I had a conversation with a 16-year-old young man today who was scared he might have gotten a girl pregnant. Although they didn’t go “all the way”, they had done enough for him to be afraid she may have gotten pregnant.
He said his father was aware of everything that happened and was only upset he did not have condoms with him at the time. His father was not at all upset about the fact that he (almost) had sex. He then said, ‘The fact that my father doesn’t get upset about me having sex isn’t helping things at all.”
I knew exactly what he meant when he made that statement because I hear from young men all the time that the biggest pressure they face to have sex comes from adult men in their lives. I asked him if he thought his father would have had the same response if his sister had been in the same situation. He said, “Absolutely not! He would have been really upset.”
I know fathers truly believe the double standard they have in regards to their sons and daughters when it comes to sexual behavior makes sense. I’m not sure they understand how their son may be interpreting that double standard. As much as teens complain about their parents’ rules/expectations, they really see them as a sign that the parent cares about them.
We will never change the sexual behavior of teens as long as boys are encouraged to have sex by their fathers. Fathers must begin to understand that the young lady that their son is having sex with is someone else’s daughter.
How can we expect young men to treat their girlfriends with the same respect they would want someone to show their sisters, when fathers are not modeling that behavior when it comes to the message they give their sons about what they do with someone else’s daughter?
An adult male friend said the reason he had sex for the first time at the age of 16 was because every adult male in his life (his father, uncles and athletic coaches) were all saying things to him like, “Boy, what’s wrong with you? You ain’t got none yet? What’s wrong? Are you scared of girls?” I’m sure none of those men would have had that conversation with their 16 year old daughter!
This letter from a young man who was a junior in high school speaks volumes:
Dear Ms. Jackie, If there were more men in the world that taught the way that you do, then there wouldn’t be so much pressure on the guys to feel like they’re men just because they go out and put themselves at risk of hurting people that ultimately are the entire reason we are here. Sincerely, A self-confident, reassured young MAN
What can we do to help men understand how much power and influence they have in changing the culture? Not just in what they say, but in what they do!