Dumb teenagers who have sex.

I never had sex in high school.  I didn’t even try.  And the reason for this wasn’t just shyness or lack of self-esteem (although that was certainly part of it).  The other reason, in retrospect, was snobbery.  It wasn’t a conscious snobbery.  It wasn’t as though I self-consciously thought that my sexually active classmates were stupid.  But in retrospect, it’s obvious that I had picked up, from my peers and family, the idea that strong sexual feelings were the province of the unenlightened.

On the surface, middle class, educated, politically progressive families would not seem to be sex-negative.  Conservative Christians have sexual values that are sex-negative, and they articulate these values (e.g. abstinence) openly. But educated, middle class progressives (I use the term “progressive” very loosely here) imagine themselves to be open-minded about all matters, including sexuality, and their rhetoric is usually sex-positive.  Problem is, “enlightened” folks tend to be a lot more uptight about sexuality than they’d like to admit, and they tend to cover up these anxieties by pretending that sexual problems and feelings are only of great concern to the more lumpen elements.

Of course, what I’m offering here is nothing more that my own impression of how things are.  It’s possible that I’m merely projecting my own experience onto everything.  But if I had to bet, I’d say that the “educated” classes tend to be much less in touch with their own sexual feelings that they like to think, and often excessively intellectualize their thoughts about sexuality, to the detriment of honest self-examination.

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One Response to Dumb teenagers who have sex.

  1. humbition says:

    The educated lifestyle is all about imparting the virtues of deferred gratification, and impulse control. There are a number of psychology experiments which are very famous and current, exactly on this topic. I do tend to be a little lazy about linking.

    That, and I think I agree that people with a self-image of enlightenment often don’t understand how confused they are. And in the last few decades there has been such a conjunction of completely mixed-up and contradictory ideas about sex. I think we should be easier on people who somehow tripped up on one or another of them — particularly if such people did little harm to anyone but themselves, by deferring gratification too much and too well.

    Then again even now I sometimes find that I’ve left some treat in the refrigerator so long, looking forward to finishing it — that it molds in the fridge before I do. There is sometimes something to be said for not deferring gratification indefinitely. Blake said, “Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.” (This was in “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,” which everyone should read.)

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