talking Writing, she can be found hiking with her two dogs, hanging out with her two daughters, eating what her beloved Rob has cooked for her, or teaching creative writing at a small college in the area.

MY RECENT POSTS

MAY 12, 2010 3:37PM

Why Can't Teenage Girls Enjoy Sex?

Rate: 35 Flag

This month's Atlantic brings us another piece of intellectual sophistry by the feminist contrarian Caitlin Flanagan. Ms. Flanagan considers herself a feminist, and while there is virtually nothing she and I agree upon, I have long argued that feminism is a multi-faceted set of beliefs, not some single-answer test, and thus, if Flanagan wants to call herself a feminist, well, whatever.

This month, in The Atlantic, she argues that teenaged girls have been irreperably harmed by "hook-up" culture (what we used to call one-night stands). Her primary evidence for this is a novel by Anita Shreve. Her secondary evidence comprises various television shows, which are written, as far as I can tell, not by teenaged girls, but but adults, many of them men. 

What Flanagan wants to argue is that teenaged girls don't really like sex. They put up with having it, with participating in hook-up culture, in quest of the mighty boyfriend. We know this from watching television and reading novels about how unhappy teenaged girls are to find themselves participating in hook-ups. 

As an historian, I must first question her sources. These are not primary intellectual sources. These are not the voices of teenaged girls we are hearing, but rather, women years older than teenaged girls, or men and women writing for television shows who are trying to appease censors, and to send "good, moral" messages to kids. This is what we would call "prescriptive" literature, sort of like reading Bernardino da Siena's sermons from the Fifteenth Century and assuming that all women were witches, or all men were sodomites. It matters who is writing your sources. Anyone who does research knows this, so basing an article upon the sources she has chosen either shows her to be intellectually dishonest or not a very good scholar. 

Any article that attempts to generalize about "all girls" is poorly written. (Ask my students--they learn quickly that generalizations are poor excuses for arguments.) And yet, here we have Flanagan talking about today's young women:

Why are so many teenage girls so interested in the kind of super-reactionary love stories that would have been perfectly at home during the Eisenhower administration? The answer lies—as does the answer to so much teenage behavior—in the mores and values of the generation (no, of the decade) immediately preceding their own. This tiny unit of time is always at the heart of what adolescents do, because as much as each group imagines itself to be carving new territory out of nothing more than its own inspired creativity, the youngsters don’t have enough experience to make anything new—or even to recognize what might be clichéd. All they know is the world they began to take notice of when they turned 12 or 13; all they can imagine doing to put their mark on that world is to either advance or retreat along the lines that were already drawn for them.

Even Woodstock is an example of kids getting together to do the next, precisely logical thing based on exactly what came just before them. The most transgressive moment on Yasgar’s farm wasn’t the moment when Country Joe got the kids to scream “Fuck the war” (while the Army choppers bombed them with blankets, water, food, and flowers). It was when Sha Na Na took the stage in gold jumpsuits and confused everyone by playing “At the Hop.” Sha Na Na understood what the freaks didn’t: that they all were already being usurped, that youth is a river that can’t be stopped, and that right in the middle of Woodstock, the next new thing was already struggling to be born. Music is the prow of popular culture, and Hollywood follows as fast as it can. Only four years after the orgy in the New York mud bath, George Lucas gave the next crop of kids American Graffiti, and the youngest once again turned. What else could have followed Woodstock—the total embrace of free love, and everything good and (especially for girls) bad that came with it—other than a full embrace of the supposedly most sexually boring and intellectually repressed time and place of the 20th century, 1950s America?

(I couldn't help leaving in the Sha Na Na analysis--thought all you Woodstockers might like to know that it represented the most transgressive moment at that event.)

To understand the world of the hook-up party, Flanagan turns to that expert on adolescents, Anita Shreve. 

