Note: This book is also available for downloading in PDF format (Adolescent.pdf, 777 K). While the contents are the same, the PDF edition has a much more precise and aesthetically-pleasing layout.
National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication:
Martinson, Floyd M. (Floyd Mansfield), 1916-.
The quality of adolescent sexual experiences.
ISBN 1 877051 02 0 (PDF).
1. Youth - United States - Sexual behavior. 2. Teenagers - United States - Sexual behavior. I. Title.
First published in 1974 by The Book Mark, Gustavus Adolphus College (800 West College Avenue, St. Peter MN 56082, USA).
This edition by Books Reborn, April 2002.
Copyright © 1974 Floyd M. Martinson.
xi, 175 p. ; 21 cm.
This edition of The Quality of Adolescent Sexual Experiences is made available online with permission from the current copyright holder, Beatrice Awes Martinson. The pagination of this volume closely mimics that of the original 1974 edition, so page references to the original edition remain valid for this volume.
Ph.D., Sociology, University of Minnesota, 1953;
Tulane University, 1957-1958;
Professor of Sociology, Gustavus Adolphus College, 1945 to present;
Visiting Professor, Uppsala University, Sweden, 1967-1968;
Visiting Scholar, Center for Child and Family Studies in Mental Health, National Institute of Mental Health, 1973;
Member, Commission on Marriage, Lutheran Church of America, 1966-1970;
author of Marriage and the American Ideal (1960);
Sexual Knowledge, Values, and Behavior Patterns: With Especial Reference to Minnesota Youth (1966);
Family in Society (1970); and
Infant and Child Sexuality: A Sociological Perspective (1973).
I. Puberty and Sexuality
II. Youth Culture
III. Relationships and Dating
IV. Intimacy in Relationships
V. The Situation or Setting for Erotic Encounters
VI. Coitus and Contraception
VII. Love and Adolescent Erotic Encounters
VIII. Adolescent Homosexual Encounters
IX. Early Marriage
X. Adolescent Sexual-Erotic Encounters with Older Youth and Adults
XI. Sexual Encounters Within the Family
XII. Adolescent Sexual Encounters with Animals
XIII. Outcomes of Adolescent Sexual Encounters--I
XIV. Outcomes of Adolescent Sexual Encounters--II
This book deals primarily with the quality of adolescent sexual experiences in the United States. It incorporates major findings from the literature on adolescent sexuality, including findings of the recently published Sorensen Report (Adolescent Sexuality in Contemporary America, 1973); data presented in the Martinson Report (Sexual Knowledge, Values and Behavior Patterns: With Especial Reference to Minnesota Youth, 1966); and recent case data from the author's files. The book was written primarily for my students; students in Sociology 207: The Sociology of Human Sexuality. Much of the original data presented reflects what I have learned from them and about them in over twenty-five years of teaching courses on sex, marriage and family at the college and university level.
Attention centers on the sexual-erotic encounters of adolescents. As such, it is a sociology of intimacy. The subject matter is that class of events which occurs during interaction of two or more persons. The behavior materials studied are the gestures, positionings, posturings, physical contact, and verbal statements of intimacy or about intimacy and their consequences for the participants or for society. Such a sociology has been conceptualized as a sociology of occasions (Goffman, 1967).
Intimate sexual behavior commonly involves privacy; it sometimes involves disrobing and tactile contact, and is carried on in secrecy, at night, in the dark, or all three. These conditions make it a difficult subject for empirical research. Third parties (including researchers) are not generally invited or welcome on such occasions. The presence of outsiders markedly alters the situation and the erotic interaction. A major breakthrough in this regard has been made in the direct observation of erotic encounters in the Masters and Johnson (1966) laboratory research on sexual behavior. This is not to suggest that such observation will become the norm for all sex research, however. Direct observation of intimacy will continue to be limited, episodic, and accidental, particularly where adolescents are concerned.
Nor is direct observation, even where possible, adequate for the study of intimacy. There is more to intimacy than meets the eye. The gestures and the posturings are external signs of orientation and involvement. But what motivates the participants? How do they define the situation? How do they see each other? Humans interpret each other's actions; they do not merely act and react to others. What do they hope to experience or to accomplish? What are the outcomes for them, not only as objectively viewed by an observer, but as subjectively viewed by themselves?
The goal of research in sexual-erotic intimacy, like the goal of any basic research, is the discovery of knowledge, per se. Hopefully, it is knowledge that will lead to greater understanding of human behavior. It is knowledge which young people and adults seek, and knowledge that can be communicated to others through the various methods of sex education.
Revolutions in communication and changes in censorship have already made much knowledge of intimate, erotic behavior available to the public. Examples of variety and alternatives in human sexual response suggest alternatives for all people, including adolescents. On the other hand, there is not much competent or responsible evaluation of the merits of the various alternatives. For example, every American can now know that some persons experience heterosexual sexual intimacy, and others experience homosexual sexual intimacy, but little is known about the relative merits or demerits of each. This study, by dealing specifically with outcomes of sexual encounters, adds to the knowledge on outcomes of sexual behavior, as well as to knowledge of the variety of sexual experience.
With all of the sexual openness in the United States today, one of the most phenomenal aspects is the extent to which married couples have kept their sexual lives closed to their own children. We have not developed a folk sex culture of a positive kind to pass down from one generation to the next, from parent to child. The adolescent in the United States commonly looks to sources outside the home for much of his (limited) knowledge of the erotically intimate life, and knows little about how it is to be incorporated into a balanced life style. Many parents could contribute a better perspective if they would. We hope to make some contribution to a balance in the literature on adolescent sexuality, since a balanced perspective is not generally made available by parents or by adult-sponsored institutions such as the public school.
The weakness of a study that attempts to use intimate and personal data is a weakness that often lies in its sampling; a weakness which is not to be brushed aside as insignificant. Yet life history data is significant for an understanding of adolescent life, an understanding that cannot be gathered in any other way. The material is here used for qualitative and not for quantitative analysis--the quality of adolescent life, not the incidence of various kinds of behavior, is the major subject of this study. But first I shall describe something about the conceptual framework utilized in the development of the material.
Our search for a theoretical or conceptual framework for ordering the material ended with major emphasis being placed on the interactionist approach, but with allowance for the important developmental aspects of adolescent sexual experience. In an interactionist approach, the situation or the event and the meeting of the participants are central. A situation of sexual intimacy involves three presences: oneself (self or ego), the other person (specific other) or others (specific others), and peers, parents, community, and society in the consciousness of each of the participants (the generalized other). The specific other or specific others refer to persons physically present in a situation with oneself. They are the ones who act--the actors. In this study we will be looking at sexual encounters from the adolescent actor's point of view as much as possible, not from an adult's or a sexologist's point of view. How does the young person see his encounters? What do they mean to him? In other words, self (or ego) in this study is always the adolescent, no matter the age of the specific other or others. The persons physically present are part of the environment for him. They are part of the conditions of his behavior, and they are the subjects and the objects of his behavior, as he is a subject and the object of their behavior. Theoretically, there is no difference between self and the specific other, since both are participants in the activity, except from the point of view of the observer, be he participant or researcher. The one the observer identifies with is conceptualized as self or ego. Other participants are referred to as specific others to designate them from self and from the third category of "presences" in the situation, namely the generalized other. The 'generalized other' influences the situation, not as an active participant, but through having had prior impact in socializing the actors. For example, the adolescent is fully aware that there are sexual principles of right and wrong that are accepted by his peers, his parents, and by others in the community and in society. This constitutes the generalized other present in his consciousness, which influence him as he and his partner engage in intimacy--kissing, fondling, and caressing. If, on the other hand, his parents or some other persons representing the generalized other happens in on the activity, those people become an "audience" to that action, and drastically alter the situation and the action.
For erotic interaction to take place, there must be at least two persons present--the self and one specific other. On some occasions, almost the same effect can be obtained, however, without the presence of a specific other. For example, an adolescent boy masturbating may fantasize a desirable specific other (his girlfriend), or fantasize what would happen if a generalized other (in the person of his mother) should happen in on him while he is masturbating. Either fantasized person can markedly affect the quality of his enjoyment of masturbating. To the extent that the fantasized other affects his behavior or his pleasure, there is, in fact, another person present.
The outcomes of sexual encounters can be outcomes for the self, for specific other(s), for the generalized other, or for all three. The outcome can be immediate or long-range; they can be hidden or revealed. An adolescent girl who experiences intercourse for the first time "loses her virginity." This is an immediate outcome. If she becomes pregnant in the process, the outcomes are long-range and socially involved. Loss of virginity may be hidden from the public; pregnancy cannot be hidden.
In a complex, pluralistic society, such as is characteristic of the United States, the generalized other present in a situation may not be the same generalized other for all participants or on all occasions. There are proper generalized other and sub rosa generalized other; there are generalized adult others and generalized youth others, for example. Not all participants follow the same generalized other. What is proper in a situation involving intimacy is a matter of judgment, and what is acceptable to the actors and to the generalized other becomes very important. "All tactical advantage is with the acceptable." Acceptability creates consensus; sexual behavior, like other social behavior, is complex, and is mentally, emotionally, and physically tiring if it is not acceptable behavior (Galbraith, 1958, p. 8). Seduction generally involves a greater investment of effort, and is more tiring, than is intimacy between readily consenting adults, for instance.
The participants must adapt not only to self, to each other, and to the requirements of the generalized other, but also to the conditions of the external environment. They must concern themselves with control over parts of the situation in the performance of their activity, they must concern themselves with the management and expression of their sentiments and tensions, and must attempt to preserve the relationship between themselves, unless the encounter is a fleeting one in which they have very little invested, such as a "blind" date, a casual sexual liaison, rape, or other form of sexual exploitation.
The erotic situation in which the adolescent is involved can be referred to as a segregated role relationship if the relationship is casual. The participants have a clear differentiation of goals and separate interests. The situation is a joint role relationship when the actors are "steadies" or "in love," or when they carry out erotic activities together with a minimum of differentiation or separation of interests. In the latter case, they plan their activities together, or at least with each other's interests in mind, empathize, and are interested in spending much of their time together (Bott, 1956, p. 30). It is in the latter kind of relationship that concern for the other is paramount. Sexual exploitation is an example of segregated erotic relationship; sexual intimacy between two high school students who are in love is an example of a joint role relationship. In a situation of concern, such as between lovers when one's partner is threatened by the activity either personally or because of the influence of the generalized other, one is inclined to modify one's own activity. This is truer of older and more experienced than of younger, inexperienced actors in sexual encounters. When the adolescent (as ego) is the youngest member in a sexual encounter, as is often the case in the present study, such sensitivity on their part to the reactions of the other actor may not be forthcoming.
A role in a sexual encounter is relevant to only part of the motivation of an actor. No one role involves all of their concerns and commitments. Nevertheless, persons in sexual roles not infrequently act as though the encounter in question does involve all of their concerns and commitments, and it may indeed do so temporarily, as in coitus, for instance. But in the long run, every actor assumes not only sexual roles. They assume multiple roles in their daily activities as they seek to satisfy all of their concerns and commitments.
Within the area of sexual concerns and commitments, as new sex roles are taken on, old motives need to be modified and/or new ones need to be learned. This is not uncommon, as a relationship that was seen by an adolescent as primarily providing erotic activity takes on new significance as they become interested in other aspects of the one they are dating. New motivations become conditions for enactment of new roles. In addition, a person may begin an act for one motive, but in the course of the act, they may adopt an auxiliary motive. The high-school boy looking for someone with whom he can "make out" or "ball" may discover that he has found a friend and that the relationship has potential for a more lasting association than he had anticipated.
Individuals internalize many motives from the generalized other, motives that may come in conflict with each other. When motives are in conflict, the actor must keep one set of motives "secret" from the others. They compartmentalize not only their conduct but also their reasons for it. Primarily in regard to sexual behavior, which is such a controversial area of behavior in adolescence, a person is not clear at all times as to what their real motives are.
Not all sexually-motivated motives are acceptable to both actors, so the adolescent boy or girl may use one or another motive tentatively (the desire for companionship, for example) until they find a way to integrate another motive (the desire for sexual intimacy, for example) into their conduct, and win their partner as an ally to their erotic acts. Another technique often used by adolescents with their parents, is for the adolescent to keep secret from their parents their sexual-erotic motives and their behaviors, either because they are uncertain as to their own motives, or because they sense that their parents may not approve of their motives and behaviors. Hence, shifting and borderline sexual situations, having no stability or commonly accepted motives, may contain several alternative sets of motives in a fluctuating state for the adolescent.
This will be very apparent in some of the cases discussed in later chapters. The rival demands of conflicting motives and conflicting roles, brought to self-awareness, call forth a complex internal behavior called "conscience," a term literally meaning "shared knowledge." Before this "conscience," motives and roles pass in review. Conscience serves as an internal court that lets "the left hand know what the right is doing." Compartmentalization fails when ethical universals are involved. For instance, if a person has internalized the professed values of a traditionally-oriented community, their generalized other will saddle them with guilt when their sex acts fall short of the professed demand level (Gerth and Mills, 1953, p. 124).
There are two broad areas of experience that we will focus upon that are consistent with an interactionist frame of reference. In the first, the major focus is on personality development, especially the learning of sex roles. In the second, attention is focused upon the interaction of adolescents acting out sex roles they have learned. Actually, the "learning" and the "doing" of sex roles are often carried out simultaneously. This is especially apparent when one is dealing with sexual experiences, for the sexual learning process is so chaotic, quixotic, or episodic in the United States.
All major theories of personality argue that personality is a product both of inheritance and experience, particularly social experience. Social experience is not static. It follows that changes in society, as well as the stable patterns of society, have an influence on the types of personalities a society creates. Since the United States is a changing society, it should be assumed that, generally speaking, personality is changing and is different from what it was in earlier decades, and that the learning of sex roles and the subsequent behavior reflect some of these differences.
Socializing or role learning is a significant aspect of interaction in primary relationships such as child-parent relationships. The central focus of the socialization lies in the child's internalization of the culture into which they are born and in which they grow to maturity. Significant for our study is the fact that child-parent relationship appears to be ineffective in socializing the child into well-articulated sexual roles. Parents in the United States are not generally trained for roles that permit continued intimacy with the growing child, teaching sex roles, or permitting the child continuing intimate contacts with their parents or with others. In this sense, parents may be repressing rather than motivating agents. They tend to hand on vague and negative sexual mores that inhibit rather than release. Anticipatory socialization is one of the functions of the family. That is, the child is taught to look forward in preparation for school, a job, and marriage. Anticipatory socialization in the family is greatly restricted, however, when it comes to preparing the child to anticipate the satisfactions of sexual encounters. This is why learning sex roles from peers becomes important in the life of the adolescent. For example, Kinsey reports that parents in ghettos may punish their offspring for attempting intercourse, but the offspring may in turn not understand why they are being punished, and they do not consider it wrong to attempt coitus, because they know that other boys and girls--their peers as well as older boys and girls--are doing so (Kinsey, 1948, p. 445). Middle- and upper-class children have less access to such explicitly sexual behavior models than do children in "disadvantaged" areas.
Sometimes parents attempt to impose patterns that are stricter than those existing in the community. Sometimes they attempt to be more liberal, and to raise the child without the standard fears, repressions, and inhibitions surrounding sex. The odds against the parents being completely successful, within a community that holds contrary values, are high (Kinsey, 1948, p. 445).
The written legal codes and the proscriptions of the common law are less influential in controlling the sexual behavior of adolescents than are direct contacts with peers, parents, and others. Personal patterns of behavior are established long before the adolescent is likely to have any comprehension of the nature of legal restrictions on sexual activity.
In writing a book, one starts with a thorough search of the literature, looking especially for data from researches utilizing a compatible conceptual framework. The search for data on the sexual encounters of adolescents has been made, and the findings are incorporated in the chapters to follow.
However, this book contains original data as well as an integration of the research data of others. In collecting data for the Martinson Report and in subsequent research, we visited six communities, observing and interviewing around the general question: what is it like to grow up sexually in this community? Four of the sample areas are in Minnesota--two rural communities, one suburban community, and one inner-city (Minneapolis) community; one community is in an urban residential area in the state of New York, and one is a rural community in New Jersey. Similarly, data was gathered in two communities in southern Sweden, but that data is essentially tangential in the present study. In each community, members of our research team spent a month or more living, observing life, talking with, and interviewing people--both teenagers and adults. In all cases, the field workers, other than myself, were college students or recent college graduates averaging about twenty years of age. They were trained in survey research methods and in interviewing, and were under my general supervision while they were in the field. Secondly, I personally gathered sex and dating histories from over one thousand college students attending a Minnesota liberal arts college covering the years from about 1955 through 1971. I have also gathered similar data from a group of Swedish university students, but that data is not directly incorporated in this report. Lastly, the sample includes data from structured interviews with two hundred unwed mothers receiving casework services through a private childcare agency in Minnesota.
Data from the Martinson Report and other case data from the author's files are drawn essentially from a youthful population, essentially middle-class, high school (and partially college) educated, mainly from the Upper Midwest USA, mainly Protestant, and predominantly white. Hence, it does not represent a national population, nor is it representative of any one clearly-delineated universe. Hence, no tabulation is made of the incidence of various kinds of sexual encounters or their frequency. The study instead demonstrates the importance of using data from first person life histories. Such data illuminates qualities and dimensions of life that are often missed through traditional survey methods.
Persons too numerous to mention have had a part in implementing research that provided the major part of the data for this book. Though I deeply appreciate their efforts, I cannot begin to name them all. But the following persons have been particularly influential and are deserving of special recognition: Edgar M. Carlson, James K. Merrill, John D. Blair, and Beatrice A. Martinson.
FurulyFloyd M. Martinson
In recent times in the United States, the years between puberty and adulthood have come to be recognized as a distinct segment of the human life span quite apart from the preceding childhood and from the following adulthood years (Demos, 1969). The teenager is described as a boy or girl whose energies are sapped by the sheer process of physical growth (Remmers, 1957, p. 50). They are also caught up in a swirl of school work and school activities, confronted by decisions that will affect their entire life, confused by the shifting attitudes of parents, teachers, and society at large, and bewildered by the complex and rapidly changing society in which they must soon assume the responsibilities of maintaining, changing, or destroying the civilization of which they are a part. For all of this, they are and feel that they are partly still a child, almost an adult, but also an "adolescent." There are grounds for looking at adolescence as a unique period in the human life cycle, as evidence on sexual encounters of adolescents will make clear. At least, that is a major assumption.1
The personality at biological puberty changes and assumes its own attitudes toward gratification and denial as a result of previous learning experiences, parental expectations, prohibitions, and by rewards reinforced by culture. What is known as 'character' has been formed in an adolescent, in many of its essentials, in the years of childhood. The personality struggles to maintain its achievements in the face of new impulses, wishes, and tensions calling for change. However, those observing the adolescent may witness what appears to be the disillusion of any stability and quality of character achieved in prior years. This impression is mitigated by understanding that any apparent turmoil ushers in an intense period of growth--that transition from the relative dependence of childhood to the relative autonomy of adulthood.
The balance in personality that might be apparent in preadolescence is a tentative balance in that it depends upon an alliance between the demands of the child's conscience and upon parental authority; authority that the child sees as more or less stable. This equilibrium is achieved in part through sacrifice of pleasurable satisfaction of the sexual drive. Consequently, some upheaval at adolescence is necessary and may indicate the emergence of an adolescent's own style of adjustment to themselves, to others, and toward society. In its absence, adolescents retain the compliance, closeness to parents, and childhood values and judgments.
With the thrust of the biological drive during late preadolescence or early adolescence, the person experiences the impact of sexual intensity along with a relatively mature biological capacity. The thrust of these feelings clash with the twelve-to-thirteen year old's value judgments. These feelings may assault the idealized image of self to which they aspire. These feelings sometimes lead to flight from sexual feelings and from the persons whom the adolescent sees as causing the feelings and, therefore, as being seductive. This may result in backing off from all adults or even from all sensuous gratification. Such a withdrawn adolescent feels intense loneliness, sadness, or even grief at what amounts to the loss of parents or others that they love.
Adolescence is a period of intense involvement in the self. Sexual feelings may cause discomfort in relation to other adolescents. If the adolescent withdraws from encounters with others, masturbation may be the only means of sexual expression. Depending upon previous experiences and an adolescent's particular adaptation, masturbation may be accompanied by a variety of fantasies--infantile, uncertain, romantic, hostile, or homosexual. Adolescent experimental fantasies may exist along with a relatively adult imagining of coitus.
Adolescence is too large a segment of the human lifespan to consider as a single unit. Certain characteristics separate early, middle, and late adolescence (Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry, 1968). Early adolescence is a period of some turmoil associated with dramatic physical changes. Rapid mood swings, regression with the reappearance of early childhood behavior and dependency, angry rebellion against parents and other adults, and a tendency to be with members of the same sex, are all in evidence at this time. By late adolescence, a more comfortable distance from parents is typical, with the adolescent accepting their own inner life. The transition toward an adult way of life is noticeable, with a shift to opposite-sex relationships, an interest in intimate and complete erotic experiences with members of the opposite sex, progress in the selection of career choice, and perhaps even a marriage partner.
According to Ramsey (1943), exceedingly few males modify their attitudes on matters of erotic experience or change their patterns of overt behavior in any fundamental way after their middle teens. They may change certain details of activity in their erotic lives, and some individuals may acquire entirely new attitudes on matters of sex, but they form the exception rather than the rule.
There is no evidence that it is possible for any male who is not physically incapacitated to be able to get along without some kind of regular sexual outlet from the time of adolescence until old age reduces his responsiveness and his capacity to function sexually (Kinsey, 1948, p. 218-262). Among unmarried males, the frequency of orgasm is at a maximum somewhere between the ages of sixteen and eighteen. Among married males, there is no age at which sexual activity is more frequent than it is among the males in their late teens and early twenties (Kinsey, 1953, p. 14). More females than males get along without sexual outlet in their teens.
The source of first ejaculation for males, which often occurs between ages thirteen and fifteen, are: masturbation, nocturnal emissions, heterosexual coitus, and homosexual encounters; with spontaneous ejaculations, petting to climax, and intercourse with animals as less frequent stimuli for the initial experience (Kinsey, 1948, p. 190).
Adolescents today are reaching puberty three years sooner--in some communities five years sooner--than they once did, and this may affect the onset of various kinds of sexual activity (Tanner, 1968). The trend toward earlier maturation is perhaps best shown by statistics in the age of menarche, the first menstrual period. The age of the first appearance of pubic hair is an index, but is a less reliable index of puberty. Girls have experienced menarche earlier during the last 100 years by between three and four months per decade. On this basis, puberty is attained from two, two and a half, to three years earlier than it was a century ago. Age at menarche in Norway dropped from 17 plus years of age in the 1840s to about 13.4 years of age in the 1950s. In Germany, the average age in 1795 was 16.6 years, but by 1920, it was 14.5 years. In the United States, the age was about 14.2 years in the 1900s, 13.5 in the late 1930s, while data from the mid-1960s indicate a drop to about 13 years. This trend toward earlier menarche may continue for at least another decade or two.
More than 99 percent of the boys in the Kinsey sample began regular sexual lives immediately after first ejaculation. In this respect, the male is very different from the female, for there are many women who go for periods ranging from a year to ten or twenty years between their earlier sex experiences and the subsequent adoption of regularity in sexual activity. The male in the course of his life may change the sources and objects of his sexual outlets, and his frequency may vary through the weeks and months and over a span of years, but there is almost never a complete cessation of sexual activity until such time as old age stops all response (Kinsey, 1948, p. 192).
For boys, first ejaculation during sleep usually occurs a year or more after ejaculation would have been possible by other means (Kinsey, 1948, p. 243). The onset of nocturnal emissions can be an awesome experience for the adolescent who has no prior awareness of this phenomenon.
No one had told me about this, and I did not begin to fully understand until we boys figured it out--no parental advice.2
This was something I was completely unprepared for.
This erection and ejaculation without any physical stimulation was difficult to understand.
Dream content accompanying nocturnal emissions varies with the prior experience of the boy. He may dream about sexual encounters that he has experienced either vicariously or directly.
When I was thirteen, one night I had an unusual dream. The dream was sort of pleasant, but when I woke up the next morning, my pajamas were all sticky, and there was a spot on my sheet. In about a week the same thing happened again. These dreams were always about the same thing: making love or 'playing around' with girls. In dreams the girl and I would be in the same position as the people in the pornographic comic books my friend and I found in his garage.
I dream regularly of having sexual intercourse. I have done this since the first time I had intercourse early in adolescence.
A high percentage of all males experience nocturnal emissions at some time in their lives. Ultimately, over 80 percent have this experience (Kinsey, 1948, p. 519). Nocturnal emissions increase, decrease, or remain the same as the frequencies of other sources of sexual outlet are developed, terminated, or altered (Ramsey, 1943).
My basketball coach suggested that I take wheat germ tablets after a cold. My ability in basketball did not increase but the incidence of nocturnal emissions did.
After I started to masturbate, I noticed that I had very few wet dreams, so I decided that it was more enjoyable and less messy to masturbate than to have wet dreams.
I took a renewed interest in studying and quit dating completely; I had nocturnal emissions frequently.
Ramsey found in a middle-class sample of adolescent boys that the average frequency of nocturnal emissions for those experiencing the phenomenon was slightly less than two per month. The range in frequency for the group was from a single experience in a whole history to 4.5 times a week, and a maximum of 13 times in any single week.
Nocturnal sexual feelings are less common among adolescent girls than among adolescent boys, but they do occur.
I have found that my thoughts are more preoccupied with the opposite sex in the time between my periods (about the 15th and 20th days). I often have strong sex-colored dreams during that time.
I became infatuated with a boy who was my age (about sophomore year in high school). I'd have wet dreams about him, often waking in the middle of an orgasm. At first these dreams brought feelings of guilt... and I fought them many nights, but finally gave in.
Thinking of this young man was a fine, sexually-full feeling.
During the period of adolescence, masturbation is often a major source of sexual outlet. However, some adolescents never masturbate (Sorensen, 1973, p. 129ff).
I knew of masturbation but never thought of trying it myself.
I don't know. For some reason I have never really done it. Well, I guess you don't have to masturbate. You can think about it. I have wet dreams. Boy! Doesn't everybody? What do you have to masturbate for?
One time I began to rub my thighs together and all at once a strange feeling came over me deep in my groin. I had achieved orgasm and an ejaculation for the first time in my life.
Some of the more mature group in my class in school said that if you stroked your penis you would get a great feeling.
Every night I noticed my cousin manipulating his penis. When I returned home at the end of the summer, I practiced masturbation in my room. I repeated this every night.
A friend of mine of the same age showed me what masturbation was all about and the technique that was employed.
I (a girl) did not masturbate very frequently, probably not over six times per year at the most; usually using an external object such as my pillow or a washcloth folded up.
Although, in the United States, masturbation is not currently as severely proscribed as it was some decades ago, it is still not generally accepted as a sexual outlet for adolescents, thus causing concern for some adolescents. In Sorensen's sample, 49 percent of all adolescents who were currently masturbating reported frequent guilt, anxiety, or concern--45 percent of the boys and 57 percent of the girls (Sorensen, 1973, p. 443). Sorensen encountered no superstition about possible ill effects of masturbation. Some do show up in the case data of this volume, however.
Of boys and girls who are currently masturbating, only 11 percent of the boys and 7 percent of the girls say they never daydream or fantasize during masturbation (Sorensen, 1973, p. 135). It has been said that the major users of pictorial erotica in the United States are adolescent males; they use it as an aid to masturbation (Gagnon and Simon, July and August, 1967). Sorensen found that girls also quite frequently looked at pictures while masturbating. Twenty-two percent of the girls who were currently masturbating looked at pictures some or most of the time; the figure for boys was 30 percent. Pictorial erotica can also provide dream fantasy accompanying nocturnal emissions. In the absence of hard-core pornography, boys create their own stimulation from men's magazines, mail-order catalogues, et cetera. However, there is no evidence that the availability of sex pictures increases masturbatory rates among adolescents.
I found that my father kept copies of Playboy and other comparable magazines in the bathroom, so I used these to arouse my sexual desire behind the bathroom door.
In middle-class circles, some females grow up without ever having seen hard-core pornography (Gagnon and Simon, 1967), but romantic literature can also be stimulating in masturbation.
In the eighth grade, I (a girl) became quite interested in romantic magazines. I would become very aroused sexually, for after reading a story I got great pleasure, excitement, and satisfaction out of caressing my breasts.
Masturbatory rates are relatively high for adolescents who are incarcerated, and for adolescents who live in communities that do not provide easy access to sex partners, or that do not have norms supportive of casual sexual encounters.
Because my sexual drive was continually growing, and because I would not dare to seek complete sexual gratification to orgasm with a member of the opposite sex, I found myself in a routine of masturbation five to six times a week.
Granberg (personal interview with Don Granberg, March 20, 1963), in observing life in a boy's reformatory, reports that the boys also joke about masturbating, referring to it as "juking off." To make fun of a guy, they might say, "Your sheets are so stiff they could stand by themselves." A handkerchief may be referred to with such a statement as, "There's my man's juke rag."
For adolescent boys on the "outside," masturbation is often associated with dating, although not part of the date. For example, a boy who doesn't accept adolescent coitus may masturbate prior to a date in order to reduce sexual desire.
I sometimes tried to masturbate before going on dates, to lower my desire, but it seemed that when I wanted some "lovin'," there was nothing to stop me.
He may, by himself, continue the stimulation that the date inspired, to orgasm.
I would often go out with a girl I had been dating steadily and never go beyond the 'necking stage,' but return home and continue the affair by masturbation.
His favorite girl, whether he is actually dating her or not, may be taken into fantasy, accompanying his masturbatory experiences.
The time came when I had a "crush" on a certain girl. I turned my "crush" on her into a fantasy that was soon incorporated into my masturbation. The fantasies always concern a romantic, passionate love affair that ended in mutually desired coitus.
Masturbating can make the hurt of a broken dating relationship tolerable.
After I stopped taking this girl out, I began masturbating for the first time in my life. I used the method of lying down on the couch or bed, almost simulating the motions I went through with her. I used her for all my fantasies in my first masturbations.
I have masturbated since my girlfriend (with whom I had sexual intercourse) and I broke our steady relationship. This helps me to release tension and relax.
From depth interviews, Sorensen found elements of romance, force, group sex, violence, and oral and anal sex in the masturbatory fantasies of adolescents (Sorensen, 1973, p. 137). In the first case to follow, the boy rarely utilizes fantasy at all when masturbating, but when he does, it is a love fantasy involving someone whom he knows and cares about. In the second case, the girl fantasizes the same scenes when masturbating as when petting with her boyfriend. They are usually impersonal and deviant in that they involve two females and one male.
In masturbating I have used pictures and fantasies. The pictures are often from Playboy, and the fantasies usually center on deep love rather than pure eroticism, usually involving someone I know and care about. However, more often than not, I use neither of these. Just the feeling is enough. All of my senses seem to focus in on one sensation, and I become totally immersed in a most pleasurable feeling. The feeling has been good all along, but with the gradual loss of guilt it has become much more enjoyable. Masturbation is physically necessary for me until the day comes when the better alternative is readily available.
I had watched a television movie that showed a man feeling a woman's breasts while she was wearing a tight blouse and no bra. I sat down on the bed, closed my eyes and visualized a man feeling me as I had seen the man in the movie feel the woman. I lay down on the bed and took the pillow as my lover. I was so deep in my fantasy and enjoyed the feeling so much that I didn't realize the pillow was rubbing my genitalia. The climax that followed was a complete surprise, and I remember trying to discover how I had achieved such a good feeling. The fantasy involved in the act was what motivated me to masturbation. Each thing I did physically (touching my breasts, moving my body against the pillow) were reproductions of what was happening in my mind. I was imitating what I had seen on television and also added some to what I had seen... After becoming aware of new possibilities for sexual enjoyment, I incorporated these into my fantasy. My method (a pillow rubbing my clitoris) never varied, but foreplay dominated my fantasies, and intercourse itself was fantasized until I could feel my own orgasm approaching. One thing I think interesting is that the characters in the fantasy had no names or faces. I was not visualizing someone I knew, and in this respect fantasy was impersonal. At this time, I had a boyfriend, and although we didn't have intercourse, I could reach orgasm through petting and fantasy. The fantasy in masturbation and petting were the same. The fantasy was always the same and went something like this: the scene was a party and three people at the party (I was one of the three) went to a secluded room, removed our clothes, engaged in oral-genital sex, communicated in graphic language (usually dialogue I had read in my brother's books) and culminated the experience in intercourse and orgasm. The three people didn't know each other, so they engaged in sex for pure pleasure at a non-personal level. The three were usually two women and one male. This may be interesting because although I had no direct physical contact with the woman, the idea of having another woman involved didn't repulse me in any way. In summary, fantasy and masturbation went hand in hand. I never felt unnatural masturbating and didn't know it was "bad" until I learned so from friends and talk in school. My fantasies progressed with my increasing knowledge of variety in sex. I incorporated what I had learned into my fantasy... I feel masturbation and fantasy have been positive experiences for me, both in understanding my body, and also in enjoying sexual intimacy with my boyfriend.
As attachments with others develop during the adolescent period, the frequency of masturbation may change. For some it decreases, and for others it increases (Sorensen, 1973, p. 137). There are new sources of satisfaction, only some of which are distinctly erotic in nature.
The first time I (a girl) held hands with a boy, and the first time I was kissed, I felt the sensations that were similar to masturbation.
However, masturbation does not have the prestige that coitus does among adolescent peers, especially male peers.
According to Sorensen, there appears to be no personal sexual practice about which adolescents feel more defensive or private about than masturbation. Yet 49 percent of all adolescents reported that they had masturbated at least once--58 percent of all adolescent boys and 39 percent of all adolescent girls. More girls masturbated at an earlier age than did boys. Most girls who masturbated had started before the age of thirteen, and most boys before the age of fourteen. Twenty-eight percent of all adolescents reported that they were currently masturbating--36 percent of all adolescent boys, and 21 percent of all adolescent girls. Boys also masturbated more frequently than did girls (Sorensen, 1973, p. 129ff).
Group masturbation occurs in early adolescence. Later in adolescence it may be regarded as inappropriate to discuss or carry on masturbation in a group setting.
If you were to sleep over at a friend's house, you would have a contest to see who could "shoot" first. At Boy Scout camp, the entire tent (five guys) would masturbate to see who could "shoot" the farthest. It became a commonplace occurrence and much talked about. No one seemed to have any guilt feelings about it. It was considered a big joke.
As eighth and ninth grade came around, things started to change. Suddenly you were considered a queer or a fagot if you masturbated or talked about it. I continued to masturbate and I enjoyed it. The only talk of masturbation was that of kidding someone or joking about it; strictly locker room talk.
Though the sexual experiences of adolescence are continuous with the sexual experiences begun in preadolescence or earlier--Sorensen reports (1973, p. 130) that of boys and girls with masturbatory experience, 12 percent of those boys and 33 percent of those girls masturbated at age ten or under, for instance--a number of new elements are added in adolescence. This youth subculture is commonly referred to as "youth culture" or "adolescence culture." As children develop, they become socialized to persons and groups outside their family of orientation, and they become more aware of the norms and standards of behavior practiced by their peers. As they attempt to free themselves from home and from the influence of parents, they often turn to this youth culture of their peers for guidance. Sorensen reports a high degree of "generational consciousness" (1973, p. 41) with "a substantial component of outright generational chauvinism" (Sorensen, 1973, p. 43).
Youth culture is carried and transmitted by youth groups or youth cliques. The cliques set norms that are the highest authority for its members in regard to certain aspects of their behavior--norms that may take precedence over both family norms and other adult norms. Since adults and adult norms are dominant in setting behavioral norms in the United States, secrecy, deception, and protective lying are used by adolescents to protect their adolescent culture and to avoid or resolve conflict with parents and other adult authorities. Adolescents learn the principle of secrecy from their parents, who withhold certain facts and teach them not to discuss things openly, particularly where sex is concerned (Smith, 1962, p. 37). "I try to tell them only what I think they can accept," report 55 percent of boys and 48 percent of girls (Sorensen, 1973, p. 79).
The youth culture has positive functions to play in easing the transition from childhood dependence on the family to the independence of adulthood. The transition to active, sexually motivated adolescent encounters with others is part of this new-found freedom.
I was feeling the 'bind' between peer group pressure toward being an appreciator of sex and family pressure toward denying my sexuality. I had an awful time justifying any inclinations toward being a sexually motivated being.
Several attempts have been made to ascertain the extent to which youth seek the approval of their peers rather than of their parents or other adults in decisions they make (Coleman, 1961; Brittain, 1963; Epperson, 1964; Sorensen, 1973; and others). The orientation of adolescents is at best of a dual nature. Choices that adolescents make tend to derive meaning from either of the two general reference groups or from both; the peer society in which many status and identity needs are met and identity needs are gratified, and the larger society in which are found the status positions that one can aspire to as an adult. When choices pertain to the latter, parents are perceived as the more competent guides.
Adolescents perceive themselves to be more like peers in regard to tastes in clothing, music, sex, and recreation in general. In regard to feelings about school, they find peer-favored alternatives psychologically closer to their own feelings, and find these more acceptable.
I can remember very distinctly my mother telling me to wear a skirt to a certain affair but, because all the other girls were not, I could not possibly wear a skirt. Being as much alike as possible was very important.
Academically we (ten girls) were near the top of our class, and we therefore often discussed teachers, classes, and the grades that we got. Although we were interested in getting good grades, we did not make a big thing of it, and we often tried to hide the fact that we were doing well in our schoolwork. This was especially true in my case. I was a good student, but I did not try very hard to do my best, and the teachers continually chided me for it, but I was determined to be one of the 'gang' and so I continued in my careless attitude toward schoolwork. I did keep my marks up because of pressure from my parents, but it was done secretly; and when I was named valedictorian of the senior class, many of my classmates were rather surprised.
In other areas, however, the greater perceived similarity is between self and parents.
This is not to say that adolescents do not think for themselves. Remmers and Radler (1957, p. 236-237) and Sorensen (1973) found that though adolescents show concern for what parents and peers think, many report that they think things out for themselves and that they act on their own decisions. For instance, 62 percent of all adolescents affirmed that they do what they want to do so far as sex is concerned, regardless of what society thinks (Sorensen, 1973, p. 355), and 87 percent of all adolescents agree that "all in all, I think my head is pretty well together" (Sorensen, 1973, p. 43).
