Friday, December 16, 2005

PG-8 is the New PG-13. (ps--this post is PG-13)

As I mentioned, I stayed at my sister’s house due to the ice storm that precluded driving home, so I got to spend some time with my eldest niece. Somehow the 5 year old baby niece I remember has turned into an 8 ½ year old “tween” without me noticing. She thinks Lindsay Lohan is so cool and she has a ‘boyfriend’ named Jacob “who this girl totally lied and told me that he was dating another girl but he totally isn't.” When I heard the word "boyfriend" I was about to offer one of those made-for-TV cheeseball lectures that Erin Gray would have given Ricky Schroder on Silver Spoons about “being yourself” and not doing things just to make someone like you and “you don’t need friends like that anyway” when she blew me away with the following dialogue:

“So after this girl said that to me, I just decided to ask him about it, and I told him I didn't care what his answer was, but that I just wanted to know the truth."


Okay, I’m 33 and I can’t claim that kind of deep background knowledge of how to handle relationships with men. I was pleasantly surprised by her poise and confidence. And then I was horrified that an 8 ½ year old is even having a conversation with a boy about whether he is cheating on her with another girl. Dear god, has our culture really arrived at the place where 8 year olds are dealing with infidelity?!! I suppose they aren’t engaging in the more adult “simultaneous sexual partners” infidelity we’ve all lived through at some point (some more recently than others), but it doesn’t really make me feel better that Romance! Drama! Betrayal! are factors in an 8 or 9 year old’s daily life. And there seems to be no way around it, even in homes like hers where the atmosphere is not in the least permissive.

What ever happened to the glory days when an 8th grade girl would be made fun of by a bunch of guys for asking, “What’s ‘head’?” when she heard them wondering if Tracy gave it. Or when a freshman girl could get laughed at by her good friend Todd (who’ll never read this blog so no worries) when he was telling her about having jerked off the night before and getting busted by his mother, and she asked in a very academic manner, “I don’t get it. Why would you do that? What’s the appeal?”

I mean, that girl could have genuinely existed. Circa 1988 or something. You know, like, maybe she was real and that stuff really did happen. And that would be no shame on her part for being so ignorant of raw human sexuality, right? I mean, she was totally cool in other ways, was class president, totally had friends and a social life (although was definitely in the Not Putting Out category of girls, for you guys at home keeping score). She just didn’t really have the 411 on the definition of “blow job” and couldn’t quite figure out the physics of how or why someone would do it.

Is that so wrong? But more importantly, is that so retro these days? That I—erm, I mean “a girl”—could make it to 14 or 15 years old and be 100% unaware of oral sex and “self-love”? I feel like such a relic even writing this, as if I’m saying I wore a chastity belt and didn’t show my ankles to members of the opposite sex till within the bonds of holy parentally-arranged matrimony. I knew where babies came from, I knew that daddy put his seed into mommy because he loved her very much and all that crap, I had friends who were physically active with their boyfriends, I thought particular guys were so cute and wanted to kiss them and engage in what Jerry Falwell would call “heavy petting.” I was all over the Evil That Was Heavy Petting. I knew about getting horny and what it led to; I wasn’t a Prudie Judie. I just didn’t know the specifics (until, of course, irony of ironies, I went to a Presbyterian Church camp and woke up to find the camp counselor who worked in the kitchen cooking up some sausage dish with the girl in the bunk next to me). I had even—I’ll go so far as to confess now that my parents can’t forbid me from going to his house after school—felt it in a mad way for Ryan, for whom I had felt a longing from my days as a totally fat 6th grader swooning over his amazing seventh grade-ness in student council meetings all the way to my freshman year of high school when we finally actually dated….oh that’s right—until I couldn’t find a way to deem him sponge-worthy before his junior prom.

But I digress. All of these boy issues seemed a bit overwhelming to me at 16 and 17 and, for god’s sake, at 33. I’m in agony that my 8 ½ year old niece is well on her way to having all of those feelings and issues and potential emotional black holes be part of her universe long before it needs to be. How do we take such a smart and well-spoken and poised 9-ish year-old and protect her from all the stuff that’s out there that just shouldn’t mar the canvas that is her beautiful child’s soul? All-girl’s school? Bans on Lindsay Lohan movies? Bar her from speaking with boys? All of these and none of these are the answer, I suppose. It's already out there, so even in not having some things in your house doesn't keep your child away from it.

I just don’t know. All I know is, if some punk-ass boy even BREATHES the words “blow job” in her direction before she’s in college, he’ll be physically unable to ever get one, courtesy of Auntie Haggis and her Hebrew Hammer.

Do ya feel lucky, punk? Huh? Do ya?!


misterfed said...

Oh, don't get me started on the protecting my little girl routine. And it ain't just the actual guys either, it's the merchants of trampitude that want to make money by sexualizing our daughters earlier and earlier. I swear, the first time Abby comes home in a suggestive Ambercrombie shirt or one of those pants that say "juicy" or something across the ass, I'm gonna head down to the mall and put some proprietor's nads through the garlic press.

Raine said...

(witty/snarky retort witheld)

If there wasn't a demand for the "sexualized" clothing, the stores wouldn't be selling it. If people were willing to actually get behind the "it's what's on the inside that matters" bullshit, there wouldn't be a desire to be physically sexy, and therefore, no demand would exist for said Ambercrombie skankware.

However, surface appearances still matter more than the person on the inside, perhaps now more than ever. I hate to say it, but wouldn't it be better if we educated children, rather than "protect" them from marketing monsters of our own creation?

Also, E, as a side note, I think I was aware of the 'ole BJ and Ms. Palm and her five daughters as early as third grade. That would have put me at age 8. Not that I was engaging in either at the time, but it's amazing what one can learn when the avenues of an academic are open to them.

E said...

Yeah, but you are a guy, Raine. I think guys are pretty much fluent (if not ruled by) the art of self-love at an early age due to basic biology. All the guys in 6th grade were sexual beyond the range of the girls. I think that wass as much a result of socialization as the current sexualization of young girls is.

I'm all about being physically sexy; not a thing wrong with it. But I think there's something sick and wrong about finding or encouraging that characteristic in an 8 year old.

Sexuality conveys a power that some of my really pretty, busty friends in high school knew they possessed over boys and men alike. What they didn't possess was the adult understanding of all its consequences.

Runner said...

There are a lot of kids wise beyond their years these days. As a teacher I see it more than most. It's disturbing in a way.

Good post, E.