Though I have issues with the visual representation presented here (I mean the graphic image by Alexander Glandien that accompanies the article; on numerous levels it is a dubious editorial choice), I nonetheless share Peggy Orenstein‘s New York Times opinion article because of the subject matter is of urgent importance. In recent years I have been in several forums in which discussions of sex and sexuality are articulated as if young people, particularly boys and young men, already KNOW. The assumption here is that young people (of all genders) have been born with or cultivated through cultural osmosis honorable internal ethical guidelines to which, though not celebrated in popular culture, they have the fortitude to adhere. Yet, as far as I am aware, there isn’t a place in US culture (other cultures may address this better) where young people (or adults for that matter) can talk with honesty and straightforwardness about sex. The culture does a lot of talk AT sex, or about the mechanics of the sexual act, but there is much more to sex than mechanics. If this were not so, cultures (religious, secular and everywhere in the between) would not dedicate so much effort to manage who has sex with whom and under what conditions sexual encounters are ‘legitimized’ in a culture. Oh, and, I am not only referring to sex acts that result in or are dedicated to procreation. Thank you Peggy Orenstein for your article.
Yet that silence has troubling implications. According to a 2017 national survey of 3,000 high school students and young adults by the Making Caring Common Project, a large majority of boys never had a single conversation with their parents about, for instance, how to be sure that your partner “wants to be — and is comfortable — having sex with you,” or about what it meant to be a “a caring and respectful sexual partner.” About two-thirds had never heard from their parents that they shouldn’t have sex with someone who is too intoxicated to consent.