Monday, September 1, 2008

sex for good kids, sex for bad kids

Hey, you know what's really fucking sad? When a self-styled feminist blogger feels the need to announce, when talking about her adolescent sexual practices, that she

chose to have sex with my high school boyfriend because I loved him deeply and because I wanted to. The two of us were honors students, tops of our classes, responsible and reliable and I'll be damned if I can sit here and swear that we were the safest sex practitioners on God's green earth.

Ah. See? There are good kids having sex, and bad kids having sex. The good kids are on the honor roll. The bad kids probably take basic level classes. The good kids who have sex are responsible and reliable. The bad kids are irresponsible and don't care about avoiding pregnancy, saying the Pledge and having a mixed portfolio of school-based activities and community service in order to get into the most exclusive colleges. Good kids have the capacity, in their reliability and responsibility, to practice safe sex. That's apparently too much to expect from bad kids. And, most importantly, good kids have sex for love. Bad kids have dirty, nasty, sex-is-fun sex.

Would this blogger say any of this explicitly? No. I doubt she feels this way. (I'm actually sure she doesn't.) But I think that she unintentionally plays into this thinking. The fact that she feels the need to report what a great kid she was in high school, and how legitimate the sex she was having, is really depressing. Because even she, this writer from Jezebel, has to make sure everyone knows that she was having sex the right way, or was one of the right people having sex. There is an unspoken attitude in this country: for some teens, getting pregnant is worthy of sympathy. For others? Shame. And when consider in broad strokes, that tends to depend, I'm sorry to say, on the economic class of the teenager in question.

Here's the challenge to our country: stop treating sex as something dirty, nasty and sinful, and for god sakes stop falling into so many traps of attitude, about class and race and legitimate sexual desire. We should recognize both the very real risks of harm that teenagers bring into their lives when they engage in sex, and the near-inevitability of teenage sex that is the product of several millenia of evolution. Society should attempt to find a system that reduces the harm possible in sex, educates teenagers about the real dangers, and, in my opinion, abandons entirely moral judgments of teenage sexual behavior.

I think Megan from Jezebel probably agrees with me. But by endorsing a view of sexuality that is caught up in the normal status markers of good and bad teens, she's empowering a system that inevitably leads to hypocrisy and unfairness. Her grades, her success, her "goodness"-- those things have nothing to say about the wisdom, morality or legitimacy of her sexual behavior as a teenager. At all.

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