boiz r stoopid…

at least as far as birth control goes, apparently. I just read this*, and I’m not sure if I should laugh or cry.

What I’d really love to know is whether this is a uniquely American phenomenon, what with the scarce to nonexistent sex-ed in schools, and zero popular and widespread alternatives, other than rumors spread among teenagers themselves. I have the vague impression that my High-School buddies were significantly better informed than that, but really only because we got the information from the same source, passed around in class under the tables and read religiously during school breaks. And the information in there was actually pretty accurate and often rather explicit, to a level that wouldn’t even be legal in the U.S., nevermind “morally” acceptable. I’ve no idea if this is still the case, since the magazine spawned a bunch of clones, and the original is probably not as widely read as it used to be (plus, I’ve no flaming clue about the current content). But anyway, I’ve never gotten into the weird situations described in that article, but since I never actually, explicitly asked any guys about what they know about birth control, I don’t actually know if they were/are that clueless, too.

The closest Americans seem to have to a resource for teens on sex is Scareleteen, but that’s not as easily findable, shareable, and hidable from potentially too conservative parents as a magazine would be. And resources for adults are… porn and self-help books? the article seems to suggest many men know as adults about as little as they did as teens, so whatever adult resources there are, men don’t seem interested in them, or don’t know they exist.

So anyway, this made me think of a couple different but related arguments about sex and knowledge I’ve had over the years. A lot of the “porn skews how young people think sex is supposed to be like” and “models on the runway and in playboy skew what both men and women think women are supposed to look like” arguments seem dependent on the fact that porn/playboy/model-photos are the only sources of information for how women’s bodies actually look like “in the wild”, and for what sex is, how it’s done, and how to find out what’s fun. So, would a good antidote to the nasty peer and social pressure perpetrated on people by these media sources be more access to information and openness about nudity and sex? No one over 15 thinks romantic comedies are really how people get into relationships, because real relationships are everywhere and they are visible. I’m sure most kids have at least heard from various family members about how they met their significant other, even when they themselves haven’t yet gotten into a relationship.

Especially annoying and intriguing is the problem of young women misjudging how “bad” they themselves look, because of how the women on TV and in magazines look like**. I mean, that a guy may not see that many nude women “in the wild” is believable, but how is that possible with women themselves? Don’t they ever go swimming, or to the gym? or do American women not shower after swimming/going to the gym? I certainly know that the annual trip with my mom to the nude sauna improves my self-image immensely, since being surrounded by unselfconsciously naked women of all shapes, sizes and ages makes me less freaked out about myself. Certainly such exposure can only be good? Is such exposure possible in the States, and other conservative(ish) countries?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

*extra special stupid quote from article: “I feel like girls should tell people.”
dude, girls ARE people! :-/

**I’ve not the faintest clue to what degree the same problem happens with guys. I get the vague impression from snipplets of conversations that at least in the gay community it is, but other than that, I’m clueless. However, the solution would be pretty much the same, right?

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18 comments on “boiz r stoopid…

  1. David Marjanović says:

    LOL!

    I do think that doesn’t happen in the First World. I remember very explicit and detailed biology lessons from when I was 14 and most of the others were 15 (…and when the anatomical part at least was hardly news to anyone anymore, myself included). And while I barely glanced at Bravo (I wasn’t in the ingroup, you see), it was very widespread indeed; I even once found a Polish version lying around (…and, out of linguistic interest, tried to read it… I failed, LOL).

    Sheltered life and all, I didn’t know about the NuvaRing (perhaps it hadn’t been invented yet in my 8th year of school). But within the first paragraph of that article, I thought “ah, ‘contraceptive vaginal ring’, must give off something contraceptive – either a spermicide or (like the pill) hormones”. Catch? Semen? A ring? Perhaps the poor guy had once heard of the diaphragm (which I was taught about despite its apparent rarity)?

    We were of course also taught about menstruation, and I have two sisters*, never mind a mother, so I didn’t escape either that or knowing what a tampon is…

    * At her first menstruation, one of them literally cried the entire day through without interruption, breaking her previous record of 3 hours. I’m not going to forget that.

    **I’ve not the faintest clue to what degree the same problem happens with guys.

    Unfortunately I can’t help you here. None I know ever talked about it or showed symptoms of anorexia or whatever. Of course they all went swimming.

