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Thinking Sex: Across the Life Span Forum

Thinking Sex: Across the Life Span Forum


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Sex Across the Life Span
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2003-09-22 09:53:37 :
Link to this Comment: 6564

This week, while keeping language ALWAYS in mind (!?!)...we turn our attention to questions of experience....in particular to the matter of sex across the life span. We'll be hearing on Tuesday from Jeannie Gustafson and Justin Lee, who work with Big Brothers/Big Sisters in Norristown, and Thursday we'll be reading a variety of accounts of sex in childhood play, in middle schools and in nursing homes (shades of my joke about Parkinson's....)

What are your thoughts in reaction to these accounts, as they intersect with your own experiences, across the span of your own life (so far)?


causal sufficiency??
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2003-09-23 16:12:19 :
Link to this Comment: 6598

The text I referred to in class today, as we were wrestling w/ questions of sexual education and the ability of those w/ more experience to "predict" what our own experience will be (as well as our resistence to such predictions) was a text we just read together in the Graduate Idea Forum: Carol Cleland's "Historical science, experimental science, and the scientific method," Geology: 29, 11 (November 2002): 987-990. Cleland's argument about the "time asymmetry of causation" draws on the work of philosopher David Lewis on the "asymmetry of overdetermination"--which is to say (far more briefly than either of them says it) that causes are traceable with far more certainty than are effects.



Name: Catherine
Date: //2003-09-25 02:19:20 :
Link to this Comment: 6628

The article I would really like to talk about in this week's forum is the first article we had to read for Thursday's (9/25) class, on "The Secret Lives of Girls."
First of all, this reading was clearly more in my comfort zone, personally, in that unlike some of the past readings we have had for class, the author does not seem to condone adult males having sexual relations with adolescent females. I could not simply accept pedophilia as okay behavior, and this writer seems to believe that it does have negative effects on children, or at least girls. This article does not simply see things from the 'poor & misinterpreted' adult's point of view, but focuses on the adolescents'.
Besides this, the first question which popped up in my mind as I read this article was whether I was 'abnormal' for not having participated in any of these occurrences which so many other women seemed to have had? On the other hand, these women seemed to think of themselves as 'abnormal.' Then I remembered a past event in my life, which might tie in with these experiences. When I was attending elementary school in South Korea, somehow during second grade, it became a popular fad in my class for the boys to run to lines of girls (we had to line up all of the time for various activities) and pull their pants down quickly and run away. The girls didn't seem to like this, but it took a long time for all of us as a group to tell the teacher what was going on. Part of the reasoning could have been that the teacher made it clear that she did not tolerate tattlers in the class, but the other explanation seems to be that the girls might have been upset by these acts for a few seconds, but they were simply not important enough to fuss over for much longer than that.
A question I had after reading this article is when is it the "right" time for women to be having sex, when clearly not all girls are prepared for the sexual confrontations they encounter during early childhood? When will they feel secure with their actions?


aggressive, sexual girls...
Name: Sarah
Date: //2003-09-27 01:27:15 :
Link to this Comment: 6647

I thought the Lamb book provided an interesting perspective on the nature/nurture question in suggesting that boys aren't the only ones who feel aggression and have strong sexual urges, but that they're the only ones for whom the expression of those desires are allowed. I know I was having sexual feelings in early elementary school, but I never admitted to masturbating until my sophomore year at Bryn Mawr. It's definitely important for girls to know that those sorts of feelings and behaviors are okay.

In response to Catherine's question about the "right time" for women to have sex, I think that that is such a personal, individual decision--and it's a shame that for most young women there are so many outside factors that go into it (peer pressure, boyfriend pressure, lack of education/role models, the portrayal of very young-looking women as sex objects in the media, etc). It seems like the majority of those middle school girls that we read about aren't deciding to do it because it gives them pleasure but because it's the only way to negotiate between their fears of the consequences they've been lectured about in sex ed and the pressure of their peers to enter into sexual activity.

