TEEN VOGUE IS OUT OF TOUCH WITH REALITY AND ITS YOUNG AUDIENCE - ARE YOU, TOO??
Nancy Kislin, LCSW & MFT
Teen Vogue's July 7, 2017 issue featured an article called “Anal Sex - What You Need to Know, How To Do It The Right Way.”
I wish I was kidding.
Teen Vogue is a magazine that targets girls age 11 to age 17. After I heard about this article, I did what any other psychotherapist who specializes in working with adolescents would do – I googled "Teen Vogue - anal sex."
Two side-by-side pictures of a female and male pelvic area in bright pink colors popped up on my screen. It was noticeable that the female picture was missing the parts of the anatomy that bring pleasure to a woman.
The article in itself is a guide to why you may want to engage in Anal sex. Okay… I kept reading. I tried to stay open minded. It did throw in a line that “enthusiastic consent” is necessary between partners before one engages in this behavior. It continues to read like an article in a sex book or Cosmo magazine. Did they forget who their audience is?
I almost fell off my desk chair when I read, “...When you do have anal sex, go slowly. Regular communication with your partner will keep things level.” What does that mean?? Does the author hang out with any tweens and teens these days?
Communicate? Most teens don’t know how to talk to each other except through texting, but you think they are mature enough to tell someone it hurts when they are face down with something in their “.
Seriously. The teens I know tell me about hook up parties where the guy will text you – and then you go sit next to him on the couch and fool around. It's up to you how far you will go. The girls and guys tell me that they often don’t know the person and never said a word to them.
The article continues with an entire paragraph dedicated to the "Need for Lube,” followed by a discussion about “Poop.” I keep praying that this is where the author will talk about the many health risks that can occur when one engages in anal sex. But NO – She literally says “it’s no big deal if you touch poop.”
Actually, it is a really big deal if poop comes into contact with your mouth or female private parts. It is extremely dangerous if the partner proceeds from anal to vaginal intercourse.
I have worked with clients who ended up in the hospital because of infections that resulted from anal sex going bad.
The article completely missed discussing health risks and emotional risks, but did end with a high five that included “...Anal sex and anal stimulation can be awesome, and if you want to give it a go, you do that. More power to you.”
Also omitted was the suggestion to go seek out additional information from one’s doctor or trusted adult, ie. parents.
If a teen is too uncomfortable to talk to an adult, there's good chance they are not ready to engage in an emotionally vulnerable behavior .
Let me be clear, I am not living in the dark ages. I know far too well from the teens and 20 somethings I work with, that our children are being over sexualized at too early of an age. It is imperative that parents and educators talk to children about their bodies, their choices and the emotional and physical health risks involved in having sexual relations especially including Anal Sex.
My feeling is that parents absolutely have to talk to their kids about sex, drugs and all kinds of topics at earlier and earlier ages. You don’t need to give them too much information at once – Test the waters and see what they know and still need to know.
But teach them to respect their bodies now. Empower them to say "no" if something makes them uncomfortable. Even if they see it on the internet or hear people talk about it doesn't mean it it right for them. They always have the right to say “NO.” Make sure they know that.
And lastly, just because a publication is labeled "teen" clearly doesn't mean it's appropriate or kid friendly anymore. Monitor what your children are reading online and getting in the mail.