Monday, September 25, 2006

Hold on to it

“SEX on the mouth is the safest (sic).”

Of several text messages sent in reaction to last week’s column, I saved only one, which I quote above.

To horrified readers, I want to clear up that I don’t subscribe to the writer’s murder of the English language or to his/her argument that, aside from sex education and abstention, oral sex effectively prevents early and unplanned pregnancies.

I saved this particular text because, despite the arguable premise and trying construction, its unspoken and unspeakable messages still resonate.

Last week, I wrote that, based on government statistics and anecdotes from the young, many teenaged pregnancies could have been avoided with timely information about sexuality, its commitments and risks.

Intended to be an appeal for parents and mentors to be more open to listening to and discussing with the young about their bodies and choices, the column entitled “Sex lives of cats” created unanticipated reactions.

Nearly all the text messages were sent by young people. Except for one, all the message senders asserted they were sexually active.

Two different mobile numbers offered sex services, with one making the selling spiel after lecturing me first for raising a topic that offended Catholic “wholesome sensibilities and the Holy Trinity.”

Disregarding the confused and confusing ones, the general feedback sought sex advice. Most poignant was the short message sender wanting to know about abortion and its “% success & where& how (sic).”

Except for the two offering “free trials,” I texted back that it was best to discuss sex with a mature friend. Having children can hardly be considered as training for advising in this area.

While dispensing this referral, I felt as sincere and useful as the “Surgeon General’s warning” flashed a few seconds after riveting cigarette ads. There is a real demand for open-minded but concerned counseling that’s just, as the ads go, a “text away” for the young.

Reading the SMS of an 18-year-old bragging about blow-job records, I wondered how much of that is driven by consensual desire as much as a raging insecurity to “prove love” to one’s partner and be cool like everyone else. In the age of sexually transmitted diseases, cool can kill.

Family planning experts refer to the sexually active but naïve young as the “lost generation.” “Lost” here does not refer to being morally adrift. This generation was simply deemed too young then to be included in the net of information drives and education campaigns.

But although population is a public issue, it cannot be addressed solely in the jargon of planners and ”extrapolated growth” experts.

When I read that police have monitored more underaged sex workers operating in Carreta, Sawang Calero, Suba and Pasil, I wondered how police intelligence missed out on the very young girls patrolling certain mall coffee shops frequented by aging foreigners.

For a certain group, materialism, not poverty, is the Pied Piper luring one to early sexual initiation. Studies show though that premarital sex predisposes women to cervical cancer.

According to Vanessa Balbuena’s report in the May 21 issue of Sun.Star Cebu, multiple sex partners, smoking, absence of Pap smear screenings and use of oral contraceptive pills put women at risk of the cancer that kills 73 percent of diagnosed Filipinas.

Only one reader, Rhea, said last week’s column strengthened her resolve to remain a virgin. Delaying sex and keeping one partner in your lifetime may still be “so far out” than in among the young and the restless.

But hold on to “it,” Rhea. You might just live longer.

( or 09173226131)

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