for so many reasons. some of these reasons are healthy (like when we’ve been in a longer term, honest, committed, trusting relationship and have talked about sex with our partners and doctors). and some of the reasons are unhealthy and self-destructive (like when we’ve been abused when we were younger and have confused ideas about boundaries, or when we have been made, over time, to feel more like objects than like whole people).  for us, whether we’re straight or gay young men, or straight or gay young women, having sex is often a very confusing experience. even if we seem confident in our decision making or choice in partners, we’re often wondering and doubting inside our own minds. we wonder about our attractiveness. we wonder about our sexual “skills” or if our partners are enjoying us physically. we wonder about what our partners are thinking or whether or not they actually like us, or are just using us for our bodies.  many of us are even wondering if we’re causing shame to our families, really want to be having sex or even if we’re ready to have sex. for a lot of us, we sleep around because we’re looking for something that we feel we’re missing. we’re looking to feel loved. we’re looking to feel appreciated. we’re looking to feel useful, or to feel like we’re good at something.  for a lot of us, sex seems like the gateway to adulthood, and if feeling like “a kid” doesn’t feel so good, we rush ourselves. we have sex with more people than we should and more frequently than is healthy not to make adults angry with us (although sometimes we do)… we often sleep around just because we don’t value ourselves enough or feel that we deserve relationships defined by safety, respect, intimacy and trust.  many of us, male or female, gay or straight, allow ourselves to be used because we’ve learned through media, friends and family that our greatest and only real asset is our bodies. for us girls, we’re often portrayed as things, or objects or toys… and for us boys, we’re often glorified for treating women as numbers or conquests. and this is no different for those of us who are gay.  magazines accentuate body parts and sexualize everything. music videos illustrate sex more as a sport, activity or a competition rather than a relationship. songs refer to us girls as bitches and whores and smuts and chicken heads and all kinds of other demeaning words. and boys are being taught that to be a man, they have to have sex as soon as possible with as many women as possible. nowhere are any of us really being taught, especially by the media, that sex can and should be something shared, something mutual, something discussed and something safe. instead, a lot of us teenage boys feel entitled to say what we want to girls, and a lot of us girls feel like we have no choice but to be treated like less than boys.

you see, for us young women, we spend so much time being whistled at, harassed and pressured to be sexual, that eventually, we start to feel powerless to stop it.  and once we feel powerless to stop it, we often unknowingly start convincing ourselves that we “like” it just to avoid feeling powerless. and for us teenage boys, we put so much pressure on each other (and we get it from our elders as well) to start having sex, that we stop thinking about how the other person might feel or what they want. eventually for all of us, having sex stops being a meaningful experience, and simply becomes something to do.  sadly, many of us aren’t having sexual relationships defined by care, thoughtfulness and connection. and many of us don’t have healthy relationship role models in our lives… and in the absence of couples to look up to, or adults to speak to openly and honestly, we often end up mimicking what we see, watch, read about and hear. but don’t misunderstand, we’re not all victims and we’re not all sexist pigs and we do understand that there is such a thing as being sexually confident. and many of us do know about safe, safer and safest sex… but the point is that many of us don’t know what we need to know and do hide our insecurities, questions and doubts… which is why we need the adults in our lives to push through their own discomfort and sit and talk with us.

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