Finally, the point of view that oral sex isn't "real" sex is one that I held for a very long time...and it's only recently that I've even questioned it. Why is penetration the the be-all and end-all of sex anyway? Is it just because it's the heterosexual "norm"? (Is it?) Because that's the act that causes reproduction? Any ideas?


Language is a cracked kettle
Name: Anne Dalke
Date: //2003-09-29 10:17:56 :
Link to this Comment: 6670

This week's discussion will continue last week's (so I'm not starting up a new forum); please enter here your thinking-aloud as we talk through the implications of/enact scenarios of sex across the life span:

Remember that we'd all learn from hearing, in this place, your thinking aloud about such and related matters...

As inspiration and prod, find below two quotes from my friend Mark Lord, of the BMC Theater Department, who reminds me perpetually of the challenges (and ultimately: limits?) of what we are about:

"Language is a cracked kettle on which we bang out tunes to make the bears dance, when what we long for is to move the stars to pity."--Gustave Flaubert

"Sex in language?
That sounds even less comfortable than sex in a car."

Looking forward, tomorrow, to more of such dis-comfort--
Anne



Name: Ro. Finn
Date: //2003-09-29 21:18:17 :
Link to this Comment: 6691

what were your reactions to...
sex play, aggression and guilt among girls:
Reaction- that this is news perhaps only to men/boys who might be reading it. I find it depressing that the author felt there would be an audience for such a coffee-table style book.

* about oral sex in middle school"
Reaction- gosh. Two polar thoughts still manage to collide in my brain (what does THAT say for the structure of my 'little grey cells!").
First thought...so, sex is only that which involves 'penetration'? Or only that which involves the prospect of reproduction? Hmm. Second thought is that, while it's a really clever reaction to trying to get on with growing up in an era rife with SDDs, it's interesting how the solution so conveniently serves the boys at the expense of the girls.

* about sex among the cognitively impaired in nursing homes:
Still thinking. There's the whole aspect of voyeurism...albeit in the name of making sure nobody gets hurt. I really enjoy privacy, so this is a tough one to imagine. As for them having sex, that aspect seems totally natural. It's the context, the surroundings and the 'tone' in which the article was written that feels unnatural to me.

* what were your reactions to Jeannie Gustafson's description of her work w/ the Sisters Program in Norristown?
Whenever I hear someone discuss such selfless and empowering work, I can hardly keep from leaping up to offer fund-raising services. Of course, it always boils down to how much can you get a society focused on another set of values to give to such altruistic activities? I keep trying to couch such arguments in bottom-line benefits in order to get the attention of people in power...to shift their priorities in this sort of direction. I hope she is keeping statistics, that someone is really thinking about the fiscal and political issues of keeping the program alive.

As for teaching tolerance, as she explained her intent to do so, I think that you have to teach from the framework and perspective of the person you hope to affect...and grow from that point forward. If tolerance is more palatable than full acceptance, so be it. Start there. I trust her to know, because she is working/learning on that 'front line.' Having said that, it's good for her to have devil's advocates...to challenge her own opinions before they become convictions.

See you guys tomorrow.
Ro


What is Sex, and why is it going on in middle scho
Name: Grannis
Date: //2003-09-30 03:06:50 :
Link to this Comment: 6701

"The Secret Lives of Girls" was extremely interesting for me to read, considering I escaped the (horrors of!) middle school only 4 years ago since I am a youngin. I still can't wipe some of the things that took place out of my mind! Speaking just for myself, I can say that the following things happened while I was in the eighth grade (and every single one of these things directly involved me in some way):
-rumors that I was a lesbian
-widespread talk that people had "seen" me giving oral sex to a boy in the back of the school bus
-sexual harrassment
-several friends telling me that I was odd, since I acted more like a boy than a girl, as I had "stronger feelings and expressed things more vigorously/ aggressively"