As pointed out earlier, adolescents attempt to come to terms with parent-peer cross pressures by simply not communicating with parents. However, it is possible for adolescents to identify with parents and yet to have increasing association with peers if the adjustment toward family is favorable (Bowerman and Kinch, 1959, p. 206-211).
Much of the terminology of youth culture seems strongly directed toward making invidious distinctions among people and among events. Thus its highly normative content makes it admirably suited for use as sanctions--approving or unmasking deviants.
We all wore the same type (clothes). We could not bear to be individuals, and anyone who did not conform was talked about and made fun of.
The youth culture, without much help from elders, has evolved an informal series of sex codes and practices in an attempt to solve the conflict with adult standards. The primary sexual dilemma for young people is that they have great individual freedom--males and females are allowed to mix freely--but they are not supposed to engage in coitus. Moreover, they are expected to exercise this control themselves. In the history of cultures, this expectation is an unusual one. Two other arrangements have been more common wherein the society at large takes the responsibility. Where premarital sexual activities have been permitted, the sexual activities have been regulated and the rites and statuses of both males and females have been protected; where virginity has been demanded, women have been carefully chaperoned or secluded.
Despite movements in the direction of unisex, the differences between males and females in the youth culture with respect to sex and love is marked, and one can argue that there are distinct male and female subcultures as well as a common youth culture. Although both sexes are profoundly affected by these matters, females seem more directly and overtly concerned with companionship and romance, and males more with companionship and eroticism.
There are adolescents who have internalized a strong positive set of normative commitments toward the adolescent sex repression espoused by society. This is the youth sex culture that has been developed and supported by adults. That is a dating pattern largely devoid of sexual involvement, a culture aimed at successful mate selection. The following are examples of adolescents who subscribe to these traditional adult norms.
I do want to be virgin when I marry, and I also want to save the more intimate sex relations for my future husband. I will not let my body be used for someone's enjoyable outlet, purely sexual in nature. I feel it is God's gift, and it is not to be played with.
We were never intimate in our dating, besides kissing. I knew that he wanted to go beyond this stage, but my standards were high, and I wouldn't give in. I knew this disappointed him, but I told him that I would be married in white, and it would have a meaning to me and my future husband. I wanted to be married in white, which is the sign of purity.
There appears to be little conflict of opinion today over the value of absolutistic as opposed to more permissive sexual norms in the lives of adolescents (Sorensen, 1973). How important is it that adolescents experience a growing sexual intimacy along with growth to maturity in the other aspects of their relationships? There is some public debate over this issue, particularly when the content of sex education courses in the schools are discussed, and some thought and discussion is given to it in adult circles. The most recent survey of adolescent sexual attitudes does not show chastity to be highly valued (Sorensen, 1973).
Not many youth are unalterably committed to any one particular sexual code, as they learn when they become involved in intimate relations. Although the boy on a date, for instance, may guess at the girl's probable responses to a sexual approach on his part, if neither is intensely committed to a sex code while both are attentive to each other's feelings and actions, there is the possibility of a "double revelation" (Goode, 1960). If neither is strongly committed to a particular sex code, their subsequent decisions may become calculations of an essentially hedonistic sort, whereby they seek their best advantage together, and ignore or evade considerations of moral demands. Under such a situation, slight shifts in the balance of advantages and disadvantages in the relationship lead to large shifts in behavior. If she is "more in love" than he, for instance, she fools herself to be at a disadvantage, and so gives more in the sexual encounters in the hope of holding him. Peers may also goad a teenager with uncertain moral commitments into behavior changes.
Very often a fellow is coached with such questions as, "How far does she go?" or "Does she go down?" No matter how obscene these questions may be, there is little or nothing that can be done about it. If you take offense, you will soon find yourself the chief subject of another shady tale.
However, lack of moral commitment on the part of adolescents is more apparent than real, especially when it is the parent generation that is making the judgment. Only slightly more than a third (36 percent) of adolescents agree that they share common attitudes with their parents about sex (Sorensen, 1973, p. 67). Adolescents do not see themselves as being either amoral or immoral. Rather, the overwhelming majority of adolescents (86 percent) believe that they have values of their own, and most (64 percent) believe that they have come to definite conclusions about what they think is right and wrong for themselves, as far as sex is concerned (Sorensen, 1973, p. 88).
I gradually developed moral and religious sentiments against our actions. I became tired of always having to worry about our relationship being carried to extremes.
With the beginning of dating and with the awakening of affection for someone of the opposite sex, the moral commitment of the adolescent is sorely tested. Since parents are often secretive, reticent, or arbitrary when it comes to the subject of intimacy, it is understandable that adolescents look elsewhere for standards. They often turn to their peers, including their steadies, for guidance.
Throughout our relationship (high school sophomores going steady), there was much arguing as to whether we were treating each other properly. We found ourselves nude in each other's arms on several occasions, though we never engaged in sexual intercourse, never finding release sufficient to erase the building desires we felt.
One of the most popular sex codes among teenagers is referred to in the literature as permissiveness-with-affection (Reiss, 1964), meaning that if one feels affection toward one's partner, or is in love with them, one should be more permissive and intimate than one would otherwise be.
Inside myself there was a strange struggle. For while I was taught petting was simply terrible and that nice girls don't do things like that, I didn't feel it was wrong. My boyfriend meant a lot to me, and I did not feel we were committing any sin.
She would break out in tears, insisting that our activity was terribly wrong, and I, unable to dismiss the guilt, would rationalize by telling her we hadn't had intercourse, and that the rest of our activities were justified by love.
Permissiveness-with-affection is especially popular among adolescents who are involved in a steady relationship, even though that relationship may be relatively short-lived. According to Sorensen, adolescents intend to "love and be loved" several times before they marry (Sorensen, 1973, p. 369).
I felt then, and still feel, that virginity is a state of mind; that love is pure and beautiful given the right situation, even though it may have been experienced before.
Yet, of steady daters who had had coitus at the time of the Sorensen study, nearly half (47 percent) had had no more than one partner (Sorensen, 1973, p. 218, 433).
For older teenagers who are involved in steady relationships, permissiveness-with-affection is especially the prevalent moral standard. Both the boy and the girl accept for each other what they are doing together. They combine sex with affection, and they use affection as one of the key justifications of the sexual act.
Kissing was all right when you were just dating a guy. When you were going steady, however, it was permissible to go a little further. Petting was all right after you had gone steady so long. It depends on how both felt about it. Petting was always initiated by the boy. You never 'made out' with a boy unless you really liked him. (I guess I should have said, 'loved him.')
I believe the reason she allowed our dating intimacy to go as far as it did was because of a 'permissiveness-with-affection' belief on her part. I encouraged this by trying to be as affectionate as I could be, but I did this out of love for this girl, and not because I wanted sexual satisfaction. I felt no cultural or social inhibitions about our relationship, and I thought what we were doing was proper and right because we were in love.
Within youth culture, there are clear distinctions between some of the values in male versus female subculture. Coleman (1959) found, in asking high school boys how they would like to be remembered "here at school," that they responded "star athlete" over 40 percent of the time, and "brilliant student" less than 30 percent of the time.
Boys like to spend a good deal of their time in fairly active outdoor pursuits such as organized sports, driving, boating, and just going around with the fellows. Sorensen asked respondents to rank twenty-one activities in their order of importance. Boys ranked "having fun," "becoming independent so that I can make it on my own," and "learning about myself" as most important. They ranked "getting loaded and hanging out," "having sex with a number of different girls," and "trying to change the system" as least important (Sorensen, 1973, p. 49).
Having a car to a fellow was the answer to his desire for adventure. We discussed over and over ways to customize it, ways to increase its speed and increase gas mileage.
One did not date a certain girl, stay home and study for a test the night of the big game, or walk if he could possibly attain a ride--only 'oddballs' did such things. The subculture also demanded that what was known to one was common to all; one shared confidence with his buddies and not to do so could possibly alienate him from the group.
The group appeared to condone many things or acts, which in reality individually each member would probably frown upon. Everyone appeared to accept things as valuable because the group did.
Being with girls does not occupy the major part of their thought time (Coleman, 1959, p. 332). To be sure, it comes to occupy more time as they go from the freshman year to the senior year in high school. The comparison with girls' leisure time activities shows a sharp contrast in some categories. Girls spend far less time in the active outdoor ways that boys enjoy, more time just being with their friends, and far more time in vicarious pleasures: reading, listening to records, watching television, attending movies, and attending games. The general pattern of these leisure pursuits, showing considerably more activity among the boys, is indicative of something that seems to be quite general in the adolescent community: boys have far more to do than girls have.
The boys in our high school were divided into three separate groups, but these groups could not be definitely defined because a boy might belong strictly to one group or mingle in all three. The first group and the group held in the highest esteem was the group of boys who participated in sports. The second group was made up of fellows who took part in plays, studied a lot, and were in the top of the class academically. However, there were a few cases when the athletes were top students and took a leading role in the government of the school. The third group consisted of the boys who had little interest in school either from the standpoint of the academic work or the extracurricular activities. Their main interest seemed to be in their cars, their jobs, and in getting out of school as quickly as possible. They took very minor roles in the social activities of the school and were often frowned upon by the other students for their lack of responsibility.
Male virginity has not been honored in male subculture in the United States (Tebor, 1961; Sorensen, 1973). Tebor found young men reporting little active support for sexual abstinence among members of their peer group or from their parents. Two thirds of 100 subjects reported reticence in discussing their virginity with female friends, and a third of them had never mentioned it to male friends. Most of the subjects tended to be on the defensive about their virginity in discussions with male members of their peer group. When their virginity was referred to in group discussions with other men, virgins reported that they were teased, 'razzed,' and considered foolish. Very few of the virgin men investigated in the study had ever had support of their virginity from male and female members of their peer group or from adults, including their parents.
Within the group, the individuals seemed to admire a pleasing personality to a great extent, and one who mixed easily was always a welcome addition. Next in line came the athlete. If one was an outstanding athlete, he received a higher position within the group, but at least an active interest was essential for membership. Intelligence was also a factor, and while non-essential for membership, it was a helper in attaining a higher position in the group. As far as any one person being the center of attraction, it was beyond doubt the fellow who had 'been around' in regard to sex. This particularly included the person who was not afraid to talk of his experiences and mention a few names. However, one of the most looked-up-to individuals was the one who was having sex relations but was not mentioning it to anyone.
Group pressures can be very binding on the male adolescent in attempting to establish his identity.
Athletics, ability to seduce women, drinking, automobiles, and physical strength were all of the desirable attributes of the guys in the group. Thinking back, I believe most of the guys would have disapproved of the group behavior, but it seems that once everybody was together as individuals, we lost our feelings of individuality and responded only as a group.
Most of the boys did not talk of love in the real sense of love, but mostly of the sexual pleasures that they would derive from a girl.
We divided the girls into two groups. Our sister part of our clique or girls that we dated at school and the girls outside our clique, usually younger girls whom we took out trying to achieve some form of sexual gratification. These were the two accepted forms of dating within our group, and the latter being a very common locker room topic.
There was emphasis put on how far you could get with her, and if you clearly advanced and you broke up, you might let the boys know, and they would attempt a try at her.
If an innocent girl had been dealt with rather immorally, the act would have been frowned upon, but in a case of a girl out for a good time, she was free game for anyone.
The respect was for the guy who could 'move' very well, but was not continually talking of his many conquests. I feel that there was no particular merit, or it gave you no higher esteem, to say that you had made a girl.
At times all we want is a good make, and if we hear of a sharp girl who 'does the trick,' we jump at the chance to date her. This is for purely sexual desires and satisfaction of those desires. At other times we want someone with whom we can discuss either our problems or theirs.
This is not to suggest that there are no male groups wherein the ideal is premarital virginity.
Few of the boys in my gang could boast that they had 'laid a girl,' or at least if they had, they were more prone to keep it quiet. The general consensus of opinion was that it was not the thing to do, and it was to be reserved for marriage.
Sex made for interesting conversation, but no one was specifically informed. It was mainly what we had picked up from other fellows, men's magazines, and movies.
Nor is coitus the only topic of interest when boys talk about girls and dates, but there is no question that boys and boys' groups are more erotically oriented than are girls and girls' groups.
For both boys and girls, a number of factors contribute to social success with peers. Young people are very much aware of these factors, and they work at enhancing their strengths and minimizing their weaknesses. Good looks and an acceptable appearance have been important contributing factors to success in the youth culture for both boys and girls, but more conspicuously for girls.
She is constantly wondering and worrying about her weight, complexion, and hair--impressions seem so important. These are all common problems and are, therefore, discussed--all helping or trying to help in the 'misery.'
Clothes were very important to the high school girl and discussed very often. This topic was always interesting because clothes were an important means of prestige. They serve a psychological need--to feel you were a part of the gang or crowd. This was done by dressing as the majority of kids did. It was impossible for me as a high school student in a small town to consider any phase of my high school career without first considering what my girlfriends would think and say regarding everything I did. It was of utmost importance to me that whatever I did would be acceptable to my circle of friends.
If the girl is rejected by her peers she often develops attitudes of inadequacy and insecurity. She may have to sacrifice or compromise with her own standards or ideals to conform to the standards of the group.
All of these things have had a great deal more effect upon us--our values, our beliefs, our attitudes, and reactions--than perhaps any of us will ever really realize in full.
Female subculture reflects the great importance of athletics--that is, boys' competitive athletics in the United States high school--and athlete worship becomes a facet of the female subculture, although there is some evidence of a decline in interest in competitive athletics.
We were definitely athlete worshippers, and we planned all our activities around this. Therefore, our activities centered around school activities, while some other groups of girls centered their interests around 4-H, dance halls, and movies. There was a very definite group of girls who hung around the nearby dance pavilion. We discussed these girls, but we did not condemn them for doing this or for drinking or smoking. We were happy with our activities, they seemed to be happy with theirs, and that was the way we left it.
Sorensen also asked adolescent girls to rank the twenty-one activities in terms of importance. The ranking of girls was essentially the same as that of boys. Girls gave highest rank to "learning about myself," "having fun," and "preparing myself to earn a good living when I get older." They ranked "having sex with a number of different boys," "getting loaded and hanging out," and "making out with boys" as least important (Sorensen, 1973, p. 49).
Gossip in the peer group helps to define the element of the subculture; it may prevent members from deviating from the norm, and it helps to initiate the naive members into the expectations of the group. As is apparent in the following cases, girls gossip about the behavior of groups "below" them, groups "above" them, and members of their own groups. They also gossip about the boys.
Our topic of conversation was the people who weren't there. Through jealousy and envy, we often talked about the girls who were more popular than ourselves; with scorn we talked about the girls with a bad reputation, and with patronage we talked about the girls less popular than ourselves.
This was as likely as not to be talk about one of the other members of our own group.
We gossiped about each boy we knew, what he did, what he said, and what our opinion was of him.
Girls that were considered inferior to the group were frequently discussed in order to bring out our good qualities and high standards. Girls having very poor reputations and those who were known for their affairs with boys were reported on a great deal.
We always would end up talking about the most popular clique and what they were doing and who they were dating. We could not help but envy them because they were so popular and sure of themselves.
My group of friends was considered the popular clique. We were always watched, and were the first to be criticized... Those who looked on always seemed to desire the goal of popularity.
Boys, dating, and sex are major concerns of female subculture. Boys are discussed in terms of how they look, what they do, and how they relate to girls and to dating.
We talked a lot about boys; especially the one we had our current crush on. We discussed how cute, nice, or fun he was. Being tall, masculine, a good dancer, athletic, and good looking were all desired characteristics in a boy. We would talk for hours and hours about the most trivial things; a glance, a smile, "he said," "and then I said--," "and then he said--."
Boys' personalities were sometimes discussed in terms of how he was on a date or how he acted in class. Usually he was rated on how he treated his dates, where he took them, how he dressed, and if he was a 'make out.'
The major subject of our conversation was sex, and I owe this probably to the fact that it was the topic we knew least about, and because of this, it was the subject we were most curious about.
Some of the things discussed were different types of kisses, the degrees of petting, methods of birth control, the 'safe days of the month,' and other questions concerning the biology of sex. It was a sort of 'pot luck' situation when sex was discussed. Each girl would contribute what she knew, and everyone 'threw in their two bits.'
Whenever we learned anything new from an outside source, we would get together and tell everyone about it.
Dating rules and regulations, and proper dating and sex behavior, are common topics for discussion. Girls in the clique are apt to reach some consensus as to what is acceptable behavior.
There was a group of us girls in high school who formed a club. We set up a few rules for ourselves; namely, no petting, no parking, no smoking or drinking, hickies, or going steady. Funny as it may seem, we did uphold these rules, and the more we stuck to them, the more dates we had. I do not know if it was because they liked the idea of us not being owned by every other guy, or whether they liked the idea of trying to see if we would break any of our rules.
If a girl did a lot of flirting, she was always talked about with a great deal of disgust. Each one of us wished that we had had the nerve to go talk to guys that freely, but since we didn't, we didn't approve of anyone that could be friendly to the guys.
What the girls think the boys expect also enters into decisions about proper behavior.
We agreed upon what seems to have become the accepted dating behavior--primarily that of the good night kiss and later necking which undoubtedly led to light petting and petting in some cases. The girls were sure that's what the fellows wanted, and were willing to go along with them a little because of the tremendous impact the term 'popular' had on us.
Post mortems also add to the excitement of dating and help to clarify the issues. Girls with similar dating experiences can be most helpful to each other in discussing their experiences and what their attitudes and behavior should be.
After the event all were anxious to find out what the fellow had been like, what the couple had talked about, and if he had made any advances.
Generally speaking, girls were very slow to tell about any physical involvement on dates. Once in a while, I talked my behavior over with a couple of close friends, mainly to seek their advice, since any little action left me feeling guilty.
When speaking with a girlfriend who also went steady, we often discussed mutual problems concerning the fellows, such as what to give them for Christmas, or how to react towards their jealousy.
The clique serves to console those who have been left out of the dating game and to help plan strategy. Communicating with someone is vitally important to successful adjustment to the dating life.
I had a problem! I couldn't communicate. That was the one thing about me that would infuriate my date. It got so bad that we even started saying, "What are you thinking?" whenever there was a long lull in the conversation, and we could sense that something wanted to be said. This became an outlet for me. In time I could even speak without the helps.
The one I should have discussed this with (his serious intention and my lack of serious intention) was the guy involved, but I just could not bring myself to do that. Finally, one day I became so frustrated that I just would not talk to him any longer.
Failure to have dates may bring insecurity and rejection by the peer group. A further source of emotional complications arises from breaking of the dating relationship. The flexibility of dating patterns helps to minimize complete bereavement. The most serious emotional complication related to dating is the failure to date at all.
"Group dating" (mixed parties), which begins for some in preadolescence, involves more young people during adolescence. Parties include more heterosexual involvement than they did in preadolescence, and more of the parties are "make-out" parties, meaning that physical contact, kissing, fondling, petting, and sometimes coitus are involved.
Eighth grade was when I began kissing a boy with some affection. Parties used to be just 'make-out' parties. Our parents would take us to the party; we would go to the basement and neck; and then the parents would take us home again.
The combination of a changed philosophy, an automobile at your disposal, a homogeneous group of athletes who did everything together in school, and the omnipresent group of girls who were always there to cheer you on, changed our casual group dating to a type of select group dating. This select group dating led us to the 'make-out' party. These parties would, without exception, be unchaperoned...
In a sense, group dating is a pre-driver's license kind of dating, in that boys do not have the transportation considered essential to paired dating, particularly in the country and in small cities.
At that time, very few boys in my class had driver's licenses, whereas the upper classmen did. This made paired dating for the boys in my class almost impossible until they reached the age of fifteen.
If one is to avoid shock in group dating, it is important that one participate in a group whose members are at a similar stage of development. It can be infuriating for the experienced adolescent to find themself with a naive date. It isn't always the girl who is the naive group dater.
I was often considered the life of the party because I was always getting something rolling, but the real reason was that I was frightened and didn't want to neck. There was often liquor at the parties, which was used to spike the cokes that the parents brought down. My mother would always call to see if the parents were going to be home, but she didn't realize that this didn't ensure a nice little party. At the last party I was ever to attend, my steady was really upset with my coldness, and must have decided that since I wasn't cooperating anyway, he would really teach me a thing or two. He said something about going to get a bottle of pop, so I went with him into an out-of-the-way room where he proceeded to corner me. I had absolutely no idea what he had in mind. He tore off my blouse (ripping off most of the buttons) and got me down on the floor. Needless to say, there was no affection or any playfulness. I have never been a weak, helpless little girl, so I got out of there without too much trouble. The only damage was psychological.
Parties were one long make-out session; no sooner would we get there than the lights would go out and couples would race for the darkest, most comfortable corners, and I always found myself in a pretty good one. Here I discovered I still had some catching up to do. Making out was a lot of fun, but that's as far as I cared to go--not my steady though. She would always like lying on top of me, and that was okay, I decided, but when she took my hand and placed it up her blouse...
In about two hours, most of the people at the party were intoxicated. My date was one of these persons. She suggested that we go upstairs, to one of the unoccupied bedrooms. At first we just sat there and talked, but then we engaged in 'making out' and some light petting. While doing this, my date became very sexually aroused. I then proceeded to get into the prone position, we engaged in simulated intercourse (humping). This was the first time in my life that I was so sexually aroused that I had an ejaculation (other than through masturbation).
The next case illustrates a different type of group dating; one involving older adolescent boys. The group of boys expanded to become a mixed group of pairs, but with the boys in charge.
By the time we had started our junior year, we were in the market for a little more permanent or stable relationship. Our group of boys did everything together. It wasn't long before each one of the guys had found a girl. From then on the group was twelve instead of six, but still doing everything together. The girls were nice, but were well chosen so that they could be swayed to our way of thinking. They were. The relationship between boy and girl grew more intense as the weeks and months went by. Within a few months all of the couples were engaging in coitus.
The early beginning of boy-girl relationships and the postponement of marriage until in the late teens or twenties contribute to the emergence of informal relationships that provide an outlet for the sex interests of youth. The date and the relationship are special patterns within adolescent culture--vital and significant patterns. The term dating is from an earlier period in youth culture; the term relationship connotes something even more informal, "a process in which two people (usually a boy and a girl) jointly participate in fulfilling one another's desires. This usually entails sexual activities and other modes of communication that suit the personalities and circumstances of the two partners (telephoning, doing homework together, attending parties together, traveling together)" (Sorensen, 1973, p. 113). The terms "relationship" and "dating" are essentially treated as synonyms throughout our discussion of adolescent intimate encounters. We also use them together, as in "dating relationship."
Especially in middle-class families, parents teach their children--particularly their boys--that success is important and can only be gained through education and a good position. If dating should lead to early marriage and a child, manipulation of the environment would be manifestly restricted. The boy may be virtually forced to quit school and go to work to support his dependents. Aim inhibition is thus considered to be a vital prerequisite for the success-oriented boy. The boy learns to value the dating encounter in which his desire for intimacy and sex can be met without involving a serious, long-range commitment. The desire to avoid commitment is not exclusively that of the boy. Many girls now feel the same way about serious commitments and about early marriage (Sorensen, 1973).
A common age for beginning paired dating is fourteen for girls and fourteen or fifteen for boys (Douvan and Adelson, 1966; Lowrie, 1951; Wolford, 1948; Bardis, 1960; Sorensen, 1973). Adolescent boys usually date girls their own age or a year or two younger. Only a few date older girls. Because of this pattern, very few high school boys are dating other than high school girls, while many and sometimes the majority of high school girls, especially juniors and seniors, are dating out-of-school boys.
A dating relationship can involve being together on a weekly, twice-weekly, or daily basis.
Going steady in our high school meant that you were with your steady four or five nights out of the week, usually at the girl's house.
Young teenagers' relationship problems are often of a social rather than a sexual nature. Of ninth and tenth grade boys, for instance, Remmers (1957, p. 66-67) found that a quarter hadn't learned how to keep girls interested in them. Forty-one percent didn't have a girlfriend, 48 percent reported that they seldom had dates, 34 percent were bashful about asking girls for dates, and 26 percent didn't know how to ask for a date. What to do on a date baffled fully 20 percent, and nearly as many asked, "What are good manners on a date?" Girls had such dating problems as these: 39 percent were unhappy because they seldom had dates, and 30 percent didn't have a boyfriend, "I'm not popular with boys," complained 23 percent, and 33% didn't know how to keep boys interested in them. At the other end of the scale, 36 percent asked, "How can I refuse a date politely?" Many adolescents feel that they are "not ready" for an intimate relationship with someone of the other sex (Sorensen, 1973, p. 39).
Young adolescents often become infatuated with someone of the opposite sex. These crushes may involve someone who is an eligible date, or someone who is in reality too old or too young or otherwise not available. A boy's attachment to very young girls may reflect a feeling of personal inadequacy.
At about the age of sixteen, I developed a great deal of affection for their (the neighbor's) pretty second-oldest daughter, who was eight years old at the time. This fact caused me some anxiety and worry about whether I had pedophilic tendencies. Up to the summer after my freshman year at college we were very good friends... Her family moved that summer, and although I still occasionally thought about her, within a relatively short time, most of the fondness I had for her had switched over to another very pretty girl who lived down the block. She was twelve years old (I was nineteen), and she was very mature for her age. I often created romantic and sexual fantasies involving either of these two girls. They were fantasies, though, as any physical contact I had with either girl was minimal and harmless. Still, I believe the sexual desires were present, if partly suppressed. Being quite shy at the time, I found it difficult to start dating activity at that age. I think that I had a subconscious need or desire to start activities with the opposite sex at the level where I thought it should have begun, and with someone who was at my own level of experience. Although I never lost interest in girls of my own age, it was much easier to make an impression with a younger girl. I felt more secure knowing that she was not ahead of me in social development and experience. I used a line of argument (I have never really decided whether it was a rationalization or rational logic) to make me feel that my responses to the girls were nothing worth worrying about. In conclusion, I feel that the pedophilic tendencies were definitely present, and that if I had not started dating a girl of my own age and furthered significantly my social and sexual development, they would have gotten stronger.
The "liking" relationship can begin early:
Through grade school and into junior high I had 'crushes' on older boys; boys six and seven years older. It would actually hurt me to see them with other girls. You don't have to be very old to be hurt.
I (fourteen year old) 'like' a certain boy and he, in turn, has told a friend of mine that he 'likes' me. The same is true of all my friends. Everyone had someone they are 'liking' at that time. Although no dating is done, there is this interest.
Among those old enough to date, the word as to who 'likes' whom spreads and assists in finding an eligible person for paired dating. Relatives as well as peers are helpful in arranging first dates.
It was customary to drop a hint if you were interested in a certain fellow. It would take only a short time for him to hear of this, and if he was at all interested, you would soon hear about it. This would be the start of a romance.
After a complete break-up, I was once again one of the girls and had no date, but this did not last long when my brother spread the word and one of the fellows in my class then asked me to go to the movies.
The first date with a particular girl was arranged, believe it or not, through her mother. The date itself was to a formal affair. We attended the event and that was that. About three months afterwards, my mother asked me if I had ever returned the date I had accepted in December. I said no, I hadn't, but agreed it might be a good idea.
First dating relationships are memorable experiences, and they reflect the great importance of dating in youth culture.
My first date was with a rather loud, pudgy boy in the group. His parents took us to a carnival at a town about twenty miles away. As I remember, his father was rather loud and pudgy too, and he kept telling the boy he should hold my hand. So, he and I sat in the back seat of the car and held hands. His parents dropped us off at the carnival and picked us up when it was over. I felt very grown up.
We were both pretty self-conscious, and neither of us knew what to say next. This relationship was a crush in the true sense of the word. He didn't ask me for another three or four months, but I hung on his every action, and just a smile or a 'hi' was enough to keep me in seventh heaven. This continued for about a year... and I think I only had three dates with him.
Having a relationship with someone of the opposite sex has such awesome prestige that it is not easy to be honest about one's motives.
I never really dared admit to myself until a year's time had passed that even with all the statements I had made about liking him (my first date), that I was more thrilled over the fact that I was actually going on dates, especially since he was an upper classman. I can even remember forcing myself to have a good time with him so as to 'impress' the kids, when really I would have liked to be with my classmates--I just wasn't ready to settle down to one fellow right away.
What characteristics should a person have in order to be regarded as desirable to the opposite sex? Any of the traits highly regarded in the youth culture will do, especially for first dates. Having one's parents like one's potential date can be an added bonus.
I wanted someone who was well-liked by everyone. This boy was superlative. He was considerate; he treated me with the greatest of respect. More than that, my parents adored him.
Our goals were completely different, but at the time, this was unimportant to me. What was important was what he was now. He was on the varsity basketball team.
There is tremendous variation in the dating experiences of students. In a statistical sense, the non-dating high school student is atypical (Cameron and Kenkel, 1960). Yet Wolford found that as many as a quarter of the students may not date (Wolford, 1948, p. 17), and nearly a quarter (22 percent) of all adolescents have had no sexual contact; that is, necking or petting experience (Sorensen, 1973, p. 149). Wolford found that the educational background of the parents and the occupation of the fathers indicated that more of the non-daters were from homes of lower socio-economic level than were the dating group. Some non-dating is voluntary; some is not.
I heard my dad once say 'I know you need to go out, but why so soon?'; consequently I never did.
I did not date in high school, and so I compensated for my marked lack of attraction to the opposite sex by all sorts of altruistic and highly idealistic activities.
Throughout my high school days, I was a 'wall flower.'
It was a group fellowship, and there was no place for pairing off into couples within this group... If a couple were to pair off from the rest of the group, they would have lost their contact from the other members and consequently their position in the circle of friends.
We non-daters, who knew little or nothing about dating ourselves, were passing judgment on daters' actions. It acted as an ego booster.
I became the crowd clown, the group jester. In this capacity, I became the cupid and 'confidant' of the group. I fell in 'love' not once, but many times, with different girls who were unattainable, if not only because of my physical appearance, because they were unconscious of my condition, even unconscious of my being a boy. Because of my apparent indifference, my laughing face, no one worried about me, but I felt like a eunuch. I looked a little like one, too.
To uncover prestige considerations in adolescent dating, Herman (1955) asked students, "Which of the dating patterns did the most popular high school students engage in?" The largest proportion (36 percent) of replies checked going steady, as opposed to 9 percent who indicated that the most popular students engaged in "completely playing the field." Only those students for whom marriage is feasible and desirable shortly after high school engage in the marriage-oriented type of going steady. Of the students who indicated that at least one of their high school years was characterized by going steady (52 percent), only about 9 percent said they seriously contemplated marriage before their senior year of high school, and 24 percent said they did so as seniors in high school. On the other hand, most students (students who have no such expectations of imminent marriage) engaged in a dalliance type of steady relationship (Sorensen, 1973). Even the college-bound high school adolescent permits himself to become involved in adolescent-type steady relationships.
I began to seriously date her, more or less thinking that it was time I started to settle down, which is a mistake I feel most high school people make who plan on going to college.
But if a steady relationship is not marriage-oriented, there remains the question of why it has become a dominant dating practice in modern adolescent culture. Certain reasons seem to be expressed repeatedly by teenagers. They include: peer group recognition and acceptance, that most important social activities require participation of dating couples, one must date to rate, dating security or participation insurance (including participation in sexual intimacy), and discomfort involved in being a participant in the fiercely competitive business of dating (Herman, 1955), like the "serial polygamist" in the fourth of the examples following (Sorensen, 1973).
The main reason I did go steady is that I felt secure and comfortable in our relationship. It was new, exciting, and eventful.
I asked her to go steady because of group pressure from buddies who were going steady. I asked her to go steady because her parents were going to be gone for two weeks, and I thought I could take advantage of the situation. I heard that when a person goes steady, the girl is more willing sexually.
There were other girls that I wanted to take out, but the security of always having a date and the prospect of better and better sex kept me from doing so.
I have had no desire to 'play the field.' As long as a certain girl is willing to go on dates with me, I will take her out. It is only when she refuses to date, and I am forced to find another girl, that I pay any attention to anyone else.
Many students say that they believe they mature or learn to adjust, and that in general, they are educated by their steady experiences. On the other hand, many steadies face emotional and psychological problems growing out of the steady relationship (Crist, 1953). Adolescents often find it difficult to make adjustments to the expectations and intimate associations of going steady. The desire for security and predictability of social activity, and the expectations of peers, often make it very difficult to dissolve a steady relationship.
Our friends and teachers respected us as a couple. And it seemed we got the whole school upset when we fought.
He was becoming very jealous and angry with me each time I talked to a boy other than him. He threatened that if I didn't behave like I was going steady, we would break up. This began to bother me, and soon I started to avoid talking with other boys, thus losing contact with my other classmates.
Later we broke off our relationship because she wanted more independence and I could not stand not to have her exclusively. It would be too painful if we only went together part of the time. Perhaps I should have listened to my friends who said, "You've got to fuck 'em or lose 'em. They all want it."
I went steady for six months although I only liked him for about four months. I knew I didn't want to be tied down, but I didn't know exactly how to tell him.
I was almost threatened into remaining with her for the rest of the year by a girl who told me that: 'if you ever broke up with her, there wouldn't be a girl in the school who would go out with you.' This kind of threat, although too much to be actually believed, affected me so that I was almost scared to break off things.
Cameron and Kenkel (1960) found in an Iowa study that 82 percent of the girls and 71 percent of the boys reported to have at one time or another been involved in a steady relationship. At one extreme, about 10 percent of both sexes had gone steady for less than a week, and about 30 percent of the girls and 14 percent of the boys had at one time gone steady for two weeks or less.
With each one of these 'flames,' I (an eighth grader) felt that there would never be another quite like the last, and I was extremely heartbroken when the whole affair was completely over and they would no longer ask me for a date.
On the other hand, 11 percent of the girls and 6 percent of the boys reported a going steady relationship of over two years--longer than many engagements.
In a national sample of adolescents in the United States, Sorensen found the following range of intimacy. Twenty-two percent had not engaged in any type of sexual intimacy, 48 percent were still virgins, and 52 percent had had sexual intercourse one or more times (Sorensen, 1973, p. 121). Besides the males who have had coitus, many males come to climax in intimacy that does not involve genital contact; but some body contact is usually required in such situations. After early adolescence, it is a rare male who ejaculates when no physical contact is involved (Kinsey, 1948, p. 191).
According to Ramsey, six sources of stimulation to sexual outlet (nocturnal emissions, masturbation, heterosexual petting to the point of climax, heterosexual intercourse, homosexual relations, and anal intercourse) appear in a wide variety of combinations and frequencies in the histories of adolescent boys. The total outlet ranged from none in a very small group of boys, to an outlet in one fifteen-year-old boy that averaged approximately 40 climaxes a week. The average total outlet for these boys was between 3 and 4 per week.
We must not give the impression that sexual intimacy is the only or major type of intimacy in adolescent dating, however. Nothing could be farther from the truth. A careful study of the data reveals that much of the intimacy in a steady relationship is of a social, psychological, or emotional nature, and not of a physical nature. This is not to deny that sexual intimacy is a prominent aspect of the steady relationship.
During the entire four months I went with her, I never kissed her once. It did not seem strange at the time, because we did so many other things that we never got around to kissing.
Talking intimately to another person was a new and wonderful experience for both of us, as neither he nor I confided at all in our parents.
Up to the time that I (a girl) began going steady, I told my girlfriend everything. When I started going steady, I told my boyfriend everything, and I told my girlfriend almost everything.
It seemed to me that people were very hard, and I needed some human warmth to penetrate my hard outer self. I also desired at the same time to find a source of outlet for my affections, and she provided me with someone to accept the warmth that I had dammed up inside of me.
He called each night at eight o'clock. I reminded him to read his English and helped him with his biology. He helped me on the school paper.
My family didn't have a very good relationship; in fact, my parents all but separated because of my father's drinking. I gave all my love to him because there wasn't any other male in my life to give it to.
She listened while I talked about everything that was probably causing me to withdraw.
Problems appeared very large to me at this age (high school sophomore); I was emotional and very romantic. The fellow that I was going steady with was very mature for his age, and we were able to talk over many things in an intelligent way.
Having experienced the intimate confidences of a steady relationship, it is difficult to return to the superficial chatter of the casual date.
After going steady for a year when you talk about all your problems, joys, etc., it is a little setback to talk about whatever you do talk about while casually dating. I am confused.
The changes brought on by puberty, paired dating under conditions of greater privacy, going steady, little chaperonage, and the potential resulting conditions for heterosexual intimacy, make sexual involvement a major aspect in adolescent dating. Reiss (1964) found that adolescents were more willing to accept coitus when affection was present than they were to accept petting when affection was absent.
During the first years of adolescence, sexual intimacy includes kissing, fondling, and manipulation by the male of the female breasts and genital organs (Ramsey, 1943; Sorensen, 1973). As the adolescent age-level increases, there is an increase in the variety of techniques of sexual intimacy employed and in the frequency of their appearance. By age eighteen years, approximately 80 percent of the boys in the Ramsey sample reported kissing, and the more experienced individuals reported such techniques as deep kissing with tongue contacts, manual manipulation of the male genitalia by the female, and oral-genital contacts.
The progression in adolescent dating in terms of seriousness of physical or sexual involvement is apt to be: holding hands, a little necking, and the first kiss. Reaction to the first kiss ranges from ecstasy and sexual excitement to anxiety, frustration, and revulsion. The first kiss for many dates is a major step in the growing-up process.
A hundred different thoughts were racing through my mind. Should I try to kiss her? Would she resent it if I tried? If she did resent it, what if she slapped me? How embarrassing! I finally built up enough courage to kiss her, and slowly leaned over and gently touched her lips with mine. It was beautiful, and I wanted to do it again and again.
It was a very special kiss for both of us; for me because he had waited so long, for him because it was his first kiss, and as he told me later, the first time he had been sexually aroused.
It was the first time either of us had ever been kissed. I felt very uncomfortable doing it, especially when she lost her earring in my mouth.
He was kind, polite and charming; but he never even kissed me until our seventh date. It felt wonderful! Here was someone who appreciated my personality, not just my body.
French, deep, or open-mouth kissing is an encounter in physical intimacy that not all adolescent daters ever experience. Those who do often regard it as a traumatic experience either for good or ill.
I did not kiss any girl until I was a junior in high school. Then I found out fast what French kissing was like. We necked in front of her house for about fifteen minutes. When we got out of the car I could hardly walk I was so dizzy.
