I sincerely pity the current generation of teens who have to live in a world containing the current generation of adults.
As you are no doubt aware, teenagers today are out of control.
Time Magazine writes in A Teen Twist On Sex,
Americans have plenty of opinions about teenage sexuality. What they don't have are many hard facts.
Funny, I was just thinking that exact thing when I read this article that was free of any hard facts.
They did talk about a study that
finally offered solid data about what real kids are doing at home after school, in the back of the car and between the sheets.
Do tell! (Oh, wait, that's my kid!)
government researchers fanned out across the nation in 2002, surveying 12,571 Americans ages 15 to 44... More than half the adolescents surveyed, for example, said they had engaged in oral sex (and their claims are fairly credible, since the questions were posed not face to face by an adult interviewer but through a specially designed computer program).
Has anyone actually met a teenager? Was anyone ever a teenager, that can remember?
How is this study credible? I get that talking to a live interviewer may make you hesitant about telling him how many guys you've oraled-- yes, that's a word.
But didn't I read in the Panopticon that people are more honest when they think they are being observed? Answering questions in front of the computer skews the answers the other way, it doesn't make you say things that are true, it makes you say things that are true for you.
Teens are narcissists, but this is (usually) completely age appropriate. They try on different identities, figuring out who they are; but they cling tightly to each one, defend it zealously. (Try pointing out to an emo kid he's a white suburbanite whose Dad is an accountant.)
And part of the teen identity is that they are "older than their years." They know more about life, and sex, "than you think I do." A kid may never have even had sex-- but he's imagined it, a lot-- and to a narcissist, imagining is enough. A kid can truly believe he/she is an expert in oral sex-- knows exactly the best way to do it-- even though he/she hasn't ever actually tried it. Because they've "practiced" it a million times...
When the question is, "have you ever performed oral sex?" the answer is going to be yes. And no lie detector is going to disagree, because in his mind, he has.
Here's another idiocy:
it's tempting to theorize, as James Wagoner of the Washington-based nonprofit organization Advocates for Youth does, that the abstinence-only movement hasn't prevented sex but has simply pushed teenagers away from intercourse and toward a practice that for some reason they don't think of as real sex. Says Wagoner: "The abstinence-only chickens are coming home to roost."You can almost see this nut gloating, another blow to the Bush/Cheney Regime! Though by his own admission kids are avoiding intercourse, hmm, doesn't that count for something? Or should we just go back to penetration?
But in almost the next breath, he admits that there's no way to prove that link or even to say for sure whether oral sex is on the rise.I see. So it's not clear they are having more oral sex after all? Didn't they do a study on that, which was the point of this article? Perhaps Wagoner should go and read the actual study, instead of wait for his cronies to feed him anti-Bush soundbites?
The article purposely conveys the impression that teens are up to no good, internet style. (What site?) Interestingly, the article failed to mention what are probably the study's most important findings:
...Trend data for males suggest that no large changes in these behaviors have occurred since 1995.
...The findings appear to be similar to previous surveys conducted in the early 1990's.
...These findings are similar to data collected in 1992 by Laumann et al.
Oh. Plus ca change, or something.
But there's a bit of a twist: that article is from 2005, and not obviously so. You get to it by reading the current article The Truth About Teen Girls and it's one of the "Related Articles." So a not at all accurate or informative 2005 article is used reinforce the soundbites and the memes in the mind of the unaware reader, e.g.
...teen girls are getting very liberal with sexual favors, especially of the type detailed in the Starr report. In one generation, girls seem to have moved from Easy-Bake to easy virtue.
Wow, any data on that? Or that the Easy Bake Oven generation was pure? That's certainly not how I remember it.
And as if on cue, the media deliver a new 90210 with an oral-sex scene in the first episode; Gossip Girl comes back with billboards promoting it as MIND-BLOWINGLY INAPPROPRIATE ... and your daughter starts singing that alarmingly suggestive song about licking a lollipop.
What's missing from the discussion about teenagers is the fact that the discussion is being had by adults. That makes this all a discourse-- the vocabulary, the concepts, are specific and convenient for the discussants, not the discussion. They're artificial. And they're completely inaccurate. You didn't buy it when you were a teenager, and you're not going to be able to sell it now that you're not. Adults see a teenager dress a certain way, and they call it sexy-- but the teen may have an entirely different explanation. One psychologist quoted in the article got it exactly right:
"There's a whole other piece that we don't talk about," says Tolman, "which is holding the people who are reacting to these young girls accountable." When tweens see a picture of Cyrus with her back bare and her hair tousled, they don't see her as postcoital. That's an adult interpretation.The problem isn't that the kid is too sexy; the problem is that adults are too turned on.
Do you know how many of these singers are into chastity and promise rings-- and yet these are the people accused of being too sexy. Katy Perry's hit song is about kissing a girl-- does that sound like the song of a generation of teens already bored with threeways?
The "sexiness" to them means something different then it does to adults. And something different to adults then it did to previous adults.
When they dress sexy, that might be a different kind of signal to toehr kids that has nothing to do with sex. "Yeah, but adults see it as sexy, and they get the wrong idea." Hmm. Perhaps the problem is with adults?
Here's an example: the article references the "alarmingly suggestive" song about licking a lollipop (which I assume is Lil Wayne's Lollipop.) But kids aren't responding to the sexuality of the song-- check out any message board, they all talk about the rhythm and the beat and the fact that the song isn't really about sex-- not in the way any Motley Crue song is about sex, not in the way Aqua's Lollipop is about sex-- the song is about status. Rich is the new porn. In the video those two guys Lil Wayne is playing poker with, in their house, are the Maloof brothers (owners of the Sacramento Kings, The Palms Hotel, etc.) You think that's an accident? Lil Wayne couldn't find a strip club to film in, so this was a hastily assembled Plan B?
Adults trying to interpret kids' behaviors using adult concepts often leads to...misunderstandings. But adult narcissists-- for that is exactly what this generation is-- can no more understand "kids today" then the honor killer can understand that he's retarded.
My father's generation liked to remind us how they had nothing to eat but potatoes, walked to school in the snow uphill both ways, dodged Axis soldiers, "but we still shined our shoes every night!" etc. I find it fascinating/nauseating that my generation's version of "the hard old days" is this: "oh my God, when I was a kid, if I started yelling in a toy store like that, my Dad would've beat the crap out of me, right there." Wow. Just like dodging Axis soldiers. Even stand up comics use it as the segue, "kids are so soft they die if you leave them in the car" and "we need to start beating our kids more!" Why? Look around you. This is the result. Maybe beating kids isn't such a good idea, just based on review of the outcomes.
Further studies are needed, but anecdotal evidence suggests that all of the current problems-- financial disaster, war in Iraq, the need for war in Iraq, 50% divorce rates, increasing racial tensions, worthless college educations, the rise of feudalism-- are not the fault of teenagers, but adults. Though teens are an easy scapegoat, I'll admit.
I am aware that raising teens is hard, and the possibility that some may be performing oral sex. But while it's awesome that we're worrying about the children who are the future of America, we should spend some time worrying about the adults that are its present.
They are, in fact, the ones that suck.