Researchers Nelwyn Moore and J. Kenneth Davidson asked hundreds of young women questions about their sexual experience and the feeling of guilt they might have experienced. The answers were striking.
Young women who began to be sexually active earlier than their peers perceive their sexuality negatively. These young women have had a large number of partners, and in most cases, these were the relations with no or little obligations. On the other hand, young women who have a positive attitude towards their bodies perceive their sexuality positively.
Usually, girls who had their first sexual intercourse with the “partner whom they barely meet now” or “have never met since then” feel very guilty. What is more, this pattern of behavior keeps repeating, as they get older. These girls often had their first intercourse while intoxicated or after taking drugs.
Those girls, who like their bodies, usually masturbate more. Young women, who masturbate more frequently, cherish their sexuality more; they engage into a sexual relationship much later than their peers, as they want to lose their virginity with the partner they have true feelings for. But what is more important is that having sex is a conscious choice for them. The girls, who consider themselves and their bodies ugly, behave differently. Most often they go with the flow, not thinking about any consequences.
So who are these girls who feel guilty and are promiscuous in their sexual life? Girls experiencing a strong sense of guilt, usually grow up in families where mother and father do not have tender feelings for each other. Those young women believe that their fathers are too strict, and their families are usually very religious.
Maybe that is the reason why the girls who cannot find love and appreciation in the family, try to look for those feelings in other people. The worst trouble is that their search or even hunt for love is so harmful to them; it reinforces their negative attitude towards themselves in the first place. As a result, such young women choose “bad guys”, who usually in a way behave like the fathers of those girls.
So it is possible to make a conclusion that in families where sexual education of children is not a taboo but a normal thing, girls are usually more confident and have a more positive self-image, whereas, in families where parents do not tell their children about sex and sexuality, girls tend to have a negative attitude toward themselves and their bodies.
GIRLS VS. BOYS — ATTITUDE TOWARDS SEX
Boys’ puberty usually brings freedom. The young men start to think more positively about their body, feel more independent and courageous. However, it works completely different with girls: with the beginning of menstruation, girls start to feel that their bodies are their enemies, that their bodies are simply out of control.
Dr. Karin Martin, who studies adolescence and puberty, reports: “Girls, whom I asked questions, described their first period experience only negatively. According to them, they felt “dirty” and “sick”. Many girls look forward to their first menstruation, however, after actually having their period one or two times, some of them either have changed their minds or just have mixed feelings about it.”
Teenage boys are also having troubles fighting with unwanted erections, but very few of them equate these processes to “dirt” in the pants. A changing body often makes a boy feel like an adult and that he is ready for a grown-up life. When a girl starts to turn into a woman, a great burden of responsibilities is usually put on her shoulders: the parents constantly warn girls about evil intentions of men, prohibit to do certain things like climbing trees, make them learn how a real lady should behave. After all those warnings the world seems horrible and eerie.
During one of her researches Dr. Martin asked teenage girls to describe themselves:
“When I asked the girls, especially those from families of workers, to describe themselves or asked: “Tell me about yourself”, most of them described their appearance only, having said almost nothing about personality. “Can you tell me about something important that you achieved yourself?” — “I like my hair. My hair is my major accomplishment…” — “What makes you proud of yourself?” “When someone tells me a compliment, praise me for something. For example, for the fact that I look good, dressed well or stuff like that…”” With most of the boys interviewed it was different. The boys were proud of the things they had done or dreamed of achieving something significant in life.
And usually, the boys want to have sex because they are confident in themselves and they accept their bodies, girls often decide to have sex with their partner due to some other reasons.
“Boys think that sex is nice and many of them said that they were looking forward to the first intercourse or that they were terribly interested in it… Not a single girl said that she was looking forward to the opportunity to have sex or that she supposed to enjoy sex”.
Most of the adolescent girls interviewed by Dr. Martin expected that having sex would harm them, would be painful or frightening. So why do girls decide to have sexual intercourse after all? The majority of girls are doing it due to one simple reason: most girls idealize their boyfriends so much and think that they cannot live without them or they need just someone nearby — as a confirmation of their attractiveness. For this, they are willing to have sex.
The research of Dr. Martin shows that more than a half of girls from working-class families and a quarter of girls belonging to the middle class, idealize or exaggerate the importance of love for those boys that they are dating or would like to date. Such feelings force girls to do anything to save the relationship. And the boys do not look for romantic or ideal love. It seems that they prefer the combination “friendship + sex” as a relationship model, although it is also possible that guys simply hide their romantic feelings. To tell somebody about his romantic feelings is like to confess to being weak and weird.
Speaking about masturbation, many adolescent girls think that masturbation is only for boys and they do not usually associate masturbation with women. They are not very interested in exploring their own bodies. Dr. Martin says: “Their boyfriends have more access to girls’ bodies than the girls themselves”. The study was conducted in the 1990-ies, and not in the 1950s.
Here is one of the most frightening discoveries made by Dr. Martin: girls would rather just shave their legs than have sex. They believe that through shaving they start to identify themselves with their mothers or elder sisters.
In the reality, not so many teens know how to control their bodies and have fun during sex. However, the study showed that those girls who were close to their mothers, who talked to them about sex and sexual relationship, could understand and control their bodies better. Moreover, those girls were fond of active sports, were members of different youth organizations. But what was more important was that the girls paid more attention to personal development and not to the size of the waist.