‘The Politically Incorrect Guide to Teenagers” by Nigel Latta is one of my favourite books on parenting teenagers. I’ve read this book together with my teenager and it helped both of us to understand each other better. However there are a few points in Nigel’s book that do not feel right to me. One of them is about ‘trivializing the nonsense which comes from many kid’s mouths as they’re trying to find their own way in the world.’
I can partially share that view when it comes to emotional outbursts caused my tiredness or hormonal changes. However I would not ‘trivialize’ teenagers’ attempts to question everything around them and come up with their own way of thinking, no matter how ‘nonsensical’ it might seem. I would not be scared to get into a debate. 😉
As an example, if a teenage girl comes up with an idea, that running away at 16 and having a baby would make her life more ‘independent’ and ‘enjoyable’, I would not ‘trivialize’ or ‘dismiss’ that. Instead, I would attempt to have a good chat with her, trying to understand why she is feeling like that and discuss the potential consequences. If a teenager comes up with something like that, there must be a ‘trigger’ in the environment she lives in. Lack of attention or understanding at home? Too much control or complete lack of it? Anything else?
Similarly, if a teenage girl is thinking of becoming a prostitute or porno star for glamorous lifestyle or to pay her University fees, rolling eyes, dismissing or ignoring that ‘idea’ won’t help. Try to investigate why she is thinking that way. Was it the story of a Duke University Porno Star that made her think that way? Or an article in a mainstream publication describing the ‘pleasurable’ side of that trade? Or one of the many blog posts that calls for prostitutes and porno stars to be ‘respected’ for their ‘pleasurable’ trade. Why would not they be respected by the society for something they ‘absolutely love’ doing? After all, we all know by now that girls do enjoy sex and sex work is now legally recognized in some parts of the world. What’s wrong then with earning money by doing something so ‘enjoyable’ and ‘pleasurable’?
Once we know the source of the ‘ideas’, it is time to do some research on whether that option is really ‘that glamorous’ and ‘pleasurable’ as your teenager might think.
- ‘Who cares about THEM?’
- ‘No, they’re just after the money’
- ‘Most of them are man-haters’
- ‘Few are like ‘Belle de Jour’. Most are in highly dangerous situations on the streets selling themselves for a piitance to feed their drug habit.’
- ‘no one enjoys HAVING to service loads of guys they don’t like, don’t find attractive, probably treat them like rubbish, and probably are too stinky/wierd/inadequate to be able to have sex with a regular woman without paying for it!’
- ‘Most prostitutes don’t do it for the sex, but as a way of making fast money. Usually a life of abuse behind them, they lose any sense of self worth’
- ‘You would be surprised if you knew how much prostitutes hated their clients.’
The majority of responses on Yahoo!Answers-international is pretty similar:
- ‘Very few do. It’s a grind, just like any other job, except there is always the danger of running into a maniac trick. Most prostitutes just do their best to block out the act and pray the guy climaxes quickly. Think about it: would you enjoy a stinky, slobbery, drunken inebriate all over you?’
- ‘Nope, most of them actually become numb to it. They begin to view sex as a very emotionless thing. Most prostitutes will do anything but kiss on the mouth.’
OK, it looks like there is not much ‘enjoyment’ for most workers in that trade. How about respect? As reflected in some answers provided above, the majority of sex workers do not seem to get much respect either. Even their clients often treat them like ‘rubbish’ in spite of all their ‘hard work’. Why is that?
To answer that question, let’s have a closer look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is often represented as a pyramid, with the lowest or most fundamental needs at the bottom. He distinguished 5 types of needs:
- Physiological needs such as food, water and sleep
- Safety needs such as security of the body, health and property
- Social needs such as friendship, family, belonging and identity
- Esteem needs such as recognition, self-esteem, confidence, justice and respect
- Growth or self-actualization needs such as creativity, problem solving, art, beauty, personal fulfilment and freedom.
The assumption of the hierarchy is that the lower needs have to be met first, and are preconditions for the realization of the higher needs, although a temporary insufficiency in the lower levels will not undo the aspirations of the higher levels.
Sex is one of our basic physiological needs, like food, water, sleep, breathing and excretion. Meeting our physiological needs is important for our survival. If we are starving, can’t breath or are bursting to go to the toilet, all the other needs will be temporarily put on hold. However do we ‘respect’ the air we breath or the water we drink? Do we ‘respect’ the toilet bowl we are using? Sex trade clearly fits into that category and therefore sex workers usually get no more respect than toilet bowls.
However sexual intimacy with a loving partner is much higher up the hierarchy, on the same level with friendship, family, love. This level is about belonging, being accepted, loved and cared about. If we are looking for enjoyment and respect in sex, we should be able to find it on that level. Not surprisingly, sexual intimacy with a loving and understanding partner is often rated much higher on the ‘enjoyment’ scale, then casual sex, as illustrated by a few comments from Reddit provided below:
- ‘Over time we come to learn how to push one another’s buttons in just the right way (something that does not happen in casual relationship)’
- ‘Being in love adds a layer of intimacy that can really intensify sex. It transforms the act from fun sweaty exercise to an expression of love, all tangled up in all the emotions inherent in a loving relationship’
- ‘I think it’s an undeniable fact that sex is better with romantic chemistry’
- ‘I’ve had sex with near-strangers, and it’s kind of awkward.’ While ‘Sex with someone you love is transcendent. Sometimes, in the middle I think: “Wow, this is really happening. I’m not hallucinating, this is really happening and to me.’
If a teenager is still not convinced, let her read a few stories from the life of prostitutes, such as:
And get ready for many more debates to come while your young people are going through crucial teenage years 😉