  2. David Marjanović says:

    …though maybe this is the place to worry about Walton a little.

  3. David Marjanović says:

    Something important I thought of right after I had run off and sat down in the Métro:

    I mean, that a guy may not see that many nude women “in the wild” is believable, but how is that possible with women themselves? Don’t they ever go swimming, or to the gym? or do American women not shower after swimming/going to the gym? I certainly know that the annual trip with my mom to the nude sauna improves my self-image immensely, since being surrounded by unselfconsciously naked women of all shapes, sizes and ages makes me less freaked out about myself.

    The idea isn’t to look average. It’s to look above average, perhaps very far so.

    Unfortunately I can’t help you here.

    Well, to some degree I can: many work out to gain muscle mass for purposes of sexual selection. And as far as I can tell, the first part of this actually works. Not that I’ve ever tried either, but it seems to be considerably easier to gain muscle than to lose fat…

    Finally, it’s getting slightly embarrassing that almost all comments on this blog are by me. Perhaps you need to blogwhore more? :-)

  4. Walton says:

    I would post my reaction to the article you linked… but you’d probably laugh at me for my abject ignorance in this field. Suffice to say that I learnt several surprising things from reading it. :-\

  5. Anonymous says:

    Don’t they ever go swimming, or to the gym? or do American women not shower after swimming/going to the gym?

    Well, at the rec center on campus, there are shower stalls with curtains and stalls without. The only people I ever see using the open stalls are foreign students and the swim team. My take, as an American, is that we are very uncomfortable with nudity in general. Most of my friends would never change in front of a stranger (like at the gym or pool). Most Americans have developed techniques to change clothes that show as little of their body as possible. First change your shirt, then your pants, change your bra under your shirt, etc.

    It has been this way everywhere I’ve lived. Many places with public locker rooms also have changing stalls so that you can have privacy to change clothes.

    As for sex ed, I learned about birth control in school, but also from teen magazines like YM and Seventeen. Both regularly ran articles covering the various forms of contraception, efficacy, which ones prevented STDs, how to use them, and such.

    Pygmy Loris

  6. Paul says:

    Can’t help you with answering whether it’s an American phenomenon, since that’s where I have always lived.

    No one over 15 thinks romantic comedies are really how people get into relationships, because real relationships are everywhere and they are visible.

    Tell that to my sister. She’s 28, and she still tries to mold different elements of her life to be in line with what she expects based on television sitcoms and movies.

    I’m sure most kids have at least heard from various family members about how they met their significant other, even when they themselves haven’t yet gotten into a relationship.

    People lie. Even/especially to kids/teens. If they feel that things are supposed to be romantic/like the movies, they mold the story to fit. So you don’t hear about how Mommy and Daddy got married because they had a little too much to drink and forgot/messed up the birth control one night after a very short dating period.

    I didn’t realize you were going to update regularly, and I doubt other Pharyngulans did either (you made it sound like your posting would be infrequent). I’ll try to keep an eye out, if for no other reason than to keep David from feeling embarrassed and lonely. He seems like a little puppy dog sometimes, and I don’t like the idea of sad, lonely puppies.

  7. David Marjanović says:

    Walton, that’s… interesting. Can you offer us something to blame? :^) A conservative government that took it out of the curriculum or something? Did you perhaps attend a public school in the British sense?

  8. Jadehawk says:

    David sez: “The idea isn’t to look average. It’s to look above average, perhaps very far so.”

    well, in modeling it obviously is… but the average struggle of the average woman is that she feels like a lump of meat and fat compared to what “other women” look like; basically, it’s about having a reference point that’s in the wrong spot.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Walton sez: “Suffice to say that I learnt several surprising things from reading it. :-\”

    lol, I guess that counts as a datapoint for the British level of sex-ed? ;-)
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    PL sez: “Well, at the rec center on campus, there are shower stalls with curtains and stalls without. The only people I ever see using the open stalls are foreign students and the swim team. My take, as an American, is that we are very uncomfortable with nudity in general. Most of my friends would never change in front of a stranger (like at the gym or pool). Most Americans have developed techniques to change clothes that show as little of their body as possible. First change your shirt, then your pants, change your bra under your shirt, etc.”

    ugh, how complicated! but it certainly explains how it’s possible for women to never see the natural, naked body of another woman.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Paul sez: “(you made it sound like your posting would be infrequent).”

