Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tackling Underaged Sex

(Unpublished - Feb 9, 2009)

Tackling Underaged Sex

I refer to recent reports on under-aged sex.

The report addressed the increase in girls under 16 having sex.

While it is important it be discussed and debated, such a social phenomena should not be an easy excuse for creating any moral panic nor legitimising any singular brand of sex education.

Previously, on top of legal sanctions, there was also a stronger social stigma that helped to prevent underage sex.

Now, we are not only confronted with changing mindsets, but a diversity of ideas on what sexual values and morality consist. In today’s context, invoking social and moral sanctions does not create the same solidarity as before.

Furthermore, it does not help that physiologically, teenagers today mature generally earlier than previous generations.

With these changes in mind, we should tackle under-aged sex by continuing to openly provide a variety of information that can empower our young to make informed decisions pertaining to emotional and sexual health.

At the same time, the laws pertaining to under-aged sex and the protection of minors should also be reasonably explained and justified to our young.

We should not engage in any moral panic and start blaming the liberal media or peer pressure. Such an activity could cause us to adopt stringent measures that will only drive youth sex into secrecy.

And in view of the notion that the “forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest”, we should be less secretive and ashamed in discussing issues on sex. Only an open society is capable of doing that.

We must depart from the thinking that the mongering of shame, guilt and fear is the way to teach sex education, for one generation’s ideas of shame, guilt and fear may not be consistent with another generation’s. In the same line, we ourselves should not feel shame, guilt or fear when discussing sex with the younger generation.

We must also depart from the idea that teenage sexuality does not exist, that youngsters are asexual and void of erotic feelings, for turning a blind eye to underage sex makes us equally complicit in a phenomenon we call a social problem.

Our fear of and lack of responsibility in sex education ourselves have manifested in the endless blame games, moral panics, demonising and marginalisation of queer identities, as well as the villainising and stigmatism of unplanned teenage pregnancy.

Instead of spending our resources on identifying or even isolating causes such as the decadent media, poor familial nurturing or negative peer pressure, we should invest in making our society open to sexual health, sexual responsibility and sex education.

Ho Chi Sam


bbqchickenwings said...

Hi Sam,

So what do you think about our local celebrity talking about her masturbation process when she was 8 years old?

Is this being open?

Sam Ho said...

i don't think much about her or what she said, but am more concerned with the implications.

it showed that children can feel erotic feelings, although the expression of eroticism is an adult "privilege".

in that sense, i feel it's an honest account. i don't feel one bit offended, because i have nothing to defend or feel defensive about.

bbqchickenwings said...

Hi Sam,

I am just not comfortable with her account of it on a blog with wide readerships with lots of youths.

Not with the type of sex education we have. Or maybe I am too conservative and out of touch.

Sam Ho said...

hello, i understand your concern.

there will always be things we want to protect ourselves from, like for example, violence.

are you saying that our type of sex education is insufficient at the moment to allow youths to critically read into that erotic account?

i think most of us are uncomfortable with the idea that children can have erotic feelings, or that sex is being exposed to children.

we live in a world now that separates childhood, adolescence and adulthood. and in these domains, there are rules that are prescribed to maintain such categories.

before the industrial period, children were seen as "little adults", as there was no concept of childhood. so they had (today's) adult "privileges" such as smoking and sex, or even wield weapons.

yes of course, now is now, then is then, but an understanding of a little history may make us think about how far we have come along today.

i think there are a fair proportion of youths who have erotic fantasies and episodes, but today's world and society do not have legitimate domains/platforms for their expression. in this social domain, we are all under the impression children are asexual, where masturbatory actions are conceived as playfulness.

moreover, in sex education, masturbation, female orgasm and the clitoris are invisibilised. it just diminishes female sexuality.

from the feminist point of view, i feel the blogger had the right to stake a claim in her sexuality.

i don't understand why sex is dirty and should be discussed in private. well, there's the evolutionary perspective of wanting to have control over property. there's also the political perspective because these are the dominant values of the "ruling class/elite" and they legitimise their status.

you are not too conservative or out of touch. and i don't claim to be well-adjusted either.

i think times change, people change. we can look at music entertainment too. elvis was once considered vulgar. so was john lennon.

in a time when there is more awareness of sexual rights and sexual democracy, sex will be discussed more often.

at the same time, i still fail to see how it can be morally wrong. by morally, i mean any kind (deontic, consequentialist, etc.).

bbqchickenwings said...

Thanks for the long reply. It is pretty enlightening. So perhaps we should modernize the sex education we have in schools to suit the environment and media influences children are growing up in. Either that or we ban the children from the TV or computer and become overprotective.