Let’s get straight to the point. Teen Vogue published an article titled “Anal Sex: What You Need To Know” and people are absolutely butt hurt. Pun intended. No, but really, leave it up to a modern society to prove how unmodern it actually is when faced with a test in modernity.
In all honesty, when I first read the article there was an initial “whoa” factor. I’m 31 years-old and although I grew up with the internet, I never truly had access to that kind of information. There was the occasional sex-ed class and safe sex demonstrations, but I learned more about sex from first hand experiences, the internet and other teens as oppose to any educational institution, publication or adult. I was kind of surprised when I saw the article in Teen Vogue but then I quickly breathed a sigh a relief because the writer, Gigi Engle, was attempting to educate an age group that can use all the education it can get.
However, not everyone took kindly to Teen Vogue‘s tutorial. Plenty of parents were outraged and thought the publication was out of line. Some argued that Teen Vogue should not be teaching their children about anal sex. Engle is allegedly receiving death threats from those who feel that she and Teen Vogue has no right to discuss such as topic with their children.
Then the subsequent question would be: then who?
The Internet is a well of information, an unrivaled source in which flock to explore whatever our hearts and minds desire. How do you wrap a sprained ankle? Was Betty White Liberace’s beard? Did Gandhi hate black people? How long does it take for acid to dissolve an entire adult human body? You can find all the answers you ever wanted on the Internet.
But while the Internet is a free flowing oasis of who, what, when, how and why, it also hosts content that some audiences may not be ready for, especially if they aren’t “of age.” Nonetheless, preteens and teens have access to all types of content, both age appropriate and non-age appropriate—which means “the birds and the bees” conversation isn’t quite what it used to be. That being considered, it would be foolish to think that kids between the ages of eleven and nineteen have not already heard about the practice of anal sex, much less witnessed it being performed on camera via some pornography site.
An individual doesn’t even have to log onto the Internet to actually be logged onto the Internet. We are living in a digital age and not even the Amish are safe from its clutches of convenience. That means, no matter how much you try to protect your child from the outside world, the outside world will eventually find a way in. For parents, delusion will only lead to confusion and when they finally come to their senses, their children will already have a 401K.
According to ReCAPP, 47% of high school students have reported having sexual intercourse. Other recent studies have shown that that number is actually decreasing since 2013. Studies also show that more than half of high school students have their sexual experiences with steady partners. ABC News reported in 2008 that more teens are actually partaking in anal sex as a way of maintaining their vaginal virginity and/or avoiding pregnancy.
These numbers show that teens aren’t running around boinking everything that moves and are far more coherent about sex than we assume. The numbers also show that teens are putting their hearts and minds into these decisions. Why not help and guide them in that regards? Why are we trying to preserve them in some kind of unnecessary, ineffective amber of innocence when research is showing otherwise? This way of parenting is archaic and myopic. It is also rooted in homophobia bearing with it the sour fruit of stinging Christian-like rhetoric.
In their tutorial, Engle openingly acknowledged same sex intercourse; and I think that is what really raised some hackles. Not only was she talking about anal sex, she was talking about gay sex. Gasp.
Like it or not, more and more teens are choosing to live in their own truth and embrace their non-cisnormative sexuality. Instead of avoiding the dialogue or shunning the idea of being gay entirely, we should be there to ensure that they are embracing that lifestyle in a healthy manner. In a post-Will & Grace America, we should be far more comfortable with the LGBTQ community. It seems like we are tolerant when they are the comedic foil, stereotypically lisping and sassing their way through scripted punchlines; but as soon as it is time to regard them as fellow human beings who require attention and care—all hell breaks loose and the “gay agenda” is running rampant, trampling the very concept of Americana as we know it. Young gay males do not even have that many places where they can honestly discuss or consult when it comes to their sexuality.
So, the question comes up once again: why is Teen Vogue teaching your children about anal?
Simple. Teen Vogue is teaching your children about anal sex because parents refuse to. Teen Vogue is teaching children about anal sex because someone has to. Teen Vogue is teaching them about anal sex because many of them do not have enough knowledge and know-how to teach themselves.
Teen Vogue isn’t encouraging your preteen/teen to have anal sex. Engle’s article is doing nothing more than breaking the ice and allowing parents the opportunity to even further explain what is written the article. The average human being experiences puberty as early as the age of ten and during this time there are plenty of new feelings, urges and bodily changes that occur that leads that individuals to have plenty of questions. Therefore, shouldn’t sexual education coincidence with pubescent development? Most teens are even comfortable discussing sex with their parents, so did Engle really cross some sacred line?
More importantly, this is a matter of sexual hygiene and health. Whether a person is gay or straight, anal sex has its health risks—the same as “normal” sex—and it is our duty to help them protect themselves. I am not a parent, but my mother discussed sexual issues openly with me because she wanted me to be prepared enough to make safe decisions and protect myself. She knew that when I left the house and stepped out into the world that she couldn’t be there hold my hand for every decision. Parents cannot let delusion and/or underlying homophobia, keep them from being the best parent they can be.
What do you think?
Did Teen Vogue overstep its boundaries with their article on anal sex?
Akeem is our founder. A writer, poet, curator and profuse sweater, he is responsible for the curatorial direction and overall voice of Quiet Lunch. The Bronx native has read at venues such as the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, KGB Bar, Lovecraft and SHAG–with works published in Palabra Luminosas and LiVE MAG13. He has also curated solo and group exhibitions at numerous galleries in Chelsea, Harlem, Bushwick and Lower Manhattan.