Society Magazine

This Is What Happens When We Don’t Teach Teens Comprehensive Sex Education

Posted on the 01 April 2016 by Juliez
We need better sex ed.

We need better sex ed.

In February, President Obama took an important stand for sexual health in the United States: He eradicated funding for abstinence-only sex education in his 2017 budget proposal — a decision backed by countless studies, expert opinions and anecdotal accounts of just how ineffective this type of “education” is. But even on the (unfortunately) off chance that our Republican-dominated Congress passes this program — which has cost almost $2 billion in federal spending — the damage of abstinence-only sex education on my generation is already evident.

As a college freshman, I have witnessed and experienced many examples of such damaging effects firsthand. This can manifest in unfair and frustrating ways, like the “pleasure” or “orgasm” gap that results in women not getting off as often as their male counterparts. But it can also cause far more damaging phenomenon, like the lack of knowledge about consent and rampant rates of sexual assault, too.

I recently started to talk to some fellow freshwomen at my school about “hooking up” and quickly found that there is a huge range in what women of the exact same age know about sex in this country, largely based on their different geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds. While efforts to eliminate programs like abstinence-only sex education are crucial, therefore, it seems it’s also important to start open and honest conversations among young people, so that we can all at least try to get on the same page.

So I decided to do just that. This is how just a few teenage women I know think about and practice hooking up.

What does it mean to hook up?

Rita: It’s whatever you think it is, barring actually having sex.

Taylor: Hook up is such a vague term. Between my friends and I, it can range from making out to anything else. We use it as an umbrella term.

Reyna: Personally, I don’t think of a hook up as all the way sex. I think it’s like making out, foreplay, and things before sex.

Ava: Hooking up could be kissing, heavy petting, and/or having sex with someone without being exclusive. It can be either a one time thing or ongoing.

Is there pressure in the culture we live in to hook up with someone?

Taylor: Definitely. There is pressure to hook up and along with an emphasis on a lack of emotional attachment. I know that I feel a bit more social pressure to be a certain way sexually. There’s also the awkward feeling of being less experienced than the people around you.

Carla: Yeah and with the queer element, yes. Like just being in there (a party) and everyone’s drunk and having a fun time and letting loose because it’s a space for queer people. I knew I wasn’t gonna be comfortable with it at college and I’m still not comfortable with it but I avoid it so it doesn’t really affect me.

Ava: I’ve hooked up a couple of times but I’ve never felt pressured to do so. I always get to know the guy first and only hook up with both of us feel comfortable.

Have you faced/witnessed slut shaming and how does it affect hookup culture?

Reyna: Before, I used to be a pretty big slut shamer. I guess it had to do with me being raised in a particular state of mind that I don’t agree with anymore. It was because I was raised in that state of mind I always looked at other people and say like ‘Oh, you’re such sluts’ but in my mind it was like ‘Damn I wish I had that kind of freedom.’

Rita: I’ve not actually witnessed slut shaming but I do know it exists, and ‘how I will appear’ is a factor for some people when considering whether or not to hookup.

Taylor: There’s slut shaming everywhere. I think it’s less of an issue here at college, because I think a lot of students here are really sex-positive, and recognize the problem with slut-shaming we have in our culture. However, I definitely know people who’ve slut shamed others. It’s just the ‘Oh she sleeps around with everyone’ kind of comment that spreads rumors and adds a negative connotation to someone else’s private, positive sex life.

Ava: As a girl, it’s almost impossible to not have witnessed slut shaming. Girls who hook up are frowned upon in our society because they are going against the “pure” stereotype that we still seem to hold onto even though women are showing the potential to be multi-faceted in this generation.

What are some double standards when it comes to hooking up?

Reyna: Girls honestly can’t win. You’re a cougar or putting yourself out there. The more girls that guys get the hotter shit they are; the more guys a girl gets, the greater of a slut she is. It’s so normal in society for the girl to be disrespected and the guy to be respected. In society’s eyes, it’s also when a girl gives it up too easily.

Taylor: In college, I think there’s very much a culture in which men are praised for their sexual exploits (especially with frat life), but women are slut-shamed and judged.

Rita: I think double standards are eroding as time goes by, particularly as girls stop paying attention to the appearance of things and simply do whatever they want. Yet, I do know that some people still think that guys can hookup with multiple girls at once, but if girls do it they are considered sluts.

Ava: Girls who hookup are frowned upon in our society because they are going against the “pure” stereotype that we still seem to hold onto even though women are showing the potential to be multi-faceted in this generation.

How has your experiences/views about hookup culture shifted since you’ve been in college?

Reyna: In middle school I was very sheltered and judgmental, but things changed when I got to high school. I never really believed the ‘evilness’ of hooking up; hooking up wasn’t bad, but sex was different, which changed when I came to college.

Rita: I’m an international student, and the way we see relationships are very different from Americans. Here it’s perfectly reasonable to hookup with someone multiple times and not expect anything more serious to develop, but in Europe when you are with someone multiple times (notwithstanding drunken party hookups), you are in a relationship and it’s assumed that both sides are exclusive. I’ve learned that here, nothing can be assumed, and everything must be discussed and cleared up.

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