After a few dates, she (an eighth grader) attempted to French kiss with me, and I (a ninth grader) wasn't real sure if I should open my mouth or not. After a few attempts, I figured it was worth a try and to my surprise it was not as revolting as I had expected it to be, but that it stimulated me in a way never before experienced.
I French kissed a girl at a drive-in movie and spent what seemed like an eternity washing out my mouth with water, toothpaste, and soda pop.
In fact, each step in physical progression for teenage daters can be traumatic. Many adolescents come from families where there has been a minimum of kissing, touching, or caressing since early childhood, and they are not comfortable with it. Some couples, for other reasons, resolve not to become involved in any physical intimacy involving body fondling.
He seemed to become sexually aroused and quite a few times he would carry things too far. Often he would try to pet me, and time and time again I would grab his hand and tell him to stop it.
While watching the show I started to let my hand wander around her shoulder. Getting no response, I endeavored to move down the front of her blouse. Still no response. Soon I had my hand inside her bra. All of a sudden, she jumped up, pulled herself away from me and stared at me with a look of terror in her eyes. Then she started to cry. It was obvious that this had been the first time that anyone had ever touched her body, and she did not know how to react. Suddenly, I found myself crying, telling her how innocent I was. The next thing I knew, she had stopped crying and was consoling me. The first traumatic experience of our relationship was over.
We do a lot of double dating and other things such as going to the late show so that we won't have much time to become passionately involved. Sometimes I wonder if the sex drive is the only motive I have in life.
I allowed my hand to slide onto her breasts. After the incident, my conscience troubled me, so I told her that she should not allow me to touch her again because I thought that such love life would cause me to lose respect for her, and that it would hurt our relationship. I wanted to keep her on the pedestal that I had built for her. I think that this agreement led to some of the later friction between us, because we both desired greater physical intimacy. The result was that we were both quite sexually frustrated. Therefore, our physical relationship fell behind our psychological relationship, causing us unnecessary tension. These frustrations became a major point of irritation between us.
She knew enough to put my hands back where they belonged. She was the hardest person to figure out I've ever seen; the next day she couldn't even eat. This was one of the reasons I didn't touch her again for a long time.
Even though I was hardly ever without a girlfriend in high school, I never had or attempted to have a petting experience with any of them. I just stayed away from that sort of thing.
I have never exploited or forced my intentions on any girl. It may sound overly puritanical, but I don't like a physical relationship. I also don't feel right exploiting a one-sided romance for sexual reasons.
The pattern of behavior that evolved in youth culture as an adjustment to free association between the sexes on the one hand and the strong parental taboo in the consummation of the sex act on the other was petting--physical love-making short of sexual intercourse. This pattern reflects the traditional importance of virginity in adult sex codes in the United States. Strong religious taboos plus the mystical symbol of virginity were central values motivating the determination to avoid sexual intercourse (Merrill, 1959, p. 102). Petting and coitus are thrilling, awesome, and frightening experiences for adolescents. Extreme reactions often accompany situations where coitus or even petting below the waist is considered, as the following cases indicating avoidance of beds, awe over touching breasts, loss of erection, and overpowering guilt feelings, make clear.
As the relationship progressed in my sophomore year in high school, we would make out reclining on a couch (I refused to have anything to do with beds!). He attempted to pet me below the waist once, but I was pretty insistent that such activity be stopped.
I completely lost my self-control and I asked her if I could fondle her breasts. She said I could, but I just could not bring my hands up to her breasts, so she grabbed them and placed them on her breasts for me. The ideas and sensations that went through my mind at this time were too elated to express, but I just could not believe that I was in the situation I was in.
She was only sixteen; I was seventeen. I became quite frustrated in our lovemaking and went through a big "identity crisis." You see, I held an erection throughout the petting stage, but when we were ready to attempt intercourse, I found my penis to be in a condition of rigidity similar to that of a damp washcloth. At the time I was rather inexperienced, this being my first actual attempt at sexual intercourse, and it frustrated me a great deal. Actually this turned out to be somewhat of an advantage, however, as we were then forced to experiment with other forms of sexual stimulation. We gained a good deal of experience in cunnilingus, fellatio, and stimulation of the genitals by manipulation with our fingers as a result, experience which I am very grateful for.
It happened the summer after my junior year in high school. My boyfriend was someone whom I had been going with for about two years at the time, and he was the same age as I was. He started to French kiss and soon started fondling my breasts. I remember that he was very slow and gentle that night in every move he made, and we both seemed to be in a daze. Then I felt him unzip my jeans and felt him start to caress my genitals, kissing me the whole time. We both started breathing harder and heavier and he started kissing me everywhere. This went on for a few minutes, and then all of a sudden it hit me what was happening. I jumped away from him and yelled at him to stop; I just started sobbing uncontrollably. I didn't want him to touch me at all; I just wanted him to leave me alone. I'll never forget the look of confusion and hurt on his face. I was so upset. I felt so shameful and cheap. Everything was racing through my mind--things that I had been taught, my morals, ideas that he would lose respect for me, everything. All I wanted to do was go home. I just wanted to get away from there, and away from him for the time being.
My first real sexual encounter was when I was a sophomore in high school. I was going with the star athlete on the basketball and the football teams. I was his girl when he had time to date, and that was on and off for about two years. I had never been sexually interested in anyone before. One night he began unbuttoning my blouse, and I cringed as I felt his warm hands on my breasts, yet I soon became more relaxed and almost enjoyed it. He had been around and his patience sexually with me was wearing thin. Yet thoughts of getting pregnant almost became a nightmare. All I could think about was that one thing often leads to another. He manipulated my hands and the next thing I knew I was grasping and fondling his genitals, as he was mine. I enjoyed it somewhat, yet felt embarrassed and cried from guilt afterward. I never felt that sex was natural. In later dates, the more I enjoyed petting, the more I was guilty and cried. One night he ejaculated and I almost had a nervous breakdown, we were too young to get married, yet I was so afraid of possibly having intercourse, that I decided that we shouldn't see each other for a while.
Since this experience in my junior year of high school was my first parking experience, I was very nervous. We started kissing and we both became excited. We began to hug and deeply kiss each other, which led me to my first actual sexual contact. I unbuttoned the blouse and felt her breasts. I guess it was because this was my first time, but her breasts seemed enormous. Well, as time went on, I slipped my hand up her dress and she put her hand in my pants. By this time I was really excited and was really breathing hard. I finally got to her underwear and I found it all wet. As I touched her wetness I had a strange thought, I had better not touch her there because I can get syphilis. I guess with the way I was brought up, this could be my only reaction. I pulled my hand out and petted her through the material of her dress. All of a sudden I could feel my pulse and my penis start to throb. I had my first ejaculation. I guess I had a few wet dreams before this time, but none that I experienced while I was awake. At the time though, it kind of felt good, but it was very embarrassing. When it was all over, I kissed her a few times, then I suggested I better take her home. We kissed goodnight, and I went home to get out of my wet pants. As I look back several years on this first sexual experience, several things stand out in my mind. First of all, the thought of syphilis really seems dumb, but since my parents are sort of the Victorian type, I guess I was taught to associate sex with disease. Secondly, she seemed to have experienced sex before. She seemed to know how to French kiss (she taught me), and how to make me feel good. Thirdly, as I think about the experience, I could kick myself for thinking what I did, and missing such a great girl.
In the following case, it is not the taboo on coitus but religious proscriptions against dancing and movies that make petting a valued dating activity. Peer example and acceptance of the youth culture standard of permissiveness-with-affection help to make petting seem all right for the reluctant adolescent.
She, a beautiful, a deeply religious girl a little older than I, was the first girl that I actually petted. Since she was forbidden to dance or go to movies because of her strict religious beliefs, the activities became quite limited. Therefore, we ended up parking a great deal.
He progressed to going under my clothes. I felt it was wrong, but I loved him so much that I didn't want him to stop.
Twenty percent of the older boys in the Ramsey (1943) sample had petted to climax without having coitus. Most of them reported that this eliminated the nervous tension that usually accompanies heavy petting in which there is no orgasm. The following cases deal with the phenomenon of petting to orgasm. The first erection, orgasm, and ejaculation in a petting situation often come as a complete surprise, and cause some doubt and embarrassment to the inexperienced dater.
We parked for hours, had no clothes on, and experimented with about everything. I really think he was too dumb to know how to go about it. We both got excited and he had his climax, but we never even knew through instinct or knowledge what had to be done.
Lying side by side she, moved her thigh up between mine. I felt embarrassed that she was feeling my erect penis. She moved her body and I experienced orgasm and ejaculation almost immediately. I did not know what we had done. The joy of it at the moment was replaced by doubts about her and questions about myself.
Almost before I realized what had happened, he was lying on top of me. This realization seemed to hit me like a flash of lightning, and my first thought was, 'My god, what am I doing!' Still, I made no attempt to get up, for I kept hearing, 'Don't be afraid, I'm not going to try anything.' After probably a minute or two, he found it necessary to ejaculate. My feelings were a sort of combination between repulsiveness and pleasure.
She is an excellent French kisser, and seems to enjoy it, and almost always initiates that before I even get there. And this in my case results in an orgasm.
At the time this experience first started, I was seventeen and she was fifteen. It seems that at the end of the nights we spent together, we would end up on the davenport. This, then, was the desire we each had for each other. We would fondle, kiss, and caress each other. On some occasions, I would either kiss or fondle her breasts. She was stimulated the most from this fondling and caressing. She had orgasms, for she would pant and groan heavily, and would also arch her back. She would also put her arms around me and hold on to me very tightly. As for myself, the greatest satisfaction I had is when I either kissed or fondled her breasts. The result of this was orgasm, ejaculation, and sexual satisfaction. The farther along in the relationship, the more intimate we got. We also went through French kissing. This started as a result of gum. I would have a stick of gum in my mouth and I would release it in her mouth. After it was in her mouth, our tongues went in each other's mouths. The result of this is that we held each other tighter. She mentioned that the relationship for her was the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to her. I can also say the same thing. It is something you have to experience, because there are no words to express the feelings involved in a relationship in which love is so vivid.
We would pet to orgasm four or five times a week, and maybe even more.
Adults who have had experience with the progression in sexual intimacy to the point of coitus are sometimes incredulous at the amount of opportunity and stimulation teenagers can permit themselves without engaging in coitus. Inexperience, fear, and guilt are major inhibiting factors.
There were several instances when we ended up in either my bed or his when our parents weren't home. The fear of someone walking in always took away some of the pleasure I might have received from the situation.
We slept together. That means just what is said. We did not do anything sexually, but simply slept together. I would have loved nothing better than to give myself to him completely and to take all of him. But by this time I had come to realize the meaning and importance of sex, and we knew that if it was God's will, we would marry some day, and then we could have each other.
We undressed each other until we were naked. Still petting heavily, I found myself in a situation in which I wanted to have sexual intercourse with her and I know she wanted it too. She pulled me on top of her. I was petrified with the thought of coitus at this point, and I remember thoughts ran through my head: I was only a senior in high school and she a sophomore; I didn't have the slightest idea as to what period her menstrual cycle was in, and I knew I didn't want to get her pregnant, so I backed off.
Girls are commonly reluctant to caress and fondle boys' genitals, but some couples release sexual tension through masturbation or mutually masturbating each other. Again there is apt to be some anxiety involved. Simulated coitus (humping) serves the same purpose.
He had me begin to get used to his penis by having me occasionally touching it and by my being aware of the fact of masturbation. Sometimes he masturbated in my presence, but I was too embarrassed to watch.
At first, for some reason, I disliked caressing the male organ even though it was carried on outside his clothes. When he took my hand and placed it on himself, I withdrew it. I just couldn't get used to it, but finally it became routine like everything else. He would often guide me on how to move my hand so he would get the most pleasure possible. It wasn't long before this type of play became outdated, and the next stop was for me to put my hand under his clothes to fondle him. Handling the male penis was something that I had never done before, and the whole experience was something very unique. This direct caressing turned him on much quicker. Several times he became overly aroused and he would have an ejaculation, but I was always understanding, and this never seemed to embarrass either of us. Many times his fondling would give me the most odd and unexplainable feelings in my body. Whenever I felt this way I always took hold of myself until I cooled off.
Can a girl have a climax through petting? Yes, if you masturbate her. I have done this. They never object. I got a hand job when I went out with a girl that I had intercourse with. Girls think it is quite revolting. They think it is all right for me to do but not vice versa. I thought if I was willing to do it to them, why not the other way?
By the end of the senior year, his position on top of me with all our clothes on was standard behavior in our moments of passion. He massaged my breasts and I worked his penis to a climax and ejaculation, as well.
We had seen all parts of each other's bodies at one time or another, but we never undressed completely in fear that someone might come home. Our parents never left us alone in the house for very long. We began petting to orgasm; we began engaging in 'humping.'
Most girls in our middle-class neighborhood, will, in the vernacular, put out but not put down. In other words, they will put out in the sense of petting and all sorts of genital manipulations, etc., but will not put down or have actual intercourse. Most of them are virgins, which is true of the whole area. If someone wants to get something, in other words, have intercourse, you don't go around in your home area.
I used to go with one of the girls in my crowd, and we used to do a semi-grind--standing close together and rubbing our genital areas together thereby stimulating my penis to her pubic bone to the point of my having an ejaculation. This was done with all our clothes on.
We always seemed to run into trouble with her menstrual cycle. We had become used to being alone and making out, so that we had trouble adjusting to the situation. Our mutual desire for sex brought us to masturbation. The first time things were very shaky. She was very scared that it was not normal. That solved our problem of what to do during her period.
Fifty-two percent of all adolescents in the United States have had coitus--59 percent of the boys and 45 percent of the girls. Thirty-seven percent have had coitus by age fifteen, 64 percent of those sixteen to nineteen years of age have experienced coitus (Sorensen, 1973, p. 122).
At each stage of greater involvement in sexual intimacy, we have reported the new experience as being an awesome one. The most awesome first sexual experience of all is apt to be first coitus because of the strong taboos within adult culture--the "loss of virginity," because it involves nude genital intimacy and body penetration, because potentially it involves pain (as well as pleasure), because of fear of pregnancy, and fear of contracting venereal disease.
That night was a horrible experience for both of us. We were both afraid, and I was so over-anxious. There was not much foreplay. Eventually it became so painful for her, we did not even finish. We went straight home. The next day found both of us filled with guilt feelings.
Sorensen reports that boys rehearse first coitus over and over again in their fantasies, while girls seldom plan ahead (Sorensen, 1973, p. 191); but it is difficult to generalize. Some cases of first coitus are carefully planned, some are quite spontaneous and happen after limited contact or coercion, while others occur only after lengthy communication and a decision jointly arrived at.
Our first sexual intercourse was for the most part a spontaneous action, which is supported by the fact that she was in her menstrual period. There was little verbal coercion involved.
As soon as we got inside the house, our bodies came together and for a moment we stood there kissing. Without ever saying a word we went into one of the bedrooms and fell on the bed. There was brief petting until I situated myself so that my penis was near the opening of her vagina, and gave a light pelvic thrust. She grabbed tighter, but didn't say anything. The motions of our bodies caused deeper penetration. As this happened she gasped several times, and tried to pull herself closer. As I tried to partially withdraw I reached orgasm. We lay in each other's grasp until after dark. We watched a movie on TV that night, and never once did we speak about what had happened that afternoon.
In the following case, intimacy has progressed over a long period of time, and the "foreplay" is so daring and so stimulating that first coitus is almost a foregone conclusion.
I was really going strong with a fine girl at the time, and after going out with her for about nine months, we had done almost everything except to have intercourse. Finally we did have intercourse; it came about this way: She came to my house one summer night. I was feeling horny as usual. My parents were just leaving as she arrived. She said hi, and we talked for a while. Never one to miss an opportunity I said, sort of jokingly, that tonight would be a great night for swimming nude in our swimming pool. She said that I'd never dare, etc., and we flung insults at each other all the way to the pool. Well, neither of us was too eager to strip down in front of the other (probably not so much out of modesty as out of not wanting to appear too forward). Finally I suggested that we sit at opposite sides of the pool and strip. This we did, and after swimming around for a while we met and embraced in the middle of the pool. Kneeling on the bottom with head and shoulders above water we kissed for a while, with her vulva resting on my penis. It was quite erotic to say the least. Anyway, I finally told her that we'd better split because I knew if I stayed much longer I would definitely have to have intercourse or die. She said okay, and that my parents were coming home so why didn't we leave. We drove around for a while, and then parked out in a field. I had a blanket, so we lay on it for a while, and pretty soon we were both mostly undressed and feeling extremely horny again. I told her that it was just incredible in the pool, and that I'd really wanted to have intercourse with her. She said (to my utter amazement at the time) that she wanted to have it too, and that today was the first day after her period. She'd read somewhere that the first three or four days were almost always safe (an allusion to the rhythm method I guess). I said I had read that somewhere too, and did she still want to have intercourse. She nodded silently, and we had intercourse. I was freaking out and, much to my later disgust, mostly concerned with myself. She lay passively, and it took me a long time for me to ejaculate by my own motion; meanwhile she was having quite a bit of pain, as it was her first time too. So there I was, eighteen and no longer branded with that terrible label, virgin. The early effects were mainly that I felt guilty that I had satisfied my own 'lust' while she was in pain, and that nagging little possibility of getting her pregnant. The first was soon okay in my mind as I apologized to her, and she told me 'not to let it bother me'; and the second worry was over after her next period. Other than those two things, I was pretty happy, glad that she wanted to have intercourse with me, glad that I was no longer a virgin.
Almost uncontrollable desire, love for each other, the desire to "prove their love," to do the other a favor, and the fact that others are doing it, are factors used to justify coitus.
The petting got heavier and harder to stop. It was also hard to understand why we should stop, especially when we knew that several of the couples we doubled with were having intercourse and that their relationships seemed to be profiting from it. We talked about it many times, and every time it seemed a little more right. It seemed to be the way we were looking for to express and communicate our feelings for each other. We tried not being alone together for a few weeks, but that was unsatisfactory to both of us. Right before graduation, we had a long and serious talk about it. Right or wrong, we thought we knew what we wanted. We were almost obsessed by the idea; it seemed to be always in the back of our minds. We believed that if fulfillment would eliminate the tension and anxiety that we felt when we were alone, it would be worth all the chance we would be taking. We rationalized by deciding that if anything unexpected should happen, we would be able to handle it, since we would be graduating very soon. We tried to justify our decision by saying that we were doing it out of love and with sincere attitude. We also thought about being a thousand miles away from each other when we went to school (college), and there seemed to be a great deal more in favor of our being intimate than against it. We went through with our plans, and it all seemed so wonderful at the time.
Each time we were together, I knew we were approaching a time when neither of us would be able or willing to control our passionate emotions toward each other. Finally, he could stand the frustration no longer, and said we could both prove our love by having intercourse. I consented to his demand. I can still picture how actually frightened we both were. That first attempt was definitely unsuccessful, but in the many months following, it became a natural and wonderful occurrence for us.
I dated my girlfriend about once a week, and saw her one other night a week, for about two months. Necking and petting grew increasingly more passionate during this time, resulting in my attempting intercourse. I was--to my surprise--however, stopped. She said that she did not want to get pregnant, and I accepted this as a good reason. The next day I purchased three rubber prophylactics from a friend of mine who worked in a gas station. That night in her house again (her parents were gone)--I attempted intercourse again. I was completely shocked and very enraged to be stopped again at the last second. I indicated that if she did not cooperate we were through. Well, this worked pretty good, and she literally attacked me and we had sexual intercourse--with no love, at least on my part, involved. Shortly afterwards (two days to be exact), having declared our love for each other, we had sexual intercourse again--but with love involved this time. There was no comparison between the first and this time. This time it was an enjoyable and rewarding experience. We continued having intercourse (on every occasion using a prophylactic) for the rest of the school year and through summer vacation, at a frequency of about 0 to 4 times a week. But even when she did not reach orgasm, she seemed to be satisfied or happy. Probably she liked to make me happy. When she did not reach orgasm, we would often have intercourse shortly later, and I would concentrate on lasting long enough so that she would be able to reach orgasm. Coitus was for us very enjoyable, and brought us even closer together.
Adolescent boys not infrequently date a girl with a reputation for sexual permissiveness for the purpose of engaging in coitus. Sorensen classified 69 percent of all adolescent girls in the United States as "sexual adventurers" (Sorensen, 1973, p. 249). Twenty-four percent of all boys are "sexual adventurers." Sorensen defines an adventurer as one who moves freely from one partner to another, and who feels no obligation to be faithful to any sex partner (Sorensen, 1973, p. 121).
Sometimes guys would remark right in class, "Well, Betty, I can take you out tonight." All the guys would laugh, and the girls would turn red. These kids were considered as such, and no one felt much about it--not meaning it was right, but that there will always be people like this.
She does on her first date what it would normally take a decent date ten dates to do. She's got hot hands. She pets easily.
It depends on the guy. If I'd had more time in high school, I could have screwed maybe ten more. I made five. Three of them were virgins. Some of the guys in high school don't have the courage to do it. Some guys do.
I first had intercourse at about the age of sixteen. I did this out of spite and betrayal. I had been going with a girl from another part of the city--a lower class, white section. I treated this girl with respect and had trusted her. Although not too intelligent, she was warm and nice, I thought, and we just made out. For example, we did this when she was baby-sitting. However, she had been going to bed with other guys when I was not around. When I found out, I decided to have intercourse with her, and afterward I broke up with her. I was not worried about not knowing the right techniques even though I had not done it before, because I knew where everything was. She got her moans and groans out of it. I considered myself quite tolerant and believe that everybody in entitled to a mistake, but her promiscuity and betrayal of my trust overshadowed everything else.
Gonorrhea was not the only thing I got from first intercourse. We had a bet, you know; the first guy that gets it would get a quart of beer from everybody. Well, there were three or four guys running around getting it, and I was the first one to let it out in the open, so I collected. I wasn't the first guy; there were about two or four guys, I don't know, but I was the first one who came out and said it. You know, it didn't involve any names or reputations. These others were their girlfriends while I had been with a "degenerate." She gave me gonorrhea, that's what she did--Jesus Christ!! I went to a doctor and got shots, penicillin shots. It was cured after a week. I didn't tell my parents because I didn't feel it was necessary, but finally I told my father because, actually, I needed financial aid. It was going to cost twenty-three dollars, and he is very understanding, you know? Like my mother is a very old-fashioned Norwegian Lutheran with whom sex is just taboo. But this cleared up in two weeks, so there was no worries... It just ruined me because you can't pick up a virgin because you might get her pregnant; you can't pick up a pig because you got some disease. You know, and it sort of shakes you!
Often the boy justifies his coitus with an "easy lay" by asserting that he does it at least in part out of respect for his girlfriend who desires to remain a virgin.
Not only did I want to raise a ruckus with the boys once in a while, I also wanted to experience sexual pleasure apart from my steady girlfriend. The reason I wanted outside sexual pleasure was because of the love and respect I had for her. I knew she wanted to remain a virgin, and I wanted her to, but the more serious we got, the more intimate we became. We talked about our sex relation often, and she was confident that she could hold back her sexual drive. I was confident that I couldn't hold back any longer. I was at a point where it was affecting my life, not only with her, but also with my family and friends. I decided, after long and hard thought, that it was time to find sexual outlet without hurting her. This is when the episode started. My friend and I were playing catch with a football when he noticed two shapely girls. In no time flat, we had dates with them for that night... The parking spot ended up being a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. I stopped the car, we talked for a few minutes, she moved closer, and we started kissing. She started French kissing almost immediately. In less than ten minutes, I had my hand under her sweater and inside her bra... I was becoming very excited and could feel that she was too. We were lying down on the seat undulating together and panting heavily. I was just about to unzip her slacks when she stopped and looked at me. I looked back bewildered. Then she told me she was in her period; and that she was sorry. I was disappointed, but there was nothing I could do anyway... I decided to go back again next week. I rang her doorbell, and she invited me in to meet her parents. They were nice people, and they seemed to take an interest in their daughter's dating. I couldn't understand where they had failed and why their daughter was a bad girl. We excused ourselves and headed out to the dirt road. I stopped the car and we started 'making out.' I was going crazy and out of control. Now came the real challenge, trying to act experienced when I really wasn't. I knew she was much more experienced than I was by the way she helped me. She groaned and told me to put it in slowly so I did. When I got the whole penis in, my whole body was wet with perspiration. I could have had my climax any time I wanted, but I tried to hold back because I wanted to keep this extremely exciting state as long as I could. Suddenly I couldn't hold my sperm back any longer. I started to ejaculate. I lost all control of my senses. It must have been at least 15 minutes before I regained them. I helped her get dressed and then pulled her up. Suddenly she asked me a question that I should have been ready for, but I wasn't. She asked me if I loved her. I didn't know what to say. She repeated the question again. I said I didn't know. Then she said if I didn't know, why did we have intercourse. Now I was really flustered, and I didn't want to start saying things I didn't mean, so I kept quiet. I turned to the front, got behind the wheel, and opened a window, because it stank in there, started the car, and drove her home. I walked her to her door, said goodnight, ran back to the car, and sped home. I thought about the incident all night, and finally came to the conclusion that I would go back there again... It ended up that I went to see her once a week. I enjoyed every time I went to see her, but I was becoming less involved while she was becoming more involved. I kept telling her that the only reason I came to see her was to have intercourse. She would just reply, 'I hope you change your mind some day.' I finally decided to finish it the next time I went to see her. I told her it was all over. She told me she expected it. I took her home, kissed her at the door, said goodbye, and never talked to her or saw her again. I was pleased that it was ended, but I had one task left, and that was to tell my girlfriend about the whole episode. The next night I did tell her. It was the saddest thing I ever did in my life. She cried like a baby when I told her. I didn't leave anything out either. I wanted to let her think it over alone, so I took her home. She wouldn't talk to me for three days, but on the fourth day, she asked if she could see me that night. When I picked her up, she sat as far away as she could. She didn't say a word until I parked. She looked over at me with tears in her eyes and said, "I love you, respect you, and I understand." She burst out crying. I jumped over to her and held her like I never did before. I couldn't begin to explain to her how truly sorry I was for hurting her, and how much closer I felt to her now. And so my episode ended.
Male companions are often the prod that motivates the inexperienced boy to have his first coital experience. A minority of adolescent boys are actually introduced to coitus through a group experience, a so-called "gang bang."
One companion taunted me, suggesting that perhaps I didn't know what I was bragging about. He suggested that I would even be afraid to approach the local high school 'downer.' My other companions took up the chant with the result being that I accepted the challenge. They drove me to her home where I proceeded to invite her for a ride. My companions drove us to a secluded spot and then vacated the car and stood a short distance away. I had made a few fumbling passes when the girl, obviously amused, grasped my penis. This excited me to the extent that I started to undress her despite several weak protests that she uttered. I then undressed myself and attempted to experience intercourse, but, much to my embarrassment, I really didn't know how to go about it. At this point, the girl realized my problem and inserted my penis into her vagina with her own hands. After this incident for several days I was a very big man-about-town.
During high school days, several older friends rented an apartment, which also doubled as an ideal party place. Many occasions there were parties, with drinking of alcoholic beverages, and lots of dates, along with sexual play. On this particular night, however, there were a bunch of guys sitting around drinking. After a few beers, the boys decided that it was time to call a particular girl who was known as the 'ninch,' short for nymphomaniac. She had been the sexual partner of the guys living in the apartment on several occasions. The call was quickly answered, and she was there within the hour. She was greeted by eight nude and horny young men. Most of us just sat around and giggled and told dirty jokes while she also undressed and joined the party. After a few beers, the so-called leader of the group decided that there had been enough foreplay and proceeded to ball the girl on the living room rug, right before the bug-eyed seven remaining men. While the more inexperienced, me included, sat around awe struck, the older more mature members of the party had already started off to count for seconds, thirds, etc., etc. Rather than be a party pooper I felt that I would also join in the games. The gang bang then moved to the bedroom where each individual could establish his one-to-one relationship with her. As my number finally rolled around, I was beginning to weigh the effects of the upcoming event. Should a fine upstanding lad like me take a chance of ruining my reputation with some low blow slut, or should I just go ahead and have my fun? My soul searching was finally answered by the satisfied looks of my friends and the pounding in my loins. I was horny, and she was more than willing. The act was culminated quickly by my climax, her douche, and then the next fellow. This went on for quite a while, with some of the guys seeking seconds and thirds. Due to the fact that she was not attractive and not really desirable, I passed on my remaining turns. An experience such as this, with an ugly slut, would lead one to believe that sex of this type can some ways be good and bad. The good thing is that I can ball her and never really care if I see her again. While the bad points are that it is a rotten piece of ass combined with the fact that she may have a disease, which on a later date was found to be so by a few of the fellows present that night. In concluding, one must surmise, however, that it is better to have balled and got the clap than never to have balled.
The male is more willing, initially at least, to engage in oral-genital relations than is the female. According to Kinsey (1948, p. 510), a "considerable portion" of males actually attempt auto-fellation, at least in early adolescence. But it is anatomically impossible for all except a small percentage of males. Oral-genital activity is not as prevalent in adolescent dating as is petting, heavy petting, or coitus. Many couples never engage in oral-genital sex, and an even smaller number ever engage in sexual intimacy directly involving the anus.
My steady began desiring different outlets, such as oral-genital contacts. I was a confirmed believer that anything other than sexual intercourse was against the will of God, and that it made sex dirty. He was filled with curiosity as both of us had been in the past; but the problem here was that I did not share the curiosity and need for experimentation this time. This was the first time we disagreed sexually, and the conflict itself was quite violent.
While kissing her in the area of the breasts and stomach, I decided to try oral-genital stimulation. In making my way to the genital area, the thoughts crossed my mind that this is really against moral rules, and what if I found either the odor or taste revolting. Once in the area, I found the girl to be urging me to go on and I found it to be very stimulating for the girl and that it had a stimulating effect on myself also. During the next few heavy petting sessions, I used oral-genital stimulation regularly, and finally during one session she stimulated me through oral-genital means.
We were engaging in heavy petting until there was nothing left but intercourse. It was during this state when I engaged in cunnilingus with my girl. This was the first time that I had experienced this action, and the sensation of it aroused my girl so much that she went into a state of semi-orgasm. From this date to the present, our kissing and embracing always end up with 'heavy petting' of the genital area.
If a relationship is to progress from less to more advanced stages of intimacy, it is necessary that one partner take some aggressive action to move the relationship along, since each advance does not come automatically in activity involving so much awe and trauma. The adolescent male is more often the sexual aggressor than is the female. The following cases illustrate the various techniques and procedures employed by sexually aggressive adolescent males.
One time out in the barn, I (a girl) was doing some chores when my cousin came in, and, as I stood there, he zipped down my jacket, felt of my breasts, and asked me, 'Do you want to?' I remember the thought, 'Want to what?' running through my mind. I stammered out a 'No!' and he left.
I was even so 'low' as to tell her that I loved her because I discovered that it was a quick way of turning her on.
My intentions for her were the same as I had planned for all the girls since I broke with my steady, that was to go as far as possible; in other words, she was a 'hump or dump' sort of date.
I began to spend more and more time trying to contrive a plan to get her trust so she would permit me to de-virginize her. Finally things began to look up for me. She and I had been parking. I completely stripped her and tried to make love to her, but again she cried and refused. After a few histrionics, I feigned repentance and said, "You're right and I'm wrong. I shouldn't ask you to prove yourself." When I said this, she threw her arms around me, and cried, saying, 'Now I know you love me, honey. Please stop the car--I'm not afraid anymore.' Thus she and her virginity were soon parted.
She was not willing sexually a long time. I would have to park at nine and maybe by midnight I would be able to play with her breasts.
We (a girl of fourteen and a boy of sixteen) progressed from making out sitting up, to lying down, to humping, to petting, then it ended with the clothes off and finger fucking, so they call it. I also stimulated him, very crudely though, for I didn't know what to do and he did not inform me on what to do. There were times during our nine months of dating when I just didn't feel like having sex. He would become very mad and just continue no matter what I did. He would pump his index finger in and out of my vagina with force. I would go "ah, you're hurting me" but he would get mad at me. As you can see, he was very demanding and what he wanted, he received. Believe it or not, the relationship ended without intercourse, but I feel it had a very damaging effect on my feelings toward sex.
Two boys, whom we knew but were older than we were, drove by and asked if we wanted to ride home. Daringly, we said yes, and got in. Finally, we brought my girlfriend home, and then the other boy. My turn was next, but my 'date' did not head toward my house. Before I knew what was happening, he was begging me and saying those words that I will never forget, 'Please, it will be all right; I have all the equipment; nothing can happen.'
I thought that it was time I lost my virginity. Most of the friends I had were not virgins, and to me it was degrading to still be considered a virgin. So through curiosity, a little physical desire, and a lot of group pressure, I had a friend fix me up with a girl whose reputation as a one-nighter was well confirmed. She was what was termed in high school, 'a one night stand.' Well, I took her out, lost my virginity...
After a boy has reached a certain degree of lovemaking with one girl, he is frustrated somewhat unless he can reach the same level with the next girl he goes with. He must either wait and teach his present girl slowly, or he must learn to live with his frustration.
He said he wanted to get all the parking in that he could before winter set in because his lips always got too chapped to park in the winter. Needless to say I was somewhat ticked because, for one thing, I had not worked all day getting ready to park, plus, to me, his reasoning leading up to parking seemed rather asinine.
Anxiety and guilt about aggression is more common for girls than for boys (Maccoby, 1966, p. 326). Women in the United States, while less aggressive sexually than males, may nevertheless expect and desire male sexual aggression.
I felt most fortunate to be shown such respect, but I often wished that he would take more initiative. I wanted him to be just a bit more aggressive so that I would have to tell him no. There seemed to be something very romantic about a boy so filled with desire that the girl would have to tell him to stop.
Females, including adolescents, are sometimes sexually aggressive.
I was a junior at a military academy. Girls would come up on chartered buses from their respective girls' schools for occasional dances. Many of these were so love-starved that they would almost rape their dates. I believe the main force that made them act this way was that the schools that they attended were too strict, and therefore when they got to the academy and were free, they just let themselves go. The boys were all on the lookout for one good night, and anyone who could procure condoms was a much sought after person.
She once argued that she wanted a 'hickey' because one of her girlfriends had them all over her neck.
She would wear this real loose, low-neck blouse to dance in when I came over, and would always lean over and give me a full-sized view of her breasts whether I wanted to look or not.
She wore a particularly low-cut dress that night. I remember telling her that she had better not let me drink any of the beer that I had gotten, or I would probably rape her. She laughed and said she'd enjoy it.
One night at a dance, I was just standing there talking with a bunch of friends, and the girl I had just danced with up and said, "He's going to fuck me tonight." This floored everyone, especially myself. When we went out and parked, I found out that she meant what she said.
Birthdays are nice, but birthday presents are better. I received my best present to date, when I was about seventeen years old. I had known this young lady for some months so she knew that I had a birthday soon. She wasn't my girlfriend, but we were somewhat "sweet" on one another. She asked me to come to her house after school that day, so I did. When I got there I realized that we were alone. I asked her when her parents would get home and she said very late. I had been around awhile you see so I had a very good idea as to what was going down. I found out about twenty minutes later exactly what was going down; her clothing and mine. We talked about my "present" afterwards... I can't really say if she enjoyed it as much as I did.
This chick had the hots for me and I was too dumb to know it. As we watch the idiot box she starts playing with my hair (not pubic, yet), which was long for the time. I was really wondering what was happening. I thought we were just going to watch the tube and there she was kissing me. Now it's time for the big move. She asked me if I would do something for her to make her very happy. And I said sure just so it doesn't take long because I should get home so mommy and daddy wouldn't worry. She said they won't worry and besides when you got home you'll be a man. So off to the bedroom we went. She then asked me to take off her clothes, where upon I freaked out but did it anyway (I wanted to make her happy). Then she took off mine. Ever so slowly at first. One button at a time and when the shirt was off she run her fingers through my hairy chest (I was sixteen). Then the pants, first the belt and then the zipper. I then took off my pants and she got on her knees to check out my penis. A few flops with her warm soft hands and instant freak out and hard on. She commented on how lovely my penis was, not too big yet not too small. She then pulled me into bed and told me to hold and caress her body. Every once in a while I would ask, "now what?," but I think my natural feeling had taken over, she told me to enjoy myself and man I was just diggin' it. After fifteen or twenty minutes of playing around she spread her legs and directed my penis into her vagina. I had lost my virginity. She was an excellent teacher. A few months later I found out that my deflowering was a well laid play (bad pun) by three girls, and I had taken it hook, line and sinker.
We sat in the car on our first date talking for a while and I put my arm around her. She immediately put her hand on my thigh. Being quite surprised and a little excited, I began to kiss her. I never met a girl who was so passionate. The next half hour consisted of heavy petting above and below the waist and included her putting her hand in my pants and rubbing my penis.
Female Strategy--Aggressive initiation of coitus
I tried, rather awkwardly, to move into a position more suitable for mutual contact; I was clumsy and she moved away, ordering me to lie on my back. Then to my amazement, she sat astride me, grasped my overheated penis as if it were a door handle, and in a rather businesslike way, lowered herself onto it. I had penetrated her--or had been used by her for penetration.
Situations and settings are especially important for adolescents because of the desire and the need for privacy. Such settings include: the unattended home, the automobile, the out of doors, and the hotel, among others. Most have first coitus in either their own home or their first sex partner's home (Sorensen, 1973, p. 192). The conditions for or props to adolescent erotic play, such as suggestive dress, suggestive talk, suggestive songs, and dancing, are also important supporting elements. We look first at the unattended home; the common setting for erotic play among adolescents.
When I was in eighth grade I began dating a boy who was a year older than I... One afternoon he invited me to come over to his house, as his parents and the rest of the family had gone away for the day. I told my parents I was going over to a girlfriend's house, and then proceeded to ride my bike over to his house. After I had been there awhile we began kissing, which was nothing unusual as we had often kissed before. But the longer we kissed the more excited he became. I had never seen him this way before and as naive as I was, couldn't figure out why he was breathing so heavy. Before long he had managed to get me to lie down, with him on top of me. His penis had become hard and he was moving back and forth. I really didn't know what was happening, so I just lay there, never moving. The pressure of his weight and the hardness of his penis made the position very uncomfortable for me. I was actually in pain. But besides being very uncomfortable, I couldn't figure out what this hard bone was that was cutting me. I had no idea that the penis ever became hard, and the thought that it might be his penis never even entered my mind. When I asked him to please get off me, he couldn't understand why I hadn't received any enjoyment from this act. The thought of having a boy climb on top of me ever again made me ill. I could see no enjoyment in it at all and preferred to merely kiss. I thought that a boy was terribly selfish to ask a girl to do something like that, which was so painful. None of my friends ever talked about a penis, it was just one of those things you never mentioned. To talk about a penis would have meant you had a dirty mind.