Written by a bona fide grown-up (the author turned 63 last fall), Testimony gives us not just the lurid description of what a teen sex party looks like, but also an exploration of the ways that extremely casual sex can shape and even define an adolescent’s emotional life. One-night stands may be perfectly enjoyable exercises for two consenting adults, but teenagers aren’t adults; in many respects, they are closer to their childhoods than to the adult lives they will eventually lead. Their understanding of affection and friendship, and most of all their innocent belief, so carefully nurtured by parents and teachers, that the world rewards kindness and fairness, that there is always someone in authority to appeal to if you are being treated cruelly or not included in something—all of these forces are very much at play in their minds as they begin their sexual lives.

While I understand that Ms. Shreve has a particular point of view that she has placed in the voices of her characters, unless she has attended these "parties," (many of which are more urban legend than reality), then we are, in effect, reading a fantasy novel. A right-wing fantasy novel where young women realize that the route to true happiness is saving yourself for Mr. Right, and then exploring the gift of sexuality within the confines of marriage. 

It goes without saying, although I feel compelled to say it anyway, that nowhere does Ms. Flanagan turn her attention to teenaged boys. While girls are damaged by having sex that is not directly connected to being with the great love of your life, boys can screw with impunity, because, well, boys will be boys and that's the way it's always been. 

I've been sexually active since I was 15. While the first couple of times weren't particularly pleasurable, what made them less than orgasmic was that my partner was inexperienced, too, so when my hymen proved too tough, penetrating it was painful. Early sex was physically painful. Not emotionally devastating. 

I ask myself a lot what the investment is in keeping young women virgins until marriage. Clearly, part of it is social control. I could quote to you from laws going back hundreds of years that show a consistent pattern that the two threats to social order are unmarried women and young, unmarried men. You take care of unmarried women by marrying them off, and thus making them subject to their husband. You control unmarried men through a number of ways--the military, for one--anything that keeps young people with hormones running amok and ideas running wild from deciding that they know how to run society better than their elders. 

But I've also come to believe that the hymen is a fetish object. It has value in this culture. It is a thing of value that is traded between men: a father trades it to someone with whom he is making a business transaction: here is my daughter's hymen for your son's enjoyment. Without the hymen, what is there left to worship? 

Anyway. I've written enough already. It would be nice if Flanagan had asked a few hundred college or high school women if they enjoyed sex, if it made them feel good, if it gave them physical pleasure, if it bothered them that the person they had sex with one night was not the man they would eventually marry. 

She's not lying when she says that the "boyfriend" myth continues to be perpetuated. Young girls are led to believe that when "Mr. Right" comes along, their lives will be perfect. Sort of like the way alcoholics believe the right combination of liquor in their bloodstream will make the world seem a better place, or the shopper's quest for the ultimate bargain. These stories make our culture go around, because they continue to direct people into the channels our culture is invested in keeping clear, deep, and wide. 

But, as young women discover that sex is great and you don't have to love a man to have multiple orgasms with him, my hope is that the boyfriend myth will fade. That way, young women can concentrate on the development of themselves--on what they want to be, what they want to do, what they want to make of themselves, before they settle down with a gold band on their finger and a baby on the way. There's always time for that. 

So, Ms. Flanagan, with all due respect to you, and your expert, Ms. Shreve, may I suggest you spend some time teaching college writing and reading what young women have to say? You might find that their descriptions of their lives read nothing like the prescriptions you are so desperate to write for them. 

Your tags:

TIP:

Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:

Comments

Type your comment below:
I thought sex was pretty great as a teenager, excellent in fact. I may have not participated in any sex parties but my bf was giving me multiple orgasms with his (not his penis!) for over a year before I elected to experience the full monty! It was all good. Sometimes I wonder if there's a pill some of these people swallow that erases their memory. Where does she get off with these unsupported and absurd generalizations? Flanagan's essay would rate a D- in my grading system.
Caitlin Flanagan sounds like an uptight repressed Catholic girl who was a probably abused by nuns or priests in Parocial school, and was too ugly or fat to have a sexual relationship as a teenager. I have no evidence to base this statement on, it's certainly a fatuous opinon, just like her writing.
here, here. when I spent a year working with girls who were basically one step away from adolescent jail I realized the irony of the messages society sends them...on the one hand that they are the ultimate sex objects "barely legal" for advertisers and pornographers alike, secondly that their own wishes are likely to be trampled on...as much by the caitlin flanigans of the world as any would-be hook up or boyfriend. why should the wishes or needs of teen agers be any more easily packaged up than any other age of male or female? but it's so much easier, as you say, to write a prescription without any worrying about side effects...

I agree. Let girls/young women speak for themselves. there you will find the expert opinions worth listening to.
Wow! who did they poll for that one? Tennage girls not enjoying sex. She needs to pull her head out of the sand!
As you may know, I am a male person. i had sex a lot as a teen and it was usually with teen girls. Now I am not like superman or anything, but I would say that the majority of those who had sex with me found the experience to be at least pleasant. Many of those acts were even initiated by those teen girls so I would also have to conclude that they not only found sex to be a pleasant diversion but that they found it to be at least as desirable as say going to a movie since that was the excuse that parents were frequently given. There is an anti-sex culture that not only doesn't enjoy sex openly, but, will lie about it as well since for some unknown reason they are afraid to show any degree of sexuality themselves. I can't answer why. They seem to be reasonable people until sex is added to the equation. Now I am a to each their own kind of person and think that as far as sex goes as long as they are adults and all concerned are willing then why not. The people that trouble me are the ones that not only hide their desire to be sexual but are even more offended if someone else is.
It depends on your daughters, as you know I have two 15 and 20. I do know that we have educated them in sexual relations and the consequences at their age. At 20, I also know that my daughter has had sex. But I also know that we have ACTUALLY talked to both daughters about it before hand. They both understood the reality but then again are not pressured into situations. My daughter's are my life, I respect their ability to make a rational decision. It depends on what you tell and be honest with your children. Young women can develop on their own if they are told the truth. It takes both sides and honesty. Hi Lorraine, from EliMay1&2 and o/e
Be well my friend.
I'm working on a post about this too. I have one boy and one girl. Now young adults. I raised my children with frank sex talk and without judgement on sexuality of any sort, other than the idea of personal responsibility for yourself and for the feelings of others. I wasn't quite prepared for how my children put this into practice, but that's more my problem than theirs. And while few teens (or adults!) navigate relationships without some measure of hurt, their view of sexuality seems far healthier, less damaging, than the one I grew up believing.
In some ideal world, girls, and boys, would be free to experiment sexually without the burden of everybody else's judgments and expectations. There will always be emotional collisions that go along with those physical ones, but all that is part of - duh! - growing up.
"...gold band on their finger and a baby on the way.." Do things still happen in that order -- anywhere???
I was wondering today why we spend so much time worrying about reducing teen pregnancy rates and emphasizing the benefits of two-parent families while many of the famous women young women hold in esteem are becoming single, unmarried parents every day???
Lorraine, I'm afraid the feminist movement has factions within it that have turned on their own with this one. Rather than a liberating force of sexual pleasure and choice, there are those who seek to speak for young women and their sexual experiences. Isn't that one of the behaviors the feminist movement addressed way back when? We can speak for ourselves. I don't think it's any coincidence that Sex And The City is so popular. I think that's where mainstream feminism is. Four successful women, trying to find love, enjoying sex, but sometimes not as much as other times, making choices, making mistakes, getting up, and starting again. Then comes the criticism for that show and film series that women don't really live that way. Well, according to Flannagan, they don't. She takes quite a contrary view to the experiences of millions of women which tells me her view comes from a personal place, one that isn't feeling it. I wish she's write about that instead of projecting it onto the teen world. xox
I read this only once and may have to read it again for a better comment. I was stuck but the 'urban legend' you noted because as a mom of a daughter born in 1986, one who is a pretty astute about social relations, she claims that much written about her generation and those younger are in fact 'urban myths'. Sure some girls 'go wild' and I always wonder if they've had education or good parenting. I had a whole lot of sex in the sixties but I loved each guy even if for only 3 days. My kiddo hates hook ups had only one and isn't looking for Mr. Right either. That said, she had an adorable guy from 18-19 who was a great love.

I agree with you about Flanagan and her non-sources. I guess I would say that the hook up culture has been over applied to young women and that most of them are actually more square than was our generation. They seem to have packs of kids of both sexes without a lot of sex. But this is so individual, I can't as you suggest rightly, make generalization. I too would love to have a study about teen girls from them. R
What about vibrators?
To be more specific, perhaps the problem with teenage girls and sex is teenage boys -- and if so, electrified mechanical substitutes are over a century old. (see Technology of Orgasm for details)
The disconnect between our society's worship of sex (most especially sexy, not-physically-typical women) and violence and the simultaneous horror we show at the actual demonstration of either by our children is enormous. It just seems like we need to get it straight one way or the other. Are we for it or against it? Because if I'm confused, imagine the teenagers.
What a load of c--p. I was a teenage girl once. I enjoyed sex. Didn't have any one night stands - I suppose I would have been heartbroken if I had, but I still would have enjoyed the sex. :-)
Teens can enjoy sex just as much as adults do, I don't know what is so complicated about that, lol

-R-
I agree FLW, she sure takes the liberty of speaking for those who she hasn't taken the time to speak to. Sexual freedom for women is deeply feared by some who try to wear the label 'feminist', and it is alarming to me. In the recent Stupak amendment discussion, there are factions which believe that prostitution is "evil" and abolishing this practice is more important than giving women their reproductive freedom. That sort of moralizing has no place within feminism as far as I'm concerned.
Yeah, you girl types hate sex, you just do it for the love of a good man.

Teeheehee!! What do you mean, what about the lesbians? That's an illusion put forward by the Outsiders. There's no such thing as lesbians.

**wanders off laughing too hard to walk straight**

RATED! Thank you Caitlin Flanagan!! For the best laugh EVER!!!
I don't presume to know what women like, let alone teenage girls; who but a lunatic or a supremely arrogant person would dare to speak for entire genders and generations? That said, your take on it makes more sense to me than Flanagan's. And her belief that Sha Na Na doing At The Hop was the "most transgressive moment" of Woodstock has me laughing so hard my sides are hurting. The woman is an idiot without peer.
Cable news media focuses on the sexual abuse/sexual assault theme. How does this factor relate to your thesis?
I'm wondering how many teenagers she interviewed in her sample, where she gathered her data. Like you, I work with a college age population, and not only are they enthusiastically active, many celebrate sex in the content of their art, without embarrassment. Women my age are the mothers of these young women, and they seem to have been raised with a much healthier approach to sex than I was. Bell's description of how she prepped her children for sexual activity sounds like how it happened for many of them.
Patrick,
I'm not sure I understand your question. Is it that the media emphasizes that women get raped? I'm not sure how that's different--women get raped in all kinds of situations. And since I think the "sex parties" that Flanagan refers to are urban myths, I think what we're talking about is date rape that may or may not occur when alcohol is involved. But date rape can occur on a first date or in a long-term relationship.
Or am I misunderstanding you?
One reason for encouraging girls to delay sexual activity and limit their partners is that the consequences of sex are higher for women than for men. Unfortunately we bear the burden of bearing children and the health consequences are more dire for girls. Women contract and suffer effects from STDs to a much greater degree than men.

Secondly, the other bill of goods that women have been sold since the advent of Cosmopolitan is that sexual freedom is synonymous with sexual promiscuity. A woman can "own" her sexuality while being selective about the people with whom she shares it.
Female sexual liberation exposes a weakness in the male psyche that many men are not ready to face. Straight women, with the help of the gays (you guys didn’t do it alone), are pushing the envelope and men are doing everything in their power (just flip on BET or MTV) to maintain their monopoly on the objectification of women. It is a not-so-subtle way of saying this…

“You will always behave in ways that please us because it is only through pleasing us do you find pleasure. If you decide to seek your own pleasure then what good am I? How can I justify all of my destructive pursuits which are designed to protect you and your children? It is this protection that inspires you to want to please me. This pleasure is reward for a job well done.”
Today’s women are saying to hell with that. ..

“I actually find a sexual charge in the attention I get which has nothing to do with an obligation to men. I gain pleasure by exploiting your penchant for objectification. I know when you see me in the slinky black dress you get all hot-and-bothered. The earnestness of your response tickles me. When I take it off you get even more riled up. You may even give me a couple bucks just to see my naked flesh. And if I pretend like I really like your juvenile advances you will give me even more money and the trippy bit is you think you’re objectifying me! I just used your own pitiful nature against you jackass!”

Wow. That was harsh. That came out of me? I sound like some sort of gender traitor...sorry guys. At any rate, some of us guys are having a little difficulty with this affront to what we hold dear and that is good ol' brute strength. That’s all we got ladies!!! Are we going to have to start using our brains? Never that...I don't want to think...hey, anybody need help moving? Or maybe there’s a jar I can open...or what about that guy in the bar who's bothering you...can I punch him for you...come on, any takers? :)
Kirsten,
I agree to a certain extent. Certainly, no young woman should have sex before she is ready to. I'm strongly in favor of young women choosing when that moment is--not the government, and not women like Flanagan.
Unfortunately, the "consequences" of sex have become more dire for teenaged girls because it has become much more difficult for them to get their hands on birth control. You have to be 17 to get Emergency Contraception. Many states have made it virtually impossible for teens get abortions. As to STDs, young men are just as much at risk; both partners should be insisting on the use of condoms. But, again, the right has prevented young women from being protected from preventable STDs--HPV--which can now mostly be stopped with the administration of three shots while girls are adolescents. But the right opposes those shots. Why? Because it might "encourage" their girls to have sex. Much better to not get the shots, get genital warts, cervical dysplasia, and cervical cancer, because sex should equal death for those who have sex outside of marriage. That seems to be the message there.

I know that studies have shown that athletic teens are more likely to take better care of their bodies. They either delay the onset of sexual activity, or, if they are sexually active, they use birth control and protect themselves from STDs. As a parent, my girls know that, should they ask, I will take them to the OB/GYN to get whatever they need.
I do not understand what is so difficult for parents to talk to their kids about sex. It is a natural part of life. It comes with risks and responsibilities, and it is a parent's responsibility to talk to your teenager as if they can process this information, instead of constantly telling them they'll go to hell for having natural feelings and desires.
(This last part wasn't directed at you, Kristen. Just me, venting.)
You're an excellent mom, Lorraine.
evolutionary psychology has a lot to say on the subject.
yeah there are many urban legends. it is not really clear if sexual attitudes have moved from more to less permissive & back again. thats what we "think" we know, based on eg the 60s & various stereotypes, but I dont see objective studies showing that.
read all the interesting comments. amazes me how everyone can drone on and on about the subject without once using the phrase "sex positive" ... for the conservatives, I ask them to define that phrase, or maybe they want to assert it is an oxymoron. its a useful way to frame the debate. at least for me =)
Lorraine, another good piece. This Caitlan Flanagan is no more a feminist than Ann Coulter, and almost as annoying. Anytime I want to feel like breaking the furniture I go look up one of her articles.

But don't take my word. Here's Wikipedia:

Her essays underscore the emotional rewards and social value of a traditional housewife's role, and she herself works from home, albeit with the help of a nanny and a housekeeper.[5][6] Consequently she has received criticism for misrepresenting her life choices, and then condemning other women for not choosing the more traditional lifestyle.[7]
An older writer writing about sex may have good or bad memories of teenage sex. However, that writer is not subject to the hyper hormonal sex drive teenagers deal with that fades over time. I once read a book by Shreve in which seaglass was the main metaphor. She convinced me to like seaglass. I did not then and do not now consider her an expert on teenage sexuality.
Wow What a great bunch of comments on a thoughtful post. I was a house mother at a sorority for two years. I saw too much. I love the energy of the young. If I knew then what I know now I would have done "it" and enjoyed it much more.
Not even teenage girls speak for all teenage girls.

And the teenage sex parties? Really? Do those things actually exist? I mean, when I was in high school a lot of people were drinking and screwing in the backs of pickup trucks parked out in cornfields because, in addition to the normal teenage horniness, there wasn't much else to do in Greensburg, Indiana, on a Friday night. But it wasn't like there were orgies or anything, at least none that I was invited to.

I've heard from esteemed sources that grew up in the 'burg in the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s that that was pretty much what they did as well to pass the time. Since the town hasn't changed much since I left twelve years ago and human nature holds pretty steady, I'm kind of doubting that the kids are having orgies in the woods now.

I remember reading--perhaps it was on Open Salon--some handwringing about "rainbow parties", which were going on everywhere in America's leafy suburbs, in which each of the girls wears a different color lipstick, and gets together with the boys in the two hours after school before their parents get home and...well, you know. And the only thing I could think was 1.) if they're doing it right, the colors would all smear together, thus making the rainbow effect a moot point, and 2.) according to my guy friends, even at 14 years old, getting six blow jobs in two hours would probably leave them in pain.

And as to why teenage girls read silly novels...it's like the popularity of Cosmopolitan magazine. Very few readers of Cosmo actually want to be a Cosmo Girl...but they all enjoy reading about her.
teenagers have always had sex since the beginning of the human species and they will continue to do so until the species dies out or hopefully evolves. the best we as adults can do is educate them so they don't get pregnant or catch an STD.
r
I guess I'm with almost everyone else on this. I just can't believe that teenage girls were that different than teenage boys. And i certainly enjoyed it, even allowing for the severe supply-demand imbalance.
As usual you present a solid, beautifully constructed case and inspire great commentary. I learned to love sex and my own sexuality, like many --who should be able to admit this more openly-- first with myself. If you don't know your way around your own body, how to help those even more inexperienced boys?

Interesting scene on "Parenthood" this week between teenage cousins, one sexually experienced, one not. Amber (sexually active) counseled virgin Hattie not to "cash in your V-chip" until it's with someone special. That rang so true. And I love the lingo.
Loved "These stories make our culture go around, because they continue to direct people into the channels our culture is invested in keeping clear, deep, and wide." I really enjoyed your good, well-written reasoning.
The comments to my post have been top-notch. I don't understand why someone like Caitlin Flanagan continues to get so much attention from the likes of Atlantic. It's one thing to be "provocative" and to use intelligent arguments to engage in critical debate. It's another to throw crap against a wall to see what sticks. I'm still trying to process the fact that she is using a scene from a novel as the basis of her argument. This passes for what in journalism school these days?
Oy. Everything I've read by Flanagan has been awful in precisely this way. I don't know why she keeps getting published other than I guess they think she's provocative and will draw readers (or at least their ire).

(I do think the Sha Na Na comment is intriguing. I've always found that the most striking moment of Woodstock, too, because it stands out from everything else that's happening. I don't think it means what Flanagan suggests, but I'll be damned if I know what it does mean. My closest guess has always been that it showed that the crowd was into having fun of any kind, and not just worshiping at the altar of current hipness.)

I do wonder how many teenage girls are enjoying sex in the way it's practiced in hook up land, which by all accounts is focused on servicing the guy. But that doesn't mean girls that age can't enjoy sex, including casual sex. It means finding a way to put a priority on female sexual enjoyment, which is still a vexed issue even in this supposedly enlightened era.
We are still unevolved after 2 million years. Life was short and dangerous for our ancestors. Getting pregnant at 14 was a way to perpetuate the species. Getting more than one female pregnant at 14 was a way to carry on your genetic codes. Our teens are geared to be fearless because that gets them out on the hunt rather than sitting around the cave having sex. It gets them ready to risk childbirth and ready to migrate if times get harsh. Those who live into the 20s and 30s can make slightly more informed decisions--like where to hunt or whether to migrate or how to take care of the babies that have popped out for the last few years. It's in a culture where people don't automatically start on their "adult" life mid-puberty that we can complain. We can expect women to live until their early twenties, acquire and education, pay back something into society, be ready to acquire property and support the local cultural institutions (schools, hospitals, government). But we like to pretend we are not this primitive or this close to survival tactics. Good post!!!
We are still unevolved after 2 million years. Life was short and dangerous for our ancestors. Getting pregnant at 14 was a way to perpetuate the species. Getting more than one female pregnant at 14 was a way to carry on your genetic codes. Our teens are geared to be fearless because that gets them out on the hunt rather than sitting around the cave having sex. It gets them ready to risk childbirth and ready to migrate if times get harsh. Those who live into the 20s and 30s can make slightly more informed decisions--like where to hunt or whether to migrate or how to take care of the babies that have popped out for the last few years. It's in a culture where people don't automatically start on their "adult" life mid-puberty that we can complain. We can expect women to live until their early twenties, acquire and education, pay back something into society, be ready to acquire property and support the local cultural institutions (schools, hospitals, government). But we like to pretend we are not this primitive or this close to survival tactics. Good post!!!
We are still unevolved after 2 million years. Life was short and dangerous for our ancestors. Getting pregnant at 14 was a way to perpetuate the species. Getting more than one female pregnant at 14 was a way to carry on your genetic codes. Our teens are geared to be fearless because that gets them out on the hunt rather than sitting around the cave having sex. It gets them ready to risk childbirth and ready to migrate if times get harsh. Those who live into the 20s and 30s can make slightly more informed decisions--like where to hunt or whether to migrate or how to take care of the babies that have popped out for the last few years. It's in a culture where people don't automatically start on their "adult" life mid-puberty that we can complain. We can expect women to live until their early twenties, acquire and education, pay back something into society, be ready to acquire property and support the local cultural institutions (schools, hospitals, government). But we like to pretend we are not this primitive or this close to survival tactics. Good post!!!
I can't help but think that these "teenage sex parties" are really the fantasies of pedophiles...
I have always thought that saving it for Mr. Right or for marriage was over rated. No one knows if or when that will happen. However, I believe and taught my daughters that sex, like alcohol is an adult activity with adult consequences if not handled responsibily. By responsibly I mean taking precautions to prevent pregnancy and disease. In many cases there is also an emotional component so it is wise to be aware of that and to also be aware that there are two people involved, not just one. That person's feelings should also be taken into account. While biology is screaming "PROCREATE!" at a very young age, it does not necessarily follow that one is emotionally ready to act on that. I told my daughters that their bodies belong to them and when and where they share initmacy is their call and they would know when they felt ready and not to allow anyone to pressure them to make that decision before they felt good with it. I believe strongly that babies need not be brought into the world until thier parents are ready for them and young women (and young men) need to be emotionally mature enough to deal with the responsiblity of prevention or with the consequences should pregnancy occur.
I didn't think the Flanagan article was advocating a return to abstinence before marriage. There is a huge middle ground between being expected to put out by the second or third date and waiting until marriage.
In reading Caitlin Flanagan's piece, the point that I got out of it was not that girls aren't supposed to enjoy sex, but that they are under extraordinary pressure by society to enjoy it, no matter what, and certainly, so many boys today expect gratuitious sex as a regular rite of passage in college, or you get dumped or passed over. I have a 19 year old daughter who is pretty and popular in a great college, but complains bitterly about this topic, and the need to conform by having sex, whether you want it or not. Please read the New York Times article from February, The New Math On College Campuses. It appears to me that the venom with which this blogger attacked Caitlin Flanagan's article suggests anger that isn't really just about this topic. It appears to go deeper. Why shouldn't girls have the genuine choice whether to have sex or not???? Isn't that the TRULY feminist ideal, to have a choice?
Anybody take the time to read the Caitlin Flanagan column? She may "sound like an uptight, represessed Catholic girl" when this blogger distorts her argument into one advocating abstinence until marriage for girls and ignoring the habits of boys. However, what she writes about in her column is quite different. Check it out before you spout off about her.

Good job jumping to conclusions though.