Flavin's Corner
12-11-98

Basic Instincts

     Tuesday, December 1st, 1998 was the 11th annual World
AIDS Day.  Though many speeches and events around the globe
were informational, filled with passion and compassion, and
stressed this year's theme of "Force Change: Youth and AIDS,"
none received the subsequent media attention as much as
Sharon Stone's remarks (at a United Nations' panel discussion)
encouraging parents to provide easy access to condoms for
their teenagers.  Sharon rightly discussed the basic instincts of
youth to exercise their sexuality, however some balk at the
suggestion to empower youth with education and protection.
Kids are at risk and adults are concerned with religion and
morality.  It's called ...stupidity.

     Our Western designation of adult legal age varies from
country to country, state to state, and involves such different
applications as the driving of a car, joining the military to fight
and die, and purchasing alcohol or tobacco.  Such a view
(generally establishing adult legal age at either 18 or 21) is
fairly modern and challenges the facts of 200,000 years of
human existence.  With puberty and adolescence usually
occurring between the ages of 12 and 15, we find this period as
being most often associated with the sexual dynamics of
adulthood 'rites', marriage, and mating.  Our current denial of
the basic instincts of youth is helping to spread HIV among
teens and that position is stupid and fatal.  They need facts and
protection, not Victorian-era 'fancy' and a weekend trip to the
mall to play video-games.

     As is now well understood, of all the animal 'kingdom',
humans have evolved the longest period of pregnancy, nearly the
most helpless newborn status, and a 'childhood' which lasts for
well over a decade (yes, sometimes for two); all to accommodate
our large brain and its socio-sexual programming.  We learn
through our senses, our bodies grow and change, and with the
hormonal intoxication of puberty, most begin to engage in sex.
Laws deem under-age sex a crime, religion calls it a sin, and
community-leaders blame television.  We need to focus on
education and protection and stop trying to raise generations of
sexual Stepford-kids.  They need real help and not just fashion
tips...

     The legal age of sexual consent ranges from 14 to 18, with
most U. S. states declaring a minor's sexual autonomy at the
age of 16 (for specific states and various countries click here).
Politicians, district attorneys, and judges often point to the
financial burden placed on society as a result of teen pregnancy,
ignoring the threat of HIV and purposely suppressing options of
education and protection.  The standard line goes something
like:  "Just because their bodies are mature doesn't mean they
can handle the responsibility..."  We require minors to attend
various programs, submit to tests, endure a probationary
period, and finally issue qualified minors a license to drive a
couple of tons of steel on public roadways.  Maybe we should
treat teenage sex in a similar way and make it an earned
privilege.  Not the best solution, I know, but at least it could
allow for the legal purchase of condoms, privacy regarding
access to medical care, and go a ways toward ending the
injustice of so many statutory rape convictions.

     One of the groups which have vigorously lobbied for change
in the 'age of consent' laws has been NAMBLA, the North
American Man-Boy Love Association.  Formed in 1978 out of
Boston's (pre-AIDS) gay community and now located in San
Francisco, NAMBLA has consistently stressed the personal
autonomy of youth, however their efforts are seldom successful
because of society's near-agreement on the icky, loathsome
nature of pedophiles.  Yup, these guys are creeps, but they do
present a legitimate argument concerning consensual sex.
Personal behavior, rights, and freedoms, as long as the exercise
doesn't effect others, shouldn't be regulated.  The sexual
hypocrisy of the courts and clergy is at an all-time high.
Matters of the bedroom, once an individual is "of age" and
protected, should be no one's business except for that
individual.  So, we're back to what constitutes "of age" and
protection...  [LINKS:  for more on NAMBLA and those who
 HATE NAMBLANote: as of 5-19-00 (actually a couple of
days before), the NAMBLA site was shut down by its server
due to publicity surrounding a local MA child-murder.  As much
I can't stomach the individual members of NAMBLA, I believe
it's wrong for their server to censor them.]

     As noted earlier, humans begin puberty at different times,
generally between 12 and 15, but a couple or three years either
way is not uncommon.  Society has enacted laws to prevent the
purchase of tobacco and alcohol by teens, pushed for drug
awareness programs and stiffened the penalties for drug usage
and sale near schools, but has failed to properly address the
basic instincts of youth when it comes to sex.  It doesn't take a
genius to figure out that the correct way to decrease teen
pregnancy and limit the spread of HIV among our youth is
through a combination of education and protection.  Lectures,
punishment, or assistance after pregnancy or infection seems
ludicrous, when the kids need help before!  Oh, and did I forget
to mention that suggestions of celibacy and abstinence are
tantamount to high comedy?  Kids will be kids and it should be
the goal of adults to educate and protect, not posture and
demand they behave any different than most adults did when
they were kids.  Even Sharon admitted to some teenage
adventures in the backseat of a car!

     We are such a goofy society...  Men and women, straight and
gay, young and old, puritanical and downright promiscuous; we all
breathe the same air, only some believe they do so better than
others.  So many double-standards...

     This month Christians will celebrate the anniversary of what
they believe to be the birthdate of Jesus.  We know Jesus was
a reactionary philosopher, who is said to have been crucified,
but next to nothing is actually known of his birth, life, and
death.  We have a few lines here and a few lines there--the
rest is the creation of later authors.  We don't know what he
looked like, if he could read or write, whether he was married,
or anything ...personal.  Christianity may have been inspired by
the "teachings" of Jesus, but 99.9% of it was structured as an
attempt to control people.

     Jesus is said to have resulted from a "virgin birth," was
without sin and did not engage in sex, and it was strongly
suggested that those who would follow HIM, be celibate and
chaste.  Now, Paul preached against the eunuchs and the option
of personal castration, and seemed to stress that restraint was
noble.  Many artists have envisioned Jesus with intriguing folds
in his robes/loin-cloths, apparently depicting a Jesus who could
have had great sex, just chose not to.  Of course, this is all
speculation.  The bottom-line is that we just don't know...

     What we do know is that kids need our help and guidance
now, rather than later.  Later is too late...

vidi, veni, dormivi,
Rick

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