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Why American Teens Should Go Dutch

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
link here

"Dutch parents treat teen sex much as Dutch society treats drugs: permit it, hug it close, control it

When I was 12 years old, growing up in the Netherlands, a woman came to school to give us sex education. She was grey-haired, tough and unsmiling. I recognised the type: my grandmother had taught sex ed at my mother’s school.
We boys and girls sat in the classroom embarrassed. But I also remember wondering: what could this woman teach us? We’d already been taught all about sex at primary school. “I won’t teach you about sex,” she began, “because you know all that. Instead, we’ll talk about relationships.”

Living across the road from me back then was an American teenager called Amy Schalet. Later she returned to the US, and discovered a different world. Many American teens, she noticed with surprise, got pregnant. Some had received scarcely any sex education. Their parents often tried to ban teenage sex, just as American lawmakers try to ban marijuana and prostitution.
Schalet is now a sociologist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and she has just published Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens and the Culture of Sex (University of Chicago Press). Her book starts in the adolescent bedroom, and ends up explaining why the US is so conservative on social issues and the Netherlands so liberal.
The book opens with a question that Schalet put to “white, secular or moderately Christian” middle-class Dutch and American parents. Would they allow their teenagers – typically aged about 16 – to spend the night with a girlfriend or boyfriend in the parental home? Nine out of 10 American parents responded, in the phrase of one mother: “No way, José.” Nine out of 10 Dutch parents said they’d allow or at least consider it.
You might think this finding supports foreign clichés of Dutch permissiveness. Yet that isn’t quite right. Dutch parents aren’t hands-off at all. By allowing the sleepover, they gain great control over their children’s sex lives. As one Dutch boy told Schalet: “If it happens at home, at least they [his parents] know where I am.” The parents can put their daughter on the pill beforehand. The sex happens practically under their noses. The partner – whom they probably already know – might be summoned for family breakfast the morning after. If they don’t like him, they can subtly start ousting him. If they do, he is adopted as a kind of son-in-law, expected to show up for obligatory Dutch family gatherings like great-aunts’ birthdays. Often the teen sex evolves into a bland mini-marriage. When we were young, a Dutch friend told me he couldn’t dump his girlfriend because his parents would be upset.

In short, Dutch teenage sex happens under parental control. It’s a zone of order. No wonder Dutch teenage girls are nearly five times less likely than American girls to get pregnant, and less than half as likely to have an abortion, even though they can get abortions without parental consent.
Dutch parents treat teen sex much as Dutch society treats drugs or prostitution: permit it, hug it close, control it. The Dutch know that some people will take drugs. They just make sure this happens in a zone of order. As John Travolta explains Amsterdam’s marijuana cafés in the film Pulp Fiction: “I mean, you just can’t walk into a restaurant, roll a joint and start puffin’ away. They want you to smoke in your home or certain designated places.” And Dutch marijuana cafés – like prostitutes – pay taxes.
By contrast, Americans banish these activities to zones of disorder. American parents forbid sleepovers, and so teen sex typically happens without contraception, in places like the backseats of cars. Kids have to “sneak around”, something that Schalet calls “an important ritual of American adolescence”. In fact, sneaking around enhances the thrill. When I took my English college football team on tour to Amsterdam 20 years ago, my teammates insisted on spending every night in marijuana cafés. One night, our American goalkeeper dreamily reflected that he was glad he’d grown up with everything banned. “We had the fun of sneaking around buying beer with fake IDs,” he said.
American society tries to enforce good behaviour through the institutions of marriage, church and prison. This doesn’t work well. If you just ban, you create unsupervised zones of disorder. The US is trapped in a vicious cycle. Because Americans create so many zones of disorder – inhabited by single mothers, drug gangs and other poor people – American anxiety over disorder stays high. And so Americans keep prohibiting, which only pushes more people into zones of disorder. Of course these zones fascinate teenagers. That may be why American teens take more drugs than Dutch teens, who, as I recall, can be quite snooty about marijuana cafés. One reason Dutch politicians are now closing many drugs cafés is “drugstoerisme”: foreigners wrongly think the cafés are countercultural havens and come flocking.
The Netherlands has done everything humanly possible to make teen sex and drugs seem dull. American social conservatives should try it out."
post #2 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Britalian View Post

The Netherlands has done everything humanly possible to make teen sex and drugs seem dull.

