How much sex, if any, should teenagers by having?

Right now there are two GD threads going on the subject of teenagers having sex:

“Okay for a 14 year old boy and 23 year old woman to have sex?”


“Should the Age of Consent be lowered?”

I would like to address this issue from a slightly different angle: In terms of mental health, and the health of society, is it good or bad for teenagers to be having sex at all?

Whenever the subject of teen sexual conduct is discussed, there always seems to be an unspoken assumption – an assumption not shared by all persons participating, but certainly by many of them – that it is somehow immoral, or unhealthy, or both, for teenagers to be having sex at all.

This attitude carries over even to masturbation. Remember how Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders lost her job for suggesting that teenagers should be taught it’s all right to masturbate? I never could understand that. Teenagers will masturbate, or they will fuck, or both. The idea that they will do neither is preposterous. Yet it seems to be an ideal to which many adults hold. I once looked in an old copy of The Boy Scout’s Manual – dating from the 1930s or '40s – which contained a brief section on masturbation. It spoke of a boy’s “manly fluid” and how it must be kept in the body to ensure a boy grows properly tall and strong. The authors of this manual were actually trying to tell teenage boys – and might even have believed themselves – that semen is some kind of a growth hormone, and that it is more healthy to retain it than to release it! Well, I don’t know how it is for girls, but I’m pretty sure that if any teenage boy does not masturbate at least several times a week, there must be something wrong with him, physically or psychologically. I’ve also read that boys who consciously restrain themselves from masturbating, for moral or religious reasons or sheer embarassment, inevitably will have a lot of nocturnal emissions. That stuff has got to get out, one way or another.

Please remember that humans are designed to have sex from puberty onward, and especially in the years just after puberty. It’s not the same for both sexes, of course. I’ve often heard – no cite – that a female’s sex drive peaks in her 30s, while a male’s peaks in his teens. But females are designed to start getting pregnant and popping out babies in their teens – biologically, those are their prime breeding years. Which probably is why men seem to be hard-wired to find young women more attractive than older ones – it’s a sociobiological imperative. Remember, also, that for most of human history, in most cultures, people typically got married in their teens. This was the case in the United States throughout the 19th Century and well into the 20th.

It also has been a general rule, throughout history, that the higher you are in the social scale the later you will marry – because the higher you are placed, the more complicated effects your marriage will have on your economic and social prospects in life. Modern Americans are generally very prosperous, by historical standards, and generally marry at an astonishingly late age, by historical standards. And it is still generally the case that poor and working-class people marry younger than middle-class and upper-class people – defining “marriage” as a relationship contracted with the intention of producing and raising children. We also have invented a new social institution of “living together,” which is essentially a childless trial marriage. If you’re working class, you will probably get married right after high school and start having children right away. (At that, your behavior still would seem odd to your great-grandmother who got married at 15 and visibly bulged under her wedding dress.) If you’re middle- or upper-class, you probably will engage in nonmarital serial monogamy – cohabit with several partners in your college and grad school years, and not settle down to get married and have kids until your mid- to late 20s, or even your 30s.

So in our society today, nobody over the age of 18 really has to be sexually deprived – or at least, social norms do not cause adults to be sexually deprived. But what about all those horny – perfectly naturally horny – teenagers? We certainly don’t want to encourage them to get married, but what exactly do we want to encourage?

For purposes of this thread, let us run a thought experiment in an ideal world where the most important unintended consequences of sex – unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases – have been completely eliminated. All girls get a contraceptive implant at the age of 12. An equivalent device has been developed for boys, and they all get implanted too. A perfectly effective broad-spectrum vaccine for STD’s has been invented, and everybody is inoculated at the age of 12. Under these conditions – is it still important to encourage teenagers to keep their virginity up to a certain age? And is it important to discourage them from masturbating? In terms of mental health, should teenagers be discouraged from fornicating and/or masturbating, or encouraged? I have never heard any psychologist address the question in these terms.

(This is, for the moment, leaving aside the question of whether it is psychologically damaging for teenagers to have sex with adults, in a way it is not damaging for them to have sex with other teenagers – an assumption implicit in statutory-rape laws. Also, leaving aside the question of whether the sex is heterosexual and homosexual, and whether either is more psychologically damaging to a teenager than the other.)