At the time, I remember crying-- and then laughing to myself, since I realized the lack of maturity of my peers after reading a wonderful book called "Reviving Ophelia" by psychologist Dr. Mary Pipher. This book is a compilation of case studies of adolescent girls- and not surprisingly, if I recall correctly EVERY SINGLE ONE of these case studies involved sexuality in some way. We're talking about young girls here: age 12-17, for the most part, who are coping (often inefficiently and unsafely) with their adolescent sexual angst.
"The Secret Lives of Girls" strongly reminded me of this book, and I truly enjoyed reading it as I felt it was actually a relatively accurate description of what things were like in the sexual arena when I was in middle school.
What astonished me most while I was reading the piece were Lamb's observations on the social constructs of the "girl" gender, and the way that they both consciously and unconsciously affect a girl's development (not to mention the way she is taught and parented). It also opened my eyes to the healthiness of anger and aggression, and helped me to realize the irony of the (in my eyes) sickening "girl power movement".
It also seems like a lot of the language we use to describe girls, like "normal", "lesbian," "sweet,", etc. often create harsh 'insides and outsides.'

As for the articles, the ones I enjoyed most were those that dealt with the appearance of oral sex in middle school. I can vouch for the fact that this was extremely prevalent 4 years ago, when I was in school. And the ironic thing was that kids had oral sex so that they could retain their "virginity"--- all because of a foolish social definition of sex. Honestly, engaging in oral sex can lead to orgasms and STDs; what more does it take to have this act qualify as "real sex"?

Seems like we need to step back and redefine "sex"- or at least widen the breadth of practices encompassed by this term.


The Today Show
Name: KB
Date: //2003-09-30 12:34:34 :
Link to this Comment: 6713

So, I don't know if this is directly answering the questions that Anne posed, but I absolutely have to get this off my chest.

I am an avid Today Show watcher. I love Katie Couric and Matt Lauer and Anne Currey. I always feel like they present such great stories about pop culture, literature, and news events. Last Wednesday I was eating my breakfast while watching the show and noticed that Katie Couric was interviewing a psychologist about dating amongst young girls, around ages 11-13. The psychologist was persistent in her views that parents need to educate their young children about date rape, abuse, and sexual violence. Katie Couric ended the segment by asking the psychologist to return to the show and talk about oral sex amongst middle schoolers.

I felt sick after watching that segment, which made me think "oh my gosh, this class is definitely affecting my views on sex." First of all, should 11 year olds be concerned with date rape?! I feel that the reading by Sharon Lamb is so applicable in this situation. Should parents instead be telling their daughters that it's OK to want to explore and learn about the sexuality of the opposite, or the same sex? Perhaps parents should tell their children that they have the ability to make choices, instead of telling them to be frightened while on a date with a boy in their class to a PG movie that they will be date raped.

Second, in terms of the presentation/discussion on Thursday, I found the Big Sisters program to be quite moving. I think in the grand scheme of things, looking past the fact that the parents were not really told why the kids were really chosen, this program is doing a lot of good. Having gone to a high school where so many of my fellow students could be catagorized as "at risk," I feel strongly that in many school districts, whether they want to or not, a school has to assume the role of a parent for many students since these students do not have anyone at home. If by assuming a role that so many of these girls' parents should be taking on themselves Big Sisters seems to overstepping their bounds, then I overstep away.



Name: Catherine
Date: //2003-09-30 23:56:27 :
Link to this Comment: 6738

Today's posting as the Sex Educator:

Our group discussed the articles about dementia and people placed in homes as they advance in age. The problems we encountered right away were with the scenario given: would the patients who were caught engaging in sexual acts in the common room of the home be mentally ill, coerced into the acts, in mutual agreement and of sound mind, etc.? We could not decide which to choose and go along with.
Some of the problems which surfaced with the role-playing were that there didn't seem to be right and wrong answers; each person had a legitimate claim. The senior citizens did not have a very private place to engage in sexual behaviors, while the administrator felt that this might have an effect on other patients, employees, relatives of the patients, and the reputation of the home in general. The relatives seemed to be okay with the situation, in this case. As the sex educator, I felt that there needed to be some mutual agreement on both sides, but that there really was no clear way to establish right from wrong, rights vs. privileges. Sex might be something that should be encouraged, but to which patients (i.e. only mentally sound ones)? Where do you establish rules and boundaries?

