Thursday, November 01, 2007

The banal reality of youth

Why is it that attempts to preserve the innocence of today's youth (read, young women) inevitably end up sexualizing otherwise neutral situations and advocating for father-daughter discussions that sound downright creepy? In the latest installment, Jeff Zazlow is upset that his 16-year-old daughter and her friends agreed to go to a house party rather than a homecoming dance with the boys who were ostensibly their dates for the evening. He reads a connection between this situation and the hookup culture of today's teens and college students, in which kids "trade sex nonchalantly." When it should be obvious that the boys are skipping the homecoming dance in favor of staying home and watching sports games and stupid movies, playing video games and, if the night's especially racy, using some illegal-for-the-underage or illegal-except-in-the-Netherlands substances with their female friends. While it's possible that an orgy will ensue, in all likelihood it will not.

Zazlow makes the rather silly suggestion that "we [parents] should explain that it can be helpful for teens to start practicing relationships -- learning to listen, to trust, to consider someone's needs." Is this so that serial monogamy may begin at 14? How many serious relationships do people need to have pre-marriage? As upsetting as it allegedly is if the hookup doesn't call back, the emotional aftermath of a 'mature' relationship gone sour is far more disruptive. High school students should not be encouraged to enter into what will inevitably lead to a series of junior-level divorces. Or is the idea that in this reactionary fantasyland, you marry your freshman-year sweetheart and stay together forever? Perhaps, but if so, ick. But above all, shouldn't it be clear that the main obstacle to teen sex is not being in a relationship? Aside from the suave few with the social skills to have a frat-boy social life in high school, most only imagine what could be until a less intimidating opportunity presents itself.

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