I’m not a ho, I’m not a slut. I’m
not a bitch, nor am I “his bitch”. But I am one of the many American
teens whose sexual behavior has been portrayed as “rampant promiscuity”.
I’m not going to apologize, nor will I whine about how I’ve been
misunderstood. But I will try to explain, and not for my sake, but for
the sake of the adults who are pulling their hair out for no good reason.
Teen dating is the biggest change in
American culture that has contributed to the discussion of teen sexuality.
In other words, the way in which we date has changed. There no longer
exists that general concept of “going steady”, but rather varying
levels of “hooking up”. I say “varying” because even teens have
different understandings of what “hooking up” means. Of course,
the scariest version to adults is the one that involves sex and/or sex
acts. The problem lies in the fact that adults, as per media portrayal,
assume that the majority of teens are engaging in risky sexual behavior.
But, as more than one survey, poll, research project, or other form
of substantial evidence has shown, the majority of teens AREN’T having
As program assistant to a reproductive
justice non-profit, a peer sex ed educator, and teen, I’ve felt the
impact that the media has had on how adults view youth and their sex
lives. Honestly, it’s appalling. But if I know anything on a personal
level, it’s this. It’s something that I’ve experienced in my family:
the random conversations about how the news said girls are contracting
HPV like it were a cold, the pep talks about how girls that date are
considered promiscuous no matter what. I’ve always been disgusted,
but that was only on a personal level. Now, I’ve become aware of how
it’s seeped into popular talk shows, news articles, and the like.
And I want it to stop. Not just for me. But for the girls I teach. For
my best friend, my girlfriends, my sister.
It especially amazes me how adults have
become fearful of something they don’t talk about. How ironic: you
don’t talk to your teen about sex and they have sex. Interesting.
Here’s a better one: you don’t talk to your teen about SAFE sex
and they engage in risky sexual behavior. Wow. Who would’ve thought?
See, that's my problem. No one talks
to us! And then, of course, the teens that do practice safe sex and/or
are in safe and healthy relationships continue to be plagued by all
these media fear tactics. I'm personally offended by all of this because
for one, I've been that teen that messed up, that didn't always practice
safe sex. But that didn't happen because I was "fooling around"
or "experimenting"; it happened because I trusted the wrong
person, someone I thought I loved. And it happened because no one ever
spoke to me about what happens when you want to have sex with someone
you love. It's COMPLETELY different (and means something different to
teens in terms of contraception) from when you're sleeping with someone
you're simply attracted to. In this case, both situations are condemned.
And it’s come to the point where I
refuse to believe that my parents and my friends’ parents and other
adults are really that dense. We’ve always been told, “I was your
age once”. Then you know what it’s like. So get a grip. Yeah, we’re
dating, we’re having sex. And reality is, you should be, too!