On another note ,
Today's discussion in class on Utopia brought up some interesting ideas. Some prompted me to think of excerpts from Madeleine L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time" and Ray Bradbury's "The Martian Chronicles," as well as shows such as The Smurfs, and Care Bears. These reminded me of what I would consider to be an attempt towards Utopia, because there is a lack of personal desire, for gain, in the residents of each of these communities. Whether or not there are happy emotions, and sad to balance them, these are not recognized personally by individuals, and so on the whole there is Utopia. In the fictional literature we mentioned today as depicting Dystopia, there were individuals who found that they did have personal feelings, desires, etc. and this created what they saw as a Dystopia in otherwise Utopic settings for everyone else. Only because the stories were told from their point of view did we see these worlds as imperfect.
In the same way, it seems to me as though adults cast children into the idea of living in Utopia, because in terms of sexuality, they are blissfully ignorant of (recognizing) their desires or identifying their feelings. In some ways, that is ideal, but in other ways, perhaps Dystopia, as the fictional books show, is better.


My cracked kettle banging
Name: Garron
Date: //2003-10-01 21:03:12 :
Link to this Comment: 6770

First, let me say thank you to Anne for the quote about the gap between what we want from language and what we get from language the "bear dancing/star moving to pity" gap." I found that I really related to that quote, not just as it relates to language but also as I feel it relate to my life. I wish to live so that I "move the stars to pity" but most of the time I'm pleased that I can even "make the bears dance."

Anyway, I found last weeks readings so interesting . . .

Excerpts from Lamb's book:
While I found interviewees' stories interesting, I found Lamb's analysis of the interviews and even her premise for the book lacking. I felt that she continually made statements that she didn't back up. In addition, I felt like this book said too little for the time in which it entered the academic conversation regarding feminism, sexuality, girls etc. After all the gender and feminist literature that's been produced in the last forty years is it really groundbreaking to say that girls are sexual beings and they get mad? . . . Anyway, to end a long rant I wish she had let her interviews of girls and women stand on their own. One more thing, while The Secret Lives of Girls certainly did make me think back to my childhood and try to remember if I had any sex play, then by the end of my reading, like Catherine, I started to wonder if I was abnormal for because of my relative lack of it. Then I decided that it didn't matter, or rather, I didn't care.

Oral Sex and Middle School:
1) I was so pissed that the middle school principal in called in the girls' parents and not the boys. The double standard seemed almost too clichι to have actually happened.
2) I was extremely bothered by the move to criminalize middle school oral sex both by police officers and by the parents who found out their children had been participating in it. Whether oral sex that age is appropriate or not, I don't think the proper reaction to the situation is to arrest teenagers for having oral sex in a park, or putting your child under house arrest for engaging in oral sex.

Sex in one's golden years:
I was most excited by these articles. Personally I believe that understanding and accepting that every person is a sexual person is important. While addressing the ethics of sex acts with/by cognitively impaired senior citizens is worthwhile, I was more interested in learning about the sexual rights or lack there of, of cognitively sound elderly people. While I'm well aware that people often deny the sexuality of young people I've never given much thought to people denying the sexuality and sexual rights of senior citizens.
I'm sure that many adult children must face a situation where one elderly parent gets involved with a new person when they outlive their spouse. I wonder how much literature exists for addressing this issue. I'm also interested by what sounds like an extreme void in the nursing home industry when it comes to addressing the sexuality and sexual needs of their clients.


the solution to oral sex in middle school???
Name: Heather
Date: //2003-10-02 03:11:13 :
Link to this Comment: 6774