    I did… and I thought it would be, too… but apparently I really do have a lot of stuff cluttering my head right now, so I’m dumping a lot of it on here. Seems that at least until I run out of all that stuff, I’ll probably be posting once or twice a week :-)
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Anyway, I’ve been trying to blogwhore on some other forums/blogs I post on, but I really do suck at it, and you’re the most talkative bunch I know, anyway (I do know I have one or two readers from a different blog though) :-p

  9. David Marjanović says:

    but it certainly explains how it’s possible for women to never see the natural, naked body of another woman.

    Though… for that purpose, complete nudity isn’t required. A one-piece swimsuit should suffice, one thinks, let alone a bikini.

  10. Walton says:

    Walton, that’s… interesting. Can you offer us something to blame? :^) A conservative government that took it out of the curriculum or something? Did you perhaps attend a public school in the British sense?

    No, on all counts. I’m sure we were taught about these things; I just didn’t pay much attention, figuring (correctly, as it transpired) that it would never be particularly relevant to my life.

  11. Paul says:

    figuring (correctly, as it transpired) that it would never be particularly relevant to my life.

    Emo doesn’t work to pick up chicks once you’re out of high school, unless you’re an Art major maybe. If you want to see action, being positive will help more than “woe is me, nobody will ever want to sleep with me”.

  12. Walton says:

    Paul – I can assure you that I wasn’t trying to “pick up chicks”. I was answering David’s question. :-\

  13. David Marjanović says:

    Thanks for the answer. Still, let me propose that you’re a bit young for that kind of pessimism.

  14. Paul says:

    Walton,

    Of course I don’t think you’re trying to “pick up chicks” here. I just note that you talk a lot about how nobody could/would ever love you romantically (you even did it here, even though the question was merely regarding what education you received). I thought it was helpful to point out that that sort of negativity goes out of style when one leaves one’s teens, and would likely hurt your odds of such information being “particularly relevant” to your life moving forward.

    But then, I don’t know why I bothered. It’s been pointed out to you before. I just have trouble with the concept of a 20 year old assuming their whole life is behind them, with no chance of romance in the future. You’re too old for teenage angst, and too young for life to have really passed you by.

  15. Jadehawk says:

    what Paul is trying to say in so many words is that by exuding emo vibes, you’re likely turning your “I’ll never get laid” comments into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I can’t speak to the current state of sex ed in the US, but I do know that when I went to college, some-unspecified-number-of-years-more-than-twenty ago, a huge swath of my age-mates, male and female alike, were dangerously ignorant of the bare facts; belief that a girl couldn’t get pregnant her first time, or if she jumped up and down afterwards, or if she douched with any of several brands of soda pop, or if she just laid there and didn’t respond, or…. I’m sure you get the idea. And I recall hearing, courtesy of a gal who did a stint at the local public health department, of an instance where a woman with 6 kids didn’t understand how they happened, but wanted to STOP, misunderstood the explanation of the female cycle, and later came in with yet another pregnancy, puzzled as to how it happened. She’d been feeding the birth control pills to her chickens…because that’s where eggs come from, after all. And a couple of years later, a friend of mine who was majoring in biology was wakened by his roommate in the middle of the night, and asked whether it was true that a girl COULD get pregnant her first time. My friend told him something along the lines of, “Of course, you moron!”, then went back to sleep.

    He never saw his roommate again.

    cicely

    (TypeThing doesn’t like me, here. Wonder why….)

  17. Jadehawk says:

    “an instance where a woman with 6 kids didn’t understand how they happened, but wanted to STOP, misunderstood the explanation of the female cycle, and later came in with yet another pregnancy, puzzled as to how it happened. She’d been feeding the birth control pills to her chickens…because that’s where eggs come from, after all.”

    oy. O.o

  18. David Marjanović says:

    She’d been feeding the birth control pills to her chickens…

    I… contracted. Sort of as if I was going to start laughing outrageously, but that didn’t happen.

    I’m really at a loss at how to react.

    He never saw his roommate again.

    Niiiiice. B-|

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