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Are You There God? It's Me, Monica
March 16, 2007 7:11 PM   Subscribe

Are You There God? It's Me, Monica In equal parts a book review, investigative journalism and an autobiographical account; the author of this article takes on the topic of teenage oral-sex in the US today. There are no easy answers for the reader at the end, but it makes for fairly compelling reading. (Apart from some sexual terminology, the article is SFW) [via]
posted by your mildly obsessive average geek (71 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
(Apart from some sexual terminology, the article is SFW)

The URL, on the other hand...
posted by lumensimus at 7:21 PM on March 16, 2007


I didn't make it through the whole article, but from my perspective it more reflects a change in the way data is collected about teen sexuality, rather than a change in teen sexuality.

Casual blow jobs seemed like a fairly standard thing with the "normal (aka prep aka popular) kid" set when I was in high school in the late-80's - my female friends explained it as the way you got making out to stop, since dudes tended to be done at the end of the blow job.

That wasn't my scene, mainly because I was grounded for most of high school (as in it started the summer before 9th grade and ended in 11th grade) so I couldn't go to those parties =(
posted by illovich at 7:44 PM on March 16, 2007


Where does the "serviced" language of oral sex come from? It seems to crop up with the most frequency in teenage-sex-scare articles, and almost always to describe girls going down on boys, not vice versa (although IIRC survey data indicates that both directions are fairly common).

There is something about this usage which makes me suspicious.
posted by grobstein at 7:47 PM on March 16, 2007


Semi previously discussed here.
posted by chinston at 7:48 PM on March 16, 2007


(clarification: my foregoing comment isn't meant to condemn the linked article as a "sex-scare" article; I just started it and noted the discussion of girls "servicing" boys)
posted by grobstein at 7:49 PM on March 16, 2007


Uh, blowjobs really aren't all that newfangled, y'know.
posted by jonmc at 8:03 PM on March 16, 2007


The fascination of teen sex mores, previously on Metafilter.

(sickos)
posted by nanojath at 8:06 PM on March 16, 2007


chinston - I *actually* did run several searches for this article, but I guess I missed it since the comment in that article points to the premium edition. Thank you for pointing it out!

grobstein - I think the article is trying to determine how widespread this is or whether this is simply a "sex-scare". As the article points out, and illovich points out, anecdotal evidence is available in plenty but verified facts are much harder to come by
posted by your mildly obsessive average geek at 8:10 PM on March 16, 2007


Man, I really don't like this writing. I was halfway through the second page, and I was like, "why the fuck am I reading about Judy Bloom," and I gave up.

I've been unhappy with most Atlantic pieces I've read, come to think of it.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:34 PM on March 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


From the article:

why would girls voluntarily turn to giving blowjobs?...why are they apparently giving them out so indiscriminately? These are questions that none of the usual suspects can answer.

And, after six pages of blather, the author didn't really answer the questions, either. The "indiscriminate" part of the equation is the most interesting, and the part nobody ever seems to get to when getting all worked up about the "teenaged-sex-scare" du jour. Is there really an epidemic of this stuff? If there is, is it really this...workmanlike?
posted by somethingotherthan at 8:35 PM on March 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I liked this part:

As myriad forces were combining to reshape our notions of public decency and propriety, to ridicule the concept that privacy and dignity are valuable and allied qualities of character...

That's interesting. You could say the same about almost every aspect of American popular culture over the last ten or twenty years. Privacy and dignity eroding hand-in-hand.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:07 PM on March 16, 2007


"A quarter of girls aged fifteen had engaged in it, and more than half aged seventeen. Obviously, there was no previous data to compare this with, but millions of suburban dads were quite adamant that they had been born too soon."

