Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sex and the Single Girl

While everyone in media land discuss how rappers portray images of women, the unspoken, worst part is that the videos seem to represent how young women now view themselves. Girls dress like whores, talk like whores and act like whores, but most interestingly, don't view themselves as whores. They have no shame.

Feminists applaud this development. A young woman isn't viewed as a slut because she gets around, or maybe she is viewed that way, but she doesn't view herself that way. She's just doing what everyone says girls do now. If she feels bad about her sluttiness, she surpresses it. She shouldn't feel bad, something must be wrong with her if she does.

I am absolutely dismayed right now. In fact, for three weeks I've been mulling the results of a survey I gave to 16 to 18 year old Christian girls at a Church Youth Conference. A little background: the church would be considered evangelical and fundamentalist in teaching with an open creed, but relatively conservative in practice. These are kids who have been taught that fornication is wrong. I'm not so naive to think that being taught it means practicing abstinance. Teens have been having sex since before rock-n-roll, but they knew full well they were playing with fire. Teens these days are just.....playing and suffering repeated burns.

These young women report this:

  • 2/3 knew about the Girls Next Door
  • 1/3 knew someone who had been raped or molested
  • 1/3 didn't believe that oral sex was really sex (thanks Bill!)
  • 1/2 had posted sexy pictures of themselves on their MySpace account
  • nearly all knew someone who had had an abortion
It went on and on. One girl argued with me about oral sex being sex. She pressed her logic. I asked her if Jesus would consider her virginal on Judgement Day if she said that she "only had blowjobs and that's not sex."

While a lot of Christian girls pay lip service to "What would Jesus do?". In real life, the question is "What would Britney do?" Yes, Britney Spears. And Paris. And Lindsey. Young women who dress and act like the women portrayed in those rapper's videos. Exploiting themselves? They exploit their own sexuality and look like they're coming unhinged doing it. (Rehab and divorce. DUI and sex tape. Rehab. Who knows how many STDs, abortions and failed relationships between them.)

While the girls are being absolutely saturated with the self-sexploitation message, their parents are contributing to the problem. The internet and television and movies and music ooze soul killing bacteria that must be beaten back but many parents seem to be stuck in la-la land where bad things don't happen to or around their children. Essentially, they leave their children to navigate territory that they most likely never had to survive to reach adulthood and a healthy relationship. MTV started in the late 80's. I was not exposed to a music video until I was 16. It was shocking then. It would be snickered at now. Videos these days are soft-porn disguised as music. See the above link. Parents need to wake up.

It is impossible to ensure that children will avoid the images, words, lyrics and messages piped into their minds. If I bumbled across a porn site while looking for a certain kind of Scottish tartan plaid, kids are certainly accidently or on-purpose finding porn. Doubt the influence? How many young girls now shave their pubic region to resemble little girls? How many girls take pictures of themselves and send them to their boyfriend? How many girls undress in front of their webcam for their boyfriend? Technology makes these kind of actions routine.

A parent being ignorant of the popular culture and the dangers of the web is derelict in his or her duty. Parents must know and they must have conversations with their children about what it all means. They must get over their own embarrassment about their own premarital sex. What teens deal with today, is not the average sex before marriage--one or two partners. Teens have "friends with benefits", blow-jobs are not considered sex. Who, save the one girl who got it on with the whole football team (a very nice girl, actually, in my High School who ended up pregnant and another boy married her), gave out blow-jobs like candy? It's different today.

Parents lose their moral authority, though, if they are doing things they ought not do. Affairs, divorce, smoking pot, porn addiction, substance abuse, kids know and kids scorn a parent who opinionate while carrying on like this. Worse, a plague of sexual abuse afflicts girls. Especially, the youth pastor told me, in the hispanic community. No one wants to turn an uncle or father in for their crimes. Crimes. Besides destroying a woman's life-long sexuality by allowing the abuse to continue, the bigger crime is destroying her faith in all authority including God. It goes without saying that assaulting a child sexually is a sin. To condone and ignore the crime is a sin, too. Mothers who do this are aiding and abetting a criminal. This destroys the girl's image of women and the church.

