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Unscientific Research: Permission to “do it!”

So weird question came up when I was having a discussion with a friend earlier. We were talking about giving HPV vaccinations to children and the concept of whether or not some parents are against because they think of it as giving their kids permission to have sex (similar reasoning to some parents being against putting their daughters on birth control). I of course think this is silly because giving your kid the HPV vaccine is “permission” in exactly the same way as giving your kid the MMR vaccine is permission to go out and try to get measles. It’s protection. Not a dare.

Anyway, it’s not so much the morality of the vaccine that I want to debate here. It was more a question that arose out of that. When we were talking about it, I said it was a silly issue because “most parents never give their kids permission to have sex.” That is, I don’t think it’s a permission issue. I don’t think most people are ever “given permission” to have sex. Sure there are some sexualized activities (mostly for girls) like makeup, or ear piercing or dating, where the parents might say “you’re not allowed to do____ until you’re 15” or however old. But I don’t feel like anyone ever says that about sex. It’s either your parents are cool and realize it’s your body and you do with it whatever you want…  or they just tell you that sex is just “against the rules”… you can’t do it until you move out (or *shudder* should save yourself til marriage), and sooner or later puberty kicks in enough that you’re like “I don’t give a damn what mom and dad say, I’m horny, and I gots to get laid”(no boys in your room, Suzie… wait, what do you mean you’ve been gay all along… shit!). Then you sneak some of your parents liquor and invite some other teenager over to get drunk and awkwardly fuck on the old couch in the basement that the dog sleeps on. And then six months later you’re slutting it up in college. You know… the natural order of things!

Or is it?

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe people are given “permission” to have sex. And that’s what I’m wondering.

So completely unscientific survey: When did this happen for you? That is… I’m not wondering when you lost your virginity, specifically (unless that’s somehow relevant). I actually know that already… it’s about 17.5 on average (at least in the US… two earlier years in Europe…. because we’re a bunch of prudes). No, what I’m wondering is:

  1. Did your parents had specific rules as to when it would be allowed for you?
  2. What age or event (when you get married, when you move out) was the cut off?
  3. When was this (what decade)?
  4. Did you follow said rules or just not care?
  5. At what age did you decide that it really wasn’t their decision anyway (whether you acted on it or not)?
  6. If you have different-gendered siblings, were the rules different for them?
  7. If you have kids, I’m wondering the same basic questions that you have for your kids. And did you experience at that time cause you to be more or less strict about it?

And of course if you have any other relevant thoughts, please feel free to add them. If for some reason you want to answer this anonymously, you should be ale to do so on the blog version of this post on my website (you have to type in an email address, but they don’t show up and there’s nothing stopping you from using a fake one anyway… if you do this, I guess at least let me know a ballpark age and gender that you are and stuff). I’m super curious about this. I’m actually wondering if it’s something that I should pursue in more detail for like my actual work and stuff.

3 comments for “Unscientific Research: Permission to “do it!”

  1. avatar
    Laura
    September 13, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    Did your parents had specific rules as to when it would be allowed for you?

    I am trying to remember. They had rules about people of different genders being allowed upstairs in the house, but that was at least partially to keep friends of my brothers that they did not like away from my sisters’ bedrooms.

    What that age or event (when you get married, when you move out) was the cut off?

    I was given specific information that I had to be having sex responsibly, and that I was expected to use birth control. My mom was mostly angry when she found out that I was having sex because I had a pregnancy scare and she thought I’d been irresponsible; the problem wasn’t the sex itself. Her other rule was that she had to know where I was sleeping, so that she could find me if necessary.

    When was this (what decade)?

    1990s.

    Did you follow said rules or just not care?

    Since the rule was “use birth control and inform me where you are”, I followed it. It seemed reasonable. I didn’t want to NOT use birth control, certainly.

    For a while there was a rule that one couldn’t have partners for sleepovers at my mom’s house, but that rule ended when my youngest siblings were no longer children (so when the youngest one was like 12). It existed mostly so that my mom didn’t have to have discussions with them that she thought they were too young for; once they were old enough for the discussion the rule went away. That one was easy to follow because I always lived local to whoever I was sleeping with.

    At what age did you decide that it really wasn’t their decision anyway (whether you acted on it or not)?

    I never felt like it was their decision. It was clear to me from the time I was 13 that my parents felt it was MY decision. Or at least my mother felt that way, and I didn’t care what the hell my father thought (we are not close and never have been).

    If you have different-gendered siblings, where the rules different for them?

    I do not believe so. The rules were different for siblings who lived out of the house at the time they started having sex (I was still living at home, thus the rule about knowing where I was) and for siblings who didn’t have very young younger siblings (my youngest sibling was 6 when I started having sex; obviously when she started having sex there was no 6 year old sib to consider).

    If you have kids, I’m wondering the same basic questions that you have for your kids. And did you experience at that time cause you to be more or less strict about it?

    They’re a bit young still for us to have made any firm plans on the topic. I do know that we will have to have the sexting discussion and rules around that (partly focused on the stupidity of laws in this area, and partly on the abuse potential). I don’t feel like my parents’ decision to leave sex decisions up to me was bad or had any negative repercussions for me, and although I would have wanted to use birth control anyway, it did make it easier in some cases to feel like I was doing the right thing by being firm about that.

  2. avatar
    Derrill Holly
    September 13, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    I’ve always assumed my children were living full and complete lives.

    Coming to grips with that reality was never really a problem for me.

    Arming them with the protection available just always made good sense to me.

    One of my children headed off to college during the early stages of the HIV awareness period and I made sure they had enough condoms to get them through their discovery phase.

    Another received their own supply more than a decade later.

    More importantly, I think I passed on a healthy fear of germs to them both.

    While supporting their desires to live full lives, and acknowledging their sexuality, I like to think it was all without any undue judgment, and just a desire to help them be happy and survive.

  3. avatar
    Something
    September 13, 2018 at 10:35 pm

    Did your parents had specific rules as to when it would be allowed for you?

    What age or event (when you get married, when you move out) was the cut off?
    – for girls: marriage
    – for boys: “use a condom”

    When was this (what decade)?
    – 80s/90s

    Did you follow said rules or just not care?
    – Followed them until college, then stopped caring, but only after a religious crisis about sex-before-marraige. (Christian)

    At what age did you decide that it really wasn’t their decision anyway (whether you acted on it or not)?
    – 17
    – “you mean, 17 if you’re in love, right, Chef?” “No. 17.”

    If you have different-gendered siblings, were the rules different for them?
    – Yes, see above.

    If you have kids, I’m wondering the same basic questions that you have for your kids. And did you experience at that time cause you to be more or less strict about it?
    – Our children learn(ed) about consent fairly early, will have access to condoms and are given very specific information about how to not run afoul of things that are legal issues like sleeping with your 17 year old partner when you are 18 or texting naked pictures of each other as teenagers.

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