That sentence is far too awkward for me.
posted by spiderskull at 9:10 PM on March 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Caitlin Flanagan: Finally Someone Makes Margaret Atwood's Fiction Seem Plausible

Blow by Blow: A Guide to Highbrow Oral Sex Writing and Reportage
posted by mlis at 9:27 PM on March 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


So 1/4 of 15 year old girls in that one survey claimed that at some point they put their mouth on somebody's penis at least once, and half of the 17 year olds said they'd done so. How utterly unsurprising. "Hey everybody, some teens experiment with heterosexuality!"
posted by davy at 9:29 PM on March 16, 2007


For what it's worth, when I was teenager they only people voluntarily giving me blowjobs indiscriminately were legally adult men, who'd frequent the Confederate Memorial just for the purpose of finding young men to suck off. Teenagers (of either sex) usually took some persuading; I seriously doubt that's changed much. (Apparently the urge to hyperbolize "Major Social Problems" sure ain't.)
posted by davy at 9:36 PM on March 16, 2007


I've grown up in an upper-middle class suburb attending public schools (finally about to graduate!), and I've never even heard about such "epidemic" activities until now. If this isn't really just soccer mom paranoia at work then I must be seriously missing out on something.
posted by anarcation at 9:51 PM on March 16, 2007


I've never even heard about such "epidemic" activities until now.

That's because the chicks are giving the knobshines to older guys, like always.
posted by jonmc at 9:58 PM on March 16, 2007


I didn't say that oral sex doesn't happen in the local teenage scene. I simply haven't known it to happen on the scale ("train parties" etc.) that is described by the article's more hysterical viewpoints.

And now I feel a little uncomfortable for having discussed "knobshines" with jonmc.
posted by anarcation at 10:09 PM on March 16, 2007


I read through much of the piece, and it seems like mostly reactionary shock. At the end of the piece she's outraged and shocked at what girls are supposedly doing, but at the same time minimizes the potential role boys are playing due to an acknowledged bias because she has sons.

It almost renders the entire thing pointless.

Yes, times have changed some, but ultimately, we're just more open about sexuality on many levels. On the one hand, the author seems to favor such a thing, (during the whole Judy Blume part), but her retraction later in the form of shock at some perceived veering out of control of such openness leaves her point blurred.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:12 PM on March 16, 2007


Also, her insistence upon describing girls as some kind of pawns only victimizes them, which is the irony here. The fact is, these girls have a choice, as do the boys.

It would be a mistake to ignore or victimize either side through words or bias if the aim were to have a legitimate look at what the situation is and what problems do actually exist, if any.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:14 PM on March 16, 2007


When I read the 1/4 of all 15 year olds, 1/2 of all 17 year olds stat my first thought was, "That's it?"

The way I've seen it portrayed in the media, it sounds bloody ubiquitous.

I feel sort of sorry for this woman. She seems very intelligent, and is able to see past a lot of this bullshit. But why can't she see the very simple truth of what's going on here? In her day, teenage sexuality changed. Surprisingly, it's changing again.

Maybe when these teenage girls say, "This really isn't that big of a deal", we should actually take that at face value. When a teenage boy knows he might be able to get a blowjob, he quite likely will go to the ends of the earth for it. And a girl might get a huge kick out of that. Does this mean that boys are little sex demons and girls are power-whores who place no value on their sexuality?

How about this instead. 15 year old boy has so many juices pumping through his body he doesn't know what to bloody think. One thing that he knows though, is that when he touches himself, it feels really good. What does a girl know? Probably not at all much about male sexuality, but she wouldn't mind finding out, and it's pretty bloody hilarious how they'll become putty in your hands if, well... you get the idea. The point is though, that boy and girl are young, inexperienced, and wanting to learn new things. Sexuality, however, is so confused in our society right now that they have no clear idea of what to do. So they'll probably do what they've been doing their whole lives: figuring things out themselves, and growing up.

And I know that there's going to be mistakes, and broken hearts, and damaged sexuality, and... you know, life. There are never easy answers. But here's something which I think parents should find pretty bloody obvious if they think about it for half a god damn second: The reason why it is young girls performing the oral here, is not, in fact, because feminism and the sexual revolution has removed their sugars, and spice, and everything that was nice. But...

let's step back for a second. Are male and female oral sex (in the sense of fellatio/cunnilingus) really on the same level? Are they really not, in fact, in completely different leages? In completely different fucking galaxies? Blowing a 15 year boy is something any girl can do because it's practically impossible to screw up. Going down on a woman though... I mean, I've read Ulysses and Dostoevsky, and that stuffs hard. But I got it. But going down on a girl? I'm scared shitless every time (okay, not really, but you get the idea).

