Domestic Diversions

Hooking up with impaired relationships and STDs

The New York Times brings us up-to-date on teenage sexuality, hooking up strategies and euphemisms.

Benoit Denizet-Lewis writes (excerpt):
It’s unclear just how many teenagers choose hookups or friends with benefits over dating. Many, in fact, go back and forth, and if the distinction between hooking up and dating can seem slippery, that’s because one sometimes does lead to the other. But just as often, hooking up is nothing more than what it’s advertised to be: a no-strings sexual encounter. Recent studies show that it’s not uncommon for high-school students to have sex with someone they aren’t dating. A 2001 survey conducted by Bowling Green State University in Ohio found that of the 55 percent of local 11th graders who engaged in intercourse, 60 percent said they’d had sex with a partner who was no more than a friend. That number would perhaps be higher if the study asked about oral sex. While the teen intercourse rate has declined — from 54 percent in 1991 to 47 percent in 2003 — this may be partly because teenagers have simply replaced intercourse with oral sex. To a generation raised on MTV, AIDS, Britney Spears, Internet porn, Monica Lewinsky and ”Sex and the City,” oral sex is definitely not sex (it’s just ”oral”), and hooking up is definitely not a big deal.
While many girls insist they receive sexual attention during hookups, just as many boys say hookups are mostly about pleasing the guy. Michael Milburn, professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and co-author of the book ”Sexual Intelligence,” an examination of sexual beliefs and behaviors in America, says that the boys’ take is more accurate. ”Most of the time, it’s the younger girl performing fellatio on the older boy, with the boy doing very little to pleasure the girl,” Milburn says. Some girls told me that guys think it’s ”nasty” to perform oral sex on a girl. So a lot of girls will just perform oral sex on the guy ”and not expect anything in return, because she’ll know that he probably thinks it’s gross,” Irene told me. But her friend Andi pointed out that many girls are themselves insecure about receiving oral sex; they’d rather just have intercourse.
. . . Regardless of which end of the political spectrum they find themselves on, parents and teen-sexuality experts tend to agree on one thing: hooking up is a bad thing for teenagers. They insist that it’s bad emotionally and potentially bad physically. Female adolescents ages 15 to 19 have the highest incidence of both gonorrhea and chlamydia, and according to the latest C.D.C. figures, 48 percent of new S.T.D. cases reported in 2000 occurred among 15- to 24-year-olds. Many of the teenagers I talked to told me that no one they know uses condoms during oral sex, only during intercourse.

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