Sexual Communication

Response to Gender Reading

Although men and women are distinctively different in their socialization patterns, gender is not their only difference. Race, religion, ethnicity, class, age and sexual preference add to their diversified individualities, thus resulting in different language usage. This social contextual approach recognizes that men and women are of “separate but equal cultures” and should, therefore, be treated as such, as opposed to men being the norm and women being ‘deviant’.

The cultural differences approach observes that men and women live in different worlds with each gender culture having its own rules of conversation and socialization patterns. This results in undeniable differences in language use and interpretations. Society’s norms also influence men and women’s language in that they psychologically conform to what the society considers as normal, such as submissiveness in women and verbal aggressiveness in men (Henly & Kramarae, 2008).

Social contextual approach has numerous merits and shortcomings. To begin with, women’s language usage is more of a norm since it is more sociable and friendly given that communication is a social skill. On the other hand, men’s conversation rules are all self centered and tend to focus on getting attention and retaining it. This approach brings out the fact that both males and females are equal communicants in their own rights and should, therefore, be treated as such.

Similarly, cultural differences approach has its weakness, as well as advantages. For instance, if the two sexes were merely different culturally, the male use of language would not imply dominance and superiority, while the female usage implied subordination and unassertiveness. Here, men’s pattern of communication is that of exercising power, while women should be supportive and understanding. For example, when males interpret a question as a request for information, they crown themselves as the voice of authority. Women, however, interpret questions as a way of maintaining a conversation thus implying politeness and willingness to listen and learn.

I agree with the social contextual approach because we are a product of our society. If girls are brought up to be supportive, sensitive and unassertive, it should be normal for their speech to reflect these traits. That is what they are, and rightfully so. On the other hand, if boys are taught to seek power and recognition from their peers and be verbally aggressive at all times regardless, then that is what is right by them. This allows for equally-valued communication between the sexes, where men also strive to understand women’s language just as today’s woman is constantly learning ‘man-talk’. As much as gender influences character, other factors like race, ethnicity, age, sexual preference and class play a big role in an individual’s sociability. This is especially seen in cultures, where women are only expected to listen and not to talk back unless when asked to, and even then, in measured words and extremely cautious diction. In comparison, liberal cultures allow women to talk freely, but even so, politeness and friendliness are also expected. The same expectations are, however, not extended to men in either culture, thus pointing out how separate the genders are. To make them equal, women communicate with other women effectively, as cited by Daniel N. Maltz and Ruth A. Borker that girls learn to interpret accurately the speech of other girls, just as men learn their rules of conversation as boys, making their language usage universally acceptable amongst their kind. While the boys learn to assert themselves in a conversation and play voice of authority, the girls learn to engage each other in conversations by asking questions and listening to different opinions without appearing uninterested. This simply means that ‘women-talk’ is not really deviant per se, but rather separately equal and individually efficient like ‘man-talk’.

Response to Media Reaction

Many analysts have argued that since teens spend more hours watching TV than attending classes, the media is much more effective in influencing their thoughts. Showing them how hard pregnancy and parenting really is gives them a sense of understanding and develops in them a need to avoid such inconveniences. These discussions are taken beyond the living rooms in such a way that their relevance is unquestionable and the lessons learnt effectively. This results in more self awareness and thus prevention of teen pregnancy. The media in recent past has provided an alternative to the boring sex education classes that were more or less ineffective. This can be seen in the drop in teen pregnancy and birth rates and abortions in the recent years.

Mary Jo Podgurski, on the other hand, prefers hands on approach, when dealing with teen moms. The appeal of fame is overwhelming given that most teens in schools gladly say they would pick fame over intelligence, and for them to consent to publicizing their experiences and being used as examples in the national stage is almost exploitative (Podgurski, 2011). She also argues that the teens selected to run these media campaigns are chosen for their ‘camera-quality’ rather than their being at risk. These teen ‘stars’ do not usually represent children, who’ve grown up in poverty, domestic violence and drug abuse, or those, who’ve experienced sexual or physical abuse, yet these are the ones at real risk of early parenting. The national exposure also leaves the teens with no option of relocating and starting afresh in order to avoid the stigma associated with teen parenting.

Television Shows and Media Involvement in general has its own advantages and disadvantages. Given that the teens used in the media do not entirely represent the groups that are at risk, such as those growing up in poverty, domestic violence, sexual, physical and drug abuse, the picture portrayed is not really accurate. Despite glamorizing the whole issue, the demographic representation is also wanting. As much as this opens a forum for discussions on the issues related to teen sexuality, they may be looked at as substitutes for parents and teachers, who don’t feel comfortable having such conversations with teens. Despite being a good source of useful information, a lengthy conversation with a concerned adult is priceless and should not be replaced. Therefore, the media is useful to supplement the sexuality conversations. Fame is attractive to teens and adults alike so they might be lured into participating in the shows only to regret later on, when the consequences are not so appealing. They may only think of the pros of being a teen celebrity and overlook the psychological implications of publicity during pregnancy and parenting as a teenager.