I imagine (as I'm not in the habit of going down on young girls, and being the weirdo I was in high school, I pretty much missed my opportunity) that a 15 girl could only be way more complicated.
posted by Alex404 at 10:26 PM on March 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm at a loss about her conclusion, where she lets us in on the fact that she has sons and wouldn't be too heartbroken if they came home with a full-spectrum penis--but she would be heartbroken for the girls who had applied the rainbow.

I thought the point about blow job parties as being more akin to gay porn than homosexual porn was interesting; indeed, a lot of "mainstream" pornography is more than a bit in the closet, so to speak. (When I've seen clips of two or three dudes with a single woman, it always has seemed to me the woman was a prop and indeed she's only there to convince the audience that they aren't really pounding their pud to gay sex.)

I like to think we tell our young women that being sexual is natural, fun and part of life, and give them the information they need to make the choices that are right for them. But we still don't do very well at that--"abstinence" programs are actually "female abstinence" programs when you look closely at their message. Articles like this don't help.

Girls are supposed to live in virtue-all reality, apparently.
posted by maxwelton at 10:35 PM on March 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


I mean, I've read Ulysses and Dostoevsky, and that stuffs hard. But I got it. But going down on a girl? I'm scared shitless every time

Its the Dentata, isnt it?
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:43 PM on March 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Are male and female oral sex (in the sense of fellatio/cunnilingus) really on the same level? Are they really not, in fact, in completely different leages? In completely different fucking galaxies?

"A woman makes a guy come it's standard. A man makes a woman come, that's talent." - Dante (Hicks)
posted by jonmc at 10:44 PM on March 16, 2007


But we still don't do very well at that--"abstinence" programs are actually "female abstinence" programs when you look closely at their message.

It's always been that way. With boys, as even this author suggests, there's always been an assumption that there's no damage, and so the tendency has been to just turn a blind eye throughout history.

When it comes to girls, we're never really taught that we have things under control under our own capabilities. We're never taught to stand on our own two feet, so to speak and make our own decisions, instead we're taught to "save" ourselves, to remain dependent, obedient little girls on some level, forever. No wonder some women still don't assert themselves when it comes to their sexuality.

These abstinence programs are meant to scare us with their reliance upon negativity and exposure of all the potential risks without teaching how to make informed decisions about those risks.

And obviously,all risks aren't physical. There are emotional risks as well. To deny that's the case for boys is shortsighted, and that's one major problem I too have with this article.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:02 PM on March 16, 2007


"And now I feel a little uncomfortable for having discussed 'knobshines' with jonmc."

Doubtless there are people who feel a little uncomfortable for having given jonmc a "knobshine." (But don't look at ME, I swear we've never met!)
posted by davy at 11:33 PM on March 16, 2007


And obviously,all risks aren't physical. There are emotional risks as well. To deny that's the case for boys is shortsighted, and that's one major problem I too have with this article.

I think these tend to be overblown, too...talking of course about consensual activity. Do people really brood in later life about awkward, embarrassing and frankly bad sex they have as a teenager, or do they laugh about it and be glad they got to experience what they did? I hope the latter, but I fear we ingrain the former as being the "right" response.
posted by maxwelton at 11:52 PM on March 16, 2007


Mostly, maxwelton, it's memories of what I did (or that was done to me) when I was NOT being sexual that make me brood and cringe. I'm so glad I have some decent "knobshines" to balance out the bad parts. (Thanks, knobshiners!)
posted by davy at 11:57 PM on March 16, 2007


"But going down on a girl? I'm scared shitless every time"

I'm scared of the Borg from Star Trek: "Your life, as it has been, is over. From this time forward, you will service us."
posted by Smedleyman at 12:13 AM on March 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


MLIS writes "Caitlin Flanagan: Finally Someone Makes Margaret Atwood's Fiction Seem Plausible"

Oh, shit, I've heard of this woman before. My comment above regarding the abysmal quality of her writing was made in ignorance of this familiarity, though (I didn't bother to look at the byline), and cannot be said to be a political conclusion. She's fucking awful, isn't she?
posted by mr_roboto at 12:30 AM on March 17, 2007


I would agree that there is a tendency to turn a blind eye to the boy's side of teenage sexuality, but you can't deny that women have a higher biological cost associated with sex. After all, we're the ones who get pregnant. And these days it doesn't seem like there's the shotgun wedding pressure on the boys. Its the girls who's lives are gonna change the most in the case of a pregnancy.
posted by wilky at 12:31 AM on March 17, 2007


I was once "serviced" by a thirteen year old girl. It wasn't what you think, though. She was just trying to get my scared, fourteen year old dick hard enough to deflower me.