Let’s change the conditions still further: It is not difficult to imagine a sort of teenage sexual utopia where prostitution is not only legal but socially respectable, there are inexpensive brothels in every neighborhood which are permitted and even encouraged to serve the youth trade, and in consequence it is as unusual for a teenage boy to go a day without fucking as it is for him to go a day without eating – even if he’s an ugly, smelly, socially awkward pizza-face and none of the girls in his class would touch him with a fork. My guess is, if every boy grew up in that environment, our average level of mental health would be much better and sex crimes committed by adults would be much rarer. How it would affect the girls is a more complicated question, but let us also assume the brothels have male prostitutes, just to make things fair.

What do you think?

(Oh, for a horny, drooling smiley!)

No pregnancy or STDs and you would still punish sex? WHY?!

Anyways, the way it is now, I myself can not face the responsibility of sex at my age so I just do not. Some foreplay is fine and oral is alright just so it is not excessive considering you can spread disease. Without it, whatever. I think it would be healthier to give into urges if there was absolutely no risks besides an angry parent.

And, semen is ejaculated every two weeks if it hasn’t been by other means to keep it healthy.

(Also, why is male masturbation always discussed but hardly female in the same regard? Females do masturbate as teenagers about as much as males, right? [68% of the male population or something?])

Hope this helps?

I recall some sci-fi series by Piers Anthony where, in the military, all recruits, male and female, had to perform sexually once a week with an assigned partner. The reason was to encourage sexual health - to ensure that no one was suffering from lack of sex, etc. By institutionalizing it, they dehumanized it, and it stopped being anything of importance. Later in the same series, the government introduced contraceptives into the water supply and made people get a “ticket” to have a baby (this was to control overpopulation).

I don’t really have severe heart stopping problems with a 14 year old having sex with another 14 year old, provided they are both knowledgable of the possible consequences and have contraceptives and condoms available to them.

The problem I do have with juvenile sex is their lack of judgement and control. While it can be argued that young adults and adults themselves similarly lack judgement and control in many (if not most) cases, I believe (from what I have read) that they are more likely to get into abusive relationships.

Then you could take the route of the Kinsey studies (from what I’ve read), which is, to say the least, generations beyond where we are now socially.

From my experience, yes. The difference seems to be in how open we are about it socially. Women, despite tremendous advances in the past few decades, are still less open and frank about their sexual practices. Men (especially the younger variety) are constantly making jokes and references to sexual practices and masturbation with their friends (I’m not speaking of discussing sexuality, but rather the crude jokes young men are wont to do, such as the infamous “sucking an invisible dick to tell you to blow me” move, which I have not seem replicated in female behavor. :wink:

Anyway, in general, masturbation should be encouraged, for both males and females. What is strikingly different between the sexes is how they masturbate and what they masturbate to… they are really very different practices.

:confused: News to me . . . I assume you are talking about psychological rather than strictly mechanical differences – but what are the psychological differences? What do girls masturbate to?

To answer the OP title. As much as they are happy to partake in, so long as they are mature enough and sensible enough to use appropriate precautions against disease and unwanted pregnancy.
In your utopia there would be nothing wrong except the fact that you are denying younger people the opportunity to have children if they so desire. The danger within such an utopia is that it may pressurise people into having sex when they don’t feel ready for it, so abstenance would have to be a totally normal and respected attitude as respected as sexual activity would be.
P.S. read Logan’s Run much? (the three ages of life in the film are different than in the book)

Less than me, dammit!

There’s a book you need to read O_o

I realize that was an unfair answer.

To put it in as few terms as possible: Women are stimulated emotionally, men visually. Men fantasize about hot women with big boobs and get off. Women are much more reliant on a “setting” - an emotional background, or at least a fantasy. This is why women (in general, there are many exceptions) who don’t jill off to porn or dirty magazines, but many who get aroused reading erotic fiction and the like. The experience is entirely different for women and men. Also, setting is improtant for women. Men can run into the bathroom and jack off without breaking a sweat. Women, while they can masturbate in a rush if needed, generally prefer a more ornate setting - a bath, some candles, yadda yadda. They need emotional stimulation in a way a man doesn’t. They don’t just look at a hot guy with a nice body in a magazine and go masturbate about it.

In this world, let them masturbate to their heart’s content, but no sex, at least for those under 18. Even though I’d like to see the legal age of consent lowered, I’d rather kids put off sexual activity until they were college-aged. Speaking in huge generalities, I really feel that people start to get a more accurate view of the world in their very late teens. The responsibilities that come with sex seem less abstract, more real. But I don’t see mass teen celibacy happening in this species.