About the role-play of oral sex engaging middle-schoolers:
First, the administrator explained the situation, and soon after the mother became furious and continuously yelled at her daughter. The girl was covering her face, seemed ashamed, and lost for words to explain herself. The boy seemed almost proud of his actions, making them seem almost trivial saying something like, "at least it wasn't real sex." I, as the sex educator, was silent. I wasn't sure what my role should have been. At that particular time, in the room full of intense emotions, education in the sense of giving information was clearly not going to be productive. My role seemed to me more of a councelor, and what I wanted to do was interject in the dialogue going on between the mother and daughter. The accusatory language the mother was using wasn't helpful for either of them. But, as we mentioned in class, the way the scenario was set up wasn't conducive to accomplishing anything. I think that the administrator should have gone to the councelor before contacting the parents(and both should have been contacted) and students, and the incident should have been treated less as an attack, a breaking of school rules, "you're in trouble!" and more of a open communication, where the student's feelings/needs/lack of information can be addressed. I also think the mother should have had her own councelor session, to help her deal with her feelings first, and then to help her think of the best way to talk to her daughter.
About the articles:
I wasn't surprised at all about the prevelance of oral sex in middle school-its the way it was when I was there, although I wouldn't be surprised if it is still on the rise. I can actually relate to the belief that oral sex is not real sex...with the pressures of religion to save virginity and the loud messages that sex causes STDs and pregnancy, it is a logical place to turn for satisfaction...I know that many people even above the middle-school years aren't aware of the risks associated with oral sex and engage in it so that they can still call themselves virgins.
On that note, both "The Secret Lives of Girls" and the articles this week concerning children's sexuality presented, it seemed to me, a very important alternative to way sex is presented to children now as shameful and only for adults. It was very interesting and made me think of things I hadn't before but make a lot of sense. I was very intrigued by the article on the importance of touch (I was reading with a friend and almost every sentence, I would say "wow" or "interesting" and couldn't help but tell her the interesting tidbit), and it seems to me that a lot of the reason young people want to have sex is more of a yearning to be touched...and I very much liked the idea of "outercourse." What a great alternative! Maybe if our young people were brought up with healthy touching, good feelings about their bodies and a space and privacy to touch their own and other consenting people, not bombarded by the dangers of "SEX," and taught about things other than sex as intercourse (which is, i think, pretty much all thats taught in sex ed classes)so that they can associate other things as desirable, not associate sex as the ultimate be-all end-all and therefor not think of oral sex as less (pleasurable and dangerous) than "real sex," they could pleasure themselves without shame, and without the emphasis on sex as intercourse they could enjoy their own and other's bodies without feeling like they're missing out on something, and also not feel like theyre getting away with something by not "going all the way" (oral sex).
I just realized my last sentence could have been two paragraphs. I'm sorry if I don't make any sense(it's three in the morning).


What is sex?
Name: Laura
Date: //2003-10-04 20:29:59 :
Link to this Comment: 6794

Reflecting upon our "fairytales" in last Thrusday's class, how would we answer the question "what is sex?" to a five year old? In story/ metaphor format or not... And then how would we define sex to ourselves? Or to one another?

Throwing out the notion that sex is heterosexual intercourse, what does that leave us with? Can sex be defined as stimulating and pleasurable touching/ words... ???

Is there such a thing as a sex-appropriate age? If sex is not intercourse, but includes both intercourse and outercourse, when do people start having sex? With whom? Is one's first sex partner their parents? Their siblings? Those touches are generally consentual as well as pleasurable and stimulating...

Can somebody else venture to answer my question? What IS sex?


regulating sexuality, especially young girls'
Name: Jessie
Date: //2003-10-05 15:37:05 :
Link to this Comment: 6796

Many of the articles made a good argument that we (as society) DO control girls' sexuality, but what piqued my interest is, WHY do we feel we should? Why are we (as society) so scared of "bad girls" in particular? We warn them about risks to themselves (eg, STDs) and risks to society (eg, becoming welfare dependent), but these are problems common to pretty much anyone at any stage of life. Why do we feel entitled – obligated, in fact – to control young girls' sexuality? The articles on the elderly, for example, were more about how to guarantee people in nursing homes the privacy and the sexual freedom they deserve – both sides of the issue seemed to have a much different tone than those who were speaking about the regulation of young people's sexuality. Even people who questioned the morality of sexual intimacy between nursing home residents when one or both suffered from dementia were more concerned with interpreting consent than with policing activity. Their motivation was to ensure that everyone could have healthy sexual interaction and also enjoy the privacy they deserve. "We are not talking about junior high school students; these are 80-year-old adults with needs and feelings, and they have the right to sexual pleasure..." (Villarosa 2).