My girlfriend's parents were out of town for the weekend. After the typical ritual of kissing and heavy petting she and I retired to the bedroom. We had gone this route several times before.
My parents had gone out for the night. She and I went over to my house and went to bed. This encounter was more enjoyable than the first because we didn't have any clothes to get in our way, and we were in a more comfortable position in bed.
We celebrated our first "going steady" anniversary. My brother was at Bible camp. My sister was out of town. He came over one afternoon to take me water-skiing. I wasn't ready yet, so he came in my bedroom while I finished dressing. He began kissing my neck and then undressed me and carried me to the bed. He undressed me quickly--I remember the shock of seeing his body naked. I lay there watching him. He's very muscular, and for the first time I realized the male physique to be very beautiful. I gave little thought to what would happen. From the look in his eyes I knew.
Two weeks in August my parents were on a vacation, and during these two weeks the relationship reached a climax. Several times she stopped by the house in the morning. All of these morning visits resulted in very passionate petting in bed.
My parents left town for the weekend and I had a party. As the night progressed we ended up in the bedroom. We started petting, but I could see this wasn't enough for me. I started to undress her very slowly until she was in the nude. I undressed quickly and we began to neck. She was beginning to breathe heavily. I rolled on top of her and slowly started to insert my penis into her vagina. She was startled at first, but by then it was too late. I achieved orgasm, and rolled off completely exhausted. She was a bit upset at first, but that soon passed. Neither of us had any guilt feelings in respect to our act and our sexual life continued on a high scale of action. This was my first experience with sexual intercourse and I found it to be most enjoyable.
I lived with my boyfriend for the length of time my parents were gone last summer. He was in his mid-twenties and I had just graduated from high school. My parents were on vacation, therefore giving me the run of the house for six weeks. My boyfriend moved in for the entire period of time my parents were gone, on my invitation. Before he moved in we had not been involved with each other sexually at all, he regarded himself as my big brother which I did not at all. By telling him that I was alone for a month and a half, I made it clear that I wanted him to live with me. During the day both of us worked and at night we would be at home. Right after work he and I would always do something--shopping, swimming, or bicycling--whatever it was, we would do it together. The sleeping arrangement started off with me in my room and him in my parent's room but it progressed with both of us sleeping in the nude in the king-size bed in the master bedroom.
The majority of adolescents like and respect their parents, though they do not regard them as liberal in their attitudes toward sexual behavior among adolescents (Sorensen, 1973, p. 63, 78). A minority of parents leave their teenagers with the impression that they at least tacitly encourage sexual permissiveness; others are very proscriptive even when they are absent from home.
Last year was the first time in my life that my mother and father ever let me stay at home alone. I had to make them a promise that no fellow would go within a block radius of my home. None ever did.
Her parents, in a spirit of confidence, left us alone at their cabin with the information that they wouldn't return until early the next morning. This fact in itself was enough to stimulate both of us to the point of spending the evening in bed together.
Use of cars for dating increases the teenager's dating situations, opportunities, and problems. The automobile provides almost unlimited freedom and scant adult supervision. The automobile is no recent appendage to high school dating, although greater availability of the family's automobiles, or the ownership of automobiles by large numbers of teenagers, is a contemporary aspect of the situation. An estimated one and a half million teenagers in the US own automobiles. The automobile was an appendage of adolescent dating even in "the olden days." The threat which the automobile presented to anxious parents in the 1920s is suggested by the fact that of thirty girls brought before the juvenile court in twelve months preceding September 1, 1924, in Middletown charged with "sex crimes," nineteen were listed as having committed the offense in an automobile (Lynd and Lynd, 1929, p. 258). The automobile appeared as a potential enemy of home and society. Today, 20 percent of adolescents report the automobile as the place of first coitus (Sorensen, 1973, p. 193).
The parent generation may see the automobile as a threat in adolescent dating; the adolescent sees the lack of an automobile as a greater problem.
In my junior year I did no dating for several reasons. One reason was that I had no driver's license. My parents had laid almost impossible conditions for my having a car of my own, and they also let me know that I would not be able to take the family car for dates.
It was quite important for the boys to either have their own cars, or be able to acquire one at any time it was needed. One could frequently hear a girl saying, "but he doesn't have a car."
The car was really the focal point of all these relationships. It naturally followed then that there was a great deal of parking. Everyone parked and it was for long hours.
When I was old enough to drive, the family car entered into the picture. This was probably the greatest advance in helping sex knowledge that ever came along.
In the winter of tenth grade he was sixteen and got his driver's license. We discovered the new freedom of parking.
"Parking" often follows some other event for which the date was ostensibly planned--a movie, a dance, or other. When both partners are willing to admit parking as a mutual motive for dating without another needed "excuse," a new benchmark is reached in the couple's intimacy. The following case illustrates several points: first, the recognition of the fact that they need no excuse for parking; and second, the importance of privacy and a mental state that accepts the intimacy as conditions for sexual intimacy.
On the way to a friend's party, we took a wrong turn and decided to skip the party and go parking instead. This was the first time we ever went parking without the excuse of going on a date first. I drove off the road behind some trees into a farmer's cornfield where I was sure we wouldn't be seen. After some perfunctory conversation we began to engage in typical "parking" activity. I was soon extremely aroused and emboldened enough to fondle some of the protrusions and contours of her body that I had been too timid to touch before. To my surprise she did not ask me to stop, but silently urged me on... Just as I was beginning to overcome my trepidation a car approached on the road with its horn blaring, it stopped and backed up so its lights shone through the trees directly at my car. Something similar to this soon happened with several other cars. The party was over. When everything was again quiet, my girlfriend started the angrily-seductive "I wish we were the only two people alive" invitation. She was obviously still very aroused. I was not; the outside world had crept between us. The difference was my conscience was now beginning to operate. The town, my family, moral indoctrination, fear of pregnancy, fear of marriage, all started to creep between my girlfriend and me. Social pressures, inexperience, and a strongly molded conscience prevented me from carrying out my first chance at intercourse.
The rented room--hotel or motel--is not a common setting for intimacy among high school-age adolescents. In the Sorensen study, for instance, no boys reported hotel or motel as the site of first coitus (Sorensen, 1973, p. 193). However, in the following case the senior class trip provides facilitating hotel accommodations. The high school in the United States has been one of the major institutions attempting to uphold traditional sexual values. But it is too much to ask that the chaperone of high school-sponsored activities maintain complete surveillance at all times, and surreptitious occasions for erotic encounters sometimes take place despite the best laid plans.
I was on the senior class trip, which went to Los Angeles and San Francisco. When we were in San Francisco we stayed in a hotel; there were two people in every room. One night, my roommate and I were awakened around 1:00 A.M. by two girls who were also on the trip. We had some cokes and played some cards and eventually we ended up going to bed with these two girls. This was the first time I had intercourse. This I remember as being one of my most memorable experiences. We stayed there all night; we did not even know the couple in the other bed existed. I had no guilt feelings during or after this experience; no one else knew what happened, so I did not have to worry about what other people thought. This girl that I was with told me she was on the pill so I did not have to worry about a pregnancy...
A considerable portion of adolescents have had some experience with drinking. In many youth circles, it is considered acceptable for below-age boys and girls to drink alcoholic beverages. Thus, drinking and sex are often related activities at young ages. Alcohol is believed to be useful as a means of emboldening the boy and rendering the girl more compliant to his advances.
I was thirteen and just out of eighth grade. She had enough to make her tight before we decided to go for a swim by ourselves. After much talk and the Scotch had time to reach her head and mine, we decided to swim in the nude. I had never been with a girl naked before, and the idea excited me greatly. After the initial embarrassment wore off, we just stood there and caressed each other for about half an hour. Then it dawned on us that we were cold and should get out. We agreed to dry each other and I proceeded first. I remember being amazed at her reaction when I dried her breasts, and how I did it again and again.
We had had a few drinks, which helped to relax us, and which does give me more courage. We both seemed to have the same idea that night. We had our first sexual intercourse.
One of the finest times we had together was when my parents were out of town and my steady slept overnight. It was planned that he would sleep in one room and I would sleep in another. I had been asleep for a couple of hours when he came in and woke me with a kiss. He had been drinking a little and was talking freely. He hopped in bed beside me, and we talked about the future together. Many secrets and inner desires were exchanged between us, which brought us very close together.
Accompanied by a case of beer and a couple of sleeping bags, we proceeded on an evening canoe trip. We paddled across the lake and set up camp. We drank and proceeded to our sleeping bags. I had never felt so comfortable in a boy's arms.
I was sixteen, a junior in high school, and drunk. He took complete advantage of the situation. He carried me to the bedroom, took off all of my clothes, and "made love" to me. The expression "made love" is for the lack of a better one, since it implies a combined effort that did not exist. I remember almost nothing about intercourse with him, except for three tiny scenes when I woke up: (1) when he was taking my clothes off; (2) when he was on top of me and spreading my legs; (3) when he was shaking me and saying that he loved me. The next morning I woke up in bed next to him. My first hangover and first intercourse in the same night was a terrible combination. My head was on the floor with my feet, my stomach was completely empty because I had been sick, and my pelvis, hips, vulva, and vaginal canal were so painful! I hated him that morning, and I went home to sleep and gather my thoughts. The short-range outcome of the experience was two very anxious and apprehensive weeks at camp until I got my period, a severed relationship with him, a despise for him and all boys, and a loss of self-esteem and confidence. I worried about my reputation for a while, and whether my friends knew of my sordid affair, and if that affected their feelings towards me. But I soon stopped worrying and everyone who knew forgot that they did. I guess time is every mistake's friend.
After a bit of drinking, we got bold and decided to go to the home of a girl with a known reputation.
The most delectable of boy-girl relations were the two or three couple all day-all night parties. If the parents were away, you could choose to make it an open house, or to call a pal and see if he could find a couple of girls who could stay out all night. You then proceeded to get enough liquor to last all night, and go out on a date, and come back home and dance and drink until you were morally unstable, and then you go into the bedroom to play house.
Everything was fine until we went out on a New Year's Eve and as one sometimes does, had a few too many drinks. Up till this time I had never tried to touch her physically for fear of her attitude towards sex. Then in one night everything changed and she was just another girl I had sexual intercourse with.
Enlivening the whole individual strengthens his sexual readiness (Taylor, 1933). Among primitive peoples, the coincidence of sexual activity with festal occasions is well known. Malinowski notes the sexual stimulation that comes to the Trobrianders with their festival dances; these people choose aesthetic surroundings for their sex play. Dancing is a popular teenage activity in the United States.
Most of my physical and emotional contact with girls came from dances. I often was physically aroused while dancing close on slow dances.
My God, did she dance close. She danced so close, and nibbled at my ear so hard that I eventually got a 'hard on.' After that experience I started wearing a jock to every dance I went to for a while.
We would dance as close as we possibly could, so that our bodies seemed fused into one. After an hour of this, we would both be pretty well charged, at least I was, and I have the feeling she was to a small degree, so we would head out to our favorite parking stop.
High school students in the United States have used various symbols to show their relationship status or their eligibility for a relationship. At various times and in various schools, rings, pins, bracelets, matching clothing, and other symbols and objects are used. The giving and the receiving of the object can greatly affect the relationship. It is also important in announcing the status to others and in receiving their favorable responses.
Most girls used to wear a strap around their ankle; around right ankles signifying they were available, around their left ankles signifying they were taken.
Class rings and identification bracelets were both very highly regarded objects. They both meant about the same thing. That you were going with a certain boy. Many times on the back of the bracelet there would be "love, Tom or Jane", whatever the situation called for.
Official going steady began with an exchange of rings. Following this, they occasionally appeared together in twin slacks and sweaters or shirt outfits.
I gave her a cross to wear around her neck as a birthday present, and she in turn gave it back to me to wear as a sign that we were steadies.
It was not acceptable to have intercourse unless you were going steady, designated by the giving of a ring or bracelet. That was the unwritten law of our peer group, and she wanted to stick by it, as she feared ostracism. The night I gave her my ring, we made love together. She seemed all at ease about it because of the ring; it was almost as though the ring was a permit to have intercourse.
On Valentine's Day, shortly after our class rings had come, he gave me his. It was so nice to have that big ring! I would talk to cheerleaders from other towns at the games and point out the owner on the basketball court. I guess I went steady so that I had a symbol that showed the public that "he is mine."
The boy's ring was generally worn on a girl's wedding ring finger to give it more significance.
We received all the congratulations of a newly married couple when I accepted his ring, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
The term "adolescent sterility" refers to relative rather than absolute sterility. That is, in relation to persons in their twenties, persons in their teens are often less fertile. Between the onset of menstruation and the first possible conception, there is usually an interval of about three or four years during which the female is relatively sterile. In boys, the first ejaculation--which corresponds to the first menstruation in girls--may be low in sperm, also indicating relative sterility (Montagu, October 1963). There are known cases in which fertile eggs are produced and pregnancies occur before menstruation has begun for the human female, and the average female releases mature eggs only sporadically, if at all, during the first few years after she has begun to menstruate. It is probable that sterility is not complete, and more probable that there are eggs released in that period, but regular ovulation in each menstrual cycle probably does not begin in the average female until she is sixteen to eighteen years of age. The average age for fully reproductive maturity in women has been estimated at approximately twenty-three years. Precise studies of this are still to be made.
According to Rutledge (1964-65, p. 54), if contraception has been learned about accidentally, it will be used unwisely, if at all. Moreover, the majority of teenagers in the United States learn about it accidentally. It is neither taught in most homes nor in most high schools. In fact, when learned about accidentally, youth may even have a disdain for the use of any contraception. They tend to take a foolhardy attitude, believing that they can get away with it. Contraceptives are not readily available to adolescents in all states, and the use of contraceptive measures is often naive and slipshod (Martinson, 1966). Even today, 30 percent of adolescent girls in the United States report that there is no place where they could go to get contraceptives (Sorensen, 1973, p. 319). There are many misconceptions about conception and contraception among American youth. Konopka (1963, p. 4) found youth believing that one cannot become pregnant if one has intercourse only once, and that the rhythm method and the withdrawal method are secure.
Sorensen found that only 55 percent of all non-virgin adolescents reported that anything had been done to cut down on the risk of first coitus resulting in a pregnancy (Sorensen, 1973, p. 313). But of those who took some precaution the first time, 78 percent reported that they always took precautions in the month previous to the study. Girls who used contraceptives most commonly reported using birth control pills (33 percent); the second most frequently recorded method used by girls is withdrawal of the boy's penis before ejaculation (17 percent) (Sorensen, 1973, p. 315). Only a small minority of boys currently experiencing coitus always know what kind of birth control method is being used! (Sorensen, 1973, p. 318). Those who use some method themselves most commonly report the condom (25 percent) and withdrawal (20 percent) (Sorensen, 1913, p. 317).
The following cases deal with ignorance in regard to contraception, lack of use of contraceptives, sporadic use of contraceptives, availability of contraceptives, preparedness, and various methods of contraception used by US youth.
I heard the boys talk about "rubbers," but I did not know what they were talking about or what their function was until one night a boy told a joke to a group of boys of which I was a member. This joke cleared everything up for me.
We had absolutely no information on contraceptives and didn't know whore we could get any information. My steady and I just didn't dare go all the way.
The only contraceptive measure I knew about was the "rubber." I tried to use the "rubber," but I had trouble keeping an erection. She told me it would injure me and she didn't want me to use it. I did not know any better so I took it off.
In our "fury" we overlooked any means of contraception.
We first experienced coitus the summer before I went to college, and it was repeated more than ten times in the next six months without the use of any contraceptives. Luckily for both of us, conception did not take place.
In eleventh grade we began to make love, and neither of us used any type of contraceptive. I should clarify that point in that we did practice the withdrawal method in sort of a hit-and-miss fashion. At first I was very reluctant due to my fear of pregnancy, but gradually since nothing did happen I began to trust him entirely.
We soon drifted into the act of sexual intercourse, first with condoms, and later using no contraceptive measures at all.
I did not know why he did not use a condom every time. A few times he did.
Intercourse was becoming regular, at least once a week, and the question of preventing conception was becoming a problem but not that great a concern. We still remained oblivious to the reality of possibility and for a while remained lucky.
I finally got up enough nerve and purchased two contraceptives from a buddy of mine. He told me they were old, but he was sure they were still good, so I took them from him. The way it turned out, I used both prophylactics, and they both broke!
Getting into a virgin isn't the easiest thing in the world. I was a virgin too. And the damn thing snapped. I had a fit. It just so happened that I didn't have an orgasm yet. But the damn thing snapped. And I figured--oh, cripes. We'll have to fish the damn thing out of her--you know--something like that. But I didn't. But when it snapped. That cooled me off straight-a-way.
I was too shy to buy any of the germicidal drug store preparation.
I thought many times about buying some condoms and actually trying intercourse, but I didn't have the guts.
Well, the protection came. One day a "friend" of mine gave me two condoms. This was my chance to really find out what sex was like. She agreed and we used both of them within a month's time.
We decided that I would drive and he would bring the condoms, not that we were sure of intercourse, but we wanted to play it safe. I picked my friend up early so he could brief me before we picked up our dates. He was much more experienced in this sort of thing. He had the condoms ready with a little dab of vaseline on the tip of them. He told me it would be easier to insert the penis with the vaseline. He also told me which way the condom rolled on the penis. It was rather embarrassing, but we were good friends so it didn't matter.
A small store outside of town sells them. It is at this store that most teenagers obtain their supply.
Most of the boys I know get their condoms at a gas station but not from a dispenser. The owner keeps them under the counter. Otherwise some boys will have more experienced friends buy them, or else travel to a nearby small town drugstore. There are no vending machines for condoms in our vicinity.
In the city if a person is looking for a place to buy condom, he can usually find it in one of the many drugstores. The individual might have a friend who works there and might get them for him if he doesn't want to do it in public.
He always used a condom, which he secured at the drugstore where he worked.
In my search for Playboy magazines and the like, I found a box of rubbers that belonged to my father... I kept a pack of three in case I ever had to use them. I also found a single rubber. I had never seen one so I tried it on. I remember getting very excited as I put it on my erect penis. I didn't ejaculate, but I threw the condom away. I think I was about fourteen or fifteen at this time, but I never got to use them until I was in college.
The condom I used was one she found in her father's dresser drawer.
I keep condoms in a drawer at home for the use of my teenage sons. We never discuss it, but they are apparently being used.
I felt myself about to ejaculate. I quickly removed my penis just in time to shoot semen all over her stomach. I had had intercourse!
I reassured her she wouldn't get pregnant. I felt my release coming and immediately withdrew.
He convinced me that he could control himself and that nothing would happen. We practiced coitus interruptus. I did not know at that time that I could become pregnant by such a method. I thought that I was perfectly safe as long as he did not release the semen in me.
We tried a schedule of safe days, unsafe days, and safe days. It worked very well for us. We don't know if it was because of my relative infertility or because of the method itself.
She refused to go all the way unless I had a rubber. I was so afraid to buy some, that I kept postponing our first lovemaking session. Finally I got enough nerve to buy some, and we soon decided to fornicate.
He and I used a rubber whenever he had one, but most of the time we counted on withdrawal. I did not know very much about what goes on during reproduction, so I trusted him and left the matter up to him.
We used two birth control methods simultaneously; the rhythm method plus coitus interruptus. Although we have not discussed which methods to use, I knew he was keeping a record of my menstrual cycle.
Love and sexual desire are different but overlapping entities, and part of the problem in early dating is to recognize the similarities and the differences. Sexual activity without love is possible; love without coitus is possible. With no prior experience and almost universally poor education regarding the nature of intimate relationships, adolescents find sex and love exhilarating but confusing experiences (Duvall, 1960; Nye, 1958; Remmers, 1957; Wolford, 1948; Nixon, 1962, p. 108). Their own sexuality is a mystery to them, and they are even more mystified by love (Sorensen, 1973, p. 58). The majority (82 percent) recognize that sex is not the most important thing in a love relationship (Sorensen, 1973, p. 108), and many do not want to have sex with someone unless they feel some kind of love (permissiveness-with-affection) (Sorensen, 1973, p. 109). Sorensen concludes that the intensity of love is more important to them than is its duration, and that mutuality and the ability to relate are vital factors in their love (Sorensen, 1973, p. 365).
By the summer of our junior year in high school, we were becoming very sexually aroused over each other--in fact to the point where she thought we should break up, as she was fearing what might happen.
I began to date only him that summer and no one else, as I believed that I was in love with him. But now I realize that it was only physical. All we did was park.
During confusing times, I was also trying to figure out if I really loved her, or if I just wanted her because my parents didn't want me to have her. I very definitely loved her if love was considered as "personal desire." But this love was basically sexual in nature, and could actually be considered as lust.
The only time we had serious talks during the summer was over the phone. This was the only time we could discuss something of apparent importance without being overcome by a sex drive. If there was ever any love in this relationship, it was present during these phone calls. I think this was the only time we looked at our relationship with any degree of reality.
It is hard to understand how strong the sexual attraction between two people is until you have experienced it and it has overpowered all other aspects of the relationship.
I discovered that one does not simply "go steady" in high school. You must be in love and admit it. Little did I realize what I was letting myself in for. The moment I said those three supposedly magic words, I regretted them because I knew I didn't really mean them as I thought they could be meant. I knew I couldn't really love him, because he was such a puppy.
I honestly believe now that I wanted to be in love with him so much that I made myself believe that I was. We dated approximately six months, with each date becoming more intimate. I still haven't completely recovered from my experience with him.
Night after night she and I would roll about the living room rug or lie on the couch and engage in every sort of sex play imaginable, and some that weren't even imaginable. Kissing (French and otherwise), petting over the entire body, sexual intercourse, oral-genital play, and mutual masturbation. Time after time in the darkness of their living room we would pant in each other's ear, "I love you," when what we really meant was "I desire you."
I would say that she felt a bit more strongly for me than I for her, and she was willing to engage in more intimate forms of petting and necking, and was willing to allow me to have more freedom. She was willing to do what I wanted, and was content to keep me happy regardless of what I did for her.
We were in love at the time, and I think few people can honestly say this while they were in high school. I realized that this love was not a mature and lasting love, but it was the ultimate of what we were capable of feeling, and as far as we knew love then.
We continued to have sexual intercourse, after the first experience, almost every time we went out, for we felt we were in love and it didn't matter then; the only thing that mattered was us.
On her part, it was only proper that we should find out as much as possible about each other, being that we were in love. For a time I shared her feelings, but the more we made love, the more I desired her body over her companionship.
A common form of covert homosexual behavior among girls is seen in the "crushes" that are frequent during early adolescence. Crushes between adolescent girls constitute part of the normal course of development. Of 295 women interviewed by Landis et al (1940), all but twenty-two reported having such experiences. In about 33 out of 34 cases these crushes were outgrown, but the thirty-fourth case remained fixed at this level of sexuality and became overtly homosexual. About a third of the males interviewed by Kinsey had a single homosexual experience, and half of this number had the experience between the ages of twelve and fourteen and had no further experiences later (Gagnor and Simon, March 1968). The following case shows homosexual experience for what it is for many adolescents, namely a passing pleasant phase of growing up. A temporary homosexual orientation is quite common among adolescent boys and frequently finds expression in such acts as masturbation.
At the age of thirteen, my best friend and I would, during fits of passion, hold hands and stroke our bodies. The immediate experience that comes to mind was one evening we were studying in his room. The conversation turned to girls, and we both became aroused. A little prodding and agreement by both of us soon found us without clothes on his bed. We examined our bodies with erections on and made many passes with our hands, legs, and arms, but not face, at each other's genitals. This behavior lasted for about 15-20 minutes, with neither of us reaching orgasm. The feelings generated during this experience were ones of complete ecstasy and abandonment to our sexual impulses. There were no verbal remarks of passion, but more or less a humorous approach to the experience. Upon completion, after we were dressed again, there was little guilt feeling other than the sense of possible detection by his family. The intimacy with my friend continued for about a year or longer. What decided that we stop these actions was not a conscious exercise on our part, but more or less disinterest in engaging in male intimacy as we had experienced before. At no time do I recall reaching orgasm with my friend. Also during this time I was engaged in masturbatory practices totaling on the average 3-4 times a week. The guilt that I experienced from masturbation was more than the guilt I felt with my friend. In retrospect, I view the episodes with some fondness.
At the age of twelve, masturbation became a regular facet of my sex life. An older boy became the initiator of this practice for me. We would indulge in various forms of masturbation, including mutual masturbation.
I remember the first time I tried masturbating; there were four of us all staying at our lake cottage--only the one boy had masturbated before, so he showed us how, and we all tried it. After that, through junior high, group masturbation such as this was not uncommon and it was freely talked about by the boys. In ninth grade, we would still masturbate together occasionally, often with a Playboy pin-up az a stimulant.
It was probably when I was thirteen that much experimentation took place. My friends and I were soon having group masturbation, and sometimes we had contests to see who could achieve ejaculation the fastest.
From the reading of the anthropological literature, it can be inferred that in cultures where the sexes are kept separated in adolescence there is more homosexuality than in cultures that are more permissive (Campbell, 1939, p. 546). Isolation of the sexes contributes to homosexual sex interest, and even morbid sex interest.
During this whole first year at military academy, we were all considered as the scum of the earth, and then some. We were all ridiculed and called different names. Some of mine were too vulgar to put into print. The most embarrassing part of all was when the upperclassmen would ask me about certain aspects of sex. Many boys were told to write papers on different parts of the reproductive organs or else they would be forced to do numerous unpleasant duties for the "old men." One of the favorite jokes of the upperclassman was to have one of the plebes French kiss the tea pot at the dinner table. All this ridicule made everyone want to learn about sex and get back at these swell-headed upperclassmen!
A temporary overt homosexual orientation is less common among adolescent girls.
I had a homosexual experience with my best girlfriend, whom I had known for many years. The practice took place between the ages of eleven and thirteen years of age, and included the fondling of each other's breasts. We wore both terribly concerned with our newly developing bodies, and in this way became intimate with each other in a limited way. This practice became a ritual, always beginning with a backrub. We both become sexually aroused when fondling each other's breasts; however, this never led to orgasm. We liked this feeling, but were never interested in mutual masturbation. We talked over our guilt feelings of the practice, but decided that it was something small and certainly wasn't deviant.
I was about nine years old and my girlfriend was thirteen years old. I was giving her a lower examination of the genitalia region. I first rubbed her stomach and her legs to relax her, and then I would rub her pubic area, which had hair that I did not have. From my girlfriend's contacts with me, I know that I was sexually aroused and I enjoyed contact and stimulation in the region known as the mons veneris, so I would rub and finger her there, increasing the intensity of my fondling. Then with her legs spread wide in a straddle position, I would push back the labia and look, touch, pick, pull, and rub the entire area. I remember seeing vaginal secretion and did not know what it was, how it got there, or why, and never questioned her on it. Little talking ever occurred during these games. Once this examination was over, the process was reversed by fondling and rubbing the pubic region and then the stomach. Orgasm seldom occurred, but there was much relaxation and then excitement experienced. Yet I do remember once when my girlfriend had me lying down on my stomach and with her hand in between my legs she had stimulated my mons veneris and clitoral system with her fingers, and I experienced a good sensation that I had not felt before, and then tried this masturbation technique on my own that I had learned from her.
Masturbating alone can also have homosexual implications when the accompanying fantasy is of a homosexual nature.
I think I was twelve when I masturbated for the first time--quite by accident. Eventually, this private behavior became a somewhat regular highly enjoyable experience. Several "techniques" were employed, and my associated fantasy was seldom heterosexual. This continued through junior high school, diminishing sharply into senior high.
Masturbating with homosexual fantasy and group masturbation occurs among girls, but less commonly than among boys.
I had discovered the pleasurable feelings associated with what I know now is called masturbation when I was twelve. Two other girls and I slept in the backyard in a pup tent one hot summer night. We giggled about having to go to the bathroom outside, and because of this entry into the topic of sex, we were easily sidetracked into other phases of sex and the questions we had. Under the knowing guidance of one of the other two girls, we found ourselves stroking each other's genitals and enjoying the feelings produced. I wanted to see if I could reproduce those sensations by myself, so I proceeded to try in my own bed, and I could!!
I would have visions about seeing the woman across the street and have different sex dreams. The thoughts were always dirty--masturbation occurred.
There are factors in contemporary American culture that encourage youth to marry. Love, sex, and marriage are idealized and glamorized. Traditional adult society emphasizes romantic love and the happy ending. Economic prosperity reduces the economic risks in marriage. The uncertain status conferred on adolescents in our society makes some of them yearn for the adult status which marriage can bestow (Duvall, 1960). Marriage is an escape from unsettled and broken homes (Christiansen, 1958), from unsatisfactory school experiences, and from unpleasant community situations (Martinson, April 1955; Martinson, February 1959). The pervasive search for security cannot be overlooked as a predisposing factor. Apparently, young people do not feel as compelled as did those from an earlier time to plan to marry as a way to gratify their sexual needs or to legitimize their present sexual relations (Sorensen, 1973, p. 341). Over half of adolescents think it is "abnormal or unnatural" for a boy not to have "sex" until he marries, and 42 percent of all boys and 27 percent of all girls feel the same way about girls and premarital sex (Sorensen, 1973, p. 342). Yet the vast majority of boys (85 percent) and girls (92 percent) agree that they will probably want to marry and have children at some time in the future (Sorensen, 1973, p. 344). It has been estimated that a third to a half of all young marriages are precipitated by premarital pregnancies. Anderson and Latts found that premarital pregnancy is a major influence, if not the major cause, of high school marriages, in Minnesota (Anderson and Latts, 1964).
Many more high school age girls than boys marry before graduation, and the girls tend to marry men who are out of school and working, usually at trades (Duvall, 1960). Garner and Sperry (1961) estimated that about three percent of the students in the nation's high schools were currently married. In 1965, Burchinal (May 1965) reported that there had been a fourteen-year stability in young marriage rates, suggesting that a balance had emerged between factors that promote and factors that deter young marriages.
Girls who marry early usually possess several distinguishing characteristics. They have started dating younger, have dated more frequently, and have gone steady more often. They have been in love a greater number of times. A larger number of their close friends and of their mothers have married young. Finally, they more frequently dated men who were older than themselves (Duvall, 1960).
Findings of a study of over 3,000 Nebraska high school girls indicate that girls who marry early are emotionally less stable than are those who postpone marriage. They also have less satisfactory relationships with their families. Two types of girls appeared to have an orientation toward early marriage. One is the girl who is emotionally insecure and who looks to marriage as an escape from an unhappy environment. The other is the early-maturing girl whose aspiration level and expectations of marital happiness are relatively low. Of the girls who married early, 95 percent felt they were ready for marriage, but judged by indices from marriage success studies, many of them were not ready (Moss and Gingles, 1959).
Although most of the girls who marry young are in grades eleven and twelve, there are substantial numbers of junior high girls getting married. One explanation for this is that the girls are physiologically mature and ready for marriage but are educationally retarded; they are not intellectually competent to meet the responsibilities of marriage (Ivins, 1960).
Influence of other married students or of a fad among students has been found to produce numerous hastily conceived marriages. The fact that fads are contagious was demonstrated at one high school in North Carolina. A few outstanding students eloped, and in a short time three to four percent of the students were married. The boom was stopped, however, with the sobering example of some immediate newly-wed problems, and a strong anti-marriage sentiment took its place. Some young marriages are even inspired by dares, drinking, or braggadocio. Other factors include dissatisfactions with home or family life, and boredom with the whole life situation. In rural areas especially, girls may rush into matrimony because of lack of challenge and stimulation in their environment (Ivins, 1960).
Teenage married couples have revealed the following reasons for marrying. For boys, reasons listed are: love, pregnancy of the girl, sex, desire to be independent, desire for adventure, and desire for companionship. Girls give as their reasons: love, desire to get away from home, pregnancy, wishes of parents, influence of friends getting married, money, sex, and spite. The overwhelming majority of those who marry young are infatuated with each other, and they are under the impression that they are in love.
Miller (1963) reports a sudden rash of marriages among lower class urban boys in their late teens, precipitated as if in response to a signal that said, "Now is the time for group members to take a wife." As a rationale for marriage, the boys "forgot to buy safes," their girls became pregnant, and they were then obliged to marry. The forgetting was probably not accidental, since most of the boys had been using "safes" since their early teens. It would appear that the marriages actually were voluntary on the part of the boys and not forced.
Close relationships in high school serve a different function for adolescents who are marriage-oriented, in comparison with those who are college-oriented or for other reasons not marriage-oriented. More high school girls than high school boys are involved in marriage-oriented dating.
There were a few students, especially girls, who were quite intent on finding a mate. They did not care to go on to further their education, and thus only wanted to get married. The result of this for many was dating in accordance with the pattern of serious dating. The girls in this group often went with boys who had already graduated from high school.
Many girls in our senior class were engaged and making plans for their summer weddings. In a small way I felt a part of them (since I was going steady), a sense of belonging, and yet I felt very distant from them because my immediate plans were of college, while wedding plans were--what seemed then--far in the future.
For young adolescents, so far as percentages are concerned, marriage is a minuscule pattern for relating to the opposite sex, since it is not the pattern of 95 percent or more of high school-age boys and girls. For older teenagers who do not continue their education, marriage is a common and accepted pattern of behavior.
A major experience of young adolescents with older youth is that of the adolescent girl who is dating an older boy. Receiving "sex education" through direct encounters with those who are older is a common experience for adolescent girls, and to some extent for adolescent boys. Girls commonly date someone their own age or older; boys usually date someone their own age or younger. The cases to follow deal with young adolescent girls/older boy encounters, and are cases in which the girl views her date as more or less exploitative.
At fourteen I went steady with a senior boy, the wildest boy in high school, bar none. I said no and no again, but having no experience at all with physical passion, I had no idea how to handle it. Why we never engaged in intercourse, I'll never know, except my conscience almost killed me.
He being older, and just being a boy with a lot more experience, had the upper hand. He was out for a good time and also to get what he could. I did not know this at the time. It was not long until he had me wrapped around his finger. He was very experienced and relaxed. He knew how to handle me to get what he wanted.
He told me that me would be going to a movie that night, but he had arranged for the use of a friend's empty house for the occasion. For the first time in our relationship, I was really afraid of him.
We divide the sexual encounters involving adolescents and adults (other than parents) into two basic categories. The first deals with direct contact with adults in the form of observing adult behavior or being in intimate contact with adults. In the second section we deal with the impact of adult-sponsored social institutions on the sexual life of the adolescent, such as the school, the church, et cetera. The two following cases deal with adolescent encounters with aggressive adults. The first case involves the more common experience of an adolescent girl and an aggressive adult male. The second case involves the much less common experience of an adolescent boy and an aggressive adult female.
It was my sophomore year in high school that this occasion occurred, the likes of which I shall never forget. I had met a young man in his early twenties. He was not only good looking, but held an impressive position in the business of the community. Since I had heard that he had made a pass at or asked out most every girl where I worked at one time or another, I was concerned as to why he had never made a pass at me. Shortly after my concern had become almost an obsession, he asked me out. My parents were not in favor of my going out with him and were quite shaken up. My pride was at stake and I just had to show them that I could "take care of myself." In the course of many activities that day, he explained to me that he had a strong interest in photography and developed his own pictures. We stopped by a camera shop to purchase some supplies. Our next activity, he explained, was to drop the supplies at his apartment. Aha, I thought, this is it. I was correct. He politely asked if I cared to see some of his works. I agreed and felt a little ashamed of my readiness. Not terribly impressed after looking at his pictures, I started back to the door. He immediately put his arms around me and reached for the record player. Once the music was on he completely disrobed and stood before me. My surprise left me speechless. I had never seen a penis, let alone an erection. I tried "to play it cool" while he tried to remove my clothing. I wanted to leave. He was so desperate in his attempts to take off my blouse I suddenly realized that what my parents had warned and what I had imagined were correct. He did expect more than I was willing to give (nothing). He ended up pleading with me, which further resolved me to deny him more. I became very frightened and shouted my insistence that he take me home. He kept pleading; I started crying and he finally agreed to take me home.
I was seventeen years old at the time; she was a twenty-seven year old wife and mother. The experience took place during the summer following my junior year in high school. As things turned out, very unintentionally, everyone but this young mother and myself went to a water show. We had cabins on the same side of the lake. I was lying on the living room floor in my bathing suit, which was my usual attire for the lake, watching TV. She walked into the room wearing a bathing suit, and was carrying a couple cans of beer, which was the proper refreshment for the lake. I admired the semi-tanned body as I had done many times before. We talked for a while, but somehow she was different to me than before. It was dusk and I had finished my beer. She disappeared into the bathroom. I was still sitting cross-legged on the floor glued to the TV set. I heard the bathroom door open but paid no attention to it. All of a sudden, to my surprise, a pair of legs hung over my shoulders. I felt the heat of bare skin on the back of my neck and I spun quickly around. As I turned I quickly noticed the presence of a naked woman. I scanned the shapely body and a feeling of weakness fell over me... I was surprised, and asked what she was doing. She said she was going swimming in the nude, and asked me if I wanted to come. I was hesitant at first, but I followed the towel-draped body down to the lake for curiosity's sake. She threw off her towel and ran toward the lake. I noticed the white cheeks of her buttocks wiggle as she ran. Finally I dropped my trunks and followed her. The sun was just setting over the lake; it was beautiful. We played in the water for a while, brushing our naked bodies together, and causing sensations within me. All this was new to me, and I was a bit frightened. I again watched her run up the hill to her cabin. I followed, quite unaware of what was going on. My thoughts had not yet caught up to me. I walked into the bedroom where she was drying herself. I had a towel around my waist. She asked me to dry her back, which I did. I then proceeded to dry her long blonde hair. As I did, she turned towards me and pushed her body against mine causing me to fall backwards on the bed. I felt strange, as this was foreign to me. Playing the innocent role, which was the only one I knew, I pushed her off. A funny look came over her; she looked hurt. New feelings came over me, as I had never felt before. My mind ceased to function. She was so persistent that I finally let myself go. One thing led to the next, and we scanned the scale with her directing and myself doing the acting. I knew my inexperience showed, and I was quite embarrassed by it, but it didn't seem to bother her. She instructed me where I failed. We did things I didn't know about, and felt things that I had never felt before. Finally, as we lay together, my mind came back to me and I asked why she had done all this. Her answer was that she liked and wanted me to know more than she had when she was first married, because she didn't know how to behave as a sex partner, and she had guilt feelings about this. She identified herself with me at that age, and didn't want the same thing to happen to me. We had been friends for a long time, and she had been planning this. Looking back at this experience, I feel it was beneficial to me. I feel no remorse over this experience. I do have slight guilt feelings toward her husband.