According to Podgurski (2011), teens spend most of their time on TV and social networks, so it will be impractical not to use these channels to address their sexuality. It’s much easier to access vital information from the comfort of your living room, where you will not feel judged, as opposed to attending sex education classes. Just as parental advice cannot be ignored, neither can media input.

Considering that both arguments have weighty concerns, picking a side is not practical. The shows on teenage pregnancy drive the message home as proven by the national statistics, but adult input on a conversation basis is not to be neglected. Although it would be convenient to only see what fame does to the young parents in the long term, if the media does not address it most teens will remain ignorant of many basic and useful facts on their sexuality.

Response to Sex Education Reaction

William J. Taverner writes that sex education should involve abstinence to give teens a choice if they are not ready to engage in sexual activity. Having the right information from definition to application ensures effective decision making (Taverner, 2007). He cites that teaching abstinence is not necessarily ignoring sexual education, but offering a better, safer option to those disciplined enough to commit themselves. He recognizes that ‘just saying no’ is not effective enough. Teens need to learn abstinence skills, such as assertive communication, negotiating and agreeing on boundaries, managing sexual feelings and responding to sexual actions.

Maureen Kelly, on the other hand, argues that abstinence-only-until-marriage is like burying our heads in the sand and hoping for the best while ignoring the looming danger. She states the importance of a comprehensive sex education that offers information openly and allows the teens to make the informed choices. Knowing how to react to a given situation makes one safer than ignoring the possibility of such eventualities. Because at the end of it all, sex is a part of life and expecting all teens to abstain until they get married or turn 29 is asking for too much.

From my perspective, pro-abstinence has its merits as well as shortcomings. While abstinence should be a choice that’s readily available to all teens, we need a more comprehensive model of passing the relevant information so that it doesn’t sound like those, who choose not to abstain, should be ashamed or stigmatized. Having all facts right ensures that decisions are made based on knowledge and self scrutiny, as opposed to fear and misinformation.

Similarly, Maureen Kelly’s arguments have advantages and disadvantages. Sex education is not about encouraging teens to become sexually active, but rather providing them with relevant information in case they do. It is protecting them, not from the realities of life, but from being clueless in the sexual situations that they are likely to face as they grow up. The main argument here is in defining abstinence, and offering full information to allow the teens to decide for them based on what they know (Taverner, 2007).

Abstinence is basically avoiding sex, and sex varies in definition based on individuality. While I agree that teens should be encouraged to abstain, I believe that it should be a choice that they make when they are fully informed. Abstinence is a commitment that requires a lot of self discipline and ‘abstinence skills’ and all this information should be readily accessible alongside lessons on responsible sexual behavior so that everyone is protected regardless of the path they choose for themselves. In a perfect world, ‘virginity until marriage’ would prevail but we are far from it thus, the relevance in a model of sex education that is all about abstinence is desperately lacking. While it’s easy to blame the high rates of irresponsible sexual involvement on lack of appropriate and adequate information, we also have to acknowledge that we are a part of the problem. If teens only hear what their parents want to say, they should have the option of finding out the uncomfortable aspects of that conversation from sex education sessions. This will minimize mistakes that are made based on other people’s experiences. A good model of sex education should cover all questions including: what happens if I cannot resist the temptation? How do I protect myself? How do I take responsibility? And more importantly, how do I know when am ready? If we don’t answer these questions, we will be crossing our fingers and burying our heads in the sand. Abstinence is a great choice when accompanied by relevant knowledge, but it is a phase. Sex is the ultimate issue that needs to be addressed.

Response to Sexual Health Reading

Brent Satterly argues that sexting is an expression of youth sexuality and despite the risks involved, he cites that the panicked response to the trend is useless and proposes a strategy to reduce the associated risks. Rather than sounding an alarm, he suggests we deal with the risk factors in this habit and make it little safer since it’s much better than other forms of sexual expression among teens. Since every sexual behavior involves a risk, parents should focus on educating teens about responsible sexual tendencies, owning the decisions they make, how to differentiate between consensual and resistant relations and taking responsibility for their actions regardless.

Donald A. Dyson, however, sees it as a possible form of exploitation given that privacy and consent are not guaranteed. The emotional and mental implications of participating in sexting are serious and far reaching. They include anxiety, mental anguish, blackmail, bullying, harassment and even intimidation.

