In a post on Salon’s ‘broadsheet‘ today, Judy Berman flags an interesting essay by Heather Corinna, founder of the sex-ed website Scarlateen. Sex is as much a minefield for 21st-century teenagers, Corinna suggests, as ever it was for their mothers and grandmothers.
I’d link back to the original article, but Berman turns out to have filleted all the best quotes. Take this, for example:
[M]any grow up also experiencing that while no may mean no, they don’t always have an easy time saying it or feel the permission to.
A few years back, I interviewed a group of young women for a magazine feature about hook-up culture. They were friends of friends of friends – a narrow, wildly unscientific selection of bright, bold girls who’d graduated just a year or two previously.
What struck me was the group’s dynamic. There was one girl who was a lot more bolshie than the others. A spunky, full-figured blonde with dark roots, she described the kind of scenario that for her would typically end in a one-night stand.
She’d be at a party, say, on the far side of town after midnight. She didn’t want to pay for a cab home, but knew it wasn’t safe to ride the night bus alone. So she’d glance around the club, see if she saw anyone cute, and recruit herself a bus (and bed) buddy.
The next morning, she always wanted him off the scene as early as possible. Having sex with these guys was one thing, but letting them see what kind of breakfast cereal she ate was way too intimate.
She wore these tales like the ultimate badge of liberation, but though they sounded bleak to me, I wasn’t there to judge her. She, however, seemed to be silently judging the other girls in the group. They’d all been there, in a dingy bar after the witching hour, a little tipsy and in search of a kind face.
For another girl, that face usually belonged to the same boy, a guy she’d been at college with. Every few months, they’d spend a night together. She was trying to make her story sound as brash as her blonde acquaintance’s, but kept hitting the wrong note. In the end, she confessed that she was longing for those random hook-ups to turn in to something with more continuity. An actual relationship.
She looked down as she said this, averting her gaze from the other girl’s as if she were ashamed of her own feelings – as if she felt like she was deserting the sisterhood.
As far as young women and sex is concerned, coercion doesn’t just come from men, it comes from other women, too.