teens

What if your sex ed teacher actually wanted you to enjoy sex?

What if your sex ed teacher actually wanted you to enjoy sex?

We were big fans of Laurie Abraham even before she stopped by our book club and drank red wine with us while we interrogated her about her book, The Husbands and Wives Club: A Year in the Life of a Couples’ Therapy Group. She’s a smart and thoughtful (and funny) writer about some of our favorite topics: sex, relationships, therapy, communication between the sexes, monogamy and its discontents. So we were thrilled to see her cover story in last week’s New York Times Magazine, on another of our favorite topics: sex ed (and not the abstinence-only kind, thank you very much)…

Naked News: Oooh, Baby, I love your objectively-measured facial masculinity

Naked News: Oooh, Baby, I love your objectively-measured facial masculinity

A study published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior claims that a woman is more likely to orgasm during intercourse with a man if he rates highly in the categories of “objectively-measured facial masculinity, observer-rated facial masculinity, partner-rated masculinity, and partner-rated dominance.” Just try fitting that on a Valentine’s card to your lover. Why…

Let's Talk About Sex (a documentary)

Let's Talk About Sex (a documentary)

Its title may be tired, but the documentary LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX is as relevant and necessary as ever: LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX takes a revealing look at how American attitudes towards adolescent sexuality affect today’s teenagers. We live in a society that uses sex to sell everything from lipstick to laptops. Yet fear and silence…

Love & sex in YA lit: THE COMPLICATED

Love & sex in YA lit: THE COMPLICATED

Our friends, Em & Nora (who we like to call “Em & No”), recently launched a site for grown-ups about young adult literature called LoveYALit.com*, since (according to the New York Times) more and more people 18-and-over are enjoying books originally intended for the 18-and-under set. Of course, books about teens, the most hormonal among us, often deal with issues of first romantic relationships and sexual awakenings — and reading them as adults can emotionally transport us back to our own teenage years, when those things were really new and exciting, dramatic and traumatic. So we asked Em & Nora to give us a sampling of the good, the bad and the complicated of YA love and sex. We published the good and the bad earlier, here’s the complicated:

Love & sex in YA lit: THE BAD

Love & sex in YA lit: THE BAD

Our friends, Em & Nora (who we like to call “Em & No”), recently launched a site for grown-ups about young adult literature called LoveYALit.com*, since (according to the New York Times) more and more people 18-and-over are enjoying books originally intended for the 18-and-under set. Of course, books about teens, the most hormonal among us, often deal with issues of first romantic relationships and sexual awakenings — and reading them as adults can emotionally transport us back to our own teenage years, when those things were really new and exciting, dramatic and traumatic. So we asked Em & Nora to give us a sampling of the good, the bad and the complicated of YA love and sex. We published the good first, here’s the bad, tune in next Thursday for the complicated:

THE BAD:

Sometimes in YA, the darker, more depressing and horrifying side of sex is explored – molestation, incest, rape, STDs…. You name it, and you’ll likely find it in the YA section. These books are often challenged by would-be book banners but, fortunately, the freedom to read usually reigns supreme. Please note: just because the sex in these books is bad doesn’t mean we think the books themselves are.

Identical by Ellen Hopkins (2008) — This novel in verse is told from the perspective of twin sisters, one who is sexually molested by their father and the other who deals with their father’s “favoritism” by seeking out sex with drug dealers and random, scummy guys. Sex scenes in YA are not frequently written with much detail, but the sexual assault by “Daddy” is some of the more graphic sex we’ve come across in YA. Disturbing with a capital D. Check out our full review of Identical on LoveYALit.
Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott (2008) — When “Alice” was 10, she was kidnapped by Ray, a nondescript middle-aged man, and forced to be his sex slave. Now that she is 15 and going through puberty, he’s starving Alice to slow down this process while forcing her to look for her “replacement.” This means trolling the playgrounds and choosing a suitable target. It’s a chilling yet fascinating look at the vulnerability of children to power, control and violence — and the subsequent dehumanizing effects of such abuse.

