We're driving home after dance class when m 16 1/2 year old daughter tells me she has booked a space for her after-prom, downtown. So I ask if the limousine is going to stick around and drive them home afterwards. No, but that's ok, she said, we're booking a hotel room.
I rapidly look over at her, and back on the road: What? I'm not sure I'm comfortable with you staying in a hotel room by yourselves.
Why not? it's just a bunch of girls.....(shifty look, sideways glance)
Can you look me in the eye and tell me there will be no boys there? I ask outright.
Mom! of course the girls with boyfriends will have them there, but no one else would be trashy enough to do that. What are you so upset about? Don't you trust me? I'm not some kind of whore....
What is it that bothers me? the fact that you're 16 and still a virgin....and by the way, not only trashy girls or whores enjoy having sex.
(we continue to argue for a while about the trust issue, about whether it's her or the situation I don't trust, then shelve the conversation for later, with her dad, who is infinitely calmer than I am).
Am I being too overprotective? perhaps. Did her brother have a prom night, a limo, and an afterprom party? yes, but he came home with the limo driver at 2 am and I met him in the kitchen - I had supplied a bottle of champagne for their after-party, and although he was a little soused, he was still standing, and not too ill. His date had left at midnight (probably a coach turning into a pumpkin, or a limo into a volkswagen rabbit). Is it different for girls? yes!
How to protect our daughters from unwanted sex from inebriated young guys on the look-out for easy pickings is probably the fear behind my protectiveness.
Was I sexually active before 18? you bet. It was the 70's after all. But these days, girls are giving oral sex as easily as a goodnight kiss, according to one author quoted in the Globe & Mail newspaper yesterday. (www.globeandmail.com/life) Sharlene Azam has made a documentary about the ease with which some girls 'empower themselves' by gaining male attention through sex. Some are even exchanging sex for money, although they don't want to call it prostitution.
Of course, we have a responsibility towards our sons too, to teach them the value of healthy sex versus what they see in movies and on internet porn. Somewhere out there our values as a society have become very twisted - between 'real' life and 'movie' life the lines are blurred. How does a girl/young woman really want to be treated? does she want to be thrown away like a used kleenex? (apparently father-less girls are more at risk, but mothers cannot bury their heads in the sand and pretend they don't see what's going on)
Girls may think they can have sex without consequences, without needing caring and affection in return, but they are misguided. It usually ends with a feeling of being used, of emptiness. We have it built into us to make bonds, create lasting relationships, not casual hook-ups.
I haven't decided yet what to tell my daughter - I need to discuss it calmly and rationally with her father - but we will be talking openly about self-esteem, self-love, alcohol and boundaries. Two close relatives of mine had teen pregnancies, and I suppose I am too aware that once is all it takes. Not to mention all the other consequences of unprotected sex....
I welcome any comments or helpful advice from readers on this touchy topic,