Public Discussion

Let’s Talk about Love … with Teenage Boys

Today, I published an article asking why we do not talk about love and intimacy with teenage boys.  One survey I discuss in this article always elicits strong responses from my students, especially the men: it’s a survey that shows that boys in the US chose having a girlfriend and no sex over having sex and no girlfriend by two to one.  Why is the majority response such a secret?  And why does reading about it cause such a sense of revelation?  Perhaps because as a society, we don’t acknowledge that it is normal for young men to value relationships.  Read more here

Romantic Boys

Today the New York Times published my oped, entitled, “Caring, Romantic Boys”.  Those of you following the themes I discuss in this blog won’t be surprised by the argument.  I’ve been noticing in my research and that of others, as well as in interacting with audiences when I give public presentations, that the theme of boys and the need to have a more nuanced understanding of their motivations and experiences keeps coming back.  There’s been some additional conversations about this going on at the Good Men Project.  Let me know if you see others!

March Speaking Events

I’ve just finished the last of 5 March speaking events that took me across the country: The Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program at Boston University, the CDC National STD Prevention Conference (in Minneapolis this year), the “Consider This” speaker’s series, hosted by Planned Parenthood Orange and San Bernardino Counties, Friday’s at Newcomb at Tulane University, and finally a panel on “Sexual Socialization in the 21st Century” at the meetings of the Southern Sociological Society in New Orleans.  I spoke before young people, parents, health policy makers, professionals, and researchers.  Despite their differences, they raised many of the same issues: especially the question of how —  as parents, educators, and providers — they can provide young people with an image of healthy sexual and emotional development, when so many forces work in the opposite direction.  One theme that kept coming back was the importance of giving more attention and support to the emotional and relational development of boys and young men than we typically do in our scholarship, healthcare, and popular culture (see also earlier post on the “hearts of boys.”)

Permit It, Hug It Close, Control It

That is how Simon Kuper, columnist for the Financial Times characterizes the Dutch approach to sex and drugs.  His is the first European column to review my book, Not Under My Roof.  Kuper, who is British, spent part of his adolescence in the Netherlands, where coincidentally he lived across the street from my home when I was teenager.  This insider-outsider perspective make him particularly well situated to grasp cultural differences.  He explains how the Dutch approach is far from “permissive” as it is often viewed across the Atlantic.  Don’t miss this incisive commentary, sweetened by a good dose of humor.

Live Chat on Boston.com

On Thursday, I’m doing a live-chat on Boston.com from 3-4. The live-chat follows the publication of an article on my book, “Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens and the Culture of Sex” in the Boston Globe and on Boston.com.  This format allows readers to post questions and read the answers I give in real-time.  It should be an interesting discussion.

Thinking Allowed

For a perspective from overseas on “Not Under My Roof”, listen to an interview on BBC’s “Thinking Allowed” today.  It was very interesting to converse with Laurie Taylor and Chris Wilson, the show’s host and producer respectively, and get their take.

Trends in Adolescent Sexual Health

I have been following the media coverage of Not Under My Roof very closely.  I have been especially intrigued by two articles.  The first is Amanda Marcotte’s article on Slate  in which she points at several signs that “truly comprehensive sex education [is] an idea whose time has finally come.”  The second is Laura Stepp’s suggestion in the Huffington Post that the recent decline in teen births can at least in part be attributed to more and more parents addressing the topic of sexuality and relationships with their teenage children.

 


Glee Teens “Lose it” with Love

In a blog on Huffington Post, I weigh in on the controversy about the episode in which two Glee couples make love for the first time.  I think the Glee episode is important because it shows teenagers exercising self-determination, making conscious choices and having sex in the context of romantic, but not necessarily life-long, love.  Readers share experiences and viewpoints.  A mother of younger children writes:

I’d tell my girls that they should wait at least until they are emotionally intimate with someone before they become sexual, and why that feels better to many women. No one told me that. I just got the vague lesson “good girls don’t” from my parents. As the writer says, that’s not the message that was needed. I needed to be told that it works better to be in love, and why. I would have felt better about waiting.

In response to one reader’s comment that chastity until marriage works best, another writes:

I think your forgetting one thing. Waiting for Sex after marriage is OK I guess, but lets not forget … Gays could not get married. [D]oes that mean they should never have sex their entire life …….wai­ting on this regressive society to come to fruition? I think not. That would mean millions of people would never know the wonderful experience of sharing physical love with the special one their hart has melted for.

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Sex education, queer youth, and sexual autonomy

The first post-publication reviews of Not Under My Roof have come in.  A review by Doug Ireland in Gay City News (Nov. 9) places the book in the context of the post-sexual revolution battles over sex education in the United States.  Ireland recounts the intensely hostile political organizing in response to Judith Levine’s 2002 book Harmful to Minors (University of Minnesota Press) and then US Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders’ thoughts on sex education.   The result of these battles has, he points out, been “particularly nefarious for queer youth” whose needs for protection from harassment are rarely met within high-school hallways and classrooms.

In this context, it’s courageous of Amy Schalet, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus, to offer up her fascinating and wise new book, “Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens, and the Culture of Sex”….  Based on a blending of meticulous scholarly research and extensive interviews with both Dutch and American parents and teenagers — mostly tenth-graders — Schalet’s book, although not as deliberately incendiary as Levine’s a decade earlier, nonetheless amounts to a ringing rationale for the sexual autonomy of adolescents.

Read more

 

The Sleepover Dilemma

Wondering where Canadians stand on matters of teen sexuality, gender and parenting?  Read Macleans Magazine’s “The Sleepover Dilemma.”  Journalist Anne Kingston interviewed me about my book, Not Under My Roof, talked with parents, youths and other experts, and captures the many complexities of the topic.  She quotes me saying about “the Dutch model”:

It provides a context that “not only allows young people to develop their emergent sexuality and selves within a larger social fabric but it also gives parents the opportunity to provide guidance and exercise oversight.”

Kingston also interviewed Karen Rayne, an Austin Texas-based psychologist, who provides consulting to parents of adolescents.  Rayne makes some great points:

Adolescents, like all human beings, have “skin hunger,” the need to be touched and to touch, Rayne says. “But many teenagers have only one model for this: intercourse. So having conversations about sensuality rather than sex can go a long way.” And parents want to forge close bonds with their teenagers, and to have influence over them, she believes. “But they do all of these controlling things that put them at odds with their teenager rather than drawing them in closer.”

One of the young people interviewed shows what an impact good parent-teen communication about sex and relationships can have:

Rockman’s daughter, Casey Fulford, says she’s fortunate to have had open rapport about sex with her parents. “I loved that I could tell my mom anything,” the 20-year-old, third-year Queen’s University student says. “I’m meeting people now, some of them never have talked about sex with their parents—that they’re even having sex. Which is weird because it means they can’t go to them with questions.” The big lesson her mother imparted was, “You can always say no,” Fulford says. “And that was even before I started having sex. And that really benefited me. I know a lot of girls have gotten into situations they wished they hadn’t, but I’ve never done anything I’ve regretted.”

To read more

 

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Amy Schalet is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Read More...