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the girl with violets in her lap [userpic]

January 24th, 2008 (12:30 am)
thoughtful

current mood: thoughtful

"In a perfect world, no teenager would be having sex. We all know there isn't a 15-year-old alive who is ready emotionally, physically, spiritually, or financially to live with the consequences." -Nancy Keenan, NARAL president*

I find it very hard to decide whether I agree with that or not. I mean, okay, so I know that the statement as it reads is dumb - the statement that there "isn't a 15-year-old alive" who's ready for sex is ridiculous - but I'm thinking of it less on a literal level, and wondering more about generalities. Is it true that there is only a statistically negligible percentage of fifteen-year-olds who are ready for sex at fifteen? Can we make the blanket statement that teenagers should not have sex? Even if I concede the issue on ideological grounds, I'm not sure it has any contact with a reality in which teenagers' sex drives start to run amok when they hit fourteen or fifteen. But my question goes beyond that; I'm honestly not sure that I agree that teenagers are almost inevitably too immature for sex. I should figure out whether I do agree. It would be helpful knowledge in writing the Beth book.

Anyway, I posted it because if y'all want to discuss, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Comment away.

*Quote is a passing remark in this link, leading to a Slate article that I find interesting, thought-provoking, and somewhat shallow and poorly considered in its own approach to the subject. I feel that way about a whole lot of Slate articles.

Comments

Posted by: Katie (october31st)
Posted at: January 24th, 2008 12:37 pm (UTC)

"In a perfected version of our current sociocultural state, no fifteen-year-old would be having sex" is what she meant to say. The body is more than ready for sex when puberty hits in the early teens (how interesting that we keep driving that onset further and further back) and as for being ready psychologically or emotionally, well, the majority aren't in this culture, where sex is taboo and this age is meant to be devoted to schooling, but throughout all of time young teens were brought up to marry and rear children by what's now sophomore year. Not to say that one way or another is right.

Edited at 2008-01-24 12:38 pm (UTC)

Posted by: the girl with violets in her lap (slammerkinbabe)
Posted at: January 24th, 2008 06:03 pm (UTC)

as for being ready psychologically or emotionally, well, the majority aren't in this culture, where sex is taboo and this age is meant to be devoted to schooling, but throughout all of time young teens were brought up to marry and rear children by what's now sophomore year.

Yeah, I was thinking about that too. I'm not sure that *is* what she meant to say, though. It would have been if she'd been thinking about it dispassionately and clearly. But I'm not so sure she was. Bah.

Posted by: Tasha Rebekah Martin (lietya)
Posted at: January 24th, 2008 06:45 pm (UTC)

The catch is that - and I'm just using your comment as a jumping-off point, not trying to correct you - physical maturity on average came later in those eras, too.

In other words, a fifteen-year-old at that time might well be within a year or two of marriage, but s/he was likely only barely physically capable of babymaking. The real problem in our society is that as the age of the latter creeps up (from 15 to 14 to now, I think, 12-point-something years) and the age of marriage creeps later (from perhaps 16 to 18 to now as high as 28 for men in some US states), the gap years between the two points are increasing dramatically. So instead of asking a teenager to resist the hormone bath for maybe a year or two, we're demanding that they wait for up to a decade. And that's just not reasonable, not on a large scale.

Posted by: Spencer Irving (archaica)
Posted at: January 24th, 2008 07:53 pm (UTC)

So instead of asking a teenager to resist the hormone bath for maybe a year or two, we're demanding that they wait for up to a decade. And that's just not reasonable, not on a large scale.

Man, very true. Good call.

Posted by: Tasha Rebekah Martin (lietya)
Posted at: January 24th, 2008 07:55 pm (UTC)

Thanks! I can't take credit for it - I'm mostly synthesizing stuff I've seen said other places and times.

But I do think it's one explanation for why The Teen Sex is such a big deal right now; didn't used to be much time at all for them to get up to much before getting safely married off.

Posted by: Katie (october31st)
Posted at: January 24th, 2008 08:39 pm (UTC)

No, you're right - I wrote that comment half-awake and for some reason thought as I wrote it the trend was going the other way (further-off puberty). Thanks for the correction, and I firmly agree with your final sentence.

Posted by: Tasha Rebekah Martin (lietya)
Posted at: January 24th, 2008 10:32 pm (UTC)

That was actually what I thought you meant, so I didn't even realize it was a correction. :) Thanks, though!

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