Another common type of adolescent-adult sexual encounter involves exhibitionism; that is, an adult exposing himself before an adolescent. Sexual exhibitionists, as in the following cases, are commonly not sexually aggressive, making no attempt to forcibly seduce the adolescent. Nevertheless, the experience is apt to make a marked impression on the adolescent, particularly the one who has not seen the nude body of adults of the opposite sex. In the vast majority of cases, the exhibitionist is a male, and the adolescent is a female.
I was in ninth grade and had made a trip downtown in the large city where we lived. At that time I was very dependent on others, and thus had made arrangements to meet a good friend for the day. I had arrived early and had waited patiently in one of the large downtown department stores watching the crowds of people enter and leave. As people walked by I observed them; creating fantasies about their lives, totally involving myself in their happenings. Then as I followed a passerby into the store, I noticed a rather sloppily dressed, elderly gentleman staring at me. He was dirty, unshaven, the type my mother had warned me about. I remember that I was apprehensive about his staring, and I looked away. But my curiosity overtook me as I peered back at him. When I did, he opened the front of his old coat, pointed to his genital area and made a nod for me to approach him. I turned away, frightened, not really understanding. I moved farther out the door. But I couldn't help wondering about the man, so I looked at him again and he repeated his action. Completely shook, I left the entrance, sat down and tried to comprehend. Though this is not a deep, involved experience, it did leave an impression on me. At this time in my life I was completely naive. It wasn't an extreme traumatic time for me, but I led myself to believe it was. For my personal "satisfaction," I enlarged the incident so that I could reward myself with a bit of "sensual activity," that I could be sexually desired. It was a naive desire and curiosity about sex, which led me to a fantasy concerning the situation.
During these years (junior high), I had two experiences where a man has displayed himself to me, masturbating. I knew very little about a man's sex organs and what happened during stimulation. Therefore, masturbation was quite horrifying and sickening to me.
One day in the fall of my freshman year, when I was fourteen years old, I was walking home from uptown with two of my girlfriends. We noticed a man walking toward us about half a block away. When he was about five or ten feet in front of us I looked at him and noticed that he had his pants unzipped and unsnapped but not pulled down, just sort of hanging on his hips. He had his right hand on his penis and was swinging it around and grinning. He said, "Hey girlies, do you want one of these?" His penis looked like it was ten inches long. It just hung there; it wasn't erect. I can still see it vividly. The three of us ran as fast as we could to my house and got in and shut the front door. We sat in our kitchen and talked about it. We knew we should have told my Mom because we had always been told that if anyone tries to molest you, you should call the police. Well, I just couldn't tell her. I would have been too embarrassed to say anything.
There are a number of adult-sponsored institutions and organizations; some, such as the church, serve children and youth as well as adults, and some, such as the school, deal exclusively with the young. Some of these organizations provide the adolescent with experiences that have sexual content, but almost exclusively at the cognitive level. These organizations provide knowledge, communicate models for behavior, and teach and reinforce standards of sexual behavior consistent with adult norms. The first of these we will consider is the church.
Traditional Judaeo-Christian codes have specifically condemned the acceptance of and the deliberate fostering of sexual encounters unless such encounters are within marriage and integral to the procreative function. The traditional orthodox Jewish code condemns all nudity, either of the whole or any part of the body except the face and the hands, prohibits the observance of nudity, and prohibits the exposure of nude bodies either in public or in the privacy of one's home--even during the coital relationship of spouses or in the solitude of changing one's clothing, or in bathing. (This section is based largely on Kinsey, 1953, p. 259-261.) It consequently follows that physical contacts between nude bodies or nude parts of the bodies, except for the limited genital contacts that are necessary for procreation, are proscribed.
While fondling and caressing are not in themselves identified as sinful in Catholic moral philosophy, the traditional code is specific in considering such activities as sins if they constitute anything more than aids to marital coitus. Fondling and caressing for genital pleasure is a mortal sin even in marriage. Traditionally, Protestant denominations have reflected some of the same basic attitudes toward erotic encounters.
One can get some of the flavor of the most conservative Christian view on sexual encounters of adolescents in Joiner's book, Your Dating Data (1962). Joiner quotes a "Catholic authority" as saying that 'going steady is pagan unless there is a reasonable chance of getting married within two years.' She points out that "progressive petting" leads to certain trouble, and that the young person should turn back before it is too late. Also, the automobile is no place to kiss, neither is it wise to park in a secluded place and talk because the practice encourages intimacy and invites suspicion from on-lookers. The girl is never obliged to kiss a boy; a warm handshake or smile or even a light caress is recommended. Joiner suggests that the young reader settle in his own mind some major issues regarding dating encounters before they happen. Joiner does allow that on special occasions there may be a time and place where a young man can properly put his arms around his girl for a moment with no feelings of guilt.
On the other hand, some more liberal clergy and laity have come to regard dating encounters even to the extent of fondling and caressing among the young as having value in developing emotional capacities and contributing to future marital adjustments. There is a fear that the more severely that sex expression of children and adolescents is curtailed, the more restricted they will be as adults for fully experiencing the satisfactions of intimacy. "We have gone along with the new ways because in our hearts we couldn't feel that they were wholly evil... The freeing of sex from old taboos has enabled us to see its Christian meaning more clearly" (Mace, 1964, p. 11).
All major denominations devote a considerable portion of their resources to programs for young people; however, their programs commonly reflect adult rather than youth culture. Sorensen found that half (49 percent) of all adolescents believe that the churches teach that enjoyment of sex is sinful, while most describe the church's attitude toward sex as being negative and ineffectual (Sorensen, 1973, p. 96).
We turn now to some of the cases in which adolescents relate their experiences with religious organizations around the subject of sex. We look first at cases in which the young person views his religious experience as unsatisfactory. The first cases are directly involved with reaction toward teachings of the institutionalized church. In the first case, a Protestant rationalizes non-marital coitus as being more religiously acceptable than masturbation or petting. One finds the same argument from some Catholic youth, though the church would surely regard such an interpretation as a serious misinterpretation of the teachings of the church.
Coming from a traditional conservative Protestant church, I was steeped in the rightness of everything that is in "God's sight" which is deeply intertwined with the taboos on masturbation and so forth. When I finally came to the crisis period in dating, I felt that the act of intercourse, though wrong, was better than going through all the disgusting preludes to avoid it, or personal sexual outlets that might satisfy the sexual drive.
I knew that sexual involvement was wrong. From Sunday school we had been taught our body was a temple, and to take care of it; to be pure in heart and mind; and just to abstain from sexual involvement in general principle, but I have never really been taught why. I know that was why it was so difficult for me to hold my ground, because I knew it was wrong, but never knew why. It's the idea of knowing something, but not feeling it inside. Many times I'd wake up the next morning after a date and feel wrong inside. I knew then that if my conscience bothered me, it was wrong for me. The legalistic approach of the church in being left at the starting gate in favor of what is logical and meaningful for the young adult. When the church catches up to what is actually going on among its young people, it could hold a significant place in the life of a young adult by teaching meaningful guidelines for conduct.
We were taught the literal interpretation of the Bible. The aspects of these teachings that were most influential as far as sexual and emotional adjustment were concerned were those emphasizing the importance of chastity and self-control. The need for these qualities seemed very important to me because of the effective indoctrination by the Sunday school teachers.
At parochial school, as well as later in Walther League youth group meetings, boys were separated as carefully as possible. We were told not to become involved with boys and their activities because it could lead to "immoral sexual activities." By this time, that phrase was synonymous with pregnancy. I felt I dared not touch a boy for fear something indecent might happen.
Anything concerning the sexual organs seemed to be evil. Our pastor said in church that even looking at a woman and thinking of having sexual intercourse with her was just like actually doing it. This was adultery. The pastor of our church would only say that masturbation and premarital sexual intercourse was a sin, but he would not explain why. I began to look at that morality as if it was impossible to uphold.
One of my questions was answered by our pastor at a church youth group meeting. At one time he said that he wanted us girls to remember one thing when we started our dating, and that was that we should not let our lips become a doormat where every boy wipes his lips off. He told us that some guys take advantage of a girl and take them out just for that purpose.
I remember (in tenth grade at Bible camp) the pastor telling the story of the blushing young bride, dressed in white, walking up the aisle. His voice became stirring when he said, "Maybe that girl should have been blushing if she has been in the arms of every Tom, Dick, and Harry, and did not deserve to wear the dress." He admonished us girls to deserve to wear that white dress, which signifies purity. Turning to the boys, who by this time were sitting there rather smugly, he said, "And you boys, be sure to deserve that girl dressed in white."
The church gives us rules for a "good life," but it appears to ignore the desires and frustrations of teenagers. I have desires but have no acceptable social outlet. As a teenager I want information, but I also want an understanding of attitudes towards sex, values to guide my actions by, and a good reason to remain a virgin--other than "your body is a temple of God."
There was a division in my dating life between the church and school. At the church we were still playing kid games. At school it was expected of you to act more grown up than to be playing kid games.
It isn't only the children of lay people in the church who complain; the children of clergymen also complain of their sexual upbringing.
I came from a parsonage, but the john of a gas station was the place I got clued in on what was going on, and by a younger girl than me, at that.
One of the paramount personal questions is the influence of the church upon my decisions as a maturing youth and as a steady dating partner. Its behavior codes have been ground into me since I was a little tot, but when I actually faced the problems in an emotional state, it was easy to forget about the codes or to reason that they just don't apply to our age, or they didn't understand how we felt for each other. We did not see these codes as being wrong or unreasonable for the general public; they just didn't apply to us. There was no possibility of my getting any counseling service, because a minister's son simply doesn't admit to anyone that he is breaking a commandment, especially the sixth. I think my girlfriend and I are now beginning to realize that we are at least not alone in the way our relationship grew, and that we are not the worst sinners on earth. We have found a new ethic that puts the individual above any code of ethics, and thus allows for a certain leniency that the legalistic code we were taught does not.
Youth receive religious influences other than through the organized education and youth groups of their churches. The following two cases indicate the profound effect of radio preaching and religious literature on impressionable teenagers.
I thought it was an unpardonable sin for someone to take a girl out and partake in pre-marital sexual activities, whether petting or intercourse. I probably received this idea from a religious radio program I heard one night after school when I was in ninth or tenth grade. The speaker (a Baptist minister) said it was a sin to go out and park with a girl, whether it was in her driveway or out in some "lover's lane." After hearing this and remembering it through high school, it became a very trying time for me when it came time to take a date home. I would debate all the way to her house whether or not I should kiss her good night. This would occur even after the fifth and sixth date, when it was considered standard procedure to "make out" with a girl before taking her in.
In my middle teens I acquired a small booklet on Christian dating published by an independent religious organization. It was overflowing with advice to the Christian youth, and I soaked it all in. It quoted Bible passages to substantiate all the advice given. It changed my whole outlook on dating and Christian conduct. It stated emphatically that dancing was a waste of time and sexually stimulating--I gave up dancing. Movies were lewd and provoked one toward crime--I gave up the movies, so as not to "cause my brother to stumble." It counseled the Christian youth to save their kisses for that special someone, and that was the one to whom one was engaged! Being a Christian, I did not want to get any girl aroused, so I fought this kissing business. It was a difficult battle. I went with a real nice girl, and I finally yielded to the temptation to kiss her after three years. After I did begin, however, I probably indulged in this pastime with more abandon than those who had not any particular qualms about starting. This booklet greatly increased my sex knowledge, or so I thought. To emphasize its point, this extremely moralistic book exaggerated many parts in an attempt to scare us away from admittedly dangerous consequences of too lenient an attitude toward sexual behavior. Unfortunately they presented the data without any sufficient rational backing--it was simply there to believe! Those who read such material and possess deep religious convictions are bound to be frustrated and consequently not experience the rich, full life they might otherwise enjoy during adolescence.
The majority of, but not all, adolescents view religious experiences related to sex in such a negative way. The following cases reflect more positive reactions to the church's efforts.
Never could I (a girl) muster up enough courage to ask my girlfriend my big question--how was sexual intercourse actually accomplished. I felt embarrassed because I knew her knowledge of sex so far outweighed mine. She was Catholic and had been taught sex in the classroom.
In my freshman high school religion class, I had a layman teacher who made a statement that stuck with me. He said, "Sex is something beautiful," and I have always remembered this and thought of sex in this way. The teacher had a question box and he would answer our questions for 15 or 20 minutes everyday. The questions were often on masturbation because the boys were thirteen or fourteen years old. They also asked such questions as, "Is it a sin to look at dirty pictures?" The teacher answered with, "Sex is something beautiful." Also in the class we read the Song of Solomon and its erotic poetry. We also talked about Onan. They said sexual intercourse is better than masturbation--at least you were not throwing your seed on the ground and wasting it.
In counseling with boys, the priest sometimes used the word "fuck"; it is shock therapy. It hurt us to hear it coming from a priest. He said to us, "Are you aware that you are brought into existence by your father fucking your mother? Why use this word? You use it on the streets and yet this is part of God's creation." Also during counseling, he would tell us if we did need money for a house of prostitution, to come to him but "don't destroy a girl's reputation."
The church felt that too many people were learning it on the streets and they should do something. I was about thirteen. I knew everything, anyway, although it was very informative because the priest came straight out with the facts; it cleared up a lot of mysteries. I appreciated it because they made an offer to put the right influence in me, but it didn't affect me that much.
During confirmation (fourteen-fifteen year olds) my minister called a separate meeting for the boys and girls to discuss sex. I thought it was all handled very well! First of all, we felt relatively at ease. The lecture didn't consist of a warning but rather started with the simple statement, "You have all experienced the sexual urge and girls have similar feelings." He recognized masturbation as an outlet and did not treat it as a morally good or bad act.
During the tenth grade, I attended classes on sex education, which were sponsored by our church youth group. Perhaps the most beneficial that I learned through sex education classes was the fact that I knew my parents knew I was aware of sex. This helped establish a closer relationship between my parents and myself.
Our sub-culture would probably be classified as "sissy" or "goody-goody" by the typical high school male student, in that its members stressed the importance of a living relationship with God and the pursuit of moral excellence. The main topic of discussion among the members was that of God's relationship to man. The conversation often centered around the interpretations of such Bible passages as, "he who looks on a woman lustfully has committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matt. 5:20). The conversation, of course, often drifted to youth-group social events and other things we would like to do.
Religiously-oriented sex education often is normative and not very explicitly applied to various activities and relationships, especially in the area of sexual behavior at that. Hence young people often misunderstand or misinterpret the teachings of the church. In the first case to follow, the boy is positive toward his church and feels that he and his church see eye-to-eye on sexual behavior, but it is doubtful if authorities in that church would agree!
The church did have some influence on my feelings and was a strong motivating factor in most of my decisions. Because of the church and my own attitudes, I felt the girl I went with should be something special and have virtues above the normal act. Sex was something I could secure by picking up some girl I didn't know and would never see again.
The next two cases deal with Roman Catholic youth who are willing to engage in non-marital sexual intercourse, which Catholicism unequivocally proscribes, but are strict in following Roman Catholic teachings on birth control!
With my boyfriend being a Roman Catholic, and I a Protestant, our views on birth control differed greatly. In keeping with his church's beliefs, he believed that withdrawal and the rhythm method were the only acceptable methods. And if I wasn't to cause him to go against his church, I had to agree. Although I would have felt better about it if one of us had employed a surer method. But I did not desire to lessen his satisfaction with an artificial means if it was not acceptable to him.
The only forms of birth control my girlfriend would allow was coitus interruptus and the rhythm method. She was Catholic and was quite set in her ways on this subject.
Disagreement between adolescents and the church may be a lesser problem than their personal concerns over the disparity between their own ethical standards and their behavior. Middleton and Putney (1962) found more females believing that certain sexual encounters are ethically wrong, but boys and girls both departed in their behavior from their ethical stances. Eighty-four percent and 57 percent of males and females had engaged in heavy petting in the previous three years, while 24 percent of the males and 70.5 percent of the females believed the action to be ethically wrong. Sixty-one percent of males and 18 percent of the females had engaged in non-marital sexual intercourse; 49 percent of the males and 90 percent of the females believed the action to be ethically wrong. Ninety-three percent of the males and 53 percent of females had looked at pornographic pictures; 35 percent of males and 59 percent of females thought it was ethically wrong. Sorensen (1973, p. 408) found that of adolescents who had coital experience, 50 percent marked as true the statement, "I sometimes worry about whether God would approve of my sexual activities"; 42 percent of those who were still virgins also marked it as true.
The situation in regard to sex and family life education in the schools in the United States is changing so rapidly that anything one writes on the subject may be out of date before it is in print. Generally speaking, more sex education is being taught in the schools than was true a decade ago. So much has been said about how inadequate such education is at present, how badly it is needed, and what improvements should be made, that one can anticipate that the reader is aware of this evidence either through experience or otherwise. To cite but one example of the situation regarding sex and family life education in the schools, Bayer and Nye (1964) found in a survey of family life education in Florida public high schools that the area of sex education seemed to be badly in need of professionalization. Only 5 percent of the teachers had had as much as 15 hours of college work in the subject they were teaching; about a third had practically none at all. Ninety-five percent of the teachers were untrained or only partially trained to do the job they were attempting in the classroom. Only half of the high school teachers employed a textbook, and only a small proportion were acquainted with the professional journals. According to the authors, it appeared that a level of amateurishness was present which is equaled in few other areas of high school teaching. In a more recent study of sex education in the high school (Kerckhoff, et al, 1973), questions were put to a national sample of 52 high school family life teachers who were considered to be outstanding teachers. Forty-two of the 52 courses taught were in departments of home economics or homemaking. Classes were typically composed of about thirty boys and girls (mostly girls). The majority of the teachers used a textbook (often out of date, however), popular current materials (from magazines, television, and daily newspapers), and a variety of pamphlets and booklets, tapes, records, films, filmstrips, poems, short stories, novels, scales and tests. However, a major conclusion of the study was that even "outstanding" teachers are unaware of commercial teaching materials and unable to find them. New materials in sex education were not being used. Yet, adolescents are generally positive about the potential value of sex education in the schools. Eighty percent of all adolescents agree that sex education courses in schools are valuable for young people (Sorensen, 1973, p. 425). Only 17 percent of all adolescents agree that sex education courses in school "can't teach me anything" (Sorensen, 1973, p. 378).
Coleman (1960, p. 338), in one of the more perceptive analyses of the school situation, points out that the secondary school has not systematically recognized that a youth culture and an adolescent community is an existence. The school's theory and practice remains focused on individuals; teachers exhort individuals to concentrate their energies in scholarly directions, while the community of adolescents diverts these energies into other channels. Traditionally, schools have been used to mold children as individuals toward ends which adults dictate. According to Coleman, the fundamental change that must occur is to shift the focus; to mold adolescent communities as communities so that the norms of the communities themselves reinforce desired goals rather than inhibit them. In practice this would mean that the school has to come to grips with permissiveness-with-affection morality in some way or another. How to deal with it is a moot question, for some parents would object, no doubt, to any credence being given to such morality.
It is still possible to find students in the United States (and even some in Sweden where sex education has been required in schools since 1956) who have gone through both elementary and high school and yet are incredibly naive regarding sexual functioning. The following three cases are illustrative.
During my junior year (high school), I heard a student remark about another male that 'he probably still thinks that his penis is only used for urinating.' That was my first exposure to any knowledge that a penis has anything to do with bearing children. Still not understanding, I became very cautious about letting my penis touch a girl while dancing for fear that a child may result!
In one particular instance during high school, one of the boys, whether out of ignorance or not, told another boy to ask a particular girl if she was 'wearing a Kotex.' The boy, a victim, acted out of ignorance and asked the girl, shocking her. She in turn ran to the teacher causing quite a disturbance in the classroom.
In ninth grade, my class was reading Great Expectations by Dickens. One day it was my turn to ask the class questions on new vocabulary in one particular chapter. I proudly stood in front of my class and said, "One word which many of you may not be familiar with is intercourse. Does anyone know what it means?" As I glanced around the class all I saw was 30 bowed heads and 30 little smiles, including the smile on my teacher's face. I kept asking if anyone possibly knew the proper definition but I got no response, so I replied, "Well, it's a relationship between two people." The teacher at that point said I could take my seat. My best buddy sat next to me, and he immediately threw me a dictionary and told me to read definition number one: "Sexual union of a man and a woman." That is my first recollection of any sexual terminology.
In summarizing studies of family life education, Mayer and Nye (1964) report that sex education received least attention of all topics considered. They make the following generalizations: (1) the greatest percentage of family life courses are offered in home economics and social studies; (2) more girls than boys are enrolled in high school family life courses; (3) most family life courses are elective rather than required, and most are offered to both sexes; (4) most of the family life teachers are women, practically all are married, and many have had college preparation in home economics; (5) areas involving marriage, dating, and courtship receive the most attention in family life courses; sex education receives the least.
The following cases reflect on sex and family life education received in the school as seen through the eyes of teenagers. Not all school sex "education" is in the classroom, as the first case makes clear.
An experience that brought my mother and I together, and enabled us to communicate, was an extremely embarrassing one for me. All of my girlfriends were beginning to wear bras, and their mothers had talked with them about it. I waited for my mother to say something, but she never did. One day, I decided to wear one of my sister's bras to school. At lunchtime, it began to bother me, so I took it off, wrapped it in a scarf, and put it in my pocket. On the playground that noon, one of the boys pulled my scarf out of my pocket and discovered the bra. I was so shocked and upset that I ran into the school leaving the boys running around the playground, throwing the bra, and flying it on the flagpole. When the principal learned of this, and found out who it belonged to, I was called into the office. She told me that it was a terrible thing and that I didn't realize how serious it was. I was to tell my mother and then report back to her.
The one thing that sticks out in my mind (eighth grade boys' health class) regarded masturbation. The teacher stated never to start masturbating because it quickly developed into a habit of the greatest difficulty to break. I assumed he was speaking from personal experience. At any rate, that was one piece of advice I chose not to follow. I have had feelings of guilt about masturbation ever since I first did it.
The ninth grade hygiene course that was designed to teach about sex for boys was, in my opinion, a farce. The teacher, I think, was trying to become one of the guys and had almost a leering attitude about sex. The one moral view he gave us was, "Watch out, you could get venereal disease or make some girl pregnant." Another reason for the uselessness of this class was that it came too late in our lives. Most boys had reached puberty and had sexual information of some kind or another either from their parents or peers.
My parents thought I was getting the "facts" in school; however, our biology teacher never got beyond the basis of paramecium reproduction.
In high school we kept re-learning all about the menstrual cycle in the woman and that was about all. In one of my physical education courses, the teachers had cut out the last section of all textbooks concerning childbirth.
In high school I can't remember receiving any sex education. However, the general idea was that the girls who didn't know much were the girls who were good and innocent. The type of girls who knew much about sex were the ones who were wondered about and sometimes looked down upon. This was an ideal that was set up much to our disadvantage.
Although my biology instructor had access to recordings on sex education, she refused to play them to our class, although we asked her to.
Most of the information (in a senior social studies class) involved the social nature of sex; venereal disease, for example. It was presented from a negative viewpoint; sex was something to be avoided at all costs until marriage, at which time the first night in bed would be the apotheosis of everything we have ever lived or would live for. I must disagree with the approach used. I do not think that sex should be presented in its absolutely idealized form, as it was here. Without fail, a presentation of this type will result in disillusionment and confusion on the part of impressionable adolescents. I feel that there is no substitute for realism, and that a subject as important to later life and development as sex must be presented in a realistic manner, even at the lower levels. All in all, however, I must rank the course as a rather valuable one. It brought out personal points that I had overlooked for too long, and incited thoughts on other aspects of sex with which I was unfamiliar.
Sex education, if it begins too late in the young person's life and if it is then aimed at classes of both boys and girls, can be shocking to young people involved. The school needs to take this into consideration. Likely there would be no such shock even in mixed classes if sex education were begun well before puberty, before young people are emotional about the subject. For example, I visited mixed classes of ten year olds in Sweden in 1973. They were receiving sex education on menstruation, coitus (including diagrams showing the erect penis in the vagina), and conception, with little or no apparent negative affect.
The following situation took place when I (a girl) was in the seventh grade. We were on the unit on human reproduction. The class hour before we saw the film (a film on human reproduction) our teacher told us about viewing the movie. He said he didn't want to embarrass us and if we didn't want to see it, we didn't have to. The day of the film almost everyone was there, but it was very tense in the classroom. We were all too embarrassed to meet eyes with anyone else. I was unbelievably nervous and actually began to shake as the film progressed. I was so happy to be sitting in the back of the room and especially thankful for having girls on either side of me. After the film ended, the teacher got up in front of the class and asked for any questions. Well naturally, everyone was too self-conscious to ask anything. And one thing I will always remember about this--the teacher got really mad. He said, "Do you think you know everything about this?" This shook me up more because it instilled guilt feelings in me. We were then dismissed early. For the majority of the kids, this was their first factual indoctrination into the human sexual body and its functions. Up to this time, the girls had been informed about menstruation, but only while segregated from the boys. In our school system this took place in the sixth grade, just one year prior to this film. You can't all of a sudden throw the rest of the information at kids under a mixed environment, which they thought should be segregated. The impact of the film was very great on me for the rest of that day, and I was a bit apprehensive about class the next day. Would we have to talk about it again or not? Would he be mad again? This film had really shook me up talking about such a hush-hush subject.
Many adolescents are dissatisfied with the sex education received in the school. They also object to some of the school's Victorian posture toward out-of-school activities, as the following two cases illustrate, one from a public school and the other from a private girls' school.
One afternoon in senior high, my boyfriend and I were outside. We were leaning against a sign. He was holding my hand. He casually reached over and gave me a kiss. A teacher approached us and asked us to come with him to the office. No explanation was made as to the why. Upon reaching the office the teacher proceeded to explain to the principal how we were acting sexually indecent on the lawn. The principal asked us what we were doing, we told him. He then proceeded to give each of us two weeks of detention. After this experience I talked to one of my teachers about what had happened. He explained the general attitude of the faculty was that of zero sexual experience, including holding of hands. It seemed as if the faculty was afraid of our potential as sexual beings.
When we at the military academy went to a neighboring girls' school for a weekend, we had to pay our own transportation, and the girls paid for our room and board for two days and nights. Dances at the girls' school were very strictly watched. In a 30 by 60 room, there were at least fourteen old maid chaperones watching so that we would not dance too close, close our eyes while dancing, or kiss our date on the dance floor or anywhere else. If the girl was a senior, you were allowed to walk back to the dorm, with chaperones. If one was lucky one could sneak a kiss behind their backs.
There are adult-sponsored organizations besides the church and the school that offer some sex education. Such organizations include the YMCA, the YWCA, and Boy and Girl Scouts, for instance.
It wasn't until I was fourteen years old that I went to a YMCA sex instruction course to find out the true picture of life and sex. But this was a little too late.
Literature is a major source of sex information for adolescents. Yet 44 percent of all adolescents agree that they have never read a serious educational book about sex (Sorensen, 1973, p. 385), and 33 percent agree that they have never read a serious magazine article on the subject (Sorensen, 1973, p. 402). A bewildering variety of magazines and books on sex pass through the hands of teenagers (Bernard, 1961; Brown 1961; Report of the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, 1970). Some of it is very helpful to them; some is of dubious value. The magazines beamed particularly at teenagers reveal major positive (fun and popularity) and negative (overweight and underweight and adolescent acne) values of its readers. Adults worried about the effects of the teen-type magazines on the young adolescent may derive some consolation from the fact that these magazines have very little circulation when compared to some of the adult-sponsored magazines for teenagers such as American Girl (Girl Scouts), Boys Life (Boy Scouts), and the several editions of Scholastic Magazine.
Little is known about the extent to which young adolescents read the underground newspapers now available in most cities. High school students have taken to publishing their own underground papers in some communities. These attempt to be more sophisticated than the teen magazines, are often critical of the official school paper, and deal with topics such as war and peace, revolution, drugs, and sex, among other things.
Popular songs are also a part of adolescent literature. Courtship, the downward course of love, war, sex, and the effect of drugs, are common themes.
Teen fashion magazines, popular general magazines, all of the sex education literature, research studies on teenage behavior, and books on morality, are all published by adults. The pornographic literature is also adult-produced, and most teenagers have been exposed to some pornographic literature (The Report of the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, 1970). The attitudes of adolescents toward adult-produced literature varies with the type and quality of such literature.
Clothes, of course, was a subject that never ceased to draw attention and consume time and thought. Seventeen Magazine was just it--we could thumb through that by the hour and never grow weary.
After a few hours in the library with books smuggled self-consciously to the tables, we did learn a little about sex.
I gained sex and marriage knowledge through magazine articles. Several good books were available in the school library, and these formed the basis for my formal sex education.
I had an incomplete knowledge of the facts of life, picked up mainly from some books of my father's that were considered very "dirty" and unacceptable for reading, and that gave out some very wrong impressions.
I managed to pick up satisfactory information from our local library.
The summer after my high school graduation, a book called Facts of Love and Life for Teenagers by Duvall came into my hands. It was so different from the religious booklet I had read! So many things I had wondered about were cleared up. It was very objective and rational in approach. If only I could have read that five or six years earlier!
Thanks to the fact that my sister was a nurse, I discovered books in her library that presented an undistorted picture of the physiological aspects of sex. In her library, I found one book that, more than any other, helped clear up my warped image of sexual pleasure. This book was Baby and Child Care by Dr. Spock. This may seem a very inadequate book for guidance of adolescents, and it is. But in this book was material on two or three changes in adolescence, problems of adolescents, and parental guidance of adolescents. These chapters cleared the smoke from my eyes, and enabled me to tackle the problem of adjusting to adolescence and adulthood with my eyes open. I naturally didn't become emotionally and sexually well-adjusted overnight, with more problems to arise with the advent of casual and serious dating in my life, but at least I was no longer fighting in the dark, and I also felt freer to seek the advice of others.
When I was in junior high school, Playboy magazines were worth their weight in gold. My friends and I would read our "skin books" up in the woods. We'd get these books and magazines from the dump or from older guys. I can remember getting extremely turned on at the sight of nude women. I don't know if I ever had an orgasm because I didn't know what one was at that age. We used to leave the magazines up in our forts in the woods, but then they would get ruined when it rained. For this reason, I started taking the best pictures home and hiding them in my closet. When everyone was gone, I would take them out and look at them. A few times I masturbated while looking at them.
Until I was around the age of thirteen, I thought that sexual intercourse was accomplished by rubbing the penis over the woman's breast. I knew that a baby "came from somewhere down there," but I thought that the man's sperm got into the woman through her nipple and traveled down to her ovaries. My 'big awakening' came (at the age of thirteen) when I found a sexual manual of my mother's hidden in her drawer. My eyes couldn't go fast enough to take in all the new things I was reading! Not only did I learn that intercourse involved the penis and the vagina, but I read, in great detail, the various positions of coitus. I was obsessed with the book and all the things I was learning, and I stole the book from the drawer every chance I could read it in private. I became sexually stimulated every time I read the book, but I had such guilt feelings because I had found sex pleasurable that it took away half the fun. I was also so frightened that I would be caught by my parents or my sisters that I could not sit down at one time and read the whole book (that would have answered many of my questions), but only opened to those parts that "turned me on." As I said, I was obsessed with my new knowledge, and became sexually stimulated reading the book. However, when I finally realized that coitus involved the penis and the vagina, rather than the penis and the breast, I was repelled by the idea. I couldn't believe that any woman would let a man touch that part of her body. Furthermore, I was doubly upset thinking that my very own parents had engaged in that kind of "pleasure." It was also at this time that I first read about masturbation. I had never heard anything among my friends about masturbation, and I had only seen the word written a few places before. My mother's book that I was reading had one short paragraph describing what masturbation was, and I was again fascinated. I wanted to feel myself in "that area" very bad and find out what I was equipped, with but I could not bring myself about to do it. After several days of trying to convince myself that it was "all right," I masturbated and became very sexually aroused. I continued for a few days, but my guilt overcame my pleasure and I quit. I knew that I was doing something wrong, and that I better quit before I became a sex fiend. I settled for rubbing my breasts. This continued for a few weeks until the excitement went away and I was back to where I began, but still having the desire to masturbate.
At the age of thirteen I met this boy at school. We enjoyed playing together, so I went over to his house. This was when he showed me a magazine he had taken from his father. It was just full of pictures of nude women. Almost every page had a picture on it. This was something I had never seen before, and I was quite astonished. After I had found out that he had this book, we became good friends. I would go over to his house almost every day after school. I would play with him, but the main reason I went over to his house was to see his book. Now that I had found my new interest, I wanted to have a magazine of my own. This was my next mission. Within most drug stores there is a magazine stand. And on these stands they usually have some kind of nudey books. Well, this is where I got my book. There was a store close to my house that I got this from. The stand was well away from the cashier or any one else who could see me. Once or twice a week I would go over to it and sneak a look at one of the fold-outs. One day I got daring and decided to take one of these fold-outs. Well, it worked and I didn't get caught. I continued this until I had four or five fold-outs. It was quite a collection I thought. One of the times I can remember taking a whole magazine out of the store in a grocery bag. This really added to my library. Whenever I was alone I would take these out of my hiding place and look at them, I can remember becoming stimulated.
The law (including sex law) is also an adult-sponsored institution with which adolescents may come in contact. Juveniles who are held to be guilty of a sex offense are often not charged with a specific sex conduct violation. The categories "ungovernable," "loitering," "immoral or indecent conduct," "runaway," and similar designations frequently are the preferred charges, particularly if the court has a policy to avoid stigmatizing the individuals with a sex offense. The statutes dealing with sex behavior are phrased in such general and inclusive terms that any sexual act or conduct can be defined as a delinquent offense (Reiss, 1960, p. 311).
While petting as a specific type of activity is not legally proscribed, many of its particular techniques are punishable as misdemeanors or more serious crimes. (For a detailed review of the legal status of petting, see Kinsey, 1953, p. 261-263, and Reiss, 1960. The following is based on Kinsey.) When a minor is involved, petting may be prosecuted as juvenile delinquency or as contributing to the delinquency of a minor. In a court handling girls between sixteen and twenty-one years of age in one of our large cities, Kinsey reported many cases in which evidence of genital manipulation in petting was taken as sufficient grounds for judging the girl to be "morally depraved," and grounds for committing girls to institutions for relatively long terms. Most of the cases that get into court are instituted by irate parents or outraged neighbors. When petting occurs in some public place, as in a moving picture theater, on a beach, or in a car parked on some public highway, the police are more likely to take action. In most instances they simply put an end to the activity; in some instances they may make an arrest on a charge of public indecency or disorderly conduct. The charges are likely to be more severe if genital manipulation or mouth-genital contacts are involved; the latter can be penalized as felonies in most of the states. A statute that prohibits "a private grossly indecent heterosexual act," or "any lewd or carnally indecent act in private," for example, could be used to convict someone for an oral-genital "offense." Both of these could be interpreted to include genital manipulation among the unmarried, and provide maximum penalties of five and three years respectively. Indiana and Wyoming have treated sodomy as any enticing, alluring, instigating, or aiding of a person under twenty-one to commit masturbation, and this has been interpreted to include "any immoral act of sexual gratification which has a tendency to corrupt." In Texas, permitting a person under sixteen to handle or fondle one's genital parts is sodomy, and in Oregon in addition to mouth-genital and anal contacts, any "perverse" genital contact is a crime against nature. In Arizona in addition to oral and anal intercourse, any body contact intended to arouse the sexual desires of a person in "any unnatural" manner is a felony. Although historically sodomy was confined to anal intercourse, today in most states some or all forms of mouth-genital contacts are specifically forbidden, either as part of the sodomy statutes or in separate statutes. Mouth-genital contacts have been considered to be "unnatural" or "perverse" or "lascivious" or "grossly indecent" conduct under statutes forbidding such conduct.
How does this legislation in regard to petting affect youth in the United States? Few youth are aware of any legal question involved in petting. The norms, either adult or youth norms, rather than the legal mandates, provide whatever restraint there is on the petting behavior of adolescents.
The prescribed relationship in which coitus is permitted in society is the monogamous marital relationship. The legal norms specifically prohibit adolescents to marry without the consent of parents. Unless this condition is met, heterosexual coition is proscribed for an adolescent. The statutory law on premarital coitus largely reflects the moral codes from which it originates; the Jewish and Christian heritage in medieval and renaissance Europe, the sex laws which evolved in the English Ecclesiastic courts, and the resultant laws and customs of the early American colonies. Almost universally throughout the United States coitus is prohibited for juveniles, both males and females.
The adolescent is held accountable for violation of adult sexual norms, but is not entitled to the rights of adults before the courts unless he is defined as "not a child." In the latter case, the adolescent is often treated more punitively than an adult for the same act of sexual deviation (Reiss, 1960) This is especially the case when the adolescent is viewed as a morally responsible agent who deliberately or voluntarily enters into an act of sexual deviation. An unmarried adolescent girl who is with child has often been sent to a delinquency institution for her act of sexual deviation, while an older woman who similarly bears an illegitimate child is not usually so sanctioned by the courts. When the adolescent is defined as "not adult", society and its legal arm tend to partially absolve the adolescent from moral responsibility for the deviation and to protect the child from the full force of the sanctions, or all together fail to sanction the behavior. This is usually the case when the adolescent is defined as the "victim" or "exploited party" in the sexual encounter.
Society can do little about heterosexual intercourse when it is a private act of an adolescent boy or girl, but in the United States society has not tolerated the behavior if it becomes public and thereby flouts the mores. Nowhere is this more apparent than in public reaction to the illegitimate child of the single adolescent girl. Adolescent pregnancy, because of its social visibility, challenges the mores, and the challenge has been met with negative sanctions.