I thought, I hoped, that what we saw in our practice was an aberration, not indicative of societal trends. I hoped that our patients were only indicative of the types of people who suffer with chronic pain or other health issues as adults. That still may be true. But to have so many young girls admit knowing someone who had been molested (and 80-90% occurs within the family) makes me think that the problem is worse than even the statistics portray.

The sex act has been stripped of any spiritual meaning today. That is, people act as if sex is a recreational sport with no losers. But what has resulted is hardened hearts. First their broken and then rebroken and then the scars build up and eventually, the girl doesn't think it matters anymore. At a Christian Youth Conference, I saw girls who had given up. Cynical about relationships in general and sex in particular--at 17.

Sex education programs teach a kid to put on a condom, give dry statistics about STDs, but how can they possibly counteract what kids are injesting and absorbing everywhere else? If parents refuse to see the dangerous, predator-infested waters their kids navigate and help them fight back, what chance will children have?

The church and families have become cowardly places where sin can't be named. Our children are paying the price. There is a reason why God commanded His people to remain chaste before marriage and it wasn't because He's an out of touch other-worldly Ogre. God knows how powerful sex is and what a force for good it can be in a relationship built to last forever. Outside the protective confines of marriage, sex causes untold grief. And then, when the people eventually marry, they bring all their grief to the one relationship they really want to succeed.

We need to stop acting like sex outside of marriage is no big deal.

13 comments:

carol said...

MTV started in 1981. I began watching it the next year...as a professional musician, I found it entertaining to watch other bands play. But it morphed over time and then changed its mission from showing bands to what you see today. All the music video networks did, from VH1 to TNN. I noticed CMT playing Dallas Cheerleaders all day recently.

Obviously, the producers get bored with the original format and begin seeking the lowest common denominator. I still check it out once in a while--some of the hip hop videos 10 years ago were interesting--but now it's all ho's, all bling, all the time.

The girls are looking for an easy way to get attention. I went to see a band years ago, and when I walked in the little girls of one of the players were dancing and slinking around in front of the band, quite seductively. When I got up to sit in they glowered and sat down with mommy--I sensed because I was a woman up there actually doing something and not just shaking my butt to get someone to look. Learning an instrument takes work. Why bother, right?

I miss the days when other girls would take up the guitar, keyboard or drums because they wanted just as badly as boys to join in and play music. In the 1960s there was a lot of support for this, but those days are long gone now.

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Anonymous said...

You know, you never get prostitots, Bratz, etc in Islam. Islam even has virgin brides who WILL stay faithful -- when's the last time you ever heard of that happening here?

P.S. Looks like Crazy Spaceman found this blog. He's a regular on Slacktivist's Left Behind review blog. Same posting every time.

Melissa Clouthier said...

Somewhere between women as possessions and women as self-made sexual objects there's a balance. I'm not interested in a woman being a second class citizen to all men. I am interested in people behaving with some honor and respect for themselves and the person they eventually do decide to spend the rest of their lives with.

I'm disgusted with the notions put forth that there isn't a price to be paid emotionally and spiritually for slutty behavior. Men, too. I'm focusing on women because I see them actively choosing to take on these attitudes and actions and being the aggressors.

The worst sort of male behavior has been elevated and now women are behaving that way, too. And reaping horrible consequences.

Sexual liberation has been a huge lie. We have jumped into the other ditch societally.

Anonymous said...

It is all good and well to point out this problem but it would be even more helpful to talk about WHY this problem is here in the first place, and then talk about some real hard core solutions. Young people especially tune out when only problems are being posed. Many adults do as well since it does not deal with the real issues. There must be a better way.

Melissa Clouthier said...

