Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Women and Children Last - The past fifty years have seen the fruition of attempts on the part of progressives to remove or dismantle millennia-old societal restrictions, mores and guidelines regarding sex. Seeing absolutely nothing wrong with sex (with the exception of placing any restrictions on sexual conduct), the countercultural Left has contributed to the hypersexualization of society. In their attempt to replace the old rules with new ones more to their liking, they provide us their distillation of centuries of hard-earned wisdom regarding human sexuality, which is simply "Use a condom."

The Left's collective silence on "who to" and "how to" as it pertains to sex has bled over into a silence regarding "at what age to." At the heart of it all, America's fascination with youth culture stems from an esteem, however demented, of the sex appeal and sexuality of its young people, particularly its girls (as discussed elsewhere.)
So in the contexts of a (sometimes) voyeuristic appreciation of nubile young girls and a general heightening of America’s sexual "awareness," the road from six year-old girls as victims of first-grade harassers to high school girls as willing participants in sexual experimentation is short and straight.

At about the same time school administrators in Lorain, Ohio were pondering what punishment to mete out to an eight year-old second grader, eight Lorain middle school students were suspended for engaging in what is popularly characterized as "inappropriate behavior." On March 20, 2006, a busload of students was returning from a field trip. According to the March 28, 2006 edition of the Morning Journal, several of the students were involved in a game of "truth or dare" in the back of the bus. Dares included "girls flashing their breasts at passing vehicles and boys on the bus." It was also reported that one girl performed oral sex on a male classmate while covered with a jacket.

And for another signpost on the road to a teenage Gomorrah, we can turn to a feature article entitled, "The Cuddle Puddle of Stuyvesant High School" by Alex Morris, writing for New York Magazine in the February 6, 2006 issue. The story describes the lives and liaisons of several students at a New York-area school, among whom is Alair, a junior at Stuyvesant. Her daily activities at school culminate in a gathering of her friends, referred to as the "cuddle puddle," where Alair and her friends gather in a hallway of the school for, "girls petting girls and girls petting guys and guys petting guys."

When asked how many of her female friends have had same-sex experiences, Alair answers, "All of them." Then she stops to think about it. "All right, maybe 80 percent. At least 80 percent of them have experimented. And they still are. It's either to please a man, or to try it out, or just to be fun, or 'cause you’re bored, or just 'cause you like it…whatever."
The article goes on to describe the contours of female same-sex experimentation.
…the Stuyvesant cuddle puddle is emblematic of the changing landscape of high-school sexuality across the country. This past September, when the national Center for Health Statistics released its first survey in which teens were questioned about their sexual behavior, 11 percent of American girls polled in the 15-to-19 demographic claimed to have had same-sex encounters – the same percentage of all women ages 15 to 44 who reported same-sex experiences, even though the teenagers have much shorter sexual histories.

Of course what can't be expressed in statistical terms is how teenagers think about their same-sex interactions. Go to the schools, talk to the kids, and you'll see that somewhere along the line this generation has started to conceive of sexuality differently. Ten years ago in the halls of Stuyvesant you might have found a few goth girls kissing goth girls, kids on the fringes defiantly bucking the system. Now you find a group of vaguely progressive but generally mainstream kids for whom same-sex intimacy is standard operating procedure.
Much has been written lately about feminism’s declining appeal to today’s generations of women. That much has been acknowledged by many feminist scholars, to include University of California at Santa Cruz professor Barbara Epstein, as she wrote in the May 2001 issue of Monthly Review in an article entitled, "What Happened to the Women’s Movement?"
…there is no longer a mass women’s movement. There are many organizations working for women's equality in the public arena and in private institutions; these include specifically women's organizations such as the National Organization for Women, and in environmental, health care, social justice and other areas that address women’s issues. But, where there were once women's organizations with large participatory memberships there are now bureaucratic structures run by paid staff. Feminist theory, once provocative and freewheeling, has lost concern with the conditions of women's lives and has become pretentious and tired.
It is especially true that many females between the ages of 15-35 have little or no positive relationship with either the sacrifices made or the gains achieved by second wave feminism. The young women inhabiting our nations "cuddle puddles" and swarming the beaches at various spring break destinations can accurately be described as part of a post-feminist generation. But so can many wealthy, privileged, well-educated women who have decided to stay home with their children, while their husbands make the bacon. (This phenomenon was exposed in a September 2005 New York Times article, "Many Women at Elite Colleges Set Career Path to Motherhood.")

So, as it has been throughout this blog, the question remains "How did we get here?" How did second-wave feminism lose its resonance with both the Alairs and their older siblings?
I would humbly suggest simply that feminism has no appeal to young women like Alair because it has not a mumbling word to say to them. Simply put, if feminists were able to suggest to Alair and her cohorts that they might not wish to treat their bodies like piƱatas, their logical retort would be, "Then why should a 25 year-old do so, or a 35 year-old, or a 45 year-old?"

The Left in general and feminists in particular have regarded sex, especially among young people, as an inevitability, and will not countenance any conversation about abstinence among teen girls. Feminism has ordered itself around protection of "the right to choose" as opposed to meeting the emotional needs of young women who must often make difficult choices. It concerns itself with mere options as opposed to affirming the fragile self-esteem of adolescents.

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