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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » How do you know what it was like "before?"

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Author Topic: How do you know what it was like "before?"
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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I just asked this on our Facebook page, but I wanted to ask those of you here on the boards who might not be on FB, too.

I'm curious where you get whatever ideas you have about how dating and sex went for generations before yours.

This came up for me via a quote from a college student or two in this piece this morning: http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/relationship/127558828.html

Basically, I was flummoxed at their ideas of how they think things are now vs. "then," because it sounds like assumptions were made things were very different when, based on what we know about cultural sexual history, they really weren't.

So, I then wondered where those students were getting their sense of that history, which is why I'm asking you. [Smile] Books about sexual/relationship history? What parents say? What teachers say? Fiction books? Television or movies? Somewhere else?

(Do want to qualify, though, that even someone I know to be sound on these issues, Eli Coleman, appeared to be suggesting that defining virginity arbitrarily was somehow new: it's so not. However, my guess is he probably didn't, but that's just how what he said sounded based on likely limited word counts on the part of the journalist, or context that went missing.)

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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TonicTwelve
Activist
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I'm kind of embarrassed to admit this, but almost my entire perception of what sex and dating was like for teenagers in a previous generation comes from Judy Blume.

--------------------
~~Caitlin

"Oh baby I said,
It's all in our hands,
Got to learn to respect,
What we don't understand,
We are fortunate ones,
Fortunate ones, I swear."


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Jacob at Scarleteen
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 66249

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Really interesting,

For me I think teachers and parents are the only people I had contact with for a long time form previous generations so I just thought... my parents and teachers don't want to talk about sex so the whole generation before must have been like that...

I was simply amazed when I came to uni and found that people sharing my views about stuff had parents that weren't more conservative than them, and that a lot of people's parents encouraged them TO explore more complex understandings of sexuality, than what's presented by mainstream culture.

And getting to know older friends that I make and having more levelled conversations a lot has come to light there...

Having lots of conversations that sound alot like this one:

http://www.scarleteen.com/blog/heather_corinna/2010/08/31/building_bridges_sexual_orientation_shifts

So, parents and teachers, then friends parents and then my own older friends.

I don't think I ever assumed public media to be accurate or part of a good representation of the past because it seemed like more of a fantasy even when talking about the present, I think other aspects of the media had more influence on me than ideas of what past generations were actually like.

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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So, when talking about what older people have said about their dating/sexual history, are we talking about only to YOU?

In other words, not about places they have written or spoken when they didn't know or think a younger person would be present, or weren't having that conversation for or about you.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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Yes talking directly to me. I think for me it had more poignancy and more of an impact when they were direct conversations... because if somebody is talking to me, what they say has some sort of connection to who they are now and their connection to me in that conversation.

But the indirect stuff had an impact too, I'm not sure I can think of particular examples... but I suppose a lot of fiction and maybe even research that's cited in news articles slowly gives a general impression of people's lives over time... but even this becomes a stronger impression when I meet somebody who lived that thing I once heard about.

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JackT
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Until recently I never though about it much, but I suppose my assumption was that most people where conservative.

From what I've read of history I realize not as much has changed as people think, human nature is the same. Before contraception people took sex more seriously, because the consequences were more severe, plus there was more social pressure related to morality. Especially for woman who has less rights. Cultural movements helped redefine people's views. But I'm not certain on the details, it's not something I've thought about extensively. In many places in the world today there's still the same sort of pressure about sexual morals that people faced during the 50s.

It's weird that some parents assume teens these days are having more sex, when they themselves came from a generation that was considered that way by their elders.

I also remember reading that during the 1920s many Americans were more open about sex, but then by the 1950s many people became more conservative again.

I think until recently I had a tendency to think it was my generation that was more open about sexuality, but from I've read about history, things are not that simple.

Sorry for my long and probably confusing response [Confused]

[ 08-29-2011, 05:36 AM: Message edited by: JackT ]

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Saffron Raymie
Scarleteen Volunteer
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The 1960's were presented in history class at school we presented as "the sexual revolution" (we had to do a whole project on this) - probably because of how terrified people were of the freedom that the pill gave people with uteri. We were even shown a video of teens having sex in a public place. The teenage woman the more active - but you couldn't see nudity because of her dress. It was like oh my gosh in the sixties young women were crazy! haha. The only shocking thing about it of course was that the documentary probably didn't ask them for permission to be shown doing sex to school kids. I think we were shown the documentary to really shock us at how 'loose moralled' the sixties were but it only served to show how people have always been scared of teenagers enjoying sexuality; especially those people label as women.

[ 08-30-2011, 03:14 AM: Message edited by: RaeRay2112 ]

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