Thursday, June 4, 2009

On "sexting" and "the talk"

Posted By on Thu, Jun 4, 2009 at 11:33 AM

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I was talking with a friend about another article on “sexting” when I clicked over to the CL website and saw Shawn’s story on Oral Sex is the New Goodnight Kiss. The next morning, I was greeted with a Good Morning America video on the subject. The accompanying email read “OMG! Did you hear about this!?!?!” Yes, I heard about it. In fact, when I first read Shawn’s article and watched the video, my first thought was, “Are they just now finding this out?”

Minus the prostitution aspect, most of what I heard in both the posted video and the one from GMA were all things I heard about in high school.

An example of one such story took place during summer school. A bunch of us girls from my driver’s ed class were giving each other back rubs as we waited our turn on the driving course. One of the girls said something about a guy being hot, but added that she wouldn’t date him because he was probably dirty.

“Dirty?” I asked. “He doesn’t bathe?”

“No,” one of my friends said. “She means he gets blowjobs from girls in the locker room.”

“Ah.” I went back to rubbing out the knots of a classmate’s back.

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That same year, my younger sister gave her boyfriend of two years semi-nude pictures of herself as an anniversary gift. I thought it wasn’t a bright move because she was a freshman. But I couldn’t really talk because the year before, I had given my then boyfriend a picture of me lifting my shirt to expose my bra covered boobs (an impressive 42d back then). Did I purposely take a sexy pic for my boyfriend? Nope. I was goofing off with some friends. I gave it to my then boyfriend because I was in that giddy, “let’s share every other picture we have of each other” phase. We broke up three months later. The guy my sister was dating was my ex’s step-brother. Had he ever seen the picture? I don’t know. Never occurred to me to ask and he never said anything. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had, though. They were best friends in addition to being brothers.

Point is, teens have been having sex and making potentially stupid decisions regarding sexual acts for ages. My own memories of similar goofs and mistakes make me glad that I had a mother who talked to me about sex, relationships, and why she wanted me to wait.

Did my mom know about the picture incidents? Yes. She also knew when I began engaging in heavy petting (I think that counted as third base back in my day) and that by the time I graduated high school, most of my friends were sexually active. When she found out about the pictures, she asked if we had thought about what would happen to the pictures if we ever broke up with our then boyfriends. I told her that I would demand it back and burn it. And I did. His copy at least. My copy is tucked away in a memory box somewhere. A year after my sister’s picture incident, both of us were taken to our first gyno visits so that we could be put on birth control “for safety’s sake.” My sister remained with her boyfriend until a few years ago. I don’t know what happened to the pictures and I don’t ask. They’ve remained friends, so I’m guessing they were either destroyed or locked up somewhere.

My mom and I have one of those parent-child relationships where I was accustomed to talking to her about things that went on in my life. She had always shown a willingness to answer questions about where babies came when I was a child. It helped make the transition to asking questions about why the hell I went to bed flat and woke up an A-cup easier. It was not all lollipops and chocolate when it came to sex and talking to my parents. Momsie could get just a tad too obsessed (in my mind) with making sure I knew all she felt I needed to know. She used to claim that it was because I had started sneaking romance novels from the library (i.e. I would slip them into Mom’s stack at the check-out desk when she wasn’t looking) around age 11. Once I reached high school without attempting to act out any of the books I read, she eased off. There was still awkwardness. She’s my mom. She gets concerned. I’m her daughter. There are some things I just prefer to keep private. It’s led to more than one “don’t you trust me?” argument. I was like that in high school and I’m still that way today.

Embarrassing as it was, (Oh, the horror stories I could tell you about my teen years after boys became interesting) I am forever indebted to my mother for making the effort. I was in no hurry to have sex because I wasn’t curious about it. When I did decide to do the deed, I didn’t have to sneak behind my mother’s back (too much). Many of my classmates could not talk to their parents about sex. They wound up turning to their friends and other sources for the information they needed. In my group, we were lucky enough to have a few friends who knew what they were talking about. Others were not so lucky. Three words: Soda pop douching.

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I think about all of this as I read the stories on sexting and some of the comments that accompany them. So many parents seem to be afraid of broaching the subject with their spawn. Or they’re under the impression that if they ignore it, then their kids won’t think about it. As we say in netspeak “ROTFLMFAO”! Even the teens that don’t have sex are thinking about it. They wonder what all the fuss is about; why their friends are doing it; why are they not doing it; will it hurt when they do. They wonder why their parents don’t want to talk about it. Some of them don’t even realize they’re thinking about it until it’s pointed out to them. I figure, if a parent is that uncomfortable talking about sex to their spawn, they should at least point them towards books on the subject. There’s enough out there that approach the topic in a manner that teens can relate to. Be ready and willing to answer questions, though. No matter how knowledgeable they act, teenagers always have questions.

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