Based on my experience (namely, looking at CDFS' facebook pictures,) I don't think the Dutch are particularly enthused about anything. They trudge around in a perpetual haze, only a short step from comatose. They may pantomime the rituals of merriment-making, but all the time their faces are haunted, their minds weighed down by intimations of the Universe's inexorable spiral towards death.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tagutcow View Post

Based on my experience (namely, looking at CDFS' facebook pictures,) I don't think the Dutch are particularly enthused about anything. They trudge around in a perpetual haze, only a short step from comatose. They may pantomime the rituals of merriment-making, but all the time they are haunted by intimations of the Universe's inexorable spiral towards death.

which of course we all know can be avoided with enough brown sugar water to make it all seem more 'vibrant' and 'urgent'
post #4 of 15
All the women are lesbians in Holland , that's the reason why they are doing so in teenage pregnancy..
post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by tagutcow View Post


Based on my experience (namely, looking at CDFS' facebook pictures,) 


i.e. not enough experience to be passing judgement

post #6 of 15
Pretty much my thoughts on the matter as well regarding European society (especially northern European) compared to the U.S.
post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by why View Post

Pretty much my thoughts on the matter as well regarding European society (especially northern European) compared to the U.S.

The US is too polarized to have any coordinated long-term policies..

When I watch the candidates of the GOP trying to overdo each other on religious issues ,abortions , the Bible instead on focusing on social/economical issues I realize how far the US has to come to have a solution to teenage pregnancy..
post #8 of 15
Taking the taboo out of teen sex makes it less fun. I cant imagine how boring my teenage sex life would have been if it was open and comfortable to discuss.

As for teen pregnancy, I have little sympathy. I goggled all that when I was 13, well before I lost my virginity. Birth control statistics are not hard to understand. If I had a studious and curious son or daughter, I would just assume they would learn these things on their own as I did. If not, then I would tell them the lowdown of what was effective birth control and STI prevention and just leave it at that.
post #9 of 15
I think a key difference between the sex/drug/vice culture of northern Europe and the US is that there is a rather large socially conservative contingent in the US that doesn't care about reducing teen pregnancy or STI rates. They view these things as the natural consequences of immoral behavior, and to "control" and "order" such behavior would be moral hazard. See: debate over the HPV vaccine.

For many religious conservatives in the US, pre-marital sex is itself the evil, not the teen pregnancies or the STIs that occur as a result of it. And without those harms looming over them, how will kids stay on the path of righteousness? Pointing to public health statistics entirely misses the aim of social conservatives in the US. They want people to engage in certain behavioral norms, and suffering and disorder are actually considered necessary -- the natural and just consequences of immoral behavior.
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by NameBack View Post

I think a key difference between the sex/drug/vice culture of northern Europe and the US is that there is a rather large socially conservative contingent in the US that doesn't care about reducing teen pregnancy or STI rates. They view these things as the natural consequences of immoral behavior, and to "control" and "order" such behavior would be moral hazard. See: debate over the HPV vaccine.
For many religious conservatives in the US, pre-marital sex is itself the evil, not the teen pregnancies or the STIs that occur as a result of it. And without those harms looming over them, how will kids stay on the path of righteousness? Pointing to public health statistics entirely misses the aim of social conservatives in the US. They want people to engage in certain behavioral norms, and suffering and disorder are actually considered necessary -- the natural and just consequences of immoral behavior.

Are these cockheads in the majority in the US are they a vocal/powerful minority? Or is it that the non-cockheads are too apathetic to do anything about it? I don't personally know any Americans who fit the above description but maybe that is because I am meeting world travelers who would probably not be representative of the US majority. Also how is it that these assholes don't just get laughed off the stage?
post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fang66 View Post

Are these cockheads in the majority in the US are they a vocal/powerful minority? Or is it that the non-cockheads are too apathetic to do anything about it? I don't personally know any Americans who fit the above description but maybe that is because I am meeting world travelers who would probably not be representative of the US majority. Also how is it that these assholes don't just get laughed off the stage?

Small but vocal and powerful politically minority. They constitute a part of that the Republican party call their "base"
post #12 of 15
I would say vocal majority....

And they wouldnt be found in asia backpacking.
post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by WhateverYouLike View Post

I would say vocal majority....
And they wouldnt be found in asia backpacking.

This.

I would add that this thought pattern is represented within every racial group as well.
post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by WhateverYouLike View Post

I would say vocal majority....
And they wouldnt be found in asia backpacking.

They did 50 years ago...

Vietnam was a popular backpacking destination.
Edited by lasbar - 1/30/12 at 3:15am
post #15 of 15
America, in my youth you held out the promise of a 21st century of Jetson cars and moving sidewalks everywhere but all you delivered was underwear exposing baggy jeans.
Le sigh.
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