Monday, March 05, 2007

Fleshbot and Cliffs Notes

This week’s Sex Blog Roundup at Fleshbot goes joyriding with twentysomethings, those children of the eighties who take on adults-only adulthood with monogamy, serial dating, and just plain getting it on.

And speaking of youngsters, students, your professor is here with Cliffs Notes to One Life, Take Two. Pay attention—this will be on the final.

Astute readers have noted that I tend to write series of posts on a particular theme, as when I took all of four months to write about a single weekend in relating the events of Sex Camp. Sometimes, though, the theme is less overtly stated than it was in that case.

Since around the time of my birthday last month, I have focused on one recurring leitmotif. Did you notice? Anyone know what it was? Any hands at all?

Okay, then I will tell you.

Youth and maturity.

I wrote about my teenage daughter’s engagement, my weekend with a nineteen-year-old thesaurus, my jailbait girlfriend’s contention that a cute boy was “too young” for me, my orgy boy toy, the gay escort with a thing for “really, really young boys” and Vanessa del Rio’s three decades in porn.

And, of course, the aforementioned twentysomethings.

I decided to write about youth and maturity for a couple of reasons. Most obviously, because I added another candle to my birthday cake.

Less obviously, because of the war.

I was recently watching the evening news with my son Jason, himself a newly minted teenager. During a segment on soldiers returning from Iraq with missing limbs, Jason observed, “It’s so weird when they call teenagers ‘veterans.’”

I agreed that this sounded odd. We are accustomed to thinking of vets as gray-haired men who march in parades and cry at memorials. And yet these teenaged soldiers, male and female, are also veterans. It’s odd to two generations of Americans—including my children and me—as we remain unsettled in our new life in wartime.

So as I wrote these stories, and read reader’s responses in comments and emails, I was consciously addressing issues of age, maturity and consent. And as I wrote my tales of autobiographical erotica, as I do, I noticed relevant reports in recent news stories—and not just about the war.

For example, consider seventeen-year-old Genarlow Wilson, sentenced to ten years in prison for having consensual oral sex with his fifteen-year-old girlfriend, or the two teenagers convicted of producing and trafficking child pornography when they photographed themselves nude and the female emailed one of those images to the male.

(These and other issues of public policy and sexuality are more smartly considered at the essential Sex and the Public Square.)

As a parent, I want to protect my children from genuine sexual predators. I also want to protect them from overzealous legislation that criminalizes normal adolescent sexuality.

All of that swirled in my head as I wrote my posts about youth and maturity. I paid close attention as these posts elicited some telling responses, as well as some telling silences.

There was a consensus of approval for my reaction to the engagement of my eighteen-year-old daughter. It is her decision to make, and while I have expressed my wish that she would not marry so young, she has the confidence of my enduring love and full support.

By far, the most controversial of my recent posts had to do with Nicole. Some readers viewed my weekend with a nineteen-year-old woman unfavorably, saying that she was much too young to engage in sex with someone my age.

It is notable that this opinion was generally expressed by older women. Men tended to write that I was one lucky dog. Younger women tended to write that Nicole was one lucky dog.

The surprise in these reactions is that there is no surprise to these reactions. They were subjective, based primarily on the anxieties and desires of respondents as opposed to facts related in the tale.

Such is sex.

Apparently, I had tripped over a taboo: heterosexual intergenerational sex.

Andres Serrano "Sex" Series

Why do I emphasize the taboo concerning heterosexuality? Well, as a test case, consider my story of sex with a nineteen-year-old man, which garnered no unfavorable responses (except, of course, that of Shelby, as related in the story).

I suspected there would be a gender gap concerning the comparison of these two stories, and that bore out. Evidently, young women are not to be trusted in choosing older sex partners, whereas its hunky dory for young men to do so.

All of which got me thinking again about the war.

We hold contradictory notions about adolescence and maturity. On the one hand, it is acceptable that eighteen year olds have the right to marry, get tattoos or enlist for military service at a time of war, even as we acknowledge that these decisions are likely to forever alter their lives.