I think the stern policing of young girls' sexuality relates directly to the importance of conditioning kids to maintain society's gender dynamics. Like Lamb said, men are brought up with this idea of unrestrained libido. And women are brought up with a contrary notion of denying all desire. (These antithesis motivations, by the way, remind me of the Greek myth "Daphne and Apollo" – which interestingly involves a chase scene where the love-struck boy chases down the girl.) Since our society is pretty much erotophobic, we couldn't possibly allow men to live out their unbounded sexuality. So it's women's job to contain that sexuality through their consent. And it's necessary, in order for women to make good decisions, that they are objective about sexuality and thus have no desire of their own. If a woman takes on sexual agency, then, she's a threat to our civil society itself. This is why the principals in the oral sex articles called in only the girls for trouble. Because the girls, not the boys, were the ones threatening society's model of sexuality by failing to contain the boys' sexuality. (I don't actually condone girls performing fellatio in middle school – it's really another manifestation of patriarchal sexual double standards – but this does at least explain why the school authorities react the way they do.)

(By the way – I read about the importance of women containing men's supposedly uncontrollable libido in an essay somewhere along the line - it's not exactly an original idea. I would totally cite the article, but I don't remember what it was... I'm tempted to say Adrienne Rich? but I'm sure a lot of feministy people have written about it.)


Random Thoughts.....
Name: Megan
Date: //2003-10-05 16:41:25 :
Link to this Comment: 6797

This section of the posting covers so many things so my comments may seem random.

First, after reading the oral sex in middle school article I thought about my 15 year old brother and wondered what he's up to. At first I was really upset because I couldn't imagine my baby brother having oral sex with his girlfriend. However I remember what I was and wasn't doing at that age and quickly moved on. I realize now that I'm not as concerned that the practice is actually occurring, as I am concerned that it's not viewed as sex and therefore is not practiced safely. Can we thank Bill Clinton for this? I was upset but not surprised that the administrators in the school called the parents in to discuss the girls but not the boys.

Second, I wanted to comment on the guest speaker. While I think the program is extremely worthwhile, I think if you cannot honestly tell the girls and their parents why they were selected than you shouldn't be running the program. It's very deceptive and reminds of the practice of sterilizing women "for their own protection" without their consent. How can you have a honest discussion about sex, sexuality, and healthy choices when the organization itself isn't being honest?

I also wanted to mention a commercial for one of the daytime talk shows (Dr. Phil maybe?) I heard on TV last week. The topic was "Girls Growing More Aggressive---And How Do We Stop It". I assume they weren't talking about sexual aggression but I was still stuck by perceived gender roles. Girls can't be aggressive and they can't be sexual.

Lastly, I was glad that we discussed sex across the ages. I think we might like to act like our parents and grandparents aren't having sex but its not realistic. And it's not necessarily sex, but that they're expressing their sexuality and desire for pleasure. Rock on!


the great american fetish - CENSORSHIP
Name: Ali
Date: //2003-10-06 12:01:45 :
Link to this Comment: 6807

