G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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Consider that title: among today’s teenagers, who is more intimidated by the opposite sex, boys or girls? And what has been the trajectory of this over the past several decades?
In it Schalet points out that a much lower percentage of mid-teen boys and girls are having sex today than twenty years ago. She writes:
Today, though more than half of unmarried 18- and 19-year-olds have had sexual intercourse, fewer than 30 percent of 15- to 17-year-old boys and girls have, down from 50 percent of boys and 37 percent of girls in 1988. And there are virtually no gender differences in the timing of sexual initiation.
Schalet characterizes this as “boys behaving like girls”. Boys have become more sensitive and romantic and are under less pressure to shed the “stigma of virginity”.
Taranto feels that Schalet just glosses over one explanation for this turn. He points out that she mentions young mens’ anxieties and fears of the potential negative consequences of sex, but doesn’t give enough weight to its explanatory power in assessing why young men would increasingly want to avoid sex:
At the same time, there is good reason for males (men as well as boys) to be more fearful of sex than females. Contemporary reproductive technology and law place all the burden for unwanted pregnancy on them. Between the pill and abortion, women have complete control over the reproductive process.
As Taranto points out, though a decrease in teenage sex is good in one very clear sense, such fears, anxieties, and hangups could effect sexual relationships into adulthood. If teenage boys are fearful of sexual relationships now, how will that domino into the future?
I’d take Taranto a little further. Teenage boys have every reason to be afraid of the outcomes of sex, but I tend to think that some of that explanation is merely the boys’ just-so response to the real root of the their anxiety: they’re scared to death of the girls themselves. Just trying to remember back to my own teenage years and trying to put myself into the mind of today’s teenager, the immobilizing fear of the process of sexual discovery precludes any thought of accidental pregnancy.
Boys aren’t just scared of the outcomes of sex; they’re scared of the process of sex – of the flirtations and interactions necessary to ever have sex in the first place. This is the true outcome of feminism. Masculinity in all of its forms has been degutted. Our school system – at the behest of feminists and academics – has beefed up the self-esteem of girls to the point that they just dominate their male peers. Believing as I do in essential sexual differences arising from biology, boys and young men are not mentally and emotionally equipped to handle this backwardation of domination.
And here’s what it gets down to fundamentally: boys know that they are not unconditionally supported. They are hesitant to act; they are scared to proceed knowing that they have no emotional safety net. At some point if a boy steps too far out and risks himself, in the event of his humiliation he will be left to fend for himself. This is no huge ordeal, but it strikes me that boys, more than girls, are afflicted more with feelings of shame, guilt, and self-loathing. A girl might get dumped or rejected or even picked on. But, generally, someone will care if she suffers. A friend, teacher, or another love interest will come along to help them out of their emotional jam, and there is hardly ever a feeling of pity. Not quite the same with boys. If a boy fails, there is no support system. He’s on his own, and he’s a pitiful creature – a loser.
That’s probably the best way to sum this up: boys can be losers; girls can’t. And both know it.