In the three times we had sex, i never returned the favor. I was really broken up about it, so when I got the chance again a year/eternity later, I gave it my all. She said it was alright, but it was never really her thing. Two years later I was watching a porno with a lesbian friend and when the guy in the film started going down on one of the girls, she started yelling at the screen, "That's not how you do it," and with that information I became a much more adept head giver.

Of course, by that point, I was a weathered old seventeen year old, which is only shocking if you read this thread.
posted by elr at 2:15 AM on March 17, 2007


It's always been that way. With boys, as even this author suggests, there's always been an assumption that there's no damage, and so the tendency has been to just turn a blind eye throughout history.

Although descriptively true for how society today views things, this is not true for all of history.

For example, both in the mid- to late-1800s and to a lesser extent in the 1950s, there was a lot of concern over boys and young men losing their vitality, becoming emasculated and ennervated through excessive stimulation, masturbation, and temptation. "Loose women" (largely synonymous with "urban," "single," and sometimes "immigrant") were therefore a real threat to these threatened young men's delicate masculine systems, rather than the current portrayal of the reverse.

That said, the consequences have always been higher for women, whatever the views of prominent social commentators might have been. So at a practical level -- the question of who is allowed to do what -- what you say holds up, even if it doesn't in terms of what the assumptions and beliefs were.
posted by Forktine at 3:05 AM on March 17, 2007


From a public health standpoint more teenage blow jobs and less unprotected sex is a good thing if it leads to less unplanned pregnancies and STDs.
posted by afu at 3:30 AM on March 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jesus, you twits are kinda dense sometimes. You're funny when you talk about iPods or politics or whatever, but the point of the article (if you had bothered to finish it) was the the the same culture that gave us bukkake and Bratz dolls is positing to our hormonally-charged children that, regardless of whether rainbow parties actually happen, they're normative. And frankly, they're not. Now color me prudy if you like, but I've given out more sexual treats of all stripes to all types of folks - probably more blow jobs than you computer nerds can shake a pliant little twig at - and I'm feminist enough to have done it without romantic notions of love and friendship at every turn - but I did it for my pleasure, and not when I was 15 freakin' years old. It was just a typical essay in the Atlantic about why that's sad, and the enormous challenge I have in oh, I don't know, may not enrolling my daughter in a pole dancing class.
posted by DenOfSizer at 3:55 AM on March 17, 2007 [6 favorites]


34 comments before someone drew a comparison between abstinence campaigns, (inferred), and oral sex.

what do you expect?
posted by altman at 4:32 AM on March 17, 2007


DenOfSizer owns the thread at this point.

It sounds as if a lot of MeFites didn't make it to the last page, which is where the author decided to dump her entire load.

I'm not wholeheartedly endorsing or stomping on that load, I'm just saying that's where it is.

Commenters who have missed this can't help but seem to come off as a bit premature.
posted by CheeseburgerBrown at 5:26 AM on March 17, 2007


Thanks, knobshiners!
Yep, takes a mofo village.
posted by DenOfSizer at 5:26 AM on March 17, 2007


Of course, the article keeps to the female-on-male bj. I found it interesting that in high school heated debates in the cafeteria would center on whether receiving a male-on-made bj made you just "desperate" or gay (while performing it most certainly did, which in the very early 90s was still a teenage social kiss of death, even in the metropolitan north east). I can attest at the very least that the homosexual variety is far more prevalent in high schools among unlikely donors/recipients than people are willing to talk about.
posted by moonbird at 6:38 AM on March 17, 2007


So where is this trend heading? Are there any cultures which are ahead of the West in sexual deregulation? Perhaps Japan, or a newly contacted Amazonian tribe?
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 7:24 AM on March 17, 2007


The girls and boys are figuring it out themselves. the parents are scared. nothing new here. but the sexuality that results may indeed look a little different. learning about sex includes learning about how to handle people. inviting them to bj parties is handling them. learning that you can do shit and walk away from it unharmed is learning a valuable leson for life (not for marriage, admittedly, but that seems to be on the way out). The article didn't seem to acknowledge that giving a blowjob casually can be fun. it can. ha.
posted by fcummins at 7:48 AM on March 17, 2007