After readins Jessie's post, I asked myself the same question: why do we (and by we I include "America" as a whole) feel obliged to stifle young girls' sexuality? Why is American afraid of 'bad girls' (as Jessie puts it)? I think that the construct of (American) femininity - of what it meas to be a 'good woman' - implies the virtues of humility, modesty, dependence, passivity and helplessness. Young girls are instilled with fear - they are taught to be victims. Any sexual activity they may engage in becomes interpreted as coercion. This mentality is blatant in the articles about middle school oral sex; the sexual pleasure of the girls was never considered, they were only "desperately" seeking validation from friends, trying to be cool / fit in, or they were persuaded by boys that they would be liked. When the girls were quoted, what they had to say seemed awfully cliche and I wonder how much adult interpretation of the girls' action was coming out of the girls' mouths. And even the way school administration dealt with the problem of rampant oral sex demonstrates the entrenched bad-girl mentality of our culture. One principal called a meeting ONLY for the parents whose daughters are involved - not the boys' parents. One parent called this out: "Our girls were portrayed as the bad girls, where were the bad boys?" I am frustrated by the victimizing of young girls and even more frustrated at the lack of attention being paid to emerging boys' sexuality (which is just as important as girls' sexuality). Good sex education at the middle school level should include empowerment of both boys AND girls - they should learn to say no, to say yes, to set limits for themselves, to respect others and not treat sexual activity as essentially evil.


our jobs
Name: Garron
Date: //2003-10-08 23:48:54 :
Link to this Comment: 6855

Jessie's statement that "Since our society is pretty much erotophobic, we couldn't possibly allow men to live out their unbounded sexuality. So it's women's job to contain that sexuality through their consent," really sparked my interest. I don't come to all the same conclusions that Jessie does, but this idea that it is a female's job, her duty to check the sexuality of a male struck a chord with me.

Jessie articulated something for me; the girls weren't just getting in trouble for their sexual actions and/or desires, but also for failing to check the sexual actions and desires of boys. This observation of Jessie's answered my satiated my wonder as to why the girls got in more trouble than the boys at the middle school in the article. The situation wasn't just a manifestation of the idea that girls aren't supposed to be sexual, or want sex. I had a feeling something more was going on, and maybe that something more had to do with the "job" the girls were failing to perform by performing oral sex on the boys.

Her statement made me realize I feel as though society often assumes that man is supposed to try to go "further" and if he doesn't want to is something "wrong" with them. To try to get to the next "base" is the man or boy's "job." The girl or woman's job is to check the man's passions. How constricting for both genders.

I know I'm just sort of rehashing a bit of what Jessie said, but her statement resonated so strongly with me that I just had to say pontificate a bit.



Name: Laurel
Date: //2003-10-09 01:27:45 :
Link to this Comment: 6857

My mom's a teacher, and I remember a few years ago she was outraged at an article she had read about junior high kids having oral sex. "They don't think it's sex!" she raged. I remember thinking she was way out of touch, and that it wasn't sex, and for once she and I were way out of sync. I just think this goes to show how much of this issue may be a generational gap.

I really enjoyed the Big Sisters presentation. Regardless of who has abandoned or labeled the young women in the program, the people of Big Sisters have recognized a need and are addressing it. One thing I realized from writing a sex curriculum for our second paper is how easy it is to criticize what's already in place with out making specific recommendations. We certainly shouldn't stop criticizing and questioning, but I like having the perspective of appreciating the work others are attempting.


Age-Appropriateness
Name: Grannis
Date: //2003-10-09 22:40:12 :
Link to this Comment: 6874

In regards to Laura's comment about a "sex-appropriate" age--- what an interesting idea! I never thought of it that way... I guess I personally feel that sex is "too big" of a concept for most children up to the age of 12 or so to understand when it is presented as a whole (i.e., by someone trying to cover the physical, medical, emotional, and political meaning behind sex).... In my sex ed class in fifth grade, they actually tried to do this. I remember being extremely overwhelmed and uncomfortable with all of this information. I was 11, and I remembered hardly anything. I do remember that they tried to shove way to much into that week-long "workshop" though....
I really didn't understand what the teacher meant when she said there were different ways of having sex. (Yes, they actually tried to cover anal and oral sex in our class!!!). If I could go back in time, I would change my sex education drastically. Instead of having been bombarded with all of this information for the first time at age 11, I would have liked to have been gradually exposed to sex.
For example, toddlers understand affection. Therefore, I would consider toddlers to be age appropriate for learning about love and affection. But actual physical sex? Um... you can only throw so much at a young child.
Then maybe around 1st grade or Kindergarten, you could start teaching kids about their bodies- and where babies come from---- but on a very basic level.
Around third grade, maybe start talking about how illnesses are transmitted in general; not specifically sexual ones, though. This paves the way for awareness about disease transmission and prevention, so that when the time comes to talk about STDs in fifth grade (which is I believe the age they're teaching the information in most public schools), kids will have a better background knowledge and absorb more of what they are being taught.
Of course, really learning about the politics and structure of sexuality is a never-ending learning process. Face it: we're college students, and we're still in a "sex-ed" class! So in a nutshell, I guess I believe that kids are "age-appropriate" for learning about different aspects of sex at different stages in their development.