The incidence of sex offenses among adolescents far exceeds their adjudication. Although it is impossible to obtain precise estimates of the incidence or prevalence of deviation from the sex norms or legal code's defining sex violations, the rate for adolescents is undoubtedly very high. Kinsey estimates that at least 85 percent of the younger male population would be convicted as sex offenders if law enforcement officials were as efficient as most people expect them to be. Kinsey is not referring only to coital behavior, however.
Given the fundamental problem in detecting and adjudicating cases of premarital coition among adolescents, together with the problematic aspects of what to do with violators, it seems doubtful that rational legal enforcement of norms is possible. It may be of more than passing interest that in over a thousand cases in which young people have recounted aspects of their sex lives to me, that I have no cases that involved confrontation with the law. It is likely that they have never been confronted by sex law enforcement. Such enforcement is not rigorous when applied to non-delinquent youth, and most offenders have been cautious and clever enough, sometimes with parental assistance, not to have been caught.
Whether regard for the law is a deterrent to adolescent sexual behavior or not is difficult to determine. It is often said that adolescents are ignorant or oblivious of the law as it pertains to their sexual behavior, yet Sorensen found a marked difference in the responses of virgins and non-virgins to a question on law. While only 36 percent of adolescents who were virgins agreed that they "don't pay any attention to what the law says" when deciding on their own sexual activity, the majority of the non-virgins (69 percent) agreed that they disregard the law in these matters, and over half (57 percent) of all young people agreed that "our society's values concerning sex come from many generations of accumulated wisdom" (Sorensen, 1973, p. 93, 393).
Strict regulations prohibiting coitus between parents and their offspring and between siblings are nearly universal. It is possible to identify only one or two societies that permit or require incestuous unions, and they are between individuals of a specific social status. In all such instances, the permissible unions are socially-approved mateships rather than casual liaisons. Thus, for instance, the royal families among the Incas and in ancient Egypt are reported to have been perpetuated for a brief time through brother-sister marriage (Ford and Beach, 1951, p. 112).
The extent to which incestuous encounters occur in the United States is not known. Statistical data is at best unreliable because of the remarkable extent to which the incestuous family is isolated from public knowledge and censure. Reported cases usually come to the attention of authorities only after months and sometimes years of incestuous encounters, and then in many cases because of some problem other than incest such as a quarrel or a pregnancy. In a study of reported father-daughter incestuous encounters made by the Children's Division of the American Humane Association under a grant from the United States Children's Bureau, some characteristics of such encounters come to light.3 The encounters reported by legal authorities took place in the home, often at night, over a period of months or years, and the offspring had not only been involved in incest, but the incest was supported by a family norm. That is, there was a clear indication of the mother's unwillingness to interfere in the relationship between the offspring and the father. Most of the parents were relatively young (under 39), and the offspring were in general around fifteen or sixteen years of age. The mother of the incest family was characterized by a lack of contact outside the home, despite her husband's meager earnings in many cases. A strong home-centered pattern seemed to be the rule. Incest families had young children in the home, and the oldest daughter appeared to be especially vulnerable to the father's advances. His personality seemed to dominate the household with the mother passively accepting his behavior.
From verbal reports given by mother or daughter, incest was not the only problem in the home. Frequently mentioned were chronic alcoholism, brutality, fear, and friction. The fathers appeared to be as ineffectual outside the home as they were grandiose inside it.
On the other hand, in incestuous families where physical abuse did not appear to be a problem, where the fathers did not use threats or force to attain sexual encounters with their daughters, the fathers were described as tender, overprotective, and jealous. The father had a great deal of interest in the home. He dominated it, as did the brutal father, but in a different way, such as being occupied with household chores and the children to such an extent that the wife counted for little or nothing. This was in marked contrast to the brutal father who often was accused of having no interest in the home and of running after other women. In both types of families, however, the mother seemed to have been deprived of self-fulfillment even within the family. Either her husband was brutal or by superior initiative deprived her of her wife and mother roles.
In a study of sexual abuse in New York City covering the period 1966 to 1969, the so-called victims varied in age from a low of seventeen to a high of sixty-eight years of age. Almost 40 percent of the cases involved persons closely related to the victim. The offender was a stranger in less than 25 percent of the cases studied. In many cases, the offender could rely on his pre-existing relationship with the victim to gain compliance. This is especially true since the offender was older than the victim, and in many cases, they were relatives or close friends prior to the encounter. In approximately 40 percent of the cases, the sexual encounters were repeated over periods of time ranging up to seven years. In roughly a third of the cases the victim was an active participant in the sexual experience, but their participation does not necessarily imply consent. Sixty percent were physically coerced, and many were enticed by offers of money or other gifts.
Many incestuous relationships occur at homes where the social worker or the police officer never have occasion to enter. For example, the college student, if asked to write a term paper in marriage and family classes, often chooses to write candidly of his own sexual encounters currently or from childhood. Not infrequently students report on incestuous encounters during childhood, preadolescence, or adolescence that have never come to public attention. This is true for students from all socio-economic classes. As reported by Professor Herb Seal (personal correspondence), based on numerous autobiographies collected over a number of years, most incestuous encounters are between brothers and sisters, followed by uncle and niece, stepfather and daughter, father and daughter, aunt and nephew, with no cases of mother-son incestuous encounters. When reporting on incestuous encounters, most students do not write negatively about these experiences. One girl wrote, "I'm so glad my first sexual experience was with someone who loved and cared for me and treated me tenderly." She was writing of an encounter with her uncle. A boy, writing of intimate experience (not including coitus) with his slightly older sister writes, "I remember no embarrassment about the act, nor revolution at the incestuous overtones. I only feared that my brother had seen us naked together." Some do, of course, find the experience to be threatening or frightening even though it never does come to the attention of public authorities.
One night when I was thirteen, I woke from a very happy dream to discover that I was being fondled by my brother. I was very scared and pretended that I was asleep. It was usual for me to fall asleep with the light on and he would turn it off every night when he came in. I was so scared that I slept on the other side of the bed for a few weeks and stuffed the side near the door with pillows. I would scream out in the night and wake my parents. I think they realized what was going on, and soon the nightly visits stopped.
The family experiences of the adolescent are an important factor in establishing the control the adolescent exercises over their behavior. The sex-related experiences, as such, of the adolescent with their parents are almost exclusively through parental example, through verbal communication and admonition, and disciplinary (restrictive or covertly permissive). In other words, the sexual encounters involving adolescents and their parents are seldom incestuous or overtly permissive in the sense that the parent openly encourages intimate sexual encounters between the adolescent and the adolescent's peers. Adolescents are, by and large, highly sensitive to the attitude of their peers in regard to many things, but conformity to parental norms is also prevalent in dilemmas posed in what are perceived to be important and difficult areas of life choices (Brittain, 1963, p. 389). Seventy-one percent of all adolescents report that they do not talk "pretty freely" about sex, yet 50 percent of boys and 63 percent of girls would like to talk with their parents about sex (Sorensen, 1973, p. 71, 389). The parent generation traditionally finds much fault with adolescents and adolescent society. What this means is that adolescents are often adversely criticized by those whom they respect greatly (Kluckhohn and Murray, 1948; Sorensen, 1973).
Parents to us were a great problem. We were continually comparing our parents' opinions about driving the family car, who put in the gas, the type of girls we should be going with, the amount of time we should put in on homework, time to be in at night and time we should spend at home with the family. We usually agreed that our parents lacked understanding of our problems and seemed to be narrow-minded.
These problems have been with us at least since early in the period of urbanization and industrialization in the United States. Lynd and Lynd (1929 p. 522), summarizing the sources of disagreement between boys and girls and their parents in the 1920s, listed: use of automobile; choice of friends; number of times you go out on school nights during the week; hours you get in at night; going to unchaperoned parties; and (especially for boys) spending time on athletics, smoking, drinking, how much he should work, and having a rifle; and (especially for girls) cigarettes, petting parties, dancing, riding to other towns at night with dates. The list, with the addition of the use of drugs, might well have been compiled in the 1970s!
Many young people react to their parents as symbols of the childhood they want to leave behind. It may not be their parents that the young person dislikes at all, but merely their own status as a child (Remmers, 1957; Sorensen, 1973). According to Remmers (1957, p. 93), 79 percent of the nation's high school students complained that parents usually or sometimes underestimated their children's true maturity.
The following cases deal with a strict parental discipline in the area of heterosexual encounters. Adolescents (more often girls) often object to strict discipline in this area. On the other hand, if it appears to the adolescent that the parent is too lenient, they may also object, as in the last case cited.
My family could best be described as a close group. Not only have they tried to choose my friends, they have also tried to limit most social activities. In high school I was not allowed to go to any of the places where other teenagers met and socialized. This included attending games, after-game dances, and the community youth center. It was considered in very poor taste to be seen in large mixed groups. My social life throughout high school was nil. This was especially true with the opposite sex. My self-confidence had been completely undermined at home. My mother thoroughly convinced me that I was so unattractive, no boy would even want to ask me out.
It is of more than passing interest that this girl, within a year after moving away from home, had been involved in necking, heavy petting, oral-genital contact, and sexual intercourse up to as frequently as three to four times per week.
My mother always waited up for me to come home after dates. She always insisted on knowing where we were going and exactly what time the scheduled event would be over. If I arrived home later than half an hour after the function's finish (we always went for something to eat), I had to answer a number of pointed questions. I always dreaded those sessions, and, rather than telling her we had gone riding for an hour, which was all it amounted to, I would lie about having to stay late to clean up after the dance. My father was also most strict in his ideas about expression of affection in dating. One night after I had been going with a certain boy for about eight months, my father saw him kiss me good night in the car outside my home. When I went in, he told me I was never to go out after dark again. Reactions such as these instilled a great fear and feeling of guilt within me.
Because my parents desired to have the very best for me, they sent me to a private, religious-affiliated high school. My father flew into a rage every time a boy asked me out.
Mother waited behind the door at the proposed time of return to check on the fond farewell, and make sure that they were not too fond too. Many's the embarrassed boy who found a face peering at him in the middle of a good night kiss.
My parents gave me a lot of guidance, but I often wished they had been more strict with me.
Adolescents as a rule are not unreasonably critical of their parents. Often they approve of their parents' disciplinary action; this does not mean that the discipline is necessarily of a permissive nature.
I was unable to date until I became fourteen and was confirmed, and then I was not allowed to date anyone more that two years older than I. (I recommend this procedure and plan to use it on my own children.) When I questioned this discipline, I was told that older boys have already dated a lot, and have different ideas about dating. They often want to kiss more and do other things. Also, they treated girls differently, which may make a girl feel that boys her age are inferior.
My parents worked from these basic ideas: (1) each child should be treated as an individual and allowed to seek his own ambitions. I have never been compared to my sister and told, "Well, she can do it--why can't you?" (2) I have never had strict rules set down for me. Thus, I have never had rules to rebel against or argue with my parents. My parents realized that situations vary so much that strict rules don't always apply. They feel it is better to teach a child to make decisions for himself. (3) My parents hold the policy that they will always consider my requests and say "yes" whenever possible, unless there is some very special reason to say "no." After giving their reply careful consideration, they also explained to me logically the reason for the answer. Thus, I could make my own decisions after that, because I understood the situation. (4) My parents have always seen to it that I was well aware of existing family problems, etc. They were not impressed upon me, but rather that we could work them out as a family group. This I feel made me better able to cope with my own problems. (5) My parents always encouraged me to join in group activities with other children like Brownies, Girl Scouts, church and school organizations. I was never forced to do anything, but they always presented me with the opportunities. The great trust my parents have in me is shown by the responsibility they present me with. I must admit that on a number of occasions I have been downright shocked and almost frightened by some of these responsibilities, but I also feel honored and thrilled to think that my parents would trust me to such an extent.
There are two basic ways in which parents can chaperone adolescent dating. One is to accompany the couple when they date. This is completely out of fashion and disapproved of in adolescent dating in the United States, except in the case of the young adolescent who is not old enough to drive an automobile. In such cases the parents may accompany their offspring to an event, may serve as chaperones at the event, and may drive them home from the event. Chaperoned dating by parents or by parent surrogates is still present in some societies; rural, southern Puerto Rico, for example. The second way is for the parents to accompany their children as the generalized other, that is, by socializing the children in such a way that the parental standards are internalized and help to guide the adolescents' behavior in critical periods of intimacy during dating.
Sometimes after French kissing and heavy petting, I did feel guilty and I'd start to cry. Perhaps the worst part of it was the fact that I felt I was letting my parents down because I knew how much faith and trust they had in me.
My high school boyfriend and I only progressed to "limited petting." Here was the cause of our split, for I could become involved no farther. It appears that I had an "automatic timer." There was something I owed to my parents for being so open, frank, and concerned about my personal questions. I tried to call it fulfillment in their eyes. Coming from my permissive background, it is extremely easy for me to want to give love and affection, for it is an inbred part of my sexual identity. I have become too physically and mentally involved without really wanting to, and that is only to the extent of "limited petting" and humping with clothes on. Then the "automatic timer," a concept hard to relate to others and hard for them to understand.
I refrained from intercourse during high school more out of respect for my parents than anything else. I know that if I would ever get in trouble with an unwanted pregnancy, my parents would die from humiliation. The family name meant more to me than sexual intercourse, although at times this conviction was very hard to uphold.
Her folks were usually in bed by 10:30 so it was not necessary to go into the country and park. I feel from analyzing my experience that it would be a good choice for all parents to go to bed relatively early. This does not force a person to find a place in the country where things can progress almost uninhibited. It is true that things can take place in a girl's home quite easily also, but I believe a couple is more aware of the trust that has been placed in them in the home. Incidents that one might regret are not as likely to occur in an atmosphere like this where reality is much closer at hand.
Many parents do only a minimal amount of chaperoning of their adolescents' dates, and allow considerable room for personal discretion.
We had many chances for petting even though we weren't old enough to drive a car and park in it; we were alone so much of the time. I think this was a big contribution factor in our sexual relationship. This all lead to intercourse, which took place when we were about fourteen and a half.
We had too many occasions to be alone. My parents completely trusted us. They went out many times, and many nights they went to bed too early.
My parents had a cabin a short distance from our home, and that's where we headed to be alone. Everything was lovely there. We felt nothing could go wrong with the atmosphere of safety. We were more relaxed and had less self-control.
The night it happened (first coitus), we were watching television on a large couch in the cabin. We fell asleep in this position many times, and when his parents woke us up in the morning, they never said anything about it. On this particular evening the show was boring.
My mother never set a curfew for me to be home; it was left up to me to be in at a decent hour. As a result we would park or sit in my yard for an hour or more before going in. This made petting happen very often, whereas if we would have had to be in earlier, I don't think it would have happened as frequently.
Usually these "make out" parties would be held at a person's house whose parents were away for the weekend. During these sessions, once in a while we would have access to a liquor cabinet.
His parents went to church every Sunday, and we usually occupied the house while they were gone. He had seen me without clothes before, and neither of us felt especially guilty.
We were alone quite a lot of the time, either at his home or mine, and our involvement became quite serious. Many times we would be in bed with no clothes on.
During the summer, the personal, intimate moments progressed. Since my room at the lake was in a separate cabin some distance from the main cabin, and since my boyfriend usually slept out in a tent at night, nocturnal visits occurred.
All parents act as sex and family life educators for their adolescents, either implicitly or explicitly, positively or negatively. Some parents give no explicit sex or family life education, at least none that their offspring recall or are aware of as adolescents. The majority of adolescents (57 percent of boys and 53 percent of girls) deny that they were taught that sex was natural and healthy (Sorensen, 1973, p. 76).
There seemed to be a barrier between my folks and myself. My boyfriend's frankness about sex irritated me, because the subject had always been suppressed for me. I had felt that sex was something bad, so the transition to complete freedom in discussing it was quite traumatic for me.
Although I had begun the normal menstrual cycle in the seventh grade, why I should have it or what it involved in its process was never explained to me. As a matter of fact, I was given no sex education whatsoever except for what I learned for myself from various sources. As I look back upon it now, I am surprised that my high school dating life was as unharmful as it was to me.
I believe not knowing much about sex and my inquisitive mind were the reasons for dating as much as I did in school. I really wanted to find out about sex, but I didn't know who to ask. Sex was always a taboo subject in our house, and there were no educational books on that subject left around the house for me to read. One time I asked my father if I could have a pocketbook on the magazine rack by the name The Facts of Love and Life. I had two reasons for asking for the book although I already had a copy of it stashed away in my drawers for those private things. Nevertheless I asked him. My two questions? Number one: I wanted to find out if he approved of my reading such a book, and number two: I felt that this would provide an opportunity for him to explain what this love and life stuff was all about. Apparently, the opportunity wasn't great enough, because he merely said that I couldn't have it, and the subject was never again mentioned.
One of the most deflating questions asked me just a few years ago by my parents was, "I suppose you know about sex by now?" I was too embarrassed to say no.
I began dating when I was a freshman in high school at the age of fourteen. I had no previous parental guidance and therefore was not ready for dating, and had no idea of what to expect from dates. I had heard about petting, necking, and sexual intercourse from friends, but was very naive in knowing exactly what these experiences involved or how to handle these situations in dating. I knew very little about the nature of boys and what they expect on dates. I believe my naivety had an important effect on my physical involvement with the first boy I dated. I dated steadily, for I had to learn from experience, and this often can be very painful.
Other parents give specific and precise instruction and, if it is accepted, it is operative.
One night we were talking and he started kissing me, only this time a little more vigorously than he had ever done before. I found myself thinking to myself how wonderful it was to be there close to him and hearing him saying that he loved me. This is the first time I was able to realize how easy it would be for one thing to lead to another and for a couple to have intercourse in the process. But mother had told me it was the girls' place to break it up at this point, and not to necessarily blame the fellow for getting carried away. A boy is more easily aroused because of his physical makeup. I thought we had better be getting home.
Some "good" parents feel that they should not so much as show affection toward each other in front of their children.
My parents aren't very expressive or excitable people. They have little outward show of affection or emotion--especially my father. I think that this made it especially hard for me to think that sexual intercourse could be even tolerable. I can remember awakening in the night and hearing them in their bedroom having sexual intercourse. I was actually embarrassed and a little shocked as I was lying there in my room, just thinking about them having intercourse. I had never really thought of sexual intercourse as an act of love, because I had had little exposure to any adult show of affection. My mother and I have never talked about the beauty of sex and how wonderful it can be. I had to find out for myself that sexual experiences with the right persons can be some of the most fulfilling and treasured moments of a relationship.
Adolescents do not frequently report being aware of positive parental examples of proper behavior towards the opposite sex, therefore the following case is somewhat atypical, though the situation may not be uncommon. The boy in the following case felt that his parents were wrong in their sex teaching but right in their behavior, and it was their behavior that he appreciated. In other words, a reverse case of "practice what we preach!"
I never felt that their values had much if anything to do with our behavior. In fact it is their love for each other that has been a basis for forming my relationship. Throughout their married life, they have been extremely close. Their great love for one another was always apparent, and has made love and its expression very sacred to me. I was never made to feel that the expression of love was wrong.
In the following cases there are two major categories. First we deal with those cases in which the adolescent receiving the sex education from his parents regards it as inadequate or bad education. In the second set of cases we deal with sex education that the young person felt was adequate and good sex education. I emphasize the fact that it is in the eyes of the receiver of the education that these cases are evaluated as "good" or "bad." Yet I think the adult reader as well as the sex educator will realize the wisdom in their evaluations. In the "good" group are found so many cases wherein the parent continued to "level" with the child as he reached different "teachable moments" in his need for sex and family life education. This is not always the case; sometimes parents are more reluctant to discuss sexual matters with their teenage offspring than they were when their offspring were children. Shipman (1968) reports that 45 percent of college females questioned estimated that their mothers answered their childhood inquiries on sexual subjects casually and truthfully, while only 20 percent of them felt that similar inquiries during puberty and adolescence were answered fully. Males indicated a similar drop in sex education with their fathers from 15 percent to 4 percent, and with their mothers 21 percent to 10 percent. The following is a case in point.
The most serious failure of my parents was that they failed to continue my sex education when it was needed most: preadolescence. They didn't explain to me the physiology of sex, nor did they give me guidance with the emotions that accompany adolescence. This failure to guide and instruct me during adolescent years led me to other, not so wholesome, sources for the information I desired. Also, as a result of this, I lost a great deal of ability and desire to bring my problems to my parents.
Poor parental sex and family life education as viewed by the recipient is a common occurrence.
My mother greatly dramatized the significance of my first period by, after the initial explanations, announcing to me, "You are now a woman!" and exiting to the sound of trumpets. I was at a loss as to what to think. I had no idea that I was endowed with the facilities to conceive successfully.
I had been taught that a "nice" girl doesn't let a boy get away with anything, and I lived it religiously. My mother especially had stressed the evils and pain of it. I knew nothing of the sex feelings of boys; I thought that all men used sex only for their own pleasure, but my boyfriend taught me that it was a way of communication between two people. Little by little I learned to accept my body and its sensations.
I was informed that if I ever became pregnant outside of marriage, that I was "to be horse-whipped and should never attempt to return home again." The lectures on chastity and virginity depressed and frightened me beyond comparison. I was constantly warned never to trust boys because they were interested in only one thing--sex. I can understand some basis for her warnings, but I feel that they hampered me more than they have aided me. I find it difficult to trust boys because in the back of my mind are my mother's warnings.
I remember a warning Mother gave me once when I was dating this boy at age fourteen. He was also fourteen. I came in one evening after my first good night kiss, and excitedly told her what had happened. A few days later she took me aside and told me, 'he's probably getting old enough now to get serious about girls. When boys start getting turned on, you may notice some movement in their pants. Now if this happens, don't be frightened, just don't lead him on.' She said nothing further, and what she had said left me very confused. I didn't know whether to watch for a minuscule quiver or a major earthquake. Fortunately, I witnessed neither phenomenon until I was older and had learned enough physiology to understand it.
My mother was ironing and I was just sitting in the room--reading a magazine and talking to her. She started to explain menstruation to me--what it was, what to expect, what to do, etc.--and told me that I would be starting to menstruate soon. It was a very general and factual explanation--I really don't remember what was said exactly, but what stands out in my mind is my mother's appearance and attitude throughout the talk. She seemed very nervous and embarrassed--so distressed that I got the impression that the whole subject was something that just wasn't discussed. Consequently, whenever I had questions as I went through that inquisitive period--I never even considered bringing them to my mother. I wanted to avoid another such encounter.
Sex was a ticklish subject to discuss with my father, and was avoided on the part of both of us except for telling each other the latest dirty joke that we had heard, and his few words of advice, "Keep your zipper up."
When a daughter of a close friend of the family got pregnant and had to get married, the trouble and unhappiness in my girlfriend's and my relationship really began. My father asked me to quit seeing my girlfriend... I vividly remember one instance that illustrates the intensity of the unhappy situation caused by my father's disapproval of my girlfriend's and my relationship. One night I was dressing before going over to her house. My father said rather emphatically that I was not going to see her. I finished dressing and started to the garage to get the car. My father shouted that I could not use the car. I calmly replied that I would walk. He came snapping back that the door would not be open if I went to her house. That shocked me! I glared at my father in hate, walked back down the hall to my room, and reached for my suitcase in the closet. My father, following right behind me, grabbed my shoulder as I reached for my suitcase. I exploded! I grabbed him, cocked my fist, and stopped as my mother was crying out at us!! I let go of him, shaking. My parents looked at me in disbelief and went into their bedroom, my mother crying. I went to bed and cried for the first time in years. I loved my girlfriend and I loved my parents. Which one should I please.
Father mentioned once that I should not get too serious about my high school girl because he dated mother through high school and college and if he had to do it all over again he would not be married to her now and wouldn't have the same job. What could be worse than to have feelings like that?
One night, between my fifteenth and sixteenth year, something wonderful happened to me. I had a dream about an orgy, and with great ecstasy, I awoke and found I had had a wet dream. Previously I had by hand aroused myself to an erection, and while dancing with girls, but never had I had an ejaculation. From then on I continued to occasionally have wet dreams. My mother scolded me about them but I told her that they were normal because I had read a copy of Duvall's Facts of Love and Life for Teenagers, which was the best thing that could have happened to me. My mother finally asked the doctor and he assured her that it was normal. Then she wanted to know what I dreamed about, but I wouldn't tell her.
I was seventeen, she was fifteen. Five days had passed since our meeting. This night was special. We were going to have a picnic on an island with another couple. When my mother heard what we were going to do, she said, "Stay out of trouble, now. Don't do anything you might regret for the rest of your life. I don't know Sally that well, but I am sure she is a nice girl. But remember, one night isn't worth ruining your life. So be good and have a good time." It was perfectly clear to me what my mother had been trying to say, but I couldn't understand why. I was in love with Sally as a person and companion, not as a sex partner. He held hands, wrestled a little, and kissed a few times--no more. Why had Mom been so blunt and suggestive about something that had never crossed my conscious mind? It was so unlike her to say something like that. I was hurt that she would question my high moral standards and my relative naivete; or at least, that she was not aware of both of them. But the incident also raised some questions in my conscious mind as to whether or not it was abnormal to be more interested in the girl and the relationship than the potential of the situation as a sexual experience. Even after she had left for the summer, I wondered if I had missed something by not participating in more sexual experimentation with her. Strangely enough, I remember this as sort of a turning point in my life. It was the beginning of an ever-growing interest in and quest for sexual experience.
Mother gave me a book entitled For Boys Only at this juncture of my life, being told to read it and ask any questions of anything that I didn't understand. I was never going to let my parents feel that I was 'ignorant' and thus--no questions.
My dad explained it to my brother and to me that there were two sexes and that was about the extent of it. My mother told me to expect the fact that women get irritable at certain times and also to expect that when a woman reached the age of forty or so her glands begin to change and she undergoes a time of high nervousness.
It was two days before I left for college that my parents first confronted me with a discussion of sex. My mom sat down with me and told me of the evil girls in college looking for husbands and willing to do anything to get one. I still haven't figured out if I was more embarrassed or if it was harder to keep from laughing. I had gone steady in high school and had had coitus with my girlfriend. For parents to come to a high school senior and try to explain the evils of sex is as ridiculous as trying to tell a prostitute the evils of promiscuity.
My father was furious at me. "What is a sixteen year old girl doing out until 2:30 in the morning?" was his first question. I wasn't sure if he was mad at me for staying out too late, or if he thought my boyfriend and I had done something wrong. I laid awake for the rest of the night wondering and worrying if I were pregnant because I had let my boyfriend kiss me. For all I knew, this was how pregnancy started.
A few adolescents remember the good sex and family life education that they received from their parents, but only a few.
I have been eternally grateful for the way my mother handled sex. She always answered my wildest questions with an unembarrassed answer. I could reject most uninformed gutter education because I already know the true answer. When I started to date, my mother once again took an active part in telling me how boys act, their desires, and their respect for a girl. She warned me not to let a boy get too worked up, because it wasn't fair to him, and he would lose his respect for me. It was at one of these sessions that she told me about intercourse in clear, understandable language.
My mother is well aware of things that kids do today, and she lets us know exactly where she stands on smoking, drinking, sex, etc., but does so in such a way that she does not put a taboo on them thus making them more desirable.
Mother makes each one of us feel that she had a faith and confidence in us so that we are free to make our own decisions. This just naturally makes us realize we could risk losing her trust in us by doing something we shouldn't. But if we should do something wrong, we are usually the first to tell her. A quality that I greatly admire in my mother is that she knows when to quit playing the role of a friend. This has always been my own personal view, and I know a number of kids would disagree with me about it. What I want is for her to be a mother more than a friend or a good buddy.
Through my adolescent period, my mother was my greatest help. She would suggest how I could change, have long discussions with me about my problems, and tell me of her experiences in dating. She was always on the look out for books on dating and etiquette. After I had read a book, she would sit down and discuss it cover to cover. Sometimes she did not understand my problems, but I always listened because she had some good ideas. I owe much to my mother for her patience and guidance through a very difficult part of my life.
As I began dating, my mother told me that certain things are expected of a girl. She said that every boy wouldn't be respectful, even though at first glance he acts like he is. She would remind me from time to time, "that if you act like a lady, boys will treat you like a lady"; that is one piece of advice I will always remember and I realize it is so true.
First, it was a good night kiss, and then a kiss now and then, now it was "necking" and sometimes "petting." Mother had taken me aside and told me the facts of life, so I was well aware of what could happen.
Although sex is not a major topic of discussion in my home, I did gain knowledge of the human body, and my father and I discussed sexual importance in the marriage and ideas about sex in general, frequently. Therefore, from my family experiences I came to view sexual desires and activities in a healthy attitude. I came to accept my body and consequently my sexual drives as a natural and wonderful phenomena. I was also taught in my environment to be realistic and to see things for what they really are rather than how they may appear to be. This, I think, is a major factor in my acceptance of sexual activity as something that is an ever-present fact rather than something that can be pushed into the background until after marriage.
Dad did tell me "about the birds and the bees" one night, and emphasized that sex is one of God's good gifts and that it wasn't to be abused. As I went through high school, I thought about sex often and joked about it, but I always felt that intercourse was one thing which was too wonderful a thing to have indiscriminately, and that I would wait until I was married.
I used to fight off masturbation and worry about its effects. Then one day, dad set me straight on it. From that time on, it seemed like a release, not an exodus. It is really surprising when I think of what a few, though shaky, words can do when said with a spirit of understanding.
The last (of several) serious sexual conversations I had with my dad was on the occasion of a forced marriage of a mutual acquaintance. Again, we considered the moral responsibility toward others in sexual matters. This conversation ended with a slogan, which may be considered crude by some, but was perfectly acceptable in the father-son relationship I had with my dad. "A hard pecker has no conscience."
I must say that my dad was very careful to give me all the information that he could and then let me make up my own mind. Whenever I had a question or a problem, I knew that I could always ask my father. Just knowing that made my adolescent life much simpler.
Mother, knowing my interest in girls, sat down with me and told me the role of the male and female in reproduction. I can still remember how embarrassed I was, not daring to look at her during her talk. She, at this time, also told me how to act, to treat girls, and to get along with girls my own age.
Here are pretty much the exact words my father told me. 'I would like nothing more than to see you walk down your wedding aisle a virgin. If you feel you cannot contain this natural desire any longer, and you should become pregnant, come to me immediately. I will be shocked, of course but I am here to help you. Just say no. Keep saying no and the situation should remedy itself. Do not act on impulse. If you feel you must go ahead, tell your companion to supply some kind of contraceptive.' How is that for an explanation! I am sure this would shock my mother, but I would never think of doing anything to disappoint my father.
There is little evidence, at least in the United States, of parents actually encouraging heterosexual activity on the part of their adolescent offspring. That there is some, at least sub rosa, support for "sowing wild oats" on the part of the boy is well known, however. The empirical evidence on parental permissiveness is extremely limited. Bandura and Walters (1959, p. 141-187) gave some attention to the subject in an interview study of 52 adolescent boys and their parents. The families studied represent a fairly broad cross-section of socio-economic classes. Fathers were considerably more permissive than were mothers. Most fathers regarded petting as a normal and inevitable activity, and some admitted that they would not be too surprised to learn that their sons had had coitus. Most mothers who had faced the possibility that their sons might engage in petting or coitus had attempted to arouse sufficient anxiety about the possible consequences of coitus to deter their sons from going so far. Some of the fathers of aggressive boys (the study was concerned with aggressive boys) were, in the words of the authors, "surprisingly permissive" of heterosexual behavior. Some fathers appeared to feel that if the boy could conquer the girl, then there was little to be said or done about it. While some of the fathers of the boys in the control group were equally tolerant, they did not appear to regard coitus as a personal conquest. Bandura and Walters conclude that perhaps the most usual attitude expressed was to expect and permit some petting, but to draw the line on coitus.
In terms of behavior, the aggressive boys engaged much more freely in heterosexual encounters, leading to coitus, than did boys in the control sample. They also displayed somewhat less anxiety about sexual behavior. Bandura and Walters suggest that these differences may be a product of the greater permissiveness for heterosexual encounters on the part of the fathers of the aggressive boys.
In general, encouragement on the part of parents is not encouragement in intimacy but encouragement to date. We must assume that parents know of the "risks" of erotic encounters when they urge their adolescents to date. Few mothers are as openly accepting of the possibilities as the following mother, however. She wrote in response to a high school counselor who criticized her daughter for hanging around boys "too ostentatiously."
'I don't want her criticized. I told her she should explore the world. If she relates to a boy so warmly that sex enters into it, she is not to be inhibited' (Grafton, 1964, p. 7).
We usually think of parents being anxious if their adolescent daughters rather than their adolescent sons do not date. Sometimes parents also prod their sons.
I was indifferent to dating in general. This attitude lasted until the prom when our mothers (my best friend's and mine) told us that if we didn't get a date to the prom, we would have to take them. We both got dates promptly, needless to say.
The case above and the case following, as well as several cases reported in an earlier chapter, indicate that adult-sponsored institutions often hold and enforce norms that are in conflict with parental norms. The case to follow involves a mother and her daughter, a child of low intelligence. As reported in the press, the daughter gave birth to her first illegitimate baby before her fourteenth birthday. Fifteen months later she gave birth to a second baby, followed by a third illegitimate baby eleven months after that. The babies were all taken in and cared for by the girl's mother. The mother, in attempting to deal with the situation, advised her daughter to use birth control. The mother was subsequently convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor for having advised her daughter to use birth control methods (Civil Liberties, April 1965, p. 1-4).
Kinsey estimated that approximately 8 percent of the male population in the United States had engaged in sexual contacts with animals at one time or another. Animal contacts are largely confined to farm boys (Kinsey, 1948, p. 174). This form of sexual activity is most common in adolescence and rarely occurs after the twentieth year, although it may continue to provide a significant source of outlet for a very small number of adult males (Ford and Beach, 1951, p. 145-146). In certain instances, a boy may become strongly attached to a particular animal and develop emotional ties resembling the sexual bonds formed between two human beings. Conversely, an animal that is repeatedly associated in sexual alliance with a human being may become strongly attached to that person. Kinsey states that male dogs that are masturbated regularly sometimes transfer their sexual responsiveness to that person who stimulates them and cease to react to receptive females of their own species.
Among the Masai, it is customary for older boys to have sex relations with the she-asses. Young Riffian boys also sodomize she-asses in the hope of developing themselves sexually and of making the penis grow (Ford and Beach, 1951, p. 147-148). Among the Tswana of Africa, young boys assigned to the care of cattle frequently engage in intercourse with the animals. However, older boys regard this practice as silly, and they may beat any youthful comrade who is caught in the act. Bestiality is familiar to Gusti men and it is considered rather harmless, but boys are reprimanded and warned against this activity. After age sixteen, if a boy is found copulating with an animal, it is taken seriously and is treated as incest or mental disorder.
Ramsey (1943) found that his United States, boys frequently reported that they had been sexually aroused while observing the reproductive anatomy or sexual behavior of animals. Thirty-five out of the 285 boys had engaged in sex play with animals, and one of these admitted copulating with an animal. Judaeo-Christian tradition and the laws that grew out of this tradition prohibit human-animal sexual encounters, but adolescents are not necessarily aware of these proscriptions.
In the United States, vaginal coitus is the most common form of sexual encounter between human beings and animals.
I guess I had the normal sex desire of an adolescent boy, but on our isolated farm there was no outlet for its expression. I felt guilty masturbating; there were no girls to date unless one had a car; and I was too religious to make passes anyhow. But there was a barnyard full of domestic animals, and at one time or another I attempted intercourse with at least a cow, a horse, and a chicken!
Alternative avenues of encounters include oral-genital contact (usually involving a nursing animal such as a young calf and a boy or man), anal intercourse, masturbation of the boy or man by friction against the animal's body, fellation of a male animal by the human partner, and masturbation of male animals by a human.
On the farm, we used to wean calves by getting them to drink from a pail. We would let the calf suck our fingers while holding them in the pail of milk. Sometimes if I was alone, I would put some of the milk on my erect penis and try to get the calf to suck it instead. It wasn't too satisfactory, however. The calf was too rough.
All human encounters have consequences. It is difficult to deal with the consequences of sexual-erotic encounters apart from other aspects of the encounters, but it is important to do so if we are to evaluate the quality of adolescent sexual life and the effectiveness of current socialization, including current sex education. Are adolescents themselves satisfied with their sex lives? According to Sorensen (1973, p. 46), 60 percent of adolescents agree that they get a lot of satisfaction out of their sex lives (80 percent of the non-virgins and 38 percent of the virgins), and they are usually confident about their sexual attainments (Sorensen, 1973, p. 47). In this chapter and the next, we will see to what extent our case data support Sorensen's generally optimistic findings about adolescent sexual experience. We deal with outcomes as seen by the participants (the adolescents), not as seen by the parent generation nor as seen by professional people watchers. Data are presented on 152 cases in which adolescents themselves evaluate the outcomes of their various sexual encounters. The cases, all from the author's files, are chosen because they are evaluative rather than merely descriptive. The evaluative words and phrases in each case are underlined. These words and phrases are presented in tabular form at the end of the second chapter, under the heading of positive and negative reactions. The author made decisions as to whether a response is categorized as positive or negative. In some cases the decision may appear to be arbitrary, but in most cases the adolescents' intentions are clear from the context of the case.
By and large adolescents in the United States are not prepared in advance for the changes that come with puberty, especially sexual awakening and other sexual changes; it is part of the identity problem as the adolescent experiences growth, bodily changes, the appearance of pubic hair, change of voice, among others. In Wolford's study of adolescents (1948, p. 322-323), two fifths mentioned physical features that worried them. The bodies that they inhabit trouble adolescents; they do not only inhabit bodies, they are bodies (Remmers, 1957, p. 61-62).
The hardest part for me was accepting myself as a sexual being after the long period of ignorance.4
Just about anything that pertained to sex embarrassed me.
I was brought up in what might be classified as a strict Judaeo-Christian atmosphere. I spent a good deal of time being ashamed of my feelings and rebuking myself for ever having thought certain things.
I could not eradicate from my mind that sex was dirty. This attitude was the hardest that I had to overcome in my adolescence.
For boys, nocturnal emissions are often traumatic because of ignorance as to what is occurring. Nocturnal emissions are a personal rather than an encounter experience in that there is no other person involved and the emission happens when the person is asleep. However, the experience is apt to be an encounter in that the accompanying fantasy involves another person. The situation is also social in that the person's reading of the reaction of society to this sexual outlet has something to do with his feeling toward the experience.
This situation (nocturnal emission) resulted in extreme personal embarrassment. I went to great lengths to avoid discovery by my parents.