CheeseburgerBrown writes "I'm not wholeheartedly endorsing or stomping on that load"

I think the turn of phrase you were groping for here was 'swallowing or spitting-out'.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:37 AM on March 17, 2007


I can't wait until the public discovers Bret Easton Ellis, who as best I can tell, sums up upper-middle class kids better than anyone.
posted by geoff. at 9:10 AM on March 17, 2007


when she was young, in the 1960s, oral sex was considered far more intimate than intercourse. The kids hooted at the notion. "It's like licking a lollipop," one pretty girl from a prestigious girls' school said, flipping her hair in the ancient gesture of teenage certainty. "It's no big deal."

By the time I graduated in '75 BJs were less intimate than intercourse. Kissing ---> fondling ---> BJs ------> vaginal penetration -----> cunnilingus. Anal Sex?

And yes it has to do with the overtness of the penis. It is easy to find, easy to stimulate, easy to check reactions. Should I use my teeth? How hard should I suck? What do you want me to do with your balls? Do I have to jam it all in my mouth? What can I do with my hands? How fast? What about the sperm? The clit, on the other hand, can be very dark and mysterious. What I hope for my 13-year-old daughter is that she is experimenting without social pressure, without fear, without guilt. One on one.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:52 AM on March 17, 2007


but I did it for my pleasure, and not when I was 15 freakin' years old.

It sounds as if a lot of MeFites didn't make it to the last page, which is where the author decided to dump her entire load.


So I read the article again. And despite the help of the condescension in the above posts, I still felt the same way about it.

I'm aware that some people find the idea of an unrestricted definition of early teenage sexuality to be very distressing. I'm aware that there are cultural forces acting on our culture. I accept that things change, and I don't assume it's bad unless I can really see that these changes only lead to human suffering.

So in response to this,

Now color me prudy if you like...


I'm going to color you prudy.
posted by Alex404 at 10:03 AM on March 17, 2007


Yes, the choices girls and women are making are getting better every year for boys and men. "Face down, ass up, that's the way we like to fuck," right? Who needs to suicide bomb for 72 virgins when they are offering themselves up here in America? Maybe we need a sex-service squad to deter young martyrs from joining terror organizations? I think High School volunteers would be best. They will learn a lot.
posted by wallstreet1929 at 10:08 AM on March 17, 2007


DenOfSizer writes "It was just a typical essay in the Atlantic about why that's sad..."

No. It's an essay about why the author imagines it might be sad, based on her experience with novels, television shows, and her own childhood. I've just finished scanning the whole thing, and I realized that at no point has the author spoken to an actual, living, contemporary teenager.

This is an essay on teen sex as imagined in and filtered through the books and TV. It's pretty detached from the real world.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:46 AM on March 17, 2007


I don't assume it's bad unless I can really see that these changes only lead to human suffering. Really, you don't see anything bad about a society that has removed the transgressive aspect from [the idea of] a rainbow party? You don't see what emotional harm could come from a child on the cusp of womanhood whose parents didn't have a problem with her servicing multiple partners who don't even expect to return the sexual favor?
posted by DenOfSizer at 11:18 AM on March 17, 2007


I fully understand why everyone keeps focusing on the unequal distribution of oral sex here, but doesn't that nevertheless seem a little weird to anyone else?

If Rainbow Parties suddenly included copious amounts of cunninglingus, I can't see how that makes them suddenly OK. Or perhaps I should say - I can't see how that would make them OK with the kind of people getting upset.

IOW mothers aren't, I suspect, upset b/c their daughters are not getting a chance to orgasm themselves, as much as they are upset their daughters are sexually active period.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:34 AM on March 17, 2007


You don't see what emotional harm could come from a child on the cusp of womanhood whose parents didn't have a problem with her servicing multiple partners who don't even expect to return the sexual favor?

You've quoted me saying as much, but I'd just like to reiterate, I don't condone the abandonment of all norms. Some things, like murder, war, and guns, seem to cause a lot more suffering than they're worth.

Drugs, sex, and relationships don't. They're complicated. For what it's worth, and this is only from my experience, I've seen bad emotional relationships cause way more long term damage then bad sexual ones. At the same time, I don't think we should prevent teenagers from engaging in deeply commited emotional relationships.