Brent Satterly’s argument has both disadvantages and advantages. Since privacy and consent are not guaranteed, this poses a great danger to the sender, who might end up exposing him/herself to the public (Satterly, 2002). This kind of involvement is solely based on trust and that tends to backfire among teens. The teens need to be aware of the possible outcomes of their involvement to enable them to decide wisely. Making a fuss in the media does not discourage the trend, but rather makes it look like the in thing, consequently attracting more teens to try it out. Providing relevant information on responsible sexual tendencies ensures that the teens do not make important decisions based on the media or what other teens are doing.

Despite technological advances that have eased sharing abilities, most people still consider sexuality as private to them and those they trust. This is, however, not assured as these sexual images sometimes find their way into social networks without the sender’s consent. It is not age discriminating, since even minors, who have phones or can access the internet, are exposed. Some of these pictures are taken without consent too so it is a violation of the person’s rights as well. Safe sex is not all about not getting pregnant or acquiring sexually transmitted diseases but rather being mentally, emotionally and physically prepared to willingly participate in a relation. This doesn’t matter even if the act is just psychological. In sexting, both the sender and the recipient need to consent to the sexts in order for it to be safe or even right. Before getting into these habits, teens should be educated on all possible outcomes of their actions including exposure to friends and family through social networks and other forms of internet sharing mechanisms (Satterly, 2002). In long distant relationships, sexting can be useful, if properly used, in easing the pressure of distance on the couple. This, however, can turn sour if the sexts or nude images are seen by a third party intentionally or otherwise.

Rather than causing a panic amongst parents, the media and sex educators should focus on educating the teens thoroughly on the implications of sexting. This includes asking questions like: how much do you trust the recipient of your sext? What are the consequences of a public exposure? Are you willing to risk your reputation? Having all the right information will definitely empower decision making tendencies amongst the youth, thus reducing finger pointing habits. Blaming others doesn’t solve the problem, but providing relevant facts on cause and effect will definitely reduce prevalence rates. After all, knowledge is power, and thus, I agree with Brent Satterly.

Response to Sexual Medicine

Most medicines have side effect and though some are mild, others can be quite serious. However, when the benefits outweigh the risk, patients get relieved by the possibility of a solution to their ailments. Connie Newman argues that despite the side effects, medicines that solve sexual dysfunction in both men and women are vital. While acknowledging that sometimes a therapeutic remedy would be much better, medicine is also efficient in dealing with sexual dysfunction as proven by the popularity of ‘the little blue pill’ globally. Unfortunately, no drug has been approved to deal with women’s sexual issues as yet and this is proving to be quite a challenge.

Leonore Tiefer’s perspective is an interesting one though. He asserts that sexual dysfunctions deserve much more than a ‘quick fix’ kind of approach. Sexual therapy would be more efficient as a long term treatment for impotence and erectile dysfunctions or low libido, as opposed to simply popping a pill and rising to the occasion whenever need arises. Leonore is against the pharmaceutical approach to sexual dysfunctions citing that each patient has a unique combination of factors that cause the dysfunction (Traverner & McKee, 2012). These may vary from sexual ignorance, poor sexual relationships and a lack of communication between sex partners and all these can be dealt with non medical means, such as psychological counseling to reduce anxiety and mould healthy sexual perception, and improving partner communication.

Immediate results are a great motivation when seeking sexual medicine as opposed to the therapeutic options, which may take long time. While men have a variety of drugs to deal with their sexual dysfunctions, the women are left to rely mainly on therapeutic options since the few known drugs have not been approved, usually because of adverse side effects. Most of these medicines require regular usage so they are not long term treatments for the various conditions. The root of the dysfunction is not explored and, therefore, not dealt with, resulting in a heavy dependence on the drugs. The side effects can be severe like developing masculine characters like broad shoulders, deep voice, acne, baldness and facial hair in women.

Therapeutic options of dealing with sexual dysfunctions have both merits and demerits. This option addresses the underlying psychological problem and it is, therefore, more efficient, even though the results may not be immediate as with the drugs. It, however, is a long term ‘fix’ as no prescriptions are required once therapy is complete. The risk of experiencing adverse side effects is eliminated as the treatment does not involve drugs. Sexual dysfunctions are rampant among both men and women, and they have varying causes depending on each individual patient. When examining patients and diagnosing these dysfunctions, both organic and psychological factors should be considered so that medicines are only used when totally necessary, and also to ensure that the underlying psychosocial problems are also addressed through relevant therapeutic options.

Meanwhile, we would appreciate more research in finding remedies for women’s sexual dysfunctions but these too should be coupled with psychological evaluations to determine the real root of the problem as opposed to quick fixes. This is especially because a woman’s sexuality is influenced by biological, psychological as well as social factors, and to ignore these will be a poor decision in terms of diagnosis and treatment of sexual dysfunction in women. As the world waits and hopes that science will provide an answer, people are hoping that it will provide a solution to the question of postmenopausal and surgically menopausal women. The same is expected for premenopausal women too, with low libido and lacking in sexual arousal despite being of a reproductive age.

 

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