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Vijay Mehta

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xx Abstinence vs education
« Thread started on: Jul 4th, 2008, 10:18am »

Here is an entry from Open Diary. 24 year old lady (Temmahkrik) writes about her experience with sex education. She is an typical western woman - not a desi. However some of her observations are worth understanding for Desi parents.- Vijay Mehta

arming lolita Thursday, July 03, 2008

When I was twelve, I remember a particularly embarrassing conversation with my mother in which she said, “If you decide to have sex, you need to tell me so we can make sure you’re safe about it.” I remember mumbling a recap of this conversation to my best friend, Renée, who had gotten her period at age 10 and developed C-cup breasts by age 11. Her mother never told her anything but to keep her legs together, and she didn't even say that until Renée had weathered her first pregnancy scare. More than anything else, my friend was shocked that my mother had seemed to encourage me to go out and have sex instead of abstain until I was married.

"It’s not that," I said, blushing still harder, "It’s just... you know... I think she knows that stuff happens and that she can't keep me locked up all the time."

This is the truth about my sex life: until I was 19, I didn’t have one. Whether because I had my mother’s approval to experiment as long as I was safe when most of my friends did not, or simply because I dodged the peer pressure bullet, I don’t know. My virginity was never something I cherished, Biblically or romantically, but I was out of high school and in my first semester of college before I decided that I was ready to give it up. To contrast this, I was the last of my high school friends to lose my virginity by nearly two years.

I had plenty of nearly-sexual experiences in high school. Boyfriends and I spent plenty of time in the back seats of cars, and once–-only once-–I lied to my parents about where I was going so that I could spend the night with my boyfriend in his parents’ basement. We made out, watched movies and fell asleep.

It’s not that I wasn’t a sexual being. I was as attentive to my own sex drive and as interested in the sex drives of my peers as everyone else around me. I lived in the same world with the same hyper-sexualized media as my friends, but they all seemed to suffer its effects worse than I did. Eating disorders, unprotected promiscuity, drinking and other forms of self-harm ran rampant even among the studious kids, especially girls.

I’m not one to blame all of this on the media. As I stated above, I was inundated by the same images as everyone else, and while I have not always felt great about myself, I left high school having never starved or purged or imbibed or cut or f**k
ed. The difference, I think, was my mother and her willingness to acknowledge that, even at the age of twelve, I was a sexual being who did not need to be locked up or lectured to. I needed to be armed with knowledge and understanding and the wisdom of someone older than I was. She didn’t pull out books or diagrams, she didn’t sit me down in front of a video or-–thank goodness–-expect my school to teach these things for her, she just talked to me. It wasn’t even The Talk, it was just a talk, significant only because the subject matter seemed too embarrassing to talk about with anyone at the time, let alone my mother.

My parents don’t believe in censorship, at least not where education is concerned. So while they didn’t let me see Cool World when it was released even though I wanted to, their reasoning wasn’t that it was too sexual and thus inappropriate, but that it had no redeeming value whatsoever and that those were two hours I could spend doing something better. So, to get back at them1, I read Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, which was the dirtiest thing I knew of based on other people’s descriptions of it and the way I’d heard the word “Lolita” employed by people at my church and on TV.

And their descriptions were right. Lolita is disturbing and uncomfortable, but not because the main character–-Dolores, the Lolita-–is some kind of child temptress. She doesn’t necessarily know how to flirt or charm or tempt, she is simply a young girl becoming a young woman who possesses the frank curiosity and appealing nature of most adolescents just discovering the world. She is abused-–horribly-–by her monstrous step-father, who sees these natural developments as too enticing to ignore. She is sexually assaulted not because she bared her flat midriff or pursed her glossy lips or batted her dark eyelashes, but because she is a pretty little girl who lives with a pedophile.

And yet the term “Lolita” has come to embody a miniature seductress-–it’s the way I understood the term until I read the book, and I understand that it’s the way most people still think of it. Any pre-teen who poses in short-shorts and a halter top is called a Lolita. Any pop-tart who entices men from the cover of an album full of songs she probably didn’t write and definitely doesn’t fully understand is referred to as a Lolita. And, most tragically, any girl who dresses or behaves semi-provocatively, even if it’s only in the minds of a few men, is called a Lolita and can be dismissed as having “asked for it” if she is assaulted or cat-called or ogled.

Nabokov’s Lolita has gone from a little girl who was just barely aware of, and had definitely never harnessed, her own burgeoning sexuality to a little girl who tempts men maliciously, well aware of the sexual torture she inflicts on them with her lascivious behavior. This redefinition is partly the fault of the media and partly the fault of everyone else. The supply and demand of certain images goes both ways. The media supply hundreds of thousands of images and we pick and choose which ones we want to see more of. This will not change.

What can change, though-–what probably kept me from inflicting more harm on myself as a teenager than I have as an adult-–is the way we prepare girls for their lives as women. What can change is the amount of respect we give to teenagers as sexual beings. What can change is the sexual double-standard applied to boys–-who are encouraged to be macho and even to experiment sexually, often with many different girls-–and girls–-who should go out of their way to avoid being one of those girls with whom macho boys experiment. What can change is the blatant disrespect and disregard with which we treat our girls, risking their well-being for our own personal comfort and taking the chance that they become real Lolitas.

As mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, family and friends, we owe it to the kids in our lives-–and especially the girls in our lives-–to explain the differences between healthy, pro-sex feminism and gaudy, pro-“sexy” “girl power.” We need to be real about sex, about the pros and cons. We need to drop all this abstinence-only bullnuts
, which spreads lies and misinformation, and has helped to create the kind of culture where girls are sexualized before they understand or even know the consequences. We need to start being honest with ourselves and our kids.

If my mother hadn’t been honest with me when I was twelve years old, it’s safe to say–-through the magic of hindsight-–that no one else ever would have been.


1Having seen Cool World, I see what they mean, but at the time, I was pissed that they wouldn't let me watch the movie with the pretty animated ladies in it. I usually got back at them for perceived injustices by going out and learning something I thought they didn't want me to know, like the time I wasn't allowed to go camping with one of my friends and checked out a library book on ritual human sacrifice. If I'm an insufferable little know-it-all now, it's because my parents denied me a helluva lot of ponies.
« Last Edit: Jul 4th, 2008, 10:21am by Vijay Mehta » User IP Logged

Greatest threat to Hindu religion comes from Dhongi Baba - Dada - Didi - Swami etc.
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