I also don't really care if young girls want to blow a few guys in the basement of their own home. I care if they force her to do it, or if there's serious risks of disease and many other such factors. I don't however think that such actions are necessarily going to stunt male or female sexual development.

I also don't agree with your phrase, '...who don't expect to return the sexual favour'. I don't consider sex in the broad sense as something which can reduce to an economic zero sum game.
posted by Alex404 at 11:51 AM on March 17, 2007


Alex404, I agree with you completely about teenagers in deeply committed (as much as teenagers can commit) relationships, and if they want to fuck their wasted little brains out with their bongs or whatever, that's cool. I agree with you that sex isn't an emotional zero sum game. But I thought what we were talking about was a public, relatively exploitative, mechanized view of sex in which the girl's sense of pleasure, if it exists at all, is relegated to her ability to produce an orgasm in somebody else. It might surprise you to know that I, Ms. Prudy, actually have no problem with big one-sided orgies ipso facto -- I just think yeah, some serious emotional shit could come down on a 14 year old girl in participating in them. I want my daughter to fuck somebody she likes for love or delight, not some perverse gotta-be-popular headtrip reason.

Oh, and this one, Gravy? The clit, on the other hand, can be very dark and mysterious. For you, perhaps. For most girls who've ever had a wank, it's pretty simple. Guess it all depends on your perspective.

Done.
posted by DenOfSizer at 12:22 PM on March 17, 2007


So...er...what do we do? Okay, let's say that we all hate the fact that girls are putting their mouths on a bunch of dicks every week, and we want to put a stop to it. Do we ban Bratz dolls? That's a sociological experiment I'm Okay with I guess. I don't think that's gonna do much, but I hate those goddamn things so whatever. I mean, if there's dicks, and there's mouths willing to suck those dicks, those dicks are gonna get sucked right?
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 12:34 PM on March 17, 2007


*tired of waiting, zips up, leaves thread*
posted by quonsar at 1:22 PM on March 17, 2007


what do we do?

We don't do anything, because we can't do anything.

This thread has mostly debated the personal/moral aspect of rainbow parties and such. For me, the truly outrageous thing is that if the norm is changing, it's specifically because of the culture. When pornography becomes as mainstream as it has, then of course teenage sexual expectations, and behavior, are going to change. And as the culture becomes more sexualized, not less, then it will continue to evolve.

What are the emotional consequences? We don't know. If Flanagan jumps to her own conclusions, then so do those who oppose her main point - that the sexualization of young teens can have serious emotional consequences.

But while we may say we can do nothing, there are others who will most definitely push back, in fact already are doing so, against what they see is a Weimar-esque direction society, our culture, is taking. And I suspect, sometimes, that this cultural clash has the potential to be as ultimately violent and bloody as the one provoked in part by Weimar's licentiousness.
posted by kgasmart at 2:37 PM on March 17, 2007


"Uh, blowjobs really aren't all that newfangled, y'know."

The one you gave me last night was.
posted by vronsky at 3:08 PM on March 17, 2007


that the sexualization of young teens

What does that mean? That without outside influences teens wouldn't be interested in sex?

I'm not in favor of blow-job parties (why should these damn kids today have more fun than I had, lawn-trespassers) but the opposite is just as bad, pretending that some magic switch gets flipped at age 18 or 21.
posted by maxwelton at 4:34 PM on March 17, 2007


All I've learned from this is that my high school years were boring.
posted by poweredbybeard at 6:04 PM on March 17, 2007


So...do rainbow parties actually exist?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:51 PM on March 17, 2007


According to this 2005 Washington Post article about a study on teen oral sex from the National Center for Health Statistics, the percentage of teen boys and teen girls who have received oral sex reported in the study was roughly equal, which means that tales of one-way "rainbow parties" are completely at odds with the data from the study. In addition, if I recall correctly, there are very strong parental "opt-in" provisions for any survey involving sexual behavior aimed at high school kids, which means that a lot of the really sheltered kids from socially conservative families who wouldn't be having oral sex anyway aren't even participating in the survey due to the objections of their parents. Needless to say, this response bias could lead to overestimates of oral sex among teens.
posted by jonp72 at 8:05 PM on March 17, 2007


On one hand, if this is really a new trend, I sort of mourn not necessarily a loss of innocence, but more of it becoming a commonality.