The solution is simple but not easy: Parents must intervene in their children's lives while their children are still listening. That means that parents must teach concrete values and critical thinking to their children before hormones kick in. Parents must not fear saying what is right and then following through because of their own past sins. This faulty thinking sets a morally ambiguous child up for difficult situations. He or she will be confused about what to do--his parents have been afraid to say. How can parents expect moral behavior?

Too many parents are abdicating their role as chief teacher in their child's lives because they want their children to like them. Saying "no" makes a parent unpopular. Tough nuts. This isn't about liking or friendship. Parenting is about helping a child reach adulthood safely spiritually, morally and physically.

Parents who wouldn't dream of putting their kid in the street and say "don't get hit" have no problem putting their teens in life-threatening situations and giving the same advice. It's absolutely insane.

I could rail away against the culture and I have. It's tough for parents to do their job. There are no universally accepted standards anymore. Tough.

Parenting is the hardest job. Being buddies with a teen will harm the child in the long-term. Parents need to grow up.

This IS a "hard core" solution. It's so hard, parents look anywhere but within to solve it. Leaving the moral, spiritual, and health training to schools, peers, youth pastors and the vague "church" is an abdication of responsibility.

I know, this answer will peeve more than a few people interested in sophisticated school education programs. It will peeve parents who lament the fighting of the cultural beast and "it's just so hard."

I would be more sympathetic if children weren't being harmed. It's the truth. I am utterly dismayed at generation of beautiful, smart, lovely Christian girls trying to swim in the cultural swill and their parents are too timid to give them the tools to stay safe. Sometimes the tool is as simple as being the "bad" guy so the kid can be a kid. We cannot lament society and then display the same standards in church.

Our children deserve better.

carol said...

I think you've hit the nail on the head Melissa--parents are self conscious of their own past sins and feel like "hypocrites" for trying to prevent the same behavior in their own children. And often the parents' behavior is current and ongoing and putting on quite a show for the offspring.

What they don't realize is that usually, kids will imitate what you do to the power of 10 in their own lives. So if a parent has a long nonmarital affair with one abortion, the daughter will have numerous affairs and multiple abortions. What's in a number?

Unless, the parent fesses up and says it was all wrong, please don't follow in my footsteps, and demonstrates a true conversion by behavior and words. Then maybe the child might learn.

Anonymous said...

Somewhere between women as possessions and women as self-made sexual objects there's a balance. I'm not interested in a woman being a second class citizen to all men.

What I see coming with the Femmies is everything narrowing down to two and only two choices: His boot stamping on her face ("Allahu Akbar!") or her boot stamping on his ("Vagina! Vagina! Vagina!"). Forever.

It all comes down to Us or Them.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful response and it should be a post in and of itself. Thank you for a great and well thought out response!

Christy're said...

These attitudes were very much prominent "way back when i was a teen"--I'm 26--and I would hesitate to pin it all on the parents. I remember feeling very confused about it all--my parents preached virginity until marriage, but my peers seemed to think that virginity until marriage (at least once we hit college) was unattractive and unreasonable.

We all expected to get married in our upper twenties or low thirties, which meant a long, long time to date. My parents certainly never expected me to marry at the young age of 24--in fact they wondered if I was really ready for it.

My point is that young women often do what they think will attract men and keep the "right" men around.

Being moral sexually works when the age of marriage is young, but I think the older average age of marriage is a huge part of the reason why girls feel pressure to be more and more openly sexual. It's the only way they think they can keep a good guy around until it's time to marry (by which time their figures are likely to be less attractive).

Melissa Clouthier said...

Christy're,

I agree with you assessment about delayed marriage. But that doesn't explain the phenomenon of 17 year olds living like they're going to die tomorrow and having as much sex as possible.

Parents who encourage delayed marriage--after grad school, for example (or else they don't pay for education--set up their kids for failure.

It's not all parents fault, it's a lot parents fault. You know the vine by the fruit.

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