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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sex in Media: Books, Magazines, Films, TV & More » How the Media Presents Teen Sexuality Now

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Author Topic: How the Media Presents Teen Sexuality Now
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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This is hardly a new annoyance for me, but I get very very irritated when I hear adults talking about your generation of teens and all the wild, crazy sex you're having. Suffice it to say, it's probably more annoying for you than me, after all, it's not about me (and as a teen I WAS very sexually active, so it'd not have been inaccurate had it been applied to me).

My impression of your generation from talking with and observing all of you around sexuality for so many years, compared to mine and those just behind and ahead of mine, is that y'all are having LESS sex than others have been, and having various kinds of sex (and studies reflect this very clearly per intercourse) LATER than some previous generations did. Heck, in many ways, the group using the site now is a very different one than the group using it ten years ago, based on the advice letters I get and what we see at the boards.

The hilarity of that, albeit it's a sad one, is that those panicked adult cries of abundant teen sex often also come with a lot of hand-wringing about the sexual pressures put on teens, but no awareness of the fact that when adults and media present all teens as having sex it's THEM exerting the pressures.

So, how do you feel about how the media presents you and your generation versus what you experience to be the realities? What kind of impact have you felt like that's had on you or on friends and partners?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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MattsGirl
Activist
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I am in the UK, but it's just on TV (on so called 'teenage' shows here as well) 15, 16, 17+ are all having boyfriends / girlfriends & being sexually active. Being the age I am & never having had either makes me feel 'abnormal'.

Why haven't I had a boyfriend yet? Is there something wrong with me? Am I the only one not having / had sex?

The media put a lot of pressure / ideas onto teens (& older in some cases) that there's something wrong / strange if they haven't as everyone is at 'IT'.

It does really make you question yourself (or at least I do) about why it isn't happening for you!

In reality though, not everyone is having sex, it will happen when it happens, we don't need the added pressure of having it in our faces 24/7.

Also in some films (American Pie for one) they show them wanting to loose their virginty, like it's a label you should not have past a certain age, they all have sex for the first time without any mishaps of real life.

Not an ideal to show, since it's probbaly not going to be like that for 99.9% of people. This false imagie of what sex should be like doesn't help, when things go wrong for you.

Just my feelings on the subject.

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~xxx~
I am who I am, love me or hate me it's your choice


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Onionpie
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I personally haven't really been affected by the pressure -- but I've known it's there. And from asking around people I know of all groups/even different countries, (which of course can have faulty information from the whole idea that being a virgin is "uncool" so people claim to have had sex earlier) the average time people in their late teens/early twenties first had sexual intercourse was around 16-17. And I remember thinking, at the ripe age of 15 and a half "boy I guess I'm certainly not going to be the 'average' kid." It never bothered me, I was totally fine with not being an average kid, I just couldn't see myself being sexually active for quite a while. Lo and behold, a few months before turning 17, I became sexually active =P So I WAS an average kid.

However, none of my close friends are sexually active, and even both of my best friends (particularly one) seem to think it's crazy and astonishing that some kids have sex at 14, and even having sex at 16 seems abnormal/"too young" to them, which is a bit ironic.

And I think part of the reason adults are all scared of teens having lots of sex very young comes from the fact that, I find, adults seem to focus on the VERY open kids my age who're... well pretty much LOUD about their sex lives, and might often lie about it because it's considered cool/edgy, you know? The loudest voice is the one that's going to be heard, and then people might assume that that's EVERYONE in the group.

Whereas I find that although quite a few kids my age have had sex/etc, they're not as loud about it, they don't beef up its "craziness", don't have it 24/7 like some -- only a FEW, not at all the majority -- kids our age like to claim, and then there are a lot our age who just haven't done anything sexual like that at all.

And the kids who're very "loud" about their sex lives (and by "loud" I don't mean just open, or open to a few trusted people including some adults, and I don't necessarily mean "loud" in a bad way, though some are "loud" as in pretty much boasting about it and competing with others, which isn't a good thing, in my opinion) tend to be loud because adults are all scared about it, so it's often viewed as a "cool" thing, or the fact that adults are all "omg all kids are having tons of sex SAVE US", it is, pretty much, what adults EXPECT from them, and what they expect from each other. However, those types of people are NOT the majority, they are simply often the loudest, per se.

I do, in fact, have one friend who is VERY affected by this assumption/expectation of teens and their sex lives -- in a bad way. It's actually caused a lot friction between us, and has indirectly led to some conflict between my boyfriend and I. All because of the pressure this friend feels to be sexually active. He is so obsessed with the idea that he is "weird" and "uncool" for being a virgin at 19, that he gets VERY bitter and clings to the idea of, and reeeeally stresses out about, finding a girlfriend. For example, my boyfriend told him about our sexual active..ness (as he's my bf's best friend), and he became VERY bitter towards me and also my and my boyfriend's relationship, and he sometimes acts very jealous. He absolutely loathes the idea of being single -- unless it were single and "getting some", methinks, so in terms of his social interactions, it seems to mainly consist of him constantly being in search of a girlfriend, which is a shame.

So the pressure can affect people in many ways, and this is just one way from my personal experience.

sorry for the rant!

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alex z
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quote:
...Being the age I am & never having had either makes me feel 'abnormal'.

Why haven't I had a boyfriend yet? Is there something wrong with me? Am I the only one not having / had sex?

The media put a lot of pressure / ideas onto teens (& older in some cases) that there's something wrong / strange if they haven't as everyone is at 'IT'.

It does really make you question yourself (or at least I do) about why it isn't happening for you!

In reality though, not everyone is having sex, it will happen when it happens, we don't need the added pressure of having it in our faces 24/7.

Also in some films (American Pie for one) they show them wanting to loose their virginty, like it's a label you should not have past a certain age, they all have sex for the first time without any mishaps of real life.

Not an ideal to show, since it's probbaly not going to be like that for 99.9% of people. This false imagie of what sex should be like doesn't help, when things go wrong for you..

Umm... some may consider it bad form to fully quote someone else's words, but this is entirely true for me as well, except changing a few words here and there?

Also, what about some who are actually not looking for sex? The people who are looking for a relationship, and for whom sex is something that comes secondary? People who aren't so sure about their sexuality?

I haven't kissed yet. I am 15, and sometimes it bothers me. Normally it doesn't, but with the commercialization of holidays like Valentine's Day, and the idealizing of romance as the perfect, end-all to life sometimes it becomes pressuring to enter something that might end up nowhere fast.

Also, science, and even moreso mathematics, are portrayed negatively when it comes to romance. Same with many minorities (to name one, Asians, especially the men). But that's Hollywood for you.

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