On the other hand, why couldn't this have happened 20 years ago?!
posted by DonnieSticks at 8:40 PM on March 17, 2007


I'm still trying to imagine the actual mechanical aspects of a rainbow party. Do they line the girls up by resistance to the gag reflex?

I think it's all a hoax. If you do a search on "confession" sites like grouphug.us, the only mention of "rainbow parties" is the same hysterical repeating of rumor, no actual confessions of people who claim to have participated. Compare that to any other behavior you care to think of (sisters as lovers, peanut butter and dogs, gerbils doing the Rob Lowe, etc). Even if all the confessions are made up, the fact that there are none for rainbow parties is telling.
posted by maxwelton at 9:22 PM on March 17, 2007


But one can dream, one can dream.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:42 PM on March 17, 2007


Thankfully our youth is suffering more from an epidemic of blowjobs and less from an epidemic of smug, pious moralizing, which would no doubt break out immediately if people like the author and DenOfSizer ever got the opportunity to forcibly impose their warped visions of pure childhood on the rest of us.
posted by nasreddin at 12:25 AM on March 18, 2007


nasreddin writes "Thankfully our youth is suffering more from an epidemic of blowjobs and less from an epidemic of smug, pious moralizing, which would no doubt break out immediately if people like the author and DenOfSizer ever got the opportunity to forcibly impose their warped visions of pure childhood on the rest of us."

Speaking of smug....
posted by mr_roboto at 12:29 AM on March 18, 2007


I liked this article. Some of it-- especially the conclusion-- was sadly predictable, but I was especially drawn to the notion, which, despite the weird reaction here, isn't really "moralist," that dead, empty interaction with sex is pretty sad.

kgasmart: "But while we may say we can do nothing, there are others who will most definitely push back, in fact already are doing so, against what they see is a Weimar-esque direction society, our culture, is taking. And I suspect, sometimes, that this cultural clash has the potential to be as ultimately violent and bloody as the one provoked in part by Weimar's licentiousness."

The so-called "Nazis" managed to take power because they were the only ones in Germany who cared passionately about the future of society. Let's not let the same thing happen again.
posted by koeselitz at 9:38 AM on March 18, 2007


It amazes me how this article attempts to effect some shock and outrage, yet reads like porno for pedophiles:

wouldn't the different colors of lipstick smear together, destroying the desired rainbow effect? Not once, however, has another question been posed: How many boys could successfully receive seven blowjobs in an hour? Surely even the adolescent male at the peak of his sexual prime needs at least a few minutes to reload. One would assume that the first transaction would be completed at light speed, that the second might take a bit longer—and that by the fourth or fifth even the horniest tenth-grader might display some real staying power.


Tell me more. Please, use all your powers of verisimilitude to transport the reader to the scene.

I was first "serviced" at the tender age of 5, by a 6 year old. I assure you it was a near-robotic enacting of overheard sexual lore from her older sister, who was around 12. We were just playmates, not going steady or anything of the sort. It was, literally, "something to do," and her idea. But I think it's well-known that even young children already have nerve endings down there so sexual play is practically inevitable.

What's going on in this article is: the girls it's written about are being tried as adults. It's not sexual play. Because 12 year olds aren't kids anymore. It's not random groping in the dark, humping the mattress bottom of the crib. This isn't innocent, furtive exploration. You know how fast kids grow up these days! Sure, the author might have flashed her boobies at her cousin once when she was 13 and they were on that innertube outing down the river, but that was different! These girls are DIRTY LITTLE WHORES!!

It would be nice to see some discussion of how to handle child and young teen sexual impulses and play in a constructive way. How to discuss the matter with them, what real risks exist, how to channel the instincts in a positive direction, and what danger there can be of instilling lifelong shame with too severe a reaction.

...buuuut no: the baby-boomers continue thrashing around, attempting to judge new generations by the standards they grew up with (revisioning their youth as perfect and idyllic, in the process of course). Tune in next week when a childhood football hero explores widespread video-game-playing thumb calluses among pre-teen boys. Shock! 7 of 10 boys surveyed had played video games past their bedtime!!
posted by scarabic at 10:18 AM on March 18, 2007


I read Caitlin Flanagan's article when it appeared in The Atlantic. I was disappointed because, when finished, I had no real idea why she wrote it. Was it supposed to be a shocking expose? A comment on the "new rules of sexual behavior?" An educator of middle school students and parent of 3 (now in their 20's), it is an issue of interest to me.

