Thu. August 13

Culture

Spare Us, Judy Blume

Ashley E. McGuire Ashley E. McGuire

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Judy Blume, the author who wrote books about sex for kids is now lamenting that kids are too sexual.

In a recent interview with the Telegraph, Blume said of sex and today’s youth:

It’s just not as much fun now. Rather than jump right into intercourse a million times over, I wish they would go through all the stages that we used to go through. Where’s ‘first base’ or ‘second base’ now? I think they were good for kids sexually. Of course it’s true that what kept us all virgins in my day was a fear of pregnancy—and that meant we married way too young because we wanted permission to go all the way.

When her interviewer asks if the problem is related to the proliferation of pornography, Blume says, “The problem is that it’s the wrong information. I’m not opposed to porn for grown-ups. It can help a relationship. But I think it sends an awful message to young men and women.” Even so, she says wouldn’t, “censor it.”

Then she wonders aloud what today’s teens are doing on their phones so much. “You see them all in the street on their cell phones and I always ask myself: who are you talking to? I certainly don’t know enough people to be talking to constantly in that way.”

Where to begin?

Let’s start with phones. Today’s teens aren’t just “talking” on their phones. They are looking at pornography. Or sending naked pics to each other that magically disappear within seconds on Snapchat. Or sending each other sexually explicit texts. More than half of boys age 14-17 have viewed porn on their mobile phones. One in four teenagers has sent a naked picture of themselves over a mobile device; 68 percent of teenage girls have been asked to send a naked picture over their cell phone.

Blume wouldn’t censor porn—the way the UK just decided to with the particularly violent kind—because she thinks that porn can be “healthy” for adults. But here she demonstrates her naïveté again.

We know that pornography affects the brain in the same way as a drug like cocaine. It’s addictive and decreases male libido, for real women anyway. As Davy Rothbart, a former porn addict, put it in New York magazine, the chemical process involved in viewing porn easily leads men to “develop a neurological attachment to it. They can, in essence, date porn.” This is not something conservatives made up. Check out Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s movie Don Jon for the Hollywood take on the harmful effects of porn.

Naturally the fact that porn affects men so deeply, also affects women. They feel constant pressure to perform like the women men see online. And then there is the fact that the porn industry is directly tied to the $32 billion human trafficking crisis happening in the United States. Even the Huffington Post, a sort of Internet wild west when it comes to sexual norms, acknowledged that, “You support trafficking when you watch porn.”

But it is particularly galling to find Judy Blume lamenting the ubiquity of porn viewing among young people. This is the author who made her name encouraging and celebrating greater sexual exploration among teens. Lena Dunham, creator of a soft porn show that depicts the sad realities of a post Sexual Revolution world for today’s young men and women, says Blume gave her the confidence to create the show.

Maybe Blume can ask her where first or second base is now.