The BLOG: Voices

A mother grapples with today’s campus sex culture in a letter to her four sons

(Adobe Stock photo)

(Adobe Stock photo)

My dear sons,

I am doing everything I can to turn you into kind, sensitive, confident, and sensible young men. Yet time flies, and you’ll be off to college in a snap. You have been sheltered and coddled and I must prepare you for the realities of life away from home. Much will sound abstract and far-fetched to you now, but we have no time to waste.

In middle school, you receive instruction on sexuality and details about the mechanics of the sexual acts without any guidance regarding the moral or emotional dimension of physical intimacy. Unfortunately, this type of instruction at age 12 puts you on track to see the relationship between girls and boys mostly in physical terms and puts sex at the center of such relationships. This makes me terribly sad, because relationships can be so much richer and human relations are so much more complicated than that. It is challenging to teach you about love, and respect, and responsibility as the best source for physical intimacy when your schools seem to advocate emotion-free sex and popular culture trivializes physical intimacy in music, films, and fashion. I fear that you are being conditioned to seeking shallow relationships in which physical pleasure is the only goal. I hope that, one day, you will meet a woman who allows you to look into her eyes and see a glimpse of her soul, a woman whose love you cherish and whom you can truly love. But, before that happens, find out who you want to be as a man and what it is you are able to give to the world and another person. Resist the cheap bill of goods that is casual sex and seek relationships in which a deeper connection can grow. The physical part will be so much the better.

This is one of my great fears: Once you leave home, you will be fully immersed in a college culture that you are not prepared to handle. You will be so much more innocent than you think. I am doing my best to teach you respect for girls and women and appreciation for meaningful human connection. I also try to point out to you that girls who dress in sexually provocative ways deserve your compassion rather than attention. It is a constant challenge to teach you that girls who present themselves in flirtatious and provocative ways should, nonetheless, be respected for who they are inside. Looking away might be the best solution even if you are too young to quite understand why. Sexual desire is a powerful force that we must learn to channel in appropriate ways. What you regard as enticing signals that invite sexual attention are dangerous temptations that distract you from what is important in your lives. Indeed, this logic is hard to grasp for a teenage boy who is caught off guard by new sexual impulses. But hear me out, for this is only the beginning.

You are taught that girls are your equals in every way. In high school and college, you will soon see, however, that girls on average academically outperform boys. I sometimes worry that the over-achieving and confident girls and women in your lives might undermine your own self-confidence, but it should not.

Unfortunately, in college you will find out that part of the respect for women that I have tried to teach you, a kind of gentlemanly tenderness rooted in an admiration for female uniqueness, will not be much appreciated or even tolerated. Respect and manners (including innocent gestures, such as holding a door or saying “ladies first”) may be construed as patronizing, a remnant of the patriarchy. You will be surrounded by women who demand to be treated the way you treat other men. Their idea of equality is devoid of any complementarity and pertains to sexuality as well. I beg you to navigate the course carefully. Do not cause trouble for yourself by causing “offense,” but never lose the tender respect that I have taught you for the special dignity of women, no matter how they behave. It will be a balancing act, for sure.

(Adobe Stock photo)

(Adobe Stock photo)

In addition to daily interactions in college life, a whole new world of gender relations will open up. It is the world of campus parties, drinking, and sexual promiscuity for which you will be entirely unprepared. You will be exposed to a mix of signals and I worry that you will be confused and lose your way. A young woman might flirt with you aggressively, touch you, kiss you, hang on you, and you might partake in what you sense is common party revelry. Do not go along with it! While her behavior might include signals that you interpret as an invitation to sexual engagement among equals, don’t be fooled. Step back and LOOK THE OTHER WAY. If you don’t, you alone will be held responsible for whatever happens next. Whatever you were taught about the equality of the sexes will suddenly become irrelevant, because you alone will now be held accountable in these murky waters of party drunkenness and sex.

1. Do not drink even when everybody else does, because your judgment will be impaired.

2. Focus your mind like a razor on what I have taught you about respect for all women and compassion for those who seek your attention in sexual ways.

3. Never attempt to be physically intimate with someone who is drunk. It will never end well.

4. Forget the sexual equality that college seems to teach you. There is none. Women and men will always be different when it comes to casual sex and the expectations of human intimacy.

Although you will be told that men and women enjoy no-strings-attached casual sex equally, this is simply untrue. Unlike most college men, many college women will regret a drunken hookup and will blame you for whatever happened. Nobody will care about the party culture that has drawn you in in your innocence and the challenges you face navigating the college world of mixed signals and false gender equality.

What our present day culture teaches you about equality and sexual liberation is a dangerous trap. Should you buy into it, your life may be ruined forever. No matter how kind and decent, how talented and giving a person you have always been, there will be no mercy for you. My sweet boys, be cautious at all times!

Tina McCormick

Tina McCormick

Tina McCormick is Publisher of the NewBostonPost.