Raising 3 teenagers at the same time is like driving a mountain road and having the steering wheel come off in one's hand. It makes an atheist pray...

If my kids had participated in "rainbow parties," it would have broken my heart. No prude, I was a product of the "free love" generation. For the most part it was an empty experience.

So, I taught my children to expect wonderful things from an active sexual life. It is one of life's real gifts. But I never derived more than an orgasm with anyone who didn't adore me, and I her, at the moment. I can recall a lot of experiences I'm not proud of, as they were driven by a sick ethos of taking what we could get. Notches on the belt.

Assembly line sex degrades everyone. It is not something anyone would choose over one to one intimacy without peer pressure and a need to "belong." I see Britney (et al) imitating girls every day and it makes me very, very sad. Where are the parents that allow their children to dress like sluts, with piercings and tattoos? I'm talking about rural, high achieving girls who seem to lose their individuality and compass at age twelve.

Young men and women are victims of a society that has yet to figure out how to care for each other. You want my daughter to give you an indiscriminate blow job? Think again. You think you can ply my sons with a "hit and run" backseat treat? Think again. They are very experienced. And they are only interested in partners that respect themselves as much as they respect others.

The answer to the sexual denial and fear of my parents' generation isn't in behaving like monkeys without mores. I feel sorry for anyone who fucks without feeling. Who wonders how to manage getting out of there afterwards. I've been there and it sucks.

Our children need help. It is more difficult now than when I was a child. I remember, as a teenager, shuddering at the the thought of my "wife" giving me oral pleasure. Sick, immoral, reserved for "whores." I certainly overcame that. But our youth today face a far more insidious taboo. That of refusing to participate in degrading and oppressive sexual activity. It can cost them their membership in the group. Our job, as parents, is to provide them with the self strength to go for the "real thing." The middle ground between abstinence (good luck) and empty promiscuity.
posted by private_idaho at 11:51 AM on March 18, 2007


private_idaho: You're committing the same error as the article author, namely inferring the nature and scope of the problem from a collection of biased, unreliable, uninformed, and sensationalized sources. I went through most of my adolescence in the oughties, and I never heard of rainbow parties, just the sort of awkward exploratory fumbling that every single generation had gone through. In sophomore year my friend, who was not a loser at all, confided to me that he felt guilty that he put his tongue in a girl's mouth when he kissed her, and she didn't want to go that far. Rainbow parties? What the hell?

I know plenty of experienced ("slutty") women my age, and for none of them is the sexual act rote or machine-like. They know what they want and they seek it out, frequently but not at all like an "assembly line."

The theory of "assembly line" oral "servicing" is the product of a patriarchy whose ultimate fantasy is to reduce women to the role of passive dick-sucking machines. The fact that you accept this interpretation without even once accepting the legitimacy of the sexual behavior of these girls says more about you than it does about them.
posted by nasreddin at 1:33 PM on March 18, 2007


YOUNG GIRL. Pronounce these words shyly. All young girls are pale, frail, and pure. Keep them away from any kind of book, visits to museums, the theater, and especially the monkey house at the zoo.

- Gustave Flaubert, Dictionary of Accepted Ideas
posted by nasreddin at 2:13 PM on March 18, 2007


The fact that you accept this interpretation without even once accepting the legitimacy of the sexual behavior of these girls says more about you than it does about them.

Ouch. No father would ever want to admit that his sweet sixteen daughter is as horny and obsessed as he himself was at that age.

Just like no sixteen year-old daughter is all that keen on admitting her parents are sexually active, let alone have a real passion for getting it on.

The child, at least, might grow out of it.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:46 PM on March 18, 2007


Oh, and this one, Gravy? The clit, on the other hand, can be very dark and mysterious. For you, perhaps. For most girls who've ever had a wank, it's pretty simple. Guess it all depends on your perspective.

posted by DenOfSizer at 3:22 PM on March 17

My clit and I are good friends, but I can't say the same for all my old boyfriends.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:45 AM on March 19, 2007


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