I came back home from my first day back at a full time job on Monday, and I decided to relax.  So, I did what I enjoy, I started puttering around while I turn my TV on so I can have noise in the background.  Normally I don’t pay much attention to what is on the TV, as I want something mindless that won’t distract me.  Monday night I failed, as I ran across a program on VH1 that blew my mind a bit.  It was talking about the “new virginity movement” that is currently working its way through American pop culture, as exemplified by Abstinence Balls and the Miley Cyrus firestorm that broke  when she had her “racy” photo shoot.

In watching the show I was struck as I thought about two things: first, March 8th was International Women’s Day.  This is a day for celebrating the achievements of women past, present and future, be they social, economic, or political.  In my Peace Corp home country of Bulgaria it was a national holiday.  The second thing that struck me was how solely focused on women the whole abstinence program stayed.  Don’t kid yourself people, the virgin—in the religious sense of the word—and the whore are two stereotypes that are alive and well, thank you very much.

As I sat there watching it (I admit I got hooked) there was very little talk about the role that boys or young men play in the role of young people’s sex lives.  The aforementioned Abstinence Balls were the only thing I could see that outright featured a male presence, which in this case was a father.  The ball is where a father takes his daughter to a promesque-dance so that they can both publicly declare that she will remain pure.  I was, to say the least, a bit shocked.  The funny part though is that I’m not shocked at any of the ideas behind the ball, and I do actually think waiting to start knocking bones is a good thing.

No, I was shocked because it is events like this that exemplify the complete lack of trust these young girl’s parents must have in regards to their daughters.  Now, I don’t have children, but I have been a teacher.  Thus I have seen the good, the bad, and the down right ugly results of different types and styles of parenting.  I’ve also know several women who have made it into their mid-twenties before having sex (which I am going to define as intercourse, but only because it makes it easy to write about).  I can think of three examples, all of whom have admitted that they traded oral pleasure with guys and tried a few things before they had sex, but they did wait on sex.  The only two common traits that I can see between all three of these ladies is that they all related to me personally that they knew their parents trusted them to do the right thing, and they never felt lots of pressure from their parents either way as a child or teen.

This trust-centric approach just seems so much healthier to me, and I guess I was not the only one to find something objectionable in these activates. The program (which as it is on VH1 is admittedly designed to be inflammatory) also brought on a few feminist, who seemed to take an inordinate amount of glee if pointing out that there was a high failure rate in the sex-free camp when it came to keeping those vows. They also noted that a higher proportion of the kids who broke their vows either got pregnant or contracted an STD than someone who had gone though sexual education.

But neither camp seemed to speak a great deal about boys, which I found interesting.  Maybe it was because it was women’s day.  I don’t know.  But in thinking on it, was instantly transported back to high school. Now, I did not have a normal high school experience.  I went to Subiaco Academy, which is a private Catholic boarding school that is run the Benedictines.  It was an all boys school, so for the most part my sexual education (discounting what I learned growing up with a gynecologist) consisted of porno magazines, the weekend trips into the next town over, and whatever female friends I made while home over the summer.  However, being good educators, I was actually not allowed to graduate without taking a course entitled “Love and Marriage” and without having to watch one of the most horrific sex-ed films ever devised (when you get you close-ups of what some of those disease do…I swear that film would scare the ever-loven-crap out of anyone with half a brain!).

That said it was the class that has stuck with me through the years.  It was taught by Fr. Brendon.  The good padre had spent much of his life in Southern California, and he use to say things like, “God! I used to be on the beaches, with margaritas and senoritas. Now I’m stuck here with you!”  But maybe his most memorable line was on the first day of class.   Fr. Brendon always wore Birkenstock sandals, carried a gianormous, bottomless cup of coffee, and even though he could not have been more then fifty, he would peer at you from under a neatly trimmed head of steal-gray hair.  And let’s face it, even though I’d been around monks for three years, and I know they didn’t start out as monks, you still have that image in your mind.

But  on the first day, Father shuffled into the classroom, and once he had settled his notes and coffee on the podium, turned to the senior class (all 28 of us) and pronounced, “Gentlemen!  Relationships are not wham, bam, thank you ma’am.”  I think every teen jaw dropped at that.  Of course, I don’t know the personal stories of the guys I went to school with, so I can’t vouch for how effective the class was, but I think the effort was worth it.

Yes, Sometimes Trust is hard to come by...but keep trying!

From the problems that we face as a society over sexting to how easy it has become to get free porn via the Internet, we seem to be living in an increasing sexual society.  Who is to say if that is good or bad.  I just think it is.  I understand that sex appeal sells records, and I don’t begrudge an artist who is comfortable with showing some skin the right.  Besides, as the saying goes, “if you’ve got it, flaunt it!  Flaunt it!”  I think it will all come down in the end not to education, or promises, but to trust.  You have to teach girls its ok to wait till they meet someone they trust, but in the meantime, don’t spend every waking moment telling them not to learn about the world.  Conversely, you have to teach boys to be respectful, because without trust, it’s just a meaningless encounter.  Yet the fact that this is a topic of every age just shows how difficult it is to meet those twin goals.  Funnily enough though, you never hear anyone address that topic.  But hey, maybe if we are luck that will be one of the future achievements of women.