Love & sex in YA lit: THE GOOD

Love & sex in YA lit: THE GOOD

Our friends, Em & Nora (who we like to call “Em & No”), recently launched a site for grown-ups about young adult literature called LoveYALit.com*, since (according to the New York Times) more and more people 18-and-over are enjoying books originally intended for the 18-and-under set. Of course, books about teens, the most hormonal among us, often deal with issues of first romantic relationships and sexual awakenings — and reading them as adults can emotionally transport us back to our own teenage years, when those things were really new and exciting, dramatic and traumatic. So we asked Em & Nora to give us a sampling of the good, the bad and the complicated of YA love and sex. First, the good (then tune in over the next two Thursdays for the bad and the complicated):

THE GOOD:

Proponents of abstinence-only education may not approve, but there are several literary examples of young adults having empowering, exciting, safe sex as well as healthy, loving relationships with their bodies and their partners.

Forever… by Judy Blume (1975) — The Blume classic of a girl who discovers her sexuality and — get this — finds it pleasurable! Afterwards, there are no disturbing or negative consequences; she’s not punished in any way. She simply comes to the mature realization that high school relationships aren’t forever. Amazingly (and unfortunately), there is nothing else like this in YA lit.

Fewer E.D. ads! New teen-focused recommendations for this sex-soaked culture

Fewer E.D. ads! New teen-focused recommendations for this sex-soaked culture

Teens now spend a whopping seven hours per day on various forms of media. So the American Academy of Pediatrics just issued a revised policy statement, “Sexuality, Contraception, and the Media,” in the September 2010 print issue of Pediatrics (published online Aug. 30). In addition to calling for the creation of a national task force on children, adolescents and the media to be convened by child advocacy groups in conjunction with the CDC or National Institutes of Health, it includes updated recommendations for pediatricians and parents on how to deal with this sex-soaked culture. Among the new recommendations since 2001:

Connecticut teen promotes green driving to peers

Connecticut teen promotes green driving to peers

While teenagers are less likely than ever to get a drivers license, there are still millions of sixteen and seventeen-year-olds that want to get behind the wheel. When they do, issues like fuel efficiency generally aren’t always at the top of their priority list…

The power of teenage love

The power of teenage love

We both went to high school in New Jersey (just a few towns away from each other, it turns out). During those late 80s days, Lo fell in love and had sex within a loving, committed, romantic relationship. Meanwhile, Em remained a virgin and sometimes ate her lunch in the bathroom. We both ended up excelling in high school, engaging in many extra-curricular activities, and going to well-respected universities.

Yet another reason we're glad we were '80s children

Yet another reason we're glad we were '80s children

Remember back when Madonna was first huge, in the ’80s, and girls who wanted to be just like her wore black rubber bracelets up to their elbows and multiple crucifixes, even if they were Jewish? It seems almost quaint now that girls are wearing imported, illegal contact lenses that may damage their eyesight, just to look like Lady Gaga. (She wears them in her “Bad Romance” video.) The lenses cover not just the irises, but also part of the whites of the eyes, giving girls a wide-eyed, innocent, anime look — the eyes look impossibly large. Yeah, we all looked like idiots in our ’80s Madonna get-ups, but at least there wasn’t a chance we’d go blind from it. Geez.

The 347th reason why it was good to be an eighties child

The 347th reason why it was good to be an eighties child

At least once a week we’re reminded how glad we are that we were teens in the eighties and not today. Take clothes, for example — when we were in high school, it was actually cool to wear men’s XL Champion sweatshirts and baggy boxer-style shorts. Sure, we all regret pegging our jeans, but it…

NOW can we give up abstinence-only programs?

NOW can we give up abstinence-only programs?

You might have seen the headlines this week that read “Rise in Teen Pregnancy Rates.” Of course what’s missing from that title is the fact that these are not real-time figures they’re talking about. The 3% rise in teen pregnancies among 15-to-19-year-olds increased between 2005 and 2006 — the first jump since 1990. We’re sure there are multiple causes for the jump, but you cannot discount the impact of 1.5 billion dollars worth of abstinence-only programs pushed over the past 10 years, especially during the two Bush terms — programs that have been proven time and again not to work.

Prom is hell

Prom is hell

FOOTLOOSE came out in 1984. We saw it before we got our periods and even way back then the premise seemed antiquated: Could places where dancing and music were forbidden really still exist, when we live in a such modern world with Walkmans and drum machines? So imagine our surprise at this week’s news story about a kid getting suspended from his Christian high school for attending his girlfriend’s prom at another school where rock music and dancing are — cover your ears! — actually allowed.