Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Must We Fear Adolescent Sexuality?

A very interesting article exploring the answer to the question: How is it possible that an essentially universal biological phenomenon -- the onset of puberty and the capacity for reproduction -- produces such disparate results in 2 countries [US and the Netherlands] that are similar in terms of wealth, education, and reproductive technologies?

[Three] themes guide American constructions of adolescent sexuality and explain their near-universal strong opposition to the sleepover: the perils of raging hormones, the costs of the battle between the sexes, and the logic of "not under my roof." By viewing the sexual maturation of teenagers through these 3 cultural lenses, American parents dramatize adolescent sexuality -- they highlight the dramatic and conflicted aspects of sexuality, forces that overwhelm the individual, conflicts that put girls and boys at odds, and the radical break between parents and teenagers that is required before parents accept their children's sexual relationships as legitimate.

Three different themes guide the Dutch constructions of adolescent sexuality: the importance of self-recognition and self-regulation, the embedding of sex in relationships, and the celebration of normal and non-secretive sexuality. By viewing adolescent sexuality through these 3 cultural lenses, Dutch parents, normalize teen sexuality -- they emphasize teenagers' capacity to determine their own pace of sexual development and to prevent adverse consequences, their proclivity to want sex in the context of relationships that are mutual and loving, and the ease with which sexuality can be discussed, and adolescent relationships integrated, within the parental home.

Read the whole thing.


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