Girls just want to have sex?
This is a a photo of me when I was 12. Almost 13.
We were coming near to the end of a five-month stay in the UK in 1980. My hair looks awful but I’d rebelliously grown it out from the short cropped style I’d had forced on me for the 12 years prior.
I swear my mum (who was back home in Australia) used to get a three-for-one deal at Stefans. Every couple of months my brothers and I would be trotted in there, only to come out an hour or so later all looking the same.
That’s one of my brothers standing next to me (note his hair is almost as long as mine). I’m carrying my newborn cousin Russel.
My brother probably wanted to have a hold of Russel but I doubt that I even gave him a chance. I LOVED babies. Couldn’t get enough of them. Love cuddling them, loved playing with them, loved dressing them up.
My 12-year-old self was more interested in carrying around an actual “live” Baby Alive doll than giving any thought to possibly making an actual live one of my own.
Which is why I did a hang-on-a-minute-is-this-really-going-on-kind-of-reaction when I first read this in the Australian Women’s Weekly:
Dolly magazine’s 2011 Youth Monitor found 56 per cent of teens first had sex between 13 and 15 years old, a figure backed up by an Australian study that found the age of girls’ first sexual experience ranged from 11 to 17 years, with a median age of 14.
I want you to read those stats again.
Yes, some girls are having their first “sexual experience” at 11. More than half have had sex by the time their 15.
I’m no wowzer but REALLY?
I look at the girl in the photo above and I see just that. A little girl.
A girl still playing with “dolls” but buying clear lipgloss with her pocket money.
A girl who got back from the UK mid-way through Year 8 (first year of high school) to find all her friends had indeed grown up and that birthday parties no longer included fairy bread. Instead they were held at night time under people’s houses with a record player, disco lights and a separate room for pashing contests for those “lucky” enough to have a boyfriend. The rest of us danced a side-step dance in a circle to Video Killed the Radio Star or Echo Beach.
Yes, in high school we grew up fast. But seemingly not as fast as young girls today (insert shakey grandma voice here).
Apparently we should not judge today’s fast growing-up girls. The reason they’re having sex so young is that they’re under incredible pressure to do so.
They know, or think they know, a few other things, too. That oral sex doesn’t count as sex. That sending nude pictures via text or Facebook is the new flirting. That boys their age watch porn regularly and demand from their girlfriends the sexual menu they see online — hairless, surgically enhanced bodies, “girl-on-girl action” and much, much more.
That oral sex that doesn’t count as sex? According to parenting expert Michael Grosse, it’s so common it’s happening at school. Turns out that smoking in the toilets or down the back oval is SO 1984.
Now, before you think I’m riding some sanctimonious white horse that involved waiting to have sex until I got married, let me confess my skanky ho teenage ways.
The FIRST TIME was when I was almost 17 (sounds vaguely better than 16, doesn’t it?) and in Year 12. Did I feel forced into it? Not on the specific occasion in question. Just in general.
Did I think I’d be with my boyfriend forever? Of course, I did. I was in LURRVVE.
Did it last? Of course it didn’t (as an aside he’s now happily married to my best friend from uni … but that’s another blog post!).
Fast forward 28 years later and I’m now the mother of a 15-year-old daughter. She is smart, beautiful and I want to protect her from all of the boyfriend-girlfriend expectation and heartache.
But I know I can’t.
What I can do is foster a loving respect for herself and her body. And maybe plaster to her bedroom mirror these very wise words from fellow Justb-er Pip Lincolne:
Bodies are not amusement parks. They are temples.
Can you remember your first time? Tell me, did anyone actually have a good first time? Is that even possible? Do you have a tween-age or teenage daughter? Have things changed since you were their age?