|Teen Voice: Ignoring sex in|
|October 14, 2016 Faith Reisig|
In high school, sex is almost everywhere. Sex is a multi-dimensional, highly controversial issue that dominates the high school student’s experience. Whether having intercourse or making jokes, high school students discuss sex frequently, almost constantly.
By putting more than 500 students with developing bodies together in classes for eight hours a day, it is impossible to avoid sex as an issue. However, because it is such a problematic topic, talking about it in a serious way equates to opening a large and nasty can of worms.
Sexism, teen pregnancy, sexuality, and birth control are all problems at my high school, just like any other high school across the country.
In high school, sex is a reality. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most boys lose their virginity between the ages of 16 and 17, while the average girl loses hers at 17, although other surveys put the age closer to 14. Sex is a reality for many of my classmates and, while I have never been sexually active, many of my peers are. Because it is such a prevalent issue, sex is something that affects my life as well.
On more than one occasion, a total stranger has made sexual comments about me or implied they would like to have sex with me. I’ve had people say they’d like to sleep with me as if it is a compliment. Once, a few of my classmates suggested making a bet as to when I would lose my virginity. These types of remarks are often shrugged off as jokes or teen stupidity, but they have all made me feel grossly uncomfortable. It is not OK for people to make these remarks to me or to anyone else.
Oversexualizing happens on a day-to-day basis in high school. Bodies should never be viewed simply as sexual objects; that is the kind of mentality that leads to rape and sex trafficking. If a girl shows any hint of cleavage or wears leggings, guys may see it as an invitation to lust after her. If a guy flexes his muscles or wears tight pants, he shouldn’t be at the mercy of every girl in his class. Unfortunately, speaking up in these circumstances is considered unacceptable by most of my peers.
If I do say something, I’m called a ‘feminazi’ or told to calm down. There is also an uncomfortable double-standard among genders. If a high school boy has sex, he is considered normal, even congratulated by his friends. If a girl enjoys sex, she is labeled a ‘slut’ or considered ‘easy.’
These are not the only problems sex causes in high school. Sexually active teens are at risk for sexually transmitted diseases and unintended or unplanned pregnancy.
Since seventh grade, a handful of my classmates becomes pregnant every year. Many such students are able to carry the baby to term, and then either raise it on their own, or give it up for adoption. However, I’ve observed that any teen carrying a baby faces a negative reaction. Pregnant high school students are judged by their teachers, peers, and members of the community. While not everyone may react negatively, most people do not know how to act around a high school student with a baby-bump, especially if they do not know the circumstances. The alternative is abortion, but this raises debates along personal and religious lines.
Despite the risk of an unwanted pregnancy, many sexually-active teens do not use protection while having sex. This opens the door for another problem: sexually transmitted diseases or STDs for short. According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 10 million STDs have been reported each year by people between the ages of 15- 24. Many students choose not to use protection because they believe they play the odds, and take high risks, believing nothing bad will happen to them.
Not all students are sexually active; in fact, according to most surveys, around half (of high school students) have never had sex. However, while these students are not at risk of getting pregnant or contracting a disease, all students are affected by sex in high school.
Even students not having sex are affected by gender double-standards and objectification.
While these problems won’t stop any time soon, it would be a step in the right direction if we could talk about them openly, without being told that such problems are unimportant.