Speaking For Yourself to Teen Vogue

 

As many of you know, Teen Vogue published a how-to-guide on anal sex to their audience of underage boys and girls. WSFT sent an email “action alert” to our list, encouraging you to “speak for yourself!” about how this harms teens.

Wow, did you respond! Hundreds of you flooded Teen Vogue’s inbox, and we are so glad that you did!

We thought this letter by WSFT member Melissa did a great job of explaining why teen girls deserved so much better from a magazine aiming to empower them…using new language we can all learn from. (We are certainly taking notes here at WSFT!).

It’s well worth a read. Thanks Melissa, and the hundreds of you who responded!

 

Dear Editor,

As the mother of four children and a former teenage girl myself (!) I want to provide you with some feedback on the recent story on anal sex, “A Guide to Anal Sex”. While I applaud the honesty of the writer regarding the physical makeup of the body and the anus, and agree that sexually active teenagers need to know the honest facts, there are other elements of the article which seemed curiously contradictory and muddled.

Right before the section about how to insert objects up the anus, “Slowly, Seriously” the writer mentions having an honest conversation about what is about to take place, which is part of any “healthy relationship”. Relationship – what relationship? The biological and individualistic tone of the article up to the point implied no relationship at all – in fact, it implied no Other, no person, no act of self-gift or reception of gift. The act was described as purely about “you”, your own desire, your own pleasure. This is hardly the way to teach teens to engage in healthy relationships, or in pleasurable sex for that matter!

If this trust and honesty and conversation is key to, as the writer says herself, “a healthy relationship”, which in turn is key to good sex…surely the RELATIONSHIP part should have played a larger, more explicit, more primary role in the story.

Another curious characteristic of the article was the glib tone which seemed to describe sex like a vaguely fun, kinda silly and not very important act. Just as long as you don’t stick anything too far up there! Yet I simply know of no one, particularly of the “non-prostrate persuasion”, who approaches or believes sex to be this way. This is not what most of us believe about sex. Yes, bodies are funny, primal and clumsy, but also beautiful, sacred and spiritual.

And if the tide is turning to a more superficial sexual approach, surely cultural media geared to young people like Vogue have a responsibility to provide a vision of how to keep it profound, beautiful and interesting. Because bodies need bodies, souls (to use an old fashioned word), need to give and receive from other souls. Without this, life, love and sex become well — flat and boring. Without this risk of relationship, community, family and being in waaayyyy over your head, sex becomes quite, well — PRUDISH. That the vagina is more malleable than an anus and tailor made to fit a baby’s head, these things too, should not be erased from our understanding of the body and its signs which point, not only to sex, but to family, self-gift, children, to mother and father.

The question can also be put like this – does Vogue care to invest in writers and content that portray “fast food sex”, or “slow food sex”? Are our bodies and our sex simply cheap hamburgers to be consumed in a fast food restaurant with little regard for time, ingredients, creativity or LOVE? If they are, is this, Teen Vogue, an inspiring sexual vision for ourselves, our children and our friends? Would you encourage your readers to engage in a diet of fast food hamburgers? If not, why fast food sex? And don’t give me the excuse that everyone is free to do what they want to do – we make culture profound when we encourage people to ask ourselves deep and difficult questions and to be open to unexpected answers. There is no excuse to portray fast food sex as in simply fun and about “you”. It’s not.

Our bodies are built to be a sensual feast that lingers, has time, is leisurely, builds trust, gets frustrated, fails sometimes, tries again, forgives, is forgiven, learns the language of the body after years of making love and experiencing the joys and frustrations of life together. A famous French dictionary has 100,000 words and 350,000 definitions, which take years to learn. Surely a lover is also a language needs that kind of dedication to learn and unlock and love?

In closing, I laud both heirloom tomatoes fresh from the tended garden, and sex that is real, raw and a lifetime of slow. Please don’t feed teens the production line, low quality hamburger. Give them the real, six course, sensual, sexual feast.

Gratefully,

Melissa

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