meh
Name: Tia
Date: //2003-10-17 00:23:29 :
Link to this Comment: 6903

ok:
at the secret life of girls article, i rolled my eyes. o wow. i played sex games with girls and fought them in school and i was not surprised by the article at all. i feel like this shouldnt really be a surprise to anyone.
the oral sex thing:
i had read about this over the summer. i thnk for alot of the girls it is aboutfeeling like they are in control. they think they can make he boy happy and keep him interested whuile still "saving" their "virginity". i think it is good the girls want to be in control and are happy with it. but i think the fact that they feel like they have to do something to please the boy is pretty sad. also, sex ed has failed becuase these girls dont see themselves at risk for STDs (gonnorhea of the throat anyone??).
Maybe i am biased, but i think Sisters is a wonderful program.
i think it is CRUCIAL to teach homosexuality in the terms of tolerance. why? because you cant teach som,ething as equal without making sure it is equal in the pupil's mind. jeannie has worked with these girls enough and know their backgrounds and the neighborhoods in which they live and knows what is thought to be acceptable and what is not. no disrepect to the girls, but alot of them havent even met anyone from a different country, and havent traveled around this one, they worry about their moms drinking problem and rumors she is a prostitute. this is in no way their faults, nor does it belittle them, but with these serious pressures i dont think they really have homosexuality explained to them or even discussed in a positive way in their households(in general).i have been to programs where it isnt even discussed at all. i think people were offended when homosexuality is taught in terms of tolerance, but the world in a whole is not tolerant. people that are different are persecuted. it's not right, but we have to work on the world being a tolerant society as a whole.



Name: Anjali
Date: //2003-10-17 08:42:40 :
Link to this Comment: 6904

When thinking about Jeannie's presentation in class about the Big Sisters program, the part that really struck me was the sheet she handed out with some of the questions the girls asked. It was crazy the range of questions from does it hurt to can you get pregnant if he sticks it in your butt (I don't actually have the sheet here with me, but I think that was the phrasing of the question...) Its crazy to think how much these girls want to know and sometimes (often??) how little they do know. What's even scarier is that even with all these questions and misunderstandings, these girls may still be having sex.

Now let me get this straight...I actually don't believe there is anything wrong with a girl having sex (or a boy!) at whatever age she feels most comfortable. I think sex is for when you're ready be it 13 or 33, BUT I still think that its dangerous without understanding yourself or understanding both the pleasures and possible consequences. Anyway, to put it simply, I don't think people can truly be ready until they know all the facts about themselves and the act. Or at least all the major facts...but what are the major facts? I don't know. I don't even know if this makes any sense.

I do want to say that I think this program is fantastic. Like Laurel said, she found a need and she's filling it. Sure, it won't be perfect, but just like we discussed with sex education and teaching people, you can't ever have a perfect program or curriculum for a group of people, even if they have similiar lives, backgrounds, etc. The program needs to be malleable, which it does seem to be...and it needs to be able to address problems as they arise. I also trust that Jeannie knows these girls very well and, like Tia commented, maybe tolerance is the best way to teach them about things like homosexuality.

So that presentation was really interesting to me. I think the work Big Sisters is doing is fantastic, maybe not perfect, but this isn't a perfect world....