November 24, 2010
Teen Mom’s Amber Portwood has dealt quite a few blows, physical and emotional, to her oafish fiance-ish, Gary Shipley. This we know — cameras were rolling! — and this we cannot excuse. But this example has, like many before it, provoked the question: is female-on-male violence on the rise?
Today at Salon.com, BG’s alter ego tackles the answer. And suggests, in the process, that it’s not the most helpful question to be asking in the first place. In short: females have always been violent, towards men and otherwise. Specific DOJ data points show that when it comes to certain types of intimate partner violence, rates of certain types of aggression can be equal or mutual between men and women. (And neither is to be justified.) But: men are far more likely to put their female partners in the hospital, and men are far more likely to commit the ongoing, deeply damaging form of abuse known as battery, or even domestic terrorism.
That is not to say MEN SUCK; WOMEN WIN THE VICTIM PRIZE. Not at all. It’s to say that false equivalence between male and female violence is unhelpful and un-illuminating, possibly even damaging to all victims. As Lynn writes: “But when it comes to pop culture and public discourse, [female violence] needs to be discussed on its own face and in its own context, with its own set of causes and implications, not as a game of one-upmanship.”
Read the rest here. And if you — female or male — feel at all unsafe in your relationship, please click here.
January 26, 2010
BREAKING: Our friends over at the esteemed Guttmacher Institute report news that’s sadly about as unsurprising as the lamented John Edwards being Quinn’s dad. That is: “For the first time in more than a decade, the nation’s teen pregnancy rate rose 3% in 2006 [the most recent source of data], reflecting increases in teen birth and abortion rates of 4% and 1%, respectively.”
2006: Let’s plot that on a timeline of SURELY UNRELATED events in U.S. history. Aha: Turns out a long-term decline in teen pregnancy — due in part to increased contraceptive use among teens — flattened out and then reversed…what’s this? The decline reversed at the same time that the Bush administration and Congress ramped up funding for rigid abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that are prohibited from discussing the benefits of contraception. Coincidence, or…? Yeah, gotta be coincidence.
“After more than a decade of progress, this reversal is deeply troubling,” says Heather Boonstra, Guttmacher Institute senior public policy associate. “It coincides with an increase in rigid abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, which received major funding boosts under the Bush administration. A strong body of research shows that these programs do not work. Fortunately, the heyday of this failed experiment has come to an end with the enactment of a new teen pregnancy prevention initiative that ensures that programs will be age-appropriate, medically accurate and, most importantly, based on research demonstrating their effectiveness.”
And: “It is clearly time to redouble our efforts to make sure our young people have the information, interpersonal skills and health services they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies and to become sexually healthy adults,” said Lawrence Finer, Guttmacher’s director of domestic research.
For starters, we’ll need to let them read the dictionary.
(Click here (PDF) for the full report, “U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions: National and State Trends and Trends by Race and Ethnicity,” and click here for Guttmacher’s Facts on American Teens’ Sexual and Reproductive Health. Also, find Guttmