The Joy, Or The Sadness, Of Teen Sex?
Photo: Solomon Island, Chesapeake Bay:
Mum, Dad, Boy, Girl
If The Joy of Teen Sex on Channel 4 had been titled The Fun of Teen Sex or simply Teen Sex it would probably have been seen by the TV regulators (if they still exist) as porn. It was certainly a self-indulgent exposé of the depths to which human beings will resort in pursuit of "thrills". But that word Joy was a clever artifice to elevate it beyond mere fun or self-indulgence, and the inclusion of a General Practitioner helped it to masquerade as a serious programme.
AUTHORS: OBSERVORS OF LIFE
I had a sick day off work yesterday, nursing a poorly tummy, so I watched the programme on Catch Up. Within the first few minutes I felt such revulsion that I was ready to switch it off. That, I think, would have been the reaction of most men and women of my age and cultural persuasion. "Fix your thoughts only on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable" is our guiding principle, and it was certainly the instinct that made me reach for the Off button.
WRITERS: REFLECTING WHAT THEY SEE
It is not the instinct of the writer, however! Authors, writers and journalists are in the business of reflecting life, whether through fact or fiction and to do so accurately requires that we are observers of life. So through slitted eyes, I watched.
I don't intend to describe in detail what I observed. I can't even bring myself to put it into words for my husband, because to do so might reinforce the pictures in my mind which I now want to expunge. What I will tell you is that the programme moved me to tears. Because the revulsion I felt had nothing to do with being narrow-minded about sexual intercourse. On the contrary, it was the debasement of something that is beautiful and – yes – full of joy. At least, it should be!
TEEN SEX & EROTICISM
Teen sex, it would appear, is about eroticism. The use of condoms is perceived as being responsible for diminishment of pleasure and is, therefore, a no-no – even for the girl who, having lost her virginity at the age of thirteen, had undergone an abortion at sixteen. She regularly consumes a whole bottle of spirits! One wonders - as her mother did - if it is to dull a sense of low self-esteem.
Another, convinced that as a "good judge of character" she would never fall victim to an STD (sexually transmitted disease) or STI (sexually transmitted infection) cried when shown a photograph of horribly disfigured female genitalia. I wept with her when it was gently put to her that by continuing to indulge in unprotected sex she might end up like that and be the means of infecting others.
In the pursuit of self-gratification, there were those who were more than happy to suffer the pain of self-disfigurement. Genital body-piercing was rampant among both boys and girls – always with the idea of enhancing their own pleasure. Given some of the objects used, I'd be surprised if mutilation and injury of partners were not the result in some cases, particularly where anal sex is involved.
RELATIONSHIP: A HUMAN NEED
It would not be true, however, to say that the idea of relationship was entirely absent. One lad – a homosexual who was teased about his virginity – wanted to "save himself" until he met someone who meant something to him. And among those who regularly took part in one-night stands, gang-sex, and same-sex intercourse, there were those who were an "item" and clearly had been for a while. Even here, however, it seemed to be "what can you do for me?" rather than "how can I show my love for you?"
And this, for me, is the crunch. Because today's teens are growing up too fast! They're learning about the mechanics of sexual intercourse without any real understanding of relationship. And they're learning it as much from adults - parents and people like you and me - as they are from each other and the internet.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY
If that shocks you, consider this. A sex therapist and life coach were among those who, with the doctor, were supposedly "helping" these children. The gay virgin who, despite his job as the equivalent of a lap dancer in a club was, actually, immensely endearing, was taught how to use sex-toys as an introduction to anal sex. The girl who had undergone genital body-piercing was emulating her mother. "Mum told me it hurt and I wanted to see if she was right," she told the camera.
There was, of course, no internet in my day, so no Facebook, no Twitter and no YouTube. But that's not the whole story, in my view. A recent British television programme revealed the lifestyle of the Feckless Father. One man, father of eight babies by different women, couldn't name all his offspring and had never seen some of them. He is not alone. According to a Daily Telegraph review of the programme, "One in eight children under five will never meet the man who donated half their genes."
Citing Justin Webb, a British TV presenter, and Marion Jones, Olympic gold-medallist, both of whom were the love-children of absent fathers, the article suggests that the deserted child's silent plea on achieving success must always be: "Look at me daddy, look what I can do." As someone who grew up in a happy, stable family, I find that heart-breaking.
Frequently, when children are abducted and murdered, their grieving daddies describe them as "princesses" and "angels". Isn't this healthy male adoration – when absent in childhood - exactly what the girls involved in teen sexual activity are seeking? They crave the relationship of which they've been deprived.
This is not simply psycho-speak. Nature, it seems, has a hand in the timing of when a girl is ready for a sexual relationship. Scientists have discovered that "girls whose fathers have left home start their periods much earlier than girls who live with their biological dads". This is not true of girls who grow up in stepfamilies. Further, it appears that the more that a father interacts with his daughters when they are young, the later they mature sexually, and the more likely they are to live a stable and happy life in adulthood. As my father always said, the best contraception is a girl who says, No!
INADEQUATE FAMILY & PARENTING SKILLS
Watching a programme like The Joy of Teen Sex, it would be easy to write off today's teenagers as depraved and self-obsessed. The fact is, however, that they are the product of what a previous generation has ushered in. Broken homes. Divorce. "Free love". Individualism. And an unregulated world wide web. Is it any wonder that the "wonder" of childhood has been destroyed?
THE SADNESS OF TEEN SEX
What particularly saddens me is that thrill-seeking on the scale presented by this programme – whether through sexual activity, drugs or drink - is addictive. I saw it in my daughter, whose story is told in my book, A Painful Post Mortem. As she, herself, observed when she kicked her thirteen year heroin addiction, that means that cravings can never be satisfied. Addiction merely feeds and enlarges the appetite for more. And that, in turn, makes it much harder to appreciate the ordinary things that are "true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable." Now that's sad!
Do, please, leave your comments below. You may be a teenager and disagree fiercely with what I've written. You may wish to post anonymously. I respect your right to hold your views and would ask only that you moderate your remarks i.e. no obscenities, please.
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