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Is sexual freedom ruining young women’s chances for lasting relationships?
That’s the basic premise of a book that’s causing controversy in feminist circles. According to Washington Post journalist Laura Sessions Stepp, young women in high school and college are hooking up with men solely for sex; and, she says, they are seemingly uninterested in any type of stronger relationship. This trend, according to the author, is not only preventing these girls from finding and entering into relationships, but is negatively affecting them and causing emotional damage for the future when they ARE ready.
She has a point, but one that certainly can’t be generalized.
No wonder there’s a growing debate among feminists, many of whom find the Pulitzer Prize winner’s latest book, Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love And Lose At Both, too old-fashioned and out-dated.
Consider Stepp’s opinion: Are young women playing fast and loose with sexual relationships and losing their ability to deal with real, meaningful, emotional relationships?
For myself, I take a different view, and I believe Stepp’s critics are making an assumption that what the author means is that these girls should be focusing on finding a man. I don’t think that’s her point at all. I think she’s just trying to forewarn girls about the repercussions of leading a loose lifestyle and how unhealthy that can be, emotionally and physically.
Of course it depends on the girl: If we’re talking about high school girls who just want to kiss boys, and test out how different boys kiss, as long as she knows the guys, (and hopefully knows whether or not they have STDs that can be passed through kissing), then high school is the common and normal time for some experimentation.
Once we’re talking about girls of college age, I would agree that loose sexual relations with just anyone is a dangerous game to play. I can understand a studious girl not wanting to get caught up with the demands and emotional roller-coaster of a relationship, but to jump in and out of bed for the sake of sex isn’t safe or healthy. It would be much better to find a consenting friend with whom you could have unattached consensual sex. The practice known as “friends with benefits.”
Parents — moms and dads — need to guide their daughters in these particular matters. Yes, young relationships can be exhausting, time-consuming, emotionally draining, and tedious, but experiencing them, and enjoying the different stages, are what make us selective and more sure of ourselves. When we finally do meet the right person, the one with whom we wish to share our lives, we know that it’s real and worth moving forward.
Like anything, practice is important. Of course, there are those old first-love stories, but the average person has had a few relationships before settling down with their mate. Experience is essential for self-knowledge, self-awareness and growth.