On the other hand, the sexual agency of adolescents makes some people uncomfortable, even when teenagers have sex with partners of the same age, as in the cases cited above.

It is all the more discomfiting if a young woman in late adolescence seeks consensual sex with an older man, a decision that is likely to alter not her life but . . . a weekend. The man is presumed to be “predatory,” as one reader responded, even though the related facts made it clear that Nicole sought out the relationship, and stressed over and again that she is no dummy.

In this case, that presumption stands in opposition to troublesome facts to the contrary. It is a presumption as firmly rooted in cultural bias as that of a younger man being fortunate if an older woman takes him as a lover.

I have two more stories in the series on youth and maturity, and then I am off to other things.

But before I do anything, I need to relate the adventures of a blue balloon.

(I should add: this is the type of post that may draw comments. Be advised that I do not approve vitriolic commentary, particularly that posted anonymously. These are, frankly, a buzzkill for readers. If you comment, please have something relevant to say.

I welcome responses of any kind via email at


Madeline Glass said...

Did you just post a Serrano?

You just posted a Serrano!


jezzabel said...

Holy Wow, that's some post. I have to go back and re-read, because I just read the whole post from your sex camp, took me two hours, and a few brain cells, but I finished it. This post, however, deserves some fresh coffee and thinking.

-=is *STILL* squirming from the Bloody Mary post. gah!=-

Reader said...

What always strikes me about your writing, in particular, your documenting your much younger bedfellows, is that you, as the "grown up" take no responsibility for yourself. Are YOU doing the right thing by bedding these young women? The old enough to die for your country v. old enough for a lot of other things is a very easy scapegoat to hide behind. As a long time reader, I'd like to think that you as an intelligent seeming individual would know the difference. The fact that you consistently DON'T, makes your flawed charater ( if we are going pose this all as the soap opera you say it is) more interesting. Hope thats not too much of a buzzkill! I'd be curious to hear your response!

20something Femme said...

I have to agree with Reader. You very often portray yourself as taking little or no responisbilty in your relationships and thus come off as very passive in them.

Like your marriage for example. You make it seem like you were the perfect husband and it was completely unfounded when Lucy demanded a divorce. And as insane as Lucy sounds, it just doesn't seem likely even she would do something so extreme for just one transgression.

And Reader is completely right pointing out if it's dignified for you to be sleeping with these much younger women (I'll get to the men in a minute). When I pictured a 40 something man with a trembling 19 year old girl, with very limited sexual experience (with men at least), it really was a little repulsive. Yes it was clear she wanted this, and it's even clear you're not predatory and out to hurt anyone, but it still doesn't make the situation seem less...icky.

A 16 year old girl can consent to (and even initiate) sex with her 30 something math teacher, but it's the older person's responsablity to establish and enforce boundries.

It's your responsibility to set those boundries. It is not your responsibilty to expand the horizons of everyone who approaches you.

Now let's look at it from another point of view- how would you feel if your 19 year old daughter flew across the country to spend the weekend with some guy more than twice her age? And then that guy was a self-titled pervert?

One reason your weekend tryst with Nicole brings about more opposition than your hooking up with a boy the same age is the unfortunate double standard that young girls are fragile and need to be protected, while young boys are automatically considered men and able to take care of themselves.

Clearly, as a young female, I would want to protest this and boldly state I'm perfectly capable of making my own decisions and taking care of myself. Except, as a young female, I'm acutely aware of my naivete and foolishness (or rather my keen ablility to be easily fooled). I still get a little shocked when someone refers to me as a woman. I also know that book smarts does not equal street smarts.

I think you need to take a look at the fact as well that you've taken on a very big role in shaping this young girl's developing sexuality. Some girls think they should sleep around because their friends do, but end up hating themselves for it afterwards. Some girls think that sex is meaningless, but end up wishing they could be with someone meaningful. Some think sex is all they're good for.

Maybe all this doesn't apply so much to Nicole. You wrote she just wanted to experiment without it getting back to her friends and schoolmates. But I'm still wary because of her lack of experience.

