“Don’t have sex, because you will get pregnant and die. Don’t have sex in the missionary position, don’t have sex standing up, just don’t do it, OK, promise? Now everybody take some rubbers.” In Ireland us students are somewhat expected to have Coach Carr from the infamous teen film Mean Girls’ opinion when it comes to sex. Don’t talk about it, don’t ask questions or seek information about it and for the love of God don’t actually do it.
We are told in an almost medieval fashion that if we have sex we will;
1) Get all sorts of diseases. The majority of which we can’t even spell let alone identify the symptoms, causes, cures etc;
2) We will get a name for ourselves and live the rest of our lives as ‘tarnished goods’;
or 3) We will become nothing more than another statistic on teen/young parenting leaflets.
In recent weeks, following fallout from a SpunOut.ie article about threesomes, the sex life of teenagers and young adults has become a topic of regular conversation amongst adults. Panels have appeared on The Saturday Night Show, fm104’s Phoneshow and online to discuss the various sides and opinions of a topic that has always been somewhat swept under the rug in this country.
Growing up in Ireland the opposite sex were always hidden under a veil of mystery. Wrack your brains for a quick second there and think back to your first ever kiddie/teen disco. Do you remember all the boys being herded on one side of the gym hall while the girls stood at the opposite end, giggling and pointing? In what seems like the blink of an eye the opposite sex go from having ‘cooties’ and being strange to being the object of our desires. Suddenly, the ‘cool’ boys and girls are doing the penguin (repetitive, awkward bobbing from side-to-side) dance together and even holding hands and it sends shocks through everyone else’s pre adolescent frames. WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY DOING?! Despite receiving regular sex education classes throughout primary school – the days that were talked about for weeks in advance and everyone would meet in the school yard to take bets on who would be the first person to faint – we all relied mainly on our peers to talk us through the cringey bits we were too embarrassed to ask adults about, the gruesome ideas we hoped weren’t actually true and the confusing mechanics that we thought could not possibly work.
Although our society still struggles to come to terms with what young people get up to we have grown up in a far more liberal country than generations before us. Perhaps sometimes even too liberal. Whether we like it or not, sex is everywhere. I don’t know what rock Michelle Mulherin TD has been living under but the poor woman will give herself seriously high blood pressure if she continues to believe we all live in wendy houses reading transcripts from Enid Blyton books to each other until we reach our thirties.
No matter how hard strict, bible-bashing individuals try to shield us all from turning ‘impure’, sex is becoming more and more out there. Heck, just turn on your radio. Whether it’s Lady Gaga singing, “Let’s have some fun, this beat is sick. I want to take a ride on your disco stick”, (yes, actual real-life lyrics), or Rihanna breathlessly chanting, “C’mere Rude Boy, boy can you get it up?” today’s popular music is riddled with innuendoes. Childhood cartoons such as Spongebob Squarepants and The Rugrats have even been known to contain some cleverly hidden sexually themed jokes. It has become almost impossible to avoid such references and although the attitude towards sex in Ireland had to change young teenagers should not be completely starved of their innocence either.
I for one found it a teeny bit awkward to hear my much younger cousin sing the lyrics to Flo Rida’s summer 2012 hit “Whistle” while I was in his company. But then again maybe him singing it so loudly while I was around shows that lyrics, jokes and sexual references fly completely over children’s heads? Sitting him down to have a serious chat about the birds and the bees could have been completely unnecessary – he was just simply enjoying the catchiness of the summery tune. Just because youths are more exposed to issues that were deemed controversial by their parents or grandparents does not mean they will grow up to be satan-worshipping sex maniacs.
There is a serious case for argument that the music, film and arts industry is oversexed, and that our society in general is fueled on crude jokes, peer pressures and the constant need to impress. However, regardless of what side you take on the whole SpunOut.ie debacle it is important that information on our ever-changing world and its antics is out there to be devoured. Being overly exposed to anything can cause harm, but at the same time so can being unnecessarily shielded.
Each to their own. Everything with a pinch of salt. Variety is the spice of life…need I go on?