Without the spectors of disease and unwanted pregnancy hanging over our heads, sex turns into a whole 'nother animal. Now, it’s no big deal. There would still be emotional repecussions and religious objectives, but the public perception of sex would change rapidly if it no longer had its physical dangers.

While I take a libertarian stance toward legalizing prostitution, I have my doubts on whether the availability of sex is in any way linked to sex crimes, or even mental health. And I don’t think that going to prostitutes will ever completely lose its stigma. What’s more depressing-- going to a hooker instead of masturbating or knowing that everyone else is having sex, but no one will do it with you? They both sound like blows to the ego.

Men talk sexually more often than woman, perhaps, but they do not talk honestly nor productively as much. Women will discuss intimate details (although not necessarily mechanical) about thier relationships. Men, however, will discuss mechanical details without mentioning the intimacy.

I’m not sure this means that men or women have a more healthy relationship to sexual practices. Personally (and this is just my own prejudice) I think women are much more perverted* (I mean that in a good way) than men. There’s nothing better than a female pervert. :slight_smile:

*Perverted in this context means twisted around, not evil or anything else bad. So that people who are not sexually demonstative in public can be positively demonic in the actual practice of sex.

I agree 100%, see my explanation of female masturbation above.

I think women are certainly more prone to fantasies and fetishes (again, see above).

Of course, all of this is vast generalization. There are men (like me) who don’t behave like “most men”.

(I got into A LOT of trouble in that thread yesterday for saying that men behave in a more predatorial manner, so I’ll leave it at that).

Men will do anything for good sex. Women will do anything for good shoes. The gulf is wide.

Plenty. They need the practice, or else they’ll only be able to make it as a groupie for the foreign language frats when they get to college.

I agree with you and I understand. You should have seen the sentences I deleted from that post. :eek:

Not as wide as you think. Men will do quite a bit for good sex. But women will do quite a bit more for a sexual relationship. How many men marry death row inmates? For instance.

I have no problem with Masturbation.

As to those 14 to16- I’d say petting & perhaps mutual masturbation should be it. Too bad that isn’t taught as a “safe sex” alternative.

As to 17 yo- this depends on how emotionaly mature they are. Many are ready to make an informed decision about sex and enter into a healthly sexual relationship at that age. Some are not.

There are many men who are uncomfortable with the behavior you describe. I don’t think the kind of stereotype you’re pushing is helpful, even with qualification. (And let’s not forget that you didn’t get into trouble for sayign that men behave in a more predatorial manner - you said that all men were predators and abusers.)

Hmmm, this is a difficult one for me.

I started having sexual relations with my then-bf now-husband when I was 16. And we were like monkeys on crack. We never stopped, it seems like. A whole year of my life is nothing but hazy memories of quick orgasms. It was a lot of fun. I miss it. It didn’t seem to have an adverse affect on me at all. We always used protection so I never got pregnant. We were each other’s first and onlies, so no danger of STDs. Our relationship has always been good, and orgasms have always been great, and so, if we were to model it on my experience, I’d say kids should have lots of healthy sex.

However, my sister had a sexual relationship when she was around 16. I don’t no the details, so I don’t know how far they went or how often it happened, but suffice it to say, it fucked her up. This girl has got major issues when it comes to sex. When she feels horny, she’s ashamed, and so she’ll pray until the feeling passes. She won’t masturbate and finds the very thought abhorent. She lectured me–actually lectured–for writing about sex and talking about it freely because “that’s what animals do. Humans shouldn’t do that.” She seems to have the idea that once she gets married, allof her problems will go away. I feel very sorry for her future-husband, because she’s been getting more stringent in her views as the months pass. So, if we were using her for a model, I’d say no sex ever until college aged or beyond.

I think ultimately parents just need to prepare their children–mentally and physically–for relationships. I think my sister’s problem may have been excaberated by the shame she felt from my parents and church. I think that teenagers deserve to have all the options available, and access to somebody who will talk to them about what they could be getting themselves into in a calm and reasonable way. I don’t know how much sex is good for mental health, but I do know that lies, secrets, and shame is not good for mental health.

If you meen fetish in the strictest definition (a certain stimulus that is required for orgasm) of the word, women are far, far, far, less likely to have them than men.