I had several nocturnal emissions before my father explained, and I was very scared that something was organically wrong with me when I was secreting such a substance.
I looked at this as a mess--it irritated me to arise at night and have to clean up a mess, but the dreams were usually pleasurable. I must admit that sexual pleasure with woman was more of a conscious desire than before, but nothing was done.
At first I was terrifically embarrassed, thinking I had wet my bed; the stickiness of my pajamas the following mornings was an absolute mystery to me! I admitted the fact to my father one morning. He replied, "It's quite all right, son, as long as it wasn't intentional." The word intentional threw me for several years, as I had absolutely no comprehension as to the meaning of that statement.
My problems wore solved when I happened to read about nocturnal emissions or "wet dreams." I found that they were a perfectly natural way of getting rid of stored up sperm. This information was of great use to me.
First masturbation can be an awesome experience for an adolescent male, especially if he has not experienced orgasm through nocturnal emissions or coitus. Most adolescent males have not had the latter experience before beginning to masturbate.
One time I began to rub my thighs together, and all at once, a strange feeling came over me deep in my groin. I had achieved orgasm and ejaculation for the first time in my life. The experience was a strange and frightening one at the time. I found that by using my hand to stimulate the penis I could experience this wonderful new-found feeling.
I had never before experienced anything like it, which goes without saying. I was thirteen years old.
The first time was a very unique, stimulating, and fascinating experience. I remember almost reaching climax two or three times and then chickening out. I sensed something was going to be ejected out.
It seemed terribly pleasurable.
I remember vividly the traumatic moments immediately after I had completed the act of masturbating for the first time. I did not know what I had done or what had happened or if I would ever be able to urinate again. Boy, was I scared! I was afraid I had committed some irreparable act. How comforting it would have been to have been told some of the modern information about masturbation. This helpful information I found out seven years later!
After the first awesome experience, masturbation often continues as a regular experience. Of the cases to follow, the first group deals with more or less negative reactions to masturbation. "Even in our present and relatively informed era, masturbation may still represent a source of considerable conflict and discomfort" (Group, 1968, p. 83). The first cases are all male. The latter deal with females. More adolescent boys than adolescent girls masturbate. The first two cases are, no doubt, typical of many; namely, a mixture of physical pleasure with feelings of concern and guilt.
I practiced masturbation in my room and found it very satisfying. I repeated this most every night and had some fear as to what my parents would do if they caught me. I felt guilty about doing it, and felt that somehow masturbation was going to stunt my growth.
I discovered the vast amount of pleasure and release that I could receive from the tensions of adolescence through masturbation. I was unaware of the term masturbation at the time or had the bad connotations that the more conservative segments of our society gave to it. Soon, through reading books and magazines, I learned that masturbation could be very harmful and even lead to insanity. I also read more enlightened articles, which said there was no empirical evidence for such accusations, and that masturbation leads to no harmful effects except the guilt feelings it causes and the subsequent withdrawal from social life. I could not bring myself to forget what the conservative authors said and accept what the more enlightened ones said. Needless to say, I had many guilt feelings myself. I tried to hide my masturbating from my mother by using socks, but it was quite useless as she could see the stains on the sheets and the socks. Neither she nor my father ever spoke to me about it or mentioned it in any way. I was not able to open a discussion with them and express my guilt feelings. My deep personal Christian convictions only served to increase my guilt feelings. I got the impression from all that I read and heard that the church condemned masturbation. I began to feel guilty because I was committing a grave sin. Yet, I could not deny the biological drives of my body; my will power was not strong enough to abstain. I was neither desperate enough nor brave enough to turn to someone whom I could trust for guidance. Fortunately enough, however, I had many responsibilities at home to keep my mind off my struggle much of the time. I also studied hard--and got good grades. Most of all, I had many friends at school and in the neighborhood with whom I could spend much of my time in various school, church, and community activities. While these factors helped to balance out my struggle, they did not relieve it. Gradually masturbation merely became a habit for me, and the guilt began to outweigh the pleasure. I would stop masturbating all together for a while. Then I would have a day, resort to masturbation, and be left with tremendous guilt feelings. The struggles continued into my years in college. By that time the fantasies did not mean much to me any more. I had conquered all by my secret little seductions and affairs and had no desires to engage in such fantasies anymore. When I got to college, I quit masturbating all together.
It was always connected with fear. I was afraid because I might be caught, and this would be a humiliating experience under the circumstances. I was once caught in my room when my brother was about twelve years old and I was sixteen.
I would often include in my evening prayer a plea to "help me forget about sex."
The result was a strong emotional conflict that in the end, I believe, destroyed much of my academic effectiveness during my freshman year in high school. I went to great lengths to avoid masturbating. I put myself on a schedule of only allowing it once a week, of getting out of bed and walking around my room, and even went to the extent of applying sanctions upon myself.
A little book on Christian dating, published by an independent religious organization, gave me the impression that masturbation was the "sin of self-abuse." I could hardly help myself from masturbating, and I felt extremely guilty because the booklet thoroughly condemned it. It gave me the impression that any Christian should be able to break the habit, and thus it caused me no end of concern, as I was not able to do so; I wondered if perhaps my faith was in vain. Besides that, I thought it was ruining my health and causing acne. I tried hard to break the "iron habit," as the booklet called it, but to no avail. I promised myself that I would promise to contribute a certain amount of money to some charitable cause such as the Red Cross, every time I did it; but that did not help either.
Someone told me it affected your eyesight, and I started to believe them, because I had to get glasses.
It seemed to be a necessary evil and I would repent to God for this sin, and I even asked his help to make me stop, but when I did stop for a week I would have wet dreams, so it did not seem to make any difference.
This may have had some effect on my lack of desire to date, I don't know.
I believed that I was sinning in the eyes of God, because I had looked lustfully at the women in the magazines, or the sexual fantasies created in my own mind.
After I learned that well over 90 percent of American males masturbate, I lost some of my guilt feelings.
There were times when my guilt would overwhelm me and then I would go for maybe two weeks without masturbating.
The following cases deal with negative responses of females.
I can remember having the worst guilt feelings. I remember crying and thinking there was something wrong with me. I thought that perhaps I was mentally ill.
I always felt guilty because I was touching "bad" parts of my body.
Some of us had heard that if a girl masturbated a lot, she wouldn't be able to have children when she got married. This was disturbing to hear, especially after we discovered that masturbation meant the very thing that we had been doing once in awhile.
These ideas (ideas that I read on masturbation being shameful and harmful in books about sex) did bother me, but I know I never actually became neurotic about them. Whenever the thought would occur to me, I would go ahead and masturbate regardless of how much my conscience said I should not. I would be tempted, and, letting my body rule my mind, give in with almost no resistance. Immediately after the short act had been culminated, I would feel pangs of guilt about how a nice, wholesome, conscientious girl like me could do such a thing. If they knew, what would my friends think of me? Then I would pray to God for forgiveness. These pangs of guilt seemed to ease after my mind was turned to something else, or after I had bathed, which seemed to cleanse me both physically and spiritually.
...it was always with a sense of guilt, I even went so far, on more than one occasion, to promise God that I would not do it again, but, of course, I did...
The following cases deal with more positive reactions to masturbation. The first four cases deal with boys, and the last three are cases of girls.
We seemed to accept this new form of pleasure as an exciting form of growing up and achieving identification with the male sex.
I have never had any guilt feelings whatsoever about masturbation. I considered this auto-eroticism a normal pleasure of my body.
At the book rack (in the corner drug store), I read that masturbation among boys was almost a universal practice. I didn't want to be left out of anything, so I continued masturbating. It was kind of habit forming, anyway.
This brought a relief of tensions, and gave me a feeling of satisfaction.
I have never had any guilt feelings about this, and consider it perfectly natural and beneficial.
I never felt ashamed or guilty about it.
Although the idea of the injection of the penis into the vagina required time to adjust to, I feel now that my experience of masturbation helped me at the time to grasp or imagine the sexual experience.
Besides the problem of accepting oneself as a sexual being, another major difficulty that plagues adolescents is their difficulty in social relationships. A third of the boys and girls in Wolford study had had difficulty as children in establishing friendships, and as adolescents a large percentage of them reported feelings of inferiority and timidity which interfered with their social relationships, both to their own age and with adults.
Shyness of my body and of bodies of the opposite sex had a great influence on my sex life and dating pattern up until my junior year in high school. I was quite content to just masturbate and dream.
Nor do adolescents know what it will mean to utilize sex as a positive factor in encounters with members of the opposite sex.
I'm afraid that, ever since childhood, I've been oversexed. I sometimes wonder about this. As far as I can determine, it was born in me, for I can recall sexual excitement long before I learned the "facts" about sex or began to think of sex with a certain morbid excitement. Sexuality has had some very unusual and very stimulating effects on me with certain emphasis on my mind, for instance: occasionally I feel after an orgasm--serene and awake, as if the power of my thought had been magnified ten-fold, or perhaps merely my body is temporarily satisfied. I wonder if it will be so when I get older. I can recall one occasion, when I experienced a total serenity through sex. A friend had invited me to an auction. At one point I was standing in front of one of the tables, jammed forward by the crowd. Behind me stood a girl, probably a young married woman, on the plump side. She was watching the auctioneer over my shoulder, and her thighs and belly were pressed tightly against my behind. After a few minutes of this, I began to feel an intense sexual excitement. But the delightful thing was that time seemed to have stood still, or rather my desires stood still, quiescent, neither vanishing or overflowing. She couldn't have pressed more tightly against me if I had been lying on her in bed. I could feel the hardness of her garters against my legs, and she must have been wearing a thin dress, because I was so conscious of her warmth against me and the curious thing was that she kept making slight movements, each one of which made my excitement rise. I still don't know whether she was aware of my excitement, and experienced it herself, but her movements seemed calculating, a tiny wriggle that convinced me that I could actually feel her pubic hairs against me. After what seemed like a quarter of an hour (but must have been much less), I could bear it no longer. I am sure she must have felt the slight convulsions of the climax; as if in response, her whole body pressed tight against me. I stood there, very still, watching the auctioneer selling a large clock at what he claimed was a fraction of the market value, and feeling as full of sweetness as a barrel of sugar. It lasted all the time I stood there, only a few minutes longer, because the selling stopped and some of the crowd disappeared. The woman behind me went. I didn't turn to look at her; I suppose I felt ashamed. And yet I felt no guilt, not a shred, and all the way home that night there was complete serenity inside me. I was a virgin then; I sometimes felt guilty about masturbation (although never very much), but this was very different; it had taken place out in the real world and yet it was like a sexual daydream. I always feared that the world of imagination and the "real world" would prove to be completely incompatible, would simply never connect, so that I'd be doomed to a life of frustration. But this occasion seemed like a promise of something better, a fulfillment.
It was during this period (sophomore year in high school) that my sexual drive seemed to be increasing. I was masturbating more and more, and sometimes at the rate of two or three times a day. I seemed to become frustrated because I was trying to be a nice guy and respect my girlfriend, and on the other side of the coin I was going out of my mind with sex drive. My friends were telling me of their conquests, and here I had not even done any serious petting with my girl. My ego started to suffer, and in a drive to "keep up with the Joneses," I was determined to try and have sexual relations with my girl. I had mixed emotions. The urge for intercourse and heavy petting was high in my mind, but my respect for the girl seemed to control my passions.
It was not until my sophomore year in high school that I felt my yearnings towards a girl. She was very pretty, extremely shapely, and most important, very easy to communicate with in the school halls. Without really knowing why, I became obsessed with jealousy when I saw her talking or even mingling with my male friends.
Youth culture is something new, strange and often very intense for adolescents. It can also threaten the democratic idealism of adolescents, for youth culture is cliquish. Girls frequently speak about the problems of the youth community.
There were many discussions in high school on how to rid a high school of the problems of cliques. We would have all-school meetings on this subject in classes and in organizations. It was always decided that we should try to rid ourselves of the cliques and try to become more unified. I now realize that the thought of not having any cliques can never be solved.
We formed a very tight relationship. We were a bit too clannish. It was not intentional, but circumstances made us that way. I am sure that we did more in the way of high school activities than we had to, and many times I felt that we were making enemies because of it. No one ever made any point of this, and we continued to be elected to class office, etc., but nevertheless, I felt something was off-balance.
Empirical studies show that young people in the United States enjoy dating. In the Wolford study (1948, p. 303) nearly three fifths of the students rated their dates as "enjoyable," and nearly a fifth "satisfactory"; only a few considered them "boring."
The first two cases deal with reactions to random or casual dating. The remainder of the cases deal with going steady, except for one case dealing with reactions to non-dating, which is a serious problem for the person who wants to date and for some reason is not able to.
As I look back over my high school years, I am happy that I casually dated many instead of steadily dating only a few. I personally would discourage going steady because I believe high school students need more experience in dating youth of their own age.
The one thing that bothers me is the routine of parking after every date. There must be better ways to spend free time. One way to spend time is to entertain at home. I never did this. I never had a party in my home or had a girl there. Instead my car was my home. I always went out to park to have privacy. These parking sessions were not entirely for sexual purposes, but we often talked a lot. To give an example of how extreme this parking became, I once parked for seven hours.
Too late, in some ways, I have realized that there would have been nothing wrong with dating one boy for a period of time. Unknowingly, I passed by many valuable experiences. Perhaps the greatest of my losses was not to become acquainted with more than the superficial qualities of my date. At the time I believed I knew each fellow and why he ticked, but now I do not feel that way. I was too overly concerned with how I was going to end the relationship. True, high school years should be fun years, but they should also be a time of interrelating, of finding out what other people are like under the surface. I had the opportunity, but I lacked the key to meeting someone half way in a serious discussion. I also had the misconception that one should not allow himself to become emotionally involved in a relationship until he is searching for a mate. It appears to me now that it is more healthy to let one's feelings go--to admit having crushes, for that is a natural thing. For some reason adults tend to criticize a teenager who one month says he is in love with one person, and the next month a different one... I needed to know that there was nothing unnatural or detrimental in dating one boy for a while, but no one could help me.
Those who begin to date early also begin to go steady early, which can indicate a progression in possessiveness or a progression in intimacy, or both. The following cases deal with positive reactions to having gone steady in adolescence. A later section deals with negative reactions.
Any success I had in my studies in high school would have to be attributed to her. If it hadn't been for her, I would have just goofed my way through, like all of my friends. She always kept me on my toes with our keen competition and study sessions.
This brought me a great deal of security. This going steady relationship assured me of a date nearly every weekend, and most certainly for all the big events of the school year. This was a great relief for me because it had never been easy for me to attract the dates I wanted; now I was always assured of desirable company. Not only was my interaction with him most pleasant, but he also led me to more intimate acquaintances with his friends. It was great to get to know them and to spend time working and having fun with them. We were included in parties that I would not have been invited to otherwise. Although I had held offices before we began going steady together, I was elected to an all-school position and appointed to hold other responsibilities that I am certain were aided by my association with him. He had an amiable personality and was well liked by the entire school, and I am certain that the students transferred some of his easygoing attitudes to my more individualistic personality. Our relationship raised my social standing.
It is a great opportunity to really get to know how the opposite sex thinks and acts. This can never be accomplished in random dating, since the confidence and closeness is not present. One can never talk as freely on certain subjects if he is just with a random date, whereas with a steady boy or girl one can feel at ease or secure when talking about sex or whatever is being said. Furthermore, I believe if a boy and girl really like each other, their sexual experience increases without many guilt feelings. The partners usually become more liberal in their morals as they gain more confidence and mutual trust in each other.
I would not have traded that senior year of going steady for anything.
From these experiences, I gained a great capacity to empathize, a heightened sense of compassion, and an awareness of the delicate balance that must be maintained in meaningful personal interactions. Our relationship will always remain in my memory as one in which an honest love grew for a time. Never will I regret having experienced the thrill. I love him as someone who cared for me and gave me love when I badly needed it, who gave me a companionship I will always treasure and smile on when I look back at it. He has been a gem in my life, and if he had not been so much a part of me, I would have been a lesser person for it.
I can look back now over this experience with feelings of appreciation and happiness. I am happy that I got to know and understand this person, grateful for the learning experience. I was attracted to him because he was cute and had a very cheerful, friendly personality. He treated me like a girl. Another attribute was his skill in communicating. I felt very much at ease with him from our first date, because we had complementary personality characteristics. He was a talker; I was a listener. Another quality that I liked was his honesty. At that time, I appreciated it when he told me frankly whether I had gained weight and whether he liked my clothing. These things were important in high school. Also he taught me all I needed to know about sex and what a boy liked in a girl. He had personality and character traits which appealed to me: empathy, forgiveness, kindness; the relationship was my idea of a "typical" high school romance.
In cases to follow, the reactions are essentially negative toward adolescent going steady encounters.
Going steady was a fad during my high school days. This was unfortunate because it means that there were very few dates available for those not going steady.
This going steady is not good. I get too serious about a girl right off the bat. This shows lack of dating experience. I simply haven't been around enough to know what I should be thinking right now. I would say going steady in high school is the downfall of good wholesome relationships, for one soon becomes excluded from his group. He does not gain proper knowledge of the different types of people of the opposite sex. When the time comes for him to find one to marry, he may be misled to a maladjusted relationship. If I had the chance to live it over again, I would be sure not to go steadily with anyone, but would play the field in my younger days. Even though I learned much by going steady, I feel I could have learned more by random dating of which I never took part.
I believe my biggest mistake in dating was trying to force myself to become serious before I was ready. It is not possible to follow the crowd in a situation such as dating, especially serious dating, and you can't expect to fall in love just because everyone else seems to be.
To have gone as steadily as we did leaves me with the impression that we were cheated, or perhaps deprived is a better word, of something in life when really quite young. It's like a chunk of our lives is gone and we realize that it wasn't used to its fullest advantage.
My fiance and I have been dating since we were sophomores in high school. I have never dated anyone else and neither has he. I can't help but feel that every time I see others in the process of random dating, I will feel a certain degree of regret.
In view of all my dating experience, the only one I really regret is going steady for two and a half years. Too many problems arose that I could not handle objectively. Many of these problems could have been solved if the period of time had been shorter.
We started to center our everyday living plus our future around each other when we were only fifteen years of age. This made it very difficult when we broke up, because it was the first time since our early teens that we experienced life without a planned future and someone to love. Both of our futures were completely changed.
The moral of the story seems to be: don't go steady while in high school. Had I gone with her much longer, I might have been the father of her child, which would have destroyed my chance to go to college. I heartily agree with the idea of not going steady because kids in high school do not seem to have a mature enough set of values to cope with the problems that eventually arise. I learned a lesson from going steady, but I don't recommend it as a correct way of finding out.
I don't know how many kids my age have ever loved someone deeply, but growing up is, I think, hard enough without complicating one's life with love. I think growing up and being in love as a teenager can turn out to be a nightmare. There are so many conflicts.
I am sorry I didn't meet more girls. I found a girl I hope to some day make my wife, but I found her too soon.
I'm sorry for becoming involved with him as I did, for I know we had more than a sexual relationship. Naturally, it was there, but we did have more than that. I just hope that I will be able to successfully discourage my children from going steady in high school. That is the time when many girls, unaware of the facts of life, get into trouble without knowing what they are doing.
The following case is that of a non-dater. Gossip, envy, and sublimation have been referred to earlier, where non-daters were discussed.
My family moved to a large city when I was to begin the eighth grade. This was a big step for me. I began to withdraw into a shell. I knew no one and made no attempts to become acquainted with them; the popular kids were all going to parties and having dates for dances, and all this time I was becoming an extreme introvert. Because of the lack of experience in dating in junior high, I lost one of the important aspects of any human being, self-confidence.
Petting and kissing do not necessarily lead to less guilt feelings than coitus does, in that those who engage in coitus are less likely to be persons who are violating their own standards (Reiss, 1964, p. 138). Youth are concerned with the age-old question of "how far to go" (Poffenberger, 1960). The following are cases relating to reactions to and outcomes of dating intimacy short of coitus.
Our relationship lasted approximately six months (eighth grade), and we broke up because she didn't like it when I tried to French kiss her. I can still remember her saying, 'It's like spitting in each other's mouth.'
We (ninth graders) spent hours arousing each other. I remember being both excited and having a horrible feeling of guilt. Soon after this, we pushed each other away, and I started crying.
Well I just decided to stick with athletics, and hang it up with her (a sexually aggressive female). The feeling I had that night was a rather new one. I was mildly disgusted with her, but yet as if I could kick myself for blowing such an opportunity. I could kind of feel myself being pulled under, from what, I wasn't absolutely sure. I suppose the Missouri Synod still retained a hold on my ankle as I unconsciously struggled to free myself. The Judaeo-Christian instruction could not be easily kicked aside.
The fear of someone walking in our house always took away some of the pleasure I might have received from the situation.
Looking back on our relationship, I realize that it was probably sex that ruined it. We let it become the major factor, and love was not even present. I wish I could somehow warn girls in high school to refrain from similar activities, no matter how hard it may be at the time--because nine times out of ten, you will later meet the boy you are truly in love with, and you will feel deeply sorry for everything you have done.
On New Year's Eve of my senior year in high school, I faced the dilemma if we should have sexual intercourse or not. I refrained only because I had decided in advance.
Finally she just told me off. One statement she made I will always remember. She said, 'Do you go on dates to have fun, or just to make out?' This made me do a lot of thinking. And it finally opened up a new line of thinking for me. When I went out from then on, I did not think principally of making out, but of having fun. From then on, I enjoyed going out on dates much more than I had ever had in the past. The making out was still there, but that was in second place to fun.
He begged me to have intercourse with him, but I just couldn't. I wasn't sure enough of him. I wish now that I had. I couldn't care less now if I'm a virgin or not, if he was the cause of my not being one.
The limits of our lovemaking were extended much too far from the beginning so that boredom with in our just necking and petting came early in our relationship.
Sex seemed like something dirty to me, and I feared that further sexual involvement would destroy my image of her. I felt that we had warmth toward each other from the heart, and that this warmth was the single most important and necessary element in our relationship.
I think we were doomed from the time when I first placed my hand upon her breast. It was the start of something that completely overpowered us. We both enjoyed our sexual relations, and it practically ruined both our lives. We were both immature and also very lucky. However, I am thankful for this experience. It has given me a much more broad and mature outlook toward interpersonal relations. Now when I date a girl and feel stimulated toward her, I think back and remember how close I came to ruining a pair of lives, and somehow then I am no longer stimulated. Hopefully this experience has now placed my values in such a position that when I fall in love with a girl, any physical relation which may develop will be kept to a minimum.
We got so completely caught up in this sexual exploration that all other aspects of our relationship suffered.
It was time to leave, so I drove my date home, and told her that I never wanted to see her again after that first experience for me of petting to orgasm. After this date, my feelings toward dating and promiscuity were very skeptical. I was in a state of confusion. After talking to my peers and friends, I found out that this type of thing happens when two people are sexually aroused.
By the time we broke up, we had shed many tears and felt the frustration that accompanies a social taboo on what had be come our most common mutual activities. We had continued to enjoy parts of our relationship, though we found that it had be come too physical to continue, leaving us little to do when we weren't in the front seat of my car or on the bed in her house. Perhaps if society had allowed us complete sexual freedom, we would have spared each other much pain with little risk (for I always carried condoms and even put one on on several occasions), but as the situation stood, our consciences would not permit the satisfaction we sought, nor would our relationship terminate without much lingering sexual desire for each other. We both felt morally obligated to abide by each other's standards, but could not understand the real why in our seemingly blind acceptance of these standards.
A big part of my problems was that I was scared of him, of his penis. Actually, I had never seen one or knew what one looked like, but it seemed repulsive to me. I couldn't accept him fully or give myself fully because I had this barrier. Also, because I held back so much, he eventually had to initiate any activity and then I felt constantly like I was being "dragged into it." I never allowed a desire, and therefore very little participation.
Schofield (1968, p. 224) points out in his study of a random sample of British youth that first coitus was often unpremeditated and unplanned, and a majority said that they did not enjoy it. It is likely also true, however, that boys rehearse first sexual intercourse "over and over again in their fantasies" (Sorensen, 1973, p. 191). The following are case histories indicating reactions to and outcomes of first coitus among adolescents in the United States. For many it is far from totally unpremeditated or unplanned. The cases are arranged so as to deal with encounters in which the person reporting reacted negatively first, then cases with mixed reactions, and lastly cases with positive reactions.
Sexual intercourse came to be almost an animalistic act and not any enjoyment. This came from the fact that she bled some and I received about the same feeling as I got from masturbation. I did not get any great amount of pleasure out of it, and now I doubted if there was any pleasure in it. I had to tell the boys in school that it was great. It was social pressure that made me do it; now I was a so-called man, and I did not want to do it again until I got married.
She did not get pregnant but the experience was so basically character-shaking that we broke up, not really enemies, but still terribly afraid of each other. As a result of this terribly traumatic experience, I, a high school freshman, resolved never to become so involved with any woman as I had with her, with the exception of a wife; and I have held true to this statement to this day.
After everything was over, I had a tremendous sense of guilt because I knew I had used this girl to my own advantage.
We just lay together and wondered whether she would get pregnant or not. Neither of us desired such a consequence. I suffered greatly for the next three weeks until she told me that things were okay and she wasn't pregnant. I have never been so relieved in my life. I came to the decision that it would be best for both of us if we ended our relationship immediately. She took it very hard. I haven't had a date with her since then.
By the next day, I felt very guilty and unhappy with him and with myself. I felt worse because of my parents; they had always been so understanding and comforting, and now we were taking advantage of their trust. The thought hit me that I was no longer a virgin and never could be again. I started to worry about what would happen if we didn't get married after we had been so free with each other. He felt very bad too, and the talks we had concerning it seemed to strengthen our relationship. I don't think not being a virgin will have a great deal of effect on me if I marry him, although I wish it could be the other way. If we don't get married to each other I'm afraid I might always have guilt feelings about it and will never feel right about having been someone's besides my husband's.
This was the first and only time I have ever had intercourse. I had never in my life felt so ashamed of myself. I probably would not have felt so bad for so long if I had not been going steady with a girl other than the one I had intercourse with.
My closest friend had told me not to worry about it. He tried to convince me that it was all very natural. I rebelled against my previous standards and decided that I would try to have sexual intercourse with a girl with a "reputation" (I was going steady with another girl) to satisfy my curiosity. I can say that the experience was quite traumatic for me, but I must admit that as I look back on the incident, I regret it ever occurred. I realize my weakness was my concern for my standing in the eyes of my peers.
She (my steady) cried all the rest of the night. I (fifteen years old) told myself that I would never try it again until I got married. I felt that I had committed a major sin and every time I saw her I felt bad again so never took her out again.
I didn't enjoy myself in my first experience with sex because there was no resistance at all. Sort of like playing a competitive sport when your opponent is not trying. When one football team gets ahead forty to nothing then all incentive to play is lost.
I felt that I should lose my virginity, since most of my friends had. I took out a girl with a "reputation" and had intercourse. I was terribly let down. While I was with her, I was very scared both of being caught and also of doing something wrong. When it was over I felt like spitting on the girl.
Later I began to feel guilty about what I had done. Not guilty for her sake, but for my own. It was then I began to realize what moral values I held, and that what I did went against them.
During the following weeks, I realized that it actually is not worth all the worry, grief, pain, fear, anguish, etc. that premarital sexual intercourse can bring. I cannot get myself to believe that there is enough satisfaction and enjoyment out of it to counterbalance how discontented I felt.
I am no longer a virgin. I have no excuses to make for myself for this and don't know why I did it. I keep asking myself why, but I have no answers. Following that night, I no longer wanted to date him, and I don't think he really cared one way or another. So we didn't date anymore. With my virginity went my self-respect. Though I can't bring back my virginity, I can and am trying very hard to bring back my self-respect. It hurts me now when a fellow does get fresh, because I want him so much to like me for myself, not for what sex he can get out of me. The experience taught me that the sex drive is nothing to fool around with, neither with a woman or a man. I don't know what kind of effect it had or has on me regarding sex. I do think it was a very serious mistake, and something I don't plan on happening again until after I am married. I do not think of sex as anything ugly, even though my experience wasn't beautiful.
Being the first time for either of us, it was impulsive, awkward, and even ugly. I felt like I had just become a man, but it left her depressed; she cried and refused to see me for days.
The next day she came over to where I was working with two of her friends. She was very proud of the fact that we had had sexual intercourse, and had told her friends. This bothered me very much because I had considered our affair more personal than that.
I don't think that the intercourse lasted more than two minutes at the most, but the sensation seemed to last forever. The trauma that she experienced must have been much more than that I experienced. She didn't sleep at all that night, and when I took her home the next day, she was still not sure that we should not talk to a priest. We never went to any sort of counselor, and apparently the initial shock wore off her, because we had intercourse again and it became a part of our relationship. For me, intercourse rounded out my personality in my estimation. I am rather aggressive naturally, and this rather toned me down. I was practically bursting with pride in myself at having proved that I was a man, and I wanted desperately to tell someone what I had done, but for her sake I didn't. I am still enchanted with her a little, I suppose. I suspect I will never forget her as being the first girl I ever had.
It was not all I had expected, but very satisfying. I feel it was satisfying partly because now I had experience in the sex act.
This action on our part virtually assured us that we would be going together for a long time. Not only because of the pleasure we received by the union, but we were held by a sort of common bond which no one else understood. Breaking up with a steady you have had intercourse with is extremely hard.
We lost our virginity to each other. I think we were both surprised that it had actually happened, but neither of us was regretful. We had not lost our respect for each other, but it had deepened. I had come to terms with myself and that "old morality". I felt that I had done what my love and the situation present had required of me. I had done so freely and willingly, and I did not feel that we were wrong. My greatest desire was to serve him, and be one with him in our union. It was not a passing fancy or romantic illusion, but a commitment to each other in a relationship of trust.
We loved each other so deeply, so sexual intercourse did not seem bad or wrong. I was afraid of becoming pregnant after the first time. I was also afraid, but to a lesser extent, that he might be disappointed in me. He did not think anything bad of me.
She and I both experienced mixed emotions. She had tears in her eyes because of what we had submitted to and I felt extremely sorry that I had hurt her. Yet, we were both happy because we had experienced the event which we thought would eventually make us one.
I was eighteen at the time, and it was too long to wait to lose my virginity. I remember reading somewhere that most of the great Elizabethans lost theirs at about the age of twelve, and no one thought anything of a girl having a baby at thirteen. Maybe that is what is wrong with modern society, and the reason for the overemphasis on sex. I know I should have had my first experience at thirteen, when I became aware of my body. The five-year wait was too long. I sometimes wonder if I shall ever be sexually healthy, or if I shall always have a slightly "morbid" approach to sex because of that long wait when it seemed to me that I was doomed to a lifetime of frustration.
I told my steady I was truly sorry for having taken out another girl merely for the purpose of having coitus. I meant it, but I don't think I'd trade this experience for anything. In the first place, my curiosity was quenched about intercourse. I knew what it was and I liked it. But I also realized love and respect for a person means much more than a one-night stand with a bed girl.
I had intercourse with her. Thus my ego was bolstered and now I will be satisfied if I never have sexual intercourse until I marry. It seems that I needed the experience to prove my manliness to myself so I am therefore glad it is out of the way.
As I entered her body for the first time, I experienced a selfish satisfaction, but also felt a warm glow towards this little girl who trusted me so completely. I may have even had a slight twinge of conscience because I had planned the whole thing.
If I "make out" with a girl and have in my mind the intention to have sexual intercourse, I will demand of myself a penance which might be giving up cigarettes for a day, which in painful because I smoke quite a lot, or meditating for several hours on my knees beside the bed without slouching. If I slouch, my penance is merely extended. Heavy petting--such as digital stimulation of the clitoris--might demand, for example, such a penance. I do not consider what I have done to be wrong, but I pay my penance just in case it is. I do it to take the doubt out of my mind. I will consider it wrong and thus play it safe.
We first deal with positive or mixed reactions to adolescent coitus as a regular practice.
I (about fourteen and a half years of age) suddenly felt more mature than the other guys I ran around with. We never justified our sexual relationship by saying that we would get married. Rather, we knew it was good because of our immediate deep love for one another. What we did, we did out of real love for another. I very much regret that I cannot consider myself a virgin, because a girl is supposed to be a virgin when she marries. I am not a virgin, but the way I became "un-virgin" and the boy I became "un-virgin" with do not make me feel cheap. What I have learned from our relationship about sex is the most important achievement I have accomplished. Sex is not so all-important in a boy-girl association. I know I will not have sexual intercourse again before marriage. That is one thing our relationship has taught me that I am sure I will live up to. At least it has given me definite convictions on sex.
During that year (high school sophomore), I had sexual intercourse with two girls. The girl I first had coitus with has a "fast" reputation, and I had terrible guilt feelings at first. I felt that I let down my parents, my society, and my church. Needless to say, however, it wasn't long before I pined for more of the same, and conveniently, a girl finally came along without a "bad rep" that I could have intercourse with. I used to visit her every Wednesday night, when her dad had a meeting and her mother had choir practice.
During the summer between our sophomore and junior years, we attained enough security to become intimate. Through the summer and into the school year, we had intercourse many times. At first I was very frightened and thought against doing it, but it became so enjoyable that it became a part of our lives, and I felt very insecure and even in physical pain if we did not have intercourse regularly. Before Christmas I was pregnant.
Little thought was given to pregnancy in our happy little isolated world (high school juniors). We were only concerned with each other and not possible problems. After several months of this dream-world existence, the problem did arise; she was pregnant. After much discussion we informed our parents and planned a hurried wedding. My senior year in high school was spent as a married man.
The following cases contain negative responses to adolescent coitus, though reactions are mixed.
I think and believe that this experience (steady dating including coitus) has more than any other helped me to shape my basic moral values in premarital intercourse. It is exceedingly difficult to make it a good experience. I could not relax to even enjoy it. Too much guilt, worry, and anxiety become involved. Yet, I do believe that experience is the best teacher. I do know that if every girl could experience such an experience as I have, there would be a lot less illegitimate children in this world. Too often this is the case. It isn't that kids are getting involved, it is that they are getting caught before the lesson is learned. It sends chills down my spine to think what my life would be like today, had I not been as fortunate.
I know now if I ever marry, I will always consider my years with him as a healthy experience and one to be cherished and never be ashamed of. I value our relationship as one that helped both of us in our attitude toward goals and ideals to try and attain. I have never experienced any other sexual partners besides him, not because I haven't felt the desire, but because I don't want to become that engrossed in a person unless I am positive that the end result will be marriage. I am not condemning my relationship with him, but only wished we had used more discretion, and that it had happened when we were both more mature, for I feel that it would have brought less conflict and would have resulted in a very happy and fruitful marriage.
We started having sexual relations about nine months after we started dating. I remember feeling extremely guilty. We went to church every Sunday, and I felt repulsed with myself for living as if nothing happened. Going to church and gossiping about the "bad" girls was a giant farce. I remember being constantly depressed. My grades finally started slipping to Bs. Life was getting too hard to face. He solved the problem for me by leaving for the service.
I am sorry now, and I guess I must be satisfied with the fact that I have learned to control my emotions now, and I certainly will be more careful not to let it happen again before marriage.
I spent agonizing nights wondering if I was pregnant. When I found out that I wasn't, I returned his ring. When he called, I wouldn't speak to him; in school, I ignored him.
It is a true pity that we had such a strong association when we were so young. I am sure if we had been older, we would have realized the extreme seriousness of the results of sexual intercourse. To us, a pregnancy seemed so impossible.
We were both coming to be more mature, and we were thinking about what our lives would be worth if we would have an unwanted child. We talked this matter over, and decided we should quit having sexual relations. It was very hard to quit, but we both knew it had to come to an end. From that time on, we have come to show our love by doing more for each other. We started giving rather than taking to overcome the taboo relation that had come into our lives. From then on, when we went out, we doubled with other couples. We found that we were having just as much fun doing things together as we had when we were having intercourse. We found that this took the risk of ruining our lives away, and it also strengthened our love for one another.
I knew that there was no turning back with him. But I also knew that I could not go on like this. It reached its peak when I missed my period. I know little about sex, but I did know it meant serious trouble. My first thoughts were panicky and irrational. There in nothing worse than to have to go through this traumatic experience alone. I was fortunate to survive this traumatic experience. My period came after much worry and prayer. I believe it is hypocritical to say, but true that I was never so close to God in my whole life.
This was the beginning of the end. I had finally lost my respect for this girl, for she had nothing more to offer me than petting in the nude and sexual intercourse. It was hard for me to break up with her. I was afraid someone else would be getting what I had been getting, and I couldn't see this. I finally forced myself and broke up with her with the thought in the back of my head that I would never start this with the next girl I went with, and never ever did progress this far. It was amazing, but she said I would lose respect for her and stop loving her if she let me do this. I told her I wouldn't because I loved her and this was done in an act of love. I just hope my foolish actions will not hurt her in anyway. I think I would always blame myself if I was the one who started her on this track. I also hope these actions never hurt me in anyway. This was probably the worst mistake of my life, and I hope that I can get away without paying for it.
Our breaking up was due to my belief in the double standard. It was all right for me to do what I did, even I sometimes felt dirty about it afterwards, but I had no respect for her whatsoever for what she had done.
A few adolescent couples "progress" from having coitus to oral-genital relations.
This to me (a boy) brought on the peak of stimulation and excitement probably because I knew that pregnancy was impossible if both of us reached orgasm by oral-genital means. We used this method regularly during the unsafe period, with full intercourse plus oral-genital stimulation during the safe period for sex release.
The following is the reaction of a girl having been picked up by a slightly older boy and propositioned to have coitus.
I didn't know exactly what he meant, but I had an idea and I knew it wad wrong. I found myself struggling and finally getting my way with a later, very embarrassed boy. I had done nothing, but I felt dirty, cheap, and almost most like a "woman of the world." I went home, went to bed, and cried myself to sleep, in hopes that God would forgive me.
Of the following two cases, the first is reaction to male aggression and the second is reaction to male lack of aggression.
I was startled when he made an attempt to unbutton my blouse, and then I slapped him good. I felt I was right in doing this because my morals are high, and this was no way for a decent boy to act if he plans to keep dating a girl. This was the last date that I had with this boy, and I realized that his goal for dating was to get sexual satisfaction.
It could be that he was too nice. Women, you know, are funny things, They want the opposite sex to treat them with kindness, but they also want a challenge in the boy they date.