But maybe it's all fine with Nicole. But that's not to say the next 19 year old girl to approach you won't be riddled with unhealthy views like the ones above. And how would you feel about yourself knowing you negatively affected somebody?

Cdk said...

I'm definately in the camp that young and old can date/have sex/do whatever. I put it down to the fact that I'm both a big softie when it comes to romance (love trumps age) and lust (fun trumps age).

I have friends who have very definate 'ick' about it..especially older men with younger woman. Personally I think that 18 year olds can make decisions about sex. Sometimes the decisions are wrong, that doesn't mean they have to be 'protected'.

Just my 2 cents. :)

learn said...

Well, I'm a twenty-something woman too and the only thing the Nicole story made me think is: Hot!! I can identify too perhaps. My lover is not much older than me but there is a wide gap in experience. This passing on of sexual experience, when done consensually, has been quite beautiful and exciting to me.

Early experiences can be more formative, but really any experience is in the end. I think whether it affects just her weekend or the rest of her life will tell in time.

From the way you described it, how lovely that you and Nicole could have such a positive, fun, rich time together . (Of course we do have to rely on your description, in this particular story but hey: your blog!)

First time commenting, but I've enjoyed your writing for a long time... this 'young' series especially. Thanks!

Bianca said...

Well, my time with you may have been short but I don't think there should be any ick factor even though you were twice my age at the time.

I hate this idea that young women are fragile and naive and that older men prey on them. You certainly didn't prey on me but at the same time, I don't feel that I'm fragile or naive. If I hadn't wanted to sleep with you, I wouldn't have.

Why can't people accept that there are a lot of young women who can actually make decisions for themselves?

Anonymous said...

I regrettably think you're sleazy. I'm just in it for all the cash you spend on me.

Anonymous said...

I was just 19 when I met my husband. My husband, who is fourteen years older than I am. At the age of 19, I had been on exactly three dates. When it came to men, I was nervous, but curious. I also knew I wanted nothing to do with the college boys I saw around me.

I can understand Nicole's desire to gain experience without the prying eyes of her friends and schoolmates around her. And the age difference? It's just a number. I've spent years trying to explain that to people.

Remember that what we read online is just a slice, a section of who Jefferson is, of who the people in his life are. I know how ready I was at the age of 19 to handle a relationship with an older man, so I'm going to give Nicole the benefit of the doubt. Because really, aren't we all just trying to rob her of the ability to make her own choices here? Some have said that Jefferson should take responsibility for his actions because he was the older adult, but Nicole is an adult too, a much younger one yes, but an adult nontheless. In the end, once you're an adult, I'm not sure the age thing really matters all that much anymore. Each adult is equally responsible. norby

Lippy said...

My objection to this post is I think it makes it sound like one way traffic. I'm 44 and I've had 20 something guys stop me in the street and plead "take me home with you" on, well lets just say a number, of occasions. The brush off line is generally "I'm old enough to be your mother"...but they keep on trying.

Susan M. said...

Apparently, I had tripped over a taboo: heterosexual intergenerational sex.

A taboo? "Older Man/Younger Woman" is one of the oldest stories ever told-- a favorite (perhaps *the* favorite) from the Bible to rock music. Now the reverse...

Zoe said...

I thought about this post for a long time (which I think is about the highest compliment you can give a blogger).
There was some small "ick" factor in reading the Nicole series for me, but I think it was only a small part because of age. It made me uncomfortable how you (and she, to some degree) repeatedly acted like her previous lesbian experiences weren't "real sex", and that you and your cock were introducing her to "real sex". This, combined with her age, made me uncomfortable (ie an older woman with only lesbian experiences who decided to try men might have different motives than a younger one.)
So, it was not her age alone, but her age + overall inexperience + lack of previous male experience.

I would also like to point out that your experiment is far from scientific. You mentioned her age, and your age difference, far more often in the posts about Nicole than usual. Reading your blog, I often forget how old you are.