Over and over again, studies in the United States and in other countries indicate that peers are a major source of sex information and attitudes. Lynd and Lynd (1929, p. 146) wrote as early as the 1920s that sex instruction by parents was still far from universal. In their sample, they found that 42 percent of the boys and 22 percent of the girls stated that they had received most of their information from boy or girl friends. Twenty years later, Wolford (1948, p. 108) found that over half of those interviewed reported that their friends had been the chief source of sex information. They indicated that they found it easier to obtain information from friends than from their families. Less than half the students interviewed had received sex information from either parent. Surveys of sources of sex information over and over again substantiate that peers are a major source of information; parents are at best a secondary source (Sorensen, 1973).
What about this sex education from peers? Is it good, adequate or otherwise? The following cases throw some light on these questions.
I remember one of my friends defining petting as sort of like petting a dog, except that it meant only from the neck downward. I didn't understand what pleasure petting could involve.
Six of us kids about the same age (fourteen years old) got together one time. Through dirty jokes and crude rhyming stories was how I learned about the sex act itself, and it wasn't a pretty picture. My cousins (boys) later on tried to talk me into an exchange of information and looks at various parts of the body, but something inside said "no."
Regarding the influence of my male peers, so many of them had attitudes regarding sex and the body that I would now regard as relatively unhealthy and unwholesome, to say nothing of the uninformed aspect. And those associates who were better informed and more realistic in their attitudes concerning sex and the body were all too often puritanically silent.
Most of the information I picked up about sex was from my friends. I have always wondered where they got their information. It was restricted mostly to dirty stories, pictures, and other things that gave rather a distorted picture of sex relations as they really should be seen. Big breasts, etc., became the ideal of what a real woman should look like and be. Learning these things set most of us on our own to see if real satisfaction could be achieved through these ends. I became very interested in trying out some of the methods that I had been hearing so much about.
Myself, I would have preferred learning it from a more authoritative or recognized manner, but the opportunity would not present itself. The reasons, I cannot say the group was too sex-minded, for under such circumstances it should be expected.
For adolescents it is probably correct to say that all dating provides sex education because of the lack of previous experience and the lack of education from other knowledgeable agents. However, here we deal more specifically with dating as an aspect of the specific sex education of the individuals involved.
It was easy for us to talk frankly with one another, and we had thousands of questions about the subject. I knew literally nothing about the male, and he knew little about the female other than what he had heard in the locker room. We told each other all we knew, and what we didn't know we looked up in the library. These are some of the times I remember best, for they helped us to know each other better, and enabled us to express ourselves frankly and unselfconsciously. (Tenth grade.)
During the half year I went steadily with him, I learned to kiss with open mouth, to neck and to pet. I enjoyed it. I necked and petted with him because I struggled for my sexual identity. I did not know if I was able to fulfill the role of a sex partner.
I would spend some time petting her breasts, her genital area, her whole body, both on top and underneath her clothing, and when we got tired or satisfied, we would talk about sex. What have we done. How we feel about it. Why we perform the acts we do. Many more questions were talked about. We would then start all over again, trying to improve each other's satisfaction and feelings toward sex. We learned through each other, and it is an education I will never forget.
We began our junior year smoothly; everything was just great. Then one Sunday, we were all alone at her house and something happened. We were lying on the couch necking, and for the first time I slid my thigh between her legs. For the next few minutes I rubbed my thigh against her genital region. She did respond favorably, but that was all that happened. About an hour later, I could tell that she was disturbed about something. After some questioning, she finally came out and said, "Will I have a baby now?" I was speechless for a moment. She was referring to the action I mentioned previously. She then admitted that she knew how babies came out, but not what put them there. Right then and there she learned as much as I could tell her about foreplay, sexual intercourse, ejaculation, orgasm, birth control, and conception. I was not an expert on the subject, but, at least, she knew as much as I did. She could not understand, however, that during dry intercourse, if I ejaculated, the sperm could not swim through my clothes, through her clothes, and up into her Fallopian tubes, thus causing conception. I tried, but I don't know if I ever really convinced her that it could not happen.
It was no more than a selfish lustful type of love on my part. What I learned from this relationship was that I really didn't enjoy having sex anytime I wanted it with someone I didn't love. There was no challenge presented to me. No one is satisfied in achieving a goal that is easily reached. I wanted and needed a challenge, and the relationship with her provided me with no challenge, and this is why I could never have gotten serious about this girl.
The subject of challenge comes up in a number of cases--challenge as a factor in dating.
We taught each other about our bodies and asked questions freely without embarrassment. We learned quickly; he helped me understand a boy's desires, and I tried to explain many things about girls that he did not understand. We conducted ourselves as a married couple (including sexual intercourse).
I was very skeptical about petting, but he convinced me that the more you like a person, the more sex there is.
He said that boys often mentally undressed girls that they are attracted to. I thought that they were being terribly vulgar and revolting, but I began wondering what else boys think about, and started asking questions, and he asked me questions about girls in return. He told me the many Kinsey statistics, and the one that really caught me by surprise was the high percentage of males that masturbate. I never could come to grips with it in my own mind or understand the necessity of it, and thought it was something morally wrong. I actually made my boyfriend promise me at one point that he wouldn't masturbate anymore. He also told me about the masturbating contests that the high school athletes had on their bus trips and in the shower room. I could not believe that all those nice friends that I had could be so awful! He told me how hard it was for him to control his emotions when I wore shorts or a bathing suit or when I flopped down on the furniture in certain positions, and I vowed to be careful and not to do anything that might excite him. However, after a few more discussions about sex, I found myself going out of my way to do just that and to tease him.
I dare say I have told her all she knows about sex, either directly or indirectly. This can be exemplified by the fact that when I first attempted to pet with her, about six months after our first date, she let me do it without any objections. Since I was brought up to be basically moral, I asked her why she had let me do it. This was one relation I wanted to preserve and to be as healthy as possible. Very sincerely, she told me that her girlfriend had said that it was all right to pet with a boy that you liked. I was dumbfounded to say the least; my ego was a bit inflated, but nonetheless I had a feeling of guilt. I told her that this wasn't considered proper behavior for our age and that it was morally wrong. I told her that it wasn't anything drastically foreboding but that it could lead to further complications with which I had to enumerate and explain also. She listened attentively and, as I was to find out later, assimilated and took to heart my words of advice. At the time I felt like a father explaining the wicked ways of the male subculture to an innocent daughter. It was a new and good experience for me, and I tended to pat myself on the back for being so self-righteous. As it turned out, I had a change of heart and wished that my advice had not been taken verbatim. Later on in certain circumstances, I got the so-called cold-shoulder for later attempts, hearing my own condemnation of petting over and over again.
While I was going with him, my sex education included a widening of my vocabulary. These new words were sex slang. The first and most frequent used term was 'touched.' He also said to 'touch' him. I learned that this meant to touch his penis so he would be 'satisfied'; he always begged me to let him touch me so I would 'got hot.' Another term was 'eat.' I had never heard it before. One day he asked me if he could eat me that night when we went out. Not knowing what to say, I said, "We will see." That night he asked me again, and again and I asked him what it was. Eat was to put the tongue into the vagina in the female or it could be considered penal-mouth contact in the male. He also wanted to eat my ear and my tongue. The term most important to him was 'come.' Come was synonymous with climax. To climax was all-important to him. He was also very concerned about me having a climax. He wanted me to 'let him in,' (let his penis enter my vagina or have intercourse) so I could reach a climax and see how good it felt. I guess these were the most unusual words, the key ones to his talk. All of this was very new to me and in a way very exciting. I am glad I never let down my standards and had intercourse. But now, as I look back on this whole episode, I get sick. He was just another guy out for all he could get. It has made me leery of other boys. But I know when the right one comes along, he will not make any fresh moves out of a pure sense of all for sex.
We grew to learn about sex together. All those experiences of him ejaculating by penetrating movements against his body, my reaching orgasm, and a sense of being satisfied, was all so new to me. As our dating progressed, we progressed together, sexually.
I was very naive about the subject of sex before I met him. He sensed this, and very matter-of-factly brought up the subject one evening. At first, I was very reticent to talk about it, but I shyly admitted that I knew very little about the sexual relationship. He was very understanding about my extreme shyness and actual feeling of guilt about discussing sex. In the true manner of a scientist, he explained the physiological facts about the male reproduction organs and sexual intercourse. Our many talks about sex have erased my shame of guilt and uneasiness about sex.
I have so much to thank my boyfriend for, especially in coming to understand sex relations better. We never did anything wrong. We did get very serious, and sometimes very involved. I was very ignorant of some of the workings of the male and female organs etc. He explained a few things to me. We talked about different things openly and freely, and neither of us felt self-conscious about it. I did come to realize that sex was neither dirty nor vulgar in its correct state. This helped me to see and understand.
Adolescents do not always use contraceptives because of lack of knowledge about conception and its control, because of negative attitudes toward contraceptives, because of lack of availability of contraceptives, because of negative reactions to the kinds of contraceptives (such as condoms) available to them. Such expressions as the following are not uncommon: "Yes, I know all about this, but to have used a contraceptive would have been just having sex for sex's sake, and our relationship had more meaning than that," or "She just wasn't that kind of girl."
The next few weeks (after overlooking the use of any means of contraceptive) were filled with pretty arguments and quarrels until she had had her period.
I do remember crying all night (because of lack of confidence in the contraceptive methods used), for I was positive I would become pregnant, even though we used a contraceptive.
We attempted intercourse with no protection. It came so fast I didn't have time to think, I just thanked God that I had enough sense to withdraw before ejaculation. I didn't think any sperm had entered, but I wasn't sure. I was a little worried, but I pushed the thought out of my mind until her period didn't come. Each day I would call her and ask but no such luck. Her period was about fifteen days late. This was probably the most nervous fifteen days that I have spent in my life. After that I swore to myself that I would never do a foolish thing like that again without some form of protection.
We (having used old condoms purchased from a friend that broke) were so scared that we could hardly eat or sleep. I thought sure that God was going to punish us by making her pregnant, and neither of us knew what we would do. She was fourteen days late, and I thought it was all over but the wedding bells!
We (using a combination of contraceptives and the rhythm method) both had a complete and rewarding sexual experience, until she told me that she thought she was pregnant.
Within the last several years, adolescent couples in high school that find that their conception control methods have not worked, are more likely to think of abortion as a possible outcome of the pregnancy.
When I (a senior high school girl) first began to think that I might be pregnant, the days dragged by. I was really hysterical for two days because my boyfriend's father would not agree to an abortion, and I thought I would have to have the baby. During that time I missed and skipped a lot of school simply because I couldn't sit in class because I was constantly thinking about it. Things relaxed a little when I found out an abortion was possible. Naturally, I was worried about the operation, but I knew it was the only way. I really thought that it was better to stop the pregnancy than to have a child that I would have to give away. I really don't know what would have happened to me if I had to have the baby, but I am convinced that an abortion was less of a strain on me both physically and mentally. As I sit in my room now at college and write this paper, I still feel sadness about the whole matter, but I'm sure I will never look back at the experience with joy.
Illegitimacy, the actual occurrence and the fear of it, is a major outcome of adolescent coital encounters. Those who have not had coitus sometimes fear that fondling, kissing, and caressing will result in pregnancy, as well they might if in the process semen has been deposited within the folds of the labia. Lack of trust in themselves, or lack of trust of the partner, also contribute to a fear of pregnancy.
Because of inadequate data, but also because of unwillingness to face the facts, it has been widely held that the girl who became pregnant out of wedlock was lacking in intelligence, was lower class, came from a poor home, etc. With more representative samples and a greater willingness to face the facts, it is now apparent that this is not the case. In the unmarried mother population, there is pretty much the range of the total population of both "good" and "poor" family backgrounds (Konopka, 1963, p. 2). The girl pregnant out of wedlock is not necessarily emotionally disturbed, other than that the situation of pregnancy may be a disturbing factor. Poor sex education is prevalent.
Nor is pregnancy out of wedlock a ghetto phenomenon. Anderson and Letts (1964) found in Minnesota, a rural state with a relatively small non-white population, that high school marriages and pregnancies at the time of marriage were much more prevalent in schools located in communities up to 40,000 population. The highest rate was reported by schools in communities of 2,000 to 10,000 population, where 85 percent of the high school girls who married were reported to be pregnant at the time of marriage. Anderson and Latts noted that the reported percentage is perhaps unreliably low, since many high school principals in reporting, indicated the number of marriages but not the number of girls pregnant at the time of marriage. The greater incidence among girls of high schools in rural areas may happen because rural students are less sophisticated, have even less sex education, and tend to pet less, and have sexual intercourse with greater frequency than their urban cousins. For cities and suburbs, 47 percent of the high school girls who married were reported as pregnant at the time of marriage.
For the teenage girl who is pregnant out of wedlock, there are a number of alternatives: she and the boy can marry, she can seek an abortion, she can bear the child and keep it, she can bear the child and place it for adoption, or bear the child and place it with foster parents until she is ready to marry. The extent to which the various alternatives are chosen varies with social class and with various national and ethnic groups.
Though pregnancy out of wedlock is commonly a traumatic experience for the couple and for close relatives, it is not always regarded as such, or may be regarded only temporarily as such. Though the following cases do not cover the range of reactions, they show several that cannot be regarded as entirely negative.
Perhaps the whole experience has been a blessing in disguise. Now my parents and I can talk to each other (Konopka, 1963, p. 3).
The pregnancy was by no means negative in its influences in many views, important views.
The outcome can be no less than positive and its experience rewarding. He and I still plan to marry. The chances of another pregnancy is now eliminated by the use of birth control pills. We have now discovered more to our relationship, a deeper meaning. And I have come to understand myself, appreciate myself individually.
I had never seen Daddy cry before. We had always been very close, and it hurt me terribly to have caused him and Mom the shame and distrust that they now had for me. Even as hurt as he was, Dad accepted my boyfriend. He told Mom that 'when I hear what he had done to our daughter, I felt I had to kill him, but no matter how I try, I just can't help loving that damn kid.'
As has been made apparent earlier, teenagers commonly feel that the sex education received from parents has been lacking, inadequate, or inaccurate. The minority feel that the sex education received from parents was adequate.
I don't feel that my parents cheated me in this respect, because between the "locker room" type of sex education I received (some of it leading to false ideas), and the sex education that the church was to give me later on, I was adequately prepared for later life. It is my belief, however, that all parents should give their children liberal sex education early enough in life so that they don't fall prey to many false ideas.
I feel that by not being provided with the basic sexual knowledge everyone has a right to, I was cheated, and I cheated myself out of what could have been some wonderful relationships.
If I had known earlier what I now know about sex, many fears would have been overcome much earlier. Many fretful and anxious hours avoided.
Unlike my closest girlfriends' parents, my parents set a definite time when they expected me home from various evening activities during my high school career. Actually now I am grateful for their concern and realize how liberal they really were, but at that time I thought I was really abused--the only girl out of the nine girls in my class who had "hours."
I felt that I could not communicate with my parents about dating, and ask their advice. I think if they would have opened up more and given me some sex education and dating advice, I would have been better off. This is where I think parents really fail their children. We just couldn't communicate on this issue.
Perhaps the reason for my repression is my mother's exceptionally uptight attitudes towards sex--"Don't look, don't touch," which I still have a great deal of difficulty coping with.
The following case is the reaction of a young adolescent to the sex education she had received through her church and home.
Thus by age thirteen, I was a cold, unemotional adolescent who valued virginity above all else. However, my inability to relate to boys was a constant source of frustration.
In the following pages, we tabulate the adolescent reactions to the various sexual-erotic experiences. The reactions here tabulated reflect some of the joys and sorrows in the sex lives of adolescents. Since they are not drawn from a representative sample of adolescents, they are to be treated as illustrative and suggestive rather than as proving a point. Of the 185 separate reactions tabulated, only slightly more than a third (36 percent) are positive, and nearly two thirds (64 percent) are negative. The author's case files contain the date of entry for all but nine of the 152 cases. Date of entry varies from 1959 to 1971, a range of thirteen years.5
|The hardest part was accepting myself. (1968).
Ashamed of my feelings; rebuking myself. (1963).
|Nocturnal Sex Dreams|
|Pleasurable; sexual pleasure was a conscious desire. (1963).||Extreme personal embarrassment; went to great lengths to avoid discovery. (1965).|
|Perfectly natural. (1962).||Very scared. (1963).
Looked at as a mess; irritated. (1963).
Terrifically embarrassed; an absolute mystery; absolutely no comprehension. (1961).
|Wonderful new-found feeling. (1966).
Never before experienced anything like it.
Very unique; stimulating; fascinating. (1967).
Terribly pleasurable. (1963)
|Strange and frightening. (1966).
Did not know what I had done; scared; afraid. (1962).
|Very satisfying. (1967).
Vast amount of pleasure and release. (1967).
Never guilt feelings; pleasure. (1963).
Didn't want to be left out of anything. (1962).
Relief of tension; feeling of satisfaction. (1967).
|Fear; guilty; felt that was going to stunt my growth. (1967).
Guilt feelings; tried to hide; grave sin; could not deny the biological drive; guilt outweighed the pleasure; tremendous guilt feelings. (1967).
Plea to "help me forget about sex." (1963).
Strong emotional conflict, believe destroyed effectiveness. (1965).
Extremely guilty; wondered; thought it was ruining my health and causing acne; tried hard to break the "iron habit"; promised to contribute money. (1962).
Started to believe it affected my eyesight. (1965).
Necessary evil; would repent to God. (1965).
Lack of desire to date. (1967).
Sinning--had looked lustfully. (1966).
Guilt feelings. (1964).
Guilt would overwhelm me. (1963).
|Perfectly natural and beneficial. (1964).
Never felt ashamed or guilty. (1962).
Helped grasp or imagine the sexual experience. (1963)
|Worst guilt feelings; crying; thinking there was something wrong with me. (1967).
|Shameful; harmful; conscience said I should not; pangs of guilt; pray for forgiveness. (1963).
Sense of guilt. (1962).
|Unusual and very stimulating effect; serene and awake; total serenity; intense sexual excitement; slight convulsions of the climax; feeling as full of sweetness as a barrel of sugar; felt no guilt, not a shred; promise of something better, a fulfillment. (1967).
Determined to try; urge was high in my mind. (1966).
Felt yearnings. (1967).
|Content to just masturbate and dream.
Afraid; morbid excitement. (1967).
Frustrated; going out of my mind with sex drive; mixed emotions. (1966).
Obsessed with jealousy. (1967).
|Adolescent Subculture (Girls)|
|How to get rid of the problems. (1959).
Too clannish; something was off balance. (1959).
|Happy. (1959).||Parking bothers me--extreme (1967).
Overly concerned; lacked the key; misconception; needed to know. (1967).
Security; assured; great relief; most pleasant; lead me to more intimate acquaintances; included; raised my social standing. (1967).
Confidence and closeness; feel at ease or secure; without guilt feelings; became more liberal; confidence and mutual trust. (1967).
Gained capacity to empathize; heightened sense of compassion; awareness of the delicate balance; honest love grew; thrill; cared for and gave me love; companionship; would have been a lesser person. (1967).
Not good; too serious; excluded; not gain proper knowledge; mislead; could have learned more. (1959).
Trying to force myself. (1959).
Feel a certain degree of regret; too many problems that could not handle effectively. (1962).
Very difficult when we broke up. (1964).
Problems arise. (1963).
Growing up is hard enough without love; a nightmare; many conflicts. (1966).
Sorry; too soon. (1966).
|Appreciation and happiness; know and understand; learning experience; at ease; taught me all I needed to know; my idea of a "typical" romance. (1967).||Sorry for becoming involved. (1964).
|Withdraw; becoming an extreme introvert; lost self-confidence.|
|Fondling and Caressing|
Opened up a new line of thinking; enjoyed. (1963).
Warmth toward each other from the heart. (1963).
Enjoyed; thankful for this experience. (1965).
|Didn't like it. (1968).
Horrible feeling of guilt; crying. (1964).
Mildly disgusted; could kind of feel myself being pulled under. (1968).
Sex ruined it; love was not ever present; deeply sorry. (1964).
Wish that I hadn't. (1964).
Extended much too far; boredom. (1967).
Doomed; completely overpowered; practically ruined both our lives. (1965).
Completely caught up; other aspects suffered. (1964).
Skeptical; state of confusion. (1967).
Shed tears; frustrated; consciences would not permit; morally obligated but couldn't understand why; blind acceptance of standards. (1965).
Scared; couldn't accept fully or give fully; felt "dragged into it"; never allowed a desire and therefore little participation. (1971).
|Felt like I had just become a man. (1967).
Very proud. (1967).
The sensation seemed to last forever; rounded out my personality; toned me down; bursting with pride. (1967).
Very satisfying. (1965).
Assured pleasure; common bond. (1967).
|An animalistic act; not any enjoyment; not any great amount of pleasure; doubted; did not want to do it again. (1965).
Character-shaking; terribly afraid; terribly traumatic; resolved never to become so involved. (1968).
Tremendous sense of guilt; used. (1968).
|Respect deepened; had come to terms with myself; greatest desire was to serve him; commitment; relationship of trust. (1966).
Did not seem bad or wrong. (1965).
Curiosity was quenched; knew what it was and liked it. (1965).
Ego was bolstered; will be satisfied; needed to prove my manliness; glad. (1963).
Selfish satisfaction; warm glow. (1967).
Do not consider wrong.
|Wondered; suffered greatly; took it very hard. (1965).
Very guilty; unhappy; taking advantage of trust; worry; felt very bad; wish it could be the other way; afraid I may always have guilt feelings, never feel right. (1965).
Traumatic; regret; concern for my standing; felt that I had committed a major sin; felt bad.
Didn't enjoy; all incentive lost. (1963).
Terribly lot down; scared; felt like spitting on the girl; guilty. (1965).
Worry; grief; pain; fear; anguish; discontented. (1962).
Don't know why I did it; with virginity went my self-respect; the sex drive is nothing to fool around with; very serious mistake; wasn't beautiful.
Impulsive; awkward; ugly; depressed; she cried and refused to see me. (1967).
Bothered me. (1967)
Trauma; didn't sleep; not sure. (1967).
Not all I had expected. (1965).
Mixed emotion; tears; felt extremely sorry. (1967).
It was too long to wait. (1967).
Truly sorry. (1965).
Slight tinge of conscience. (1967).
Will demand of myself a penance; doubt.
|Coitus as a Regular Experience|
|Felt more mature. (1964).
Good; immediate deep love; what I learned is most important achievement; given me definite convictions. (1965).
Pined for more. (1968).
Concerned with each other. (1960).
Helped shape basic moral values; experience is the best teacher. (1964).
Terrible guilt feelings; let down parents, society, church. (1968).
Problem--pregnant; hurried wedding. (1960).
Could not relax; guilt; worry; anxiety. (1964).
Wished we had used more discretion; conflict. (1965).
Extremely guilty; repulsed; constantly depressed. (1968).
|A healthy experience; cherished; never ashamed of; helped in attitude toward goals and ideals. (1965).
Learned to control my emotions. (1962).
Coming to be more mature; have come to show our love. (1966).
|Agonizing nights. (1961).
A true pity. (1965).
Risk of ruining our lives. (1966).
Panicky; irrational; traumatic experience; worry; prayer. (1964).
Lost respect; afraid; would never start with next girl; foolish actions; worst mistake of my life. (1963).
Felt dirty; no respect. (1963).
|Peak of stimulation and excitement. (1968).|
|Felt dirty, cheap, almost like a "woman of the world"; cried. (1962).
Startled; slapped him good. (1962).
|Sex Education From Peers|
|Became very interested. (1967).||Didn't understand. (1968).
Wasn't a very pretty picture. (1968).
Attitudes relatively unhealthy and unwholesome; uninformed; puritanically silent. (1963).
Restricted mostly to dirty stories, pictures and other things. (1967).
Would have preferred more authoritative or recognized manner. (1959).
|Dating as a Source of Sex Education|
|Easy to talk; helped me know; enabled us to express ourselves. (1967).
Learned; enjoyed. (1967).
Talked; learned. (1967).
Taught each other; asked questions freely without embarrassment; learned; helped understand. (1965).
|Struggled for sexual identity. (1967).
Feeling of guilt. (1962).
Began wondering; started asking questions; ego inflated; new and good experience. (1962).
Learned; exciting; glad I never let down. (1963).
Learn; satisfied; progressed together. (1964).
Erased my shame of guild and uneasiness. (1967).
Thankful; came to realize that sex neither dirty nor vulgar; helped me to see and understand.
|Coitus and Birth Control|
|Complete and rewarding. (1967).||Filled with petty arguments and quarrels. (1967).
Worried; nervous; swore that I would never do a foolish thing like that again. (1963).
Scared; thought God was going to punish. (1967).
Thought she was pregnant. (1967).
Hysterical; constantly thinking about it; worried; never with joy. (1970).
|By no means negative; positive and rewarding; came to understand myself. (1967).||Cry; hurt. (1967).|
|Encounters with Parents|
|Adequately prepared. (1963).
|Cheated; fretful and anxious. (1967).
Couldn't communicate. (1971).
Cold, unemotional; inability to relate to boys; a constant source of frustration. (1968).
If adolescents are more accepting of their sexual activities today than they were earlier--say a decade ago--one might expect to find more positive responses towards sexual-erotic encounters in the late sixties and early seventies than in 1959 and the early sixties. This, however, is not the case. The opposite is rather true, with slightly more positive reactions in 1959 and the early sixties, and slightly more negative reactions in the late sixties and early seventies. There could be many reasons for this. It may reflect a sampling error, the small number of cases in each cell, the poor quality of sexual socialization in general and sex education in particular, or the higher expectations of adolescents today as compared to adolescents of ten years ago.
It is possible to get some comparison of the kinds of experiences that received positive and negative reactions by looking at the tabular data. For example, dating as a source of sex education received many more positive than negative reactions, while regular masturbation received more negative than positive reactions (for both boys and girls), as did going steady, fondling and caressing, first coitus, and coitus as a regular experience. These findings are reminders of the results of the ranking of activities in the Sorensen study (1973, p. 49). Of 21 activities, both boys and girls ranked "having fun" and "learning about themselves" as most important, and certain types of sexual-erotic encounters as least important. All in all, the reactions of adolescents are not such as to make one sanguine about the quality of adolescent sex life today.
We might close this section on the outcomes of adolescent sexual encounters with some searching questions by a young man who had a substantial background of intimate sexual-erotic encounters. It is not intended as editorial comment on adolescent sexuality in general, however.
Does a person have to exhaust sex, for the pleasures of the body, before he can finally stop to appreciate the whole personality of a person of the opposite sex? This question may not apply to many people, but it is very pertinent to me. I think I have learned the meaning of love. I now appreciate the opposite sex more than ever before. It is too bad that I could not have learned earlier. I have two questions to ask. You can teach the mechanics of contraceptive methods to adults, but can you impress upon a young person the meaning of sex and its place in the relationship? Can a young person understand what love is without experience? I ask these questions because I really do not know if I could have understood at a younger age. Is my experience unique, or do many people wake up tragically as I did?
As a society, we appear eager to preserve sexual encounters that are romantic and exciting for the adolescent participants, but which are at the same time irrational, unpredictable, and fraught with the high risks that intimate involvement and commitment can bring. I refer to unchaperoned dating, going steady, and personal freedom in mate selection. In speaking to audiences of parents, I find very little enthusiasm for even entertaining the idea of major modifications in this dating system. Parents often encourage dating at very young ages. Even the professionally-oriented adolescents--adolescents who plan to go to college, for instance--date early, as early as the fifth or sixth grade in some instances.
This is one of the major aspects of discontinuity in sexual socialization. The child who may have been denied sexual self-discovery when young--denied the opportunity of exploring and playing with themselves, denied sexual encounters with their playmates, denied sound sex and family life education--is suddenly expected to know how to handle themselves in unchaperoned dating encounters.
Adolescents are largely monogamous in their dating patterns; that is, steady relationships are more prevalent than "playing the field." It varies from school to school and from community to community, but there are more steady relationships among adolescents and some among preadolescents. They go steady because they like each other, because it is the thing to do, because of parental and peer pressure, because it is convenient to date only one person rather than to play the field, because it gives date insurance for important events, because of the danger (particularly for girls) of not finding someone new to date, and because (particularly for boys) going steady is known to lead to increased erotic intimacy. The unattended home of either the boy or the girl provides privacy for intimate encounters, and the receiving of a driver's license and access to a car provide unlimited freedom from supervision.
High school students are proud of their steady relationships. They utilize signs--rings, bracelets, sweatshirts--that make it apparent to others that they have attained the status. Many adolescent couples develop tender, beautiful relationships, and one's steady often becomes a confidante in an uncertain present and future and in the face of unsatisfactory relations with parents. Yet many high school graduates look back on steady relationships in high school as having had more liabilities than assets. They were cut off from encounters with other students, they missed out on school activities, jealousy marred the relationship, and they felt that they became too emotionally and physically involved for their age.
Physical intimacy is progressive. Adolescents develop their own uncertain sex codes and practices through trial and error. Youth culture emphasizes a good time--be attractive, be popular, have a good time; what is fun is good. In intimate heterosexual encounters, kissing, deep kissing, fondling and caressing, petting in the nude, and coitus are widely accepted among youth. Today's sexual adventuring is more among social equals than with unequals or with prostitutes, but for boys first coitus with a girl of low status is common.
That adolescent coitus always leads to unfortunate consequences can by no means be substantiated, though the risks are high. Physical hurt, hurt feelings, loss of self-respect, conception, and venereal disease are too common for any to feel sanguine or complacent about adolescent erotic encounters. Adolescents need guidance and perhaps some limits to their relationships. They are not blase about sexual behavior and sexual morality; they are willing to listen to reasonable proposals and limitations.
Communication is not only inadequate between adolescents and parents, communication between dating partners leaves much to be desired. Adolescent couples "experiment" and arrive at behavior patterns based on the unsure standards of permissiveness-with-affection. Their standards for lovemaking are often rudimentary and primitive.
Man is more of a sexual creature than are most other animals. The sexual drive is not seasonal in man, nor is the period of fecundity seasonal. The onset of puberty comes earlier than it did a hundred years ago; the fecund period is longer, too, as puberty comes earlier and menopause later. With early onset of puberty and relatively late date of marriage, continence and conception control become problematic. It is not possible for a normal adolescent, especially an adolescent male, to get along without some kind of regular sexual outlet. Despite that fact, adolescents are naive and poorly informed about the positive aspects of even the solitary methods of outlet: nocturnal emissions and masturbation. Some find nocturnal emissions and masturbation to be good and acceptable sex outlets, but too many fret about them. Empirical evidence strongly suggests that neither is a harmful sexual outlet and need not be proscribed.
Chastity has been increasingly devalued in American society. A fun morality has pervaded much of American sex life. And the probability of pregnancy from any particular act of coitus is, statistically speaking, low among adolescents. There is a low correlation between incidents of adolescent coitus and incidents of illegitimacy in spite of the fact that the use of contraceptives by adolescents is naive and slipshod. This low correlation is due to relative adolescent sterility, fairly common use of the withdrawal method of conception control, and at least sporadic use of condoms and other mechanical and chemical methods, plus abortion.
Illegitimacy among adolescents does not reach the proportions of being regarded as epidemic in the eyes of the adult generation, hence it is not treated as a social problem that needs to be given high priority and needs to be dealt with openly and forthrightly within the community. Even if it were, there is no easy formula for preventing illegitimacy given our dating system. There is also evidence of increased acceptance or at least toleration of the unwed mother and her child.
There are many misconceptions about sex and erotic involvement. Adolescents "fall in love"; when they "fall in love" they are unsure of what to do with it or about it. The relationship between love and sexual passion is mysterious, awesome, ecstatic, and agony producing. Youth want more information about sex and sexual encounters than they are getting. Sexual experience is sometimes easier to come by than is sexual knowledge, for good sex and family life education is not generally available. It can be provided in the home, but what is being given in the home is not adequate, nor will it be in the foreseeable future. The fact that a few families do a good job of sex and family life education indicates that it is possible to do so. Parents who count on their children to take the initiative in discussion of sex and family life matters will be disappointed. For by one means or another children get the signal; they know without asking which are the tabooed topics in the minds of their parents, and they will not bring up sexual topics if they are taboo in the family.
On subjects where parents are silent, children get information from peers. This is frequently the case with information on dating and erotic intimacy. Parents at best provide vague and rudimentary guidance in standards of behavior or rationale for behavior in heterosexual encounters. For various reasons, they fail to provide a model to their children of a loving intimate relationship in their own marriage as well. Good sex education, when found in the home, is part of a good general relationship between parents and children.
"Responsible" social systems--the home, church, and school--continue to be reticent on the subject of sex; other social systems, especially some elements of the mass media, do not share this reticence. Not that the mass media receive a high rating as sources of sex information from adolescents, however; they do not.
Adolescents are influenced by the company they keep, and though they get sex information from their peers, they do not rate their peers as good sources of sex information. They feel poorly informed and feel that they have picked up negative and unwholesome attitudes. It is a rare adolescent who can say, "I've had adequate sex and family life education."
The school is one community agency that reaches all the adolescents; hence it must be taken seriously as a locale of sex and family life education. But sex and family life education now offered in the schools is not adequate. There is a shortage of qualified teachers, the curriculum often avoids open and honest consideration of topics that are regarded as politically and morally sensitive, and sometimes questions from students meet with a refusal to answer on the part of the teacher. Reticence about answering questions is an intolerable condition for sex education or for any other kind of education.
Students give the schools a low rating as sources of sex and family life education, and teachers rate low as guides for adolescents in comparison to parents and peers. Counselors in the schools are overloaded with academic and vocational counseling--often for the college-prep student; the time allotted to personal and interpersonal problems is severely limited.
The church doesn't rate well either as a source of information or guidance in sex matters. There is no consistency in church sex and family life education. Whether or not a child has an adequate sex and family life education depends on the particular congregation and the particular clergyman; no overall adequate, consistent religious programming can be assumed. Adolescents give religious sources--church, clergymen, parochial education, and religious literature--low ratings as sources of sex and family life education. Most major religious bodies are rethinking their stances on sexual behavior and ethics; and some pastors receive training in counseling. These are hopeful signs.
Back of much of sex as a problem lies the basic fact that in the United States adults have not clearly thought through what kinds of sexual morality and sexual behavior they respect and support. Reasonable and responsible persons, knowledgeable and rational on other subjects, are commonly naive, emotional, and erratic in discussions on sex. This inhibits the emergence of a well-thought out consensus within any community. Emotional reactions need to be replaced by rational discussion, evaluation, and decision making. Some kind of community brainstorming should precede the introduction of a comprehensive sex and family life education program in a community, but it often does not. Community leaders are not convinced of their responsibility to lead in this area.
Lack of community solidarity is apparent in the lack of cooperation between home, church, school, and other community institutions. Adolescents live in the community, not in one or more of these institutions; hence the need for cooperation on a community-wide program. Looked at from a slightly different point of view, if a community is providing activity (educational and recreational) outlets commensurate with the needs of adolescents, unchaperoned dating need not begin at such an early age and need not carry so much of the load of boy-girl activity.
In my judgment, every community should have a coordinated program of sex and family life education including education in erotic intimacy, the relationship between sex and love, sexual attitudes and values, physiological aspects of sex and reproduction, and rationale for and techniques of conception control; this program to be developed cooperatively by all youth-serving agencies of the community in consultation with parents, experts in the field, and youth themselves.
The community must also understand that if a program of sex and family life education is adequate, it cannot be expected to lead to non-involvement and continence. It may have the effect of increasing rather than decreasing sexual activity. Once a community has instituted a program of education, it must consider its responsibilities for making conception control information and materials available to all single persons of dating and marriage age. In light of the population explosion and concerted efforts to reduce unwanted out-of-wedlock pregnancies, all adolescents and adults, both married and single, must consider that coitus without contraception is not in the best interests of persons or of society. The community must also decide what responsibilities it has for providing counsel and services in the area of abortion.
Since part of a coordinated sex and family life education program must include a program available to all youth, the program can best be provided by the school. The school is the only institution that can ensure that at least minimal sex and family life-education is made available to all youth in the community--an organized program beginning in kindergarten and completed by the time the person graduates from high school.
Educational resources for parents wanting to teach their own children should be made available as well. Inexpensive literature on human sexuality should be distributed to parents, since most parents find themselves ill equipped and incapable of giving such education without help. The next generation will be made up of more parents who are determined to provide adequate sex education for their children; that resolve is often expressed, and materials to assist them in their resolve must be made available.
I do not want my children to go through life experimenting with either lack of or inadequate sex information. I do not want my children to do the same things I have done and the way I did them. I know when my children ask questions about anything that I shall try my best to answer them truthfully. I shall not avoid a discussion about sex. I feel that my children have the right to know how they mature, and what they will feel towards the opposite sex, and the type of behavior expected of them.
Adolescents testify that literature available in the home can be a constructive, though not fully adequate, substitute for education from other sources. Such literature, in and of itself, cannot be counted on to initiate parent-child discussions of sexual matters, however.
And what about bad sexual literature? What can be done to keep it out of the hands of young people? It is difficult to define or to contain prurient literature, and the attempt to do so may have more negative than positive effects within a community. One way in which the effects of the mass media can be counteracted is through saturating the community with reputable sex and family life literature in home, school, church, and on the newsstands.
An additional concluding comment needs to be made, and to be made emphatically. We need more and better research on the sexual nature, desires, and needs of human beings at all ages, plus research on sexual and erotic encounters, with a view to making sexual-erotic experiences as constructive and as satisfying as is humanly possible within the required limitations of life in community.
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1. See the preface for a statement on the theoretical framework, and for some methodological considerations on which this book is based.
2. All cases used throughout the book are actual case histories from the author's files unless otherwise identified. Editing has been done only to the extent that it was necessary to safeguard the identity of the individuals involved. Cases are used to illustrate rather than to prove a point.
3. The study sample consisted of some (but not a random sample of) cases that came to the attention of the Brooklyn Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children throughout the years 1960-1965. All were intact families, all involved incestuous encounters with a girl sixteen years old or younger, and all came to the attention of legal authorities.
4. Underlining is that of the author. Reactions of adolescents are presented in tabular form at the end of chapter 14.
5. 1959: 7 cases1966: 11 cases
1960: 1 case1967: 42 cases
1961: 3 cases1968: 10 cases
1962: 13 cases1969: 0 cases
1963: 21 cases1970: 1 case
1964: 13 cases1971: 2 cases.
1965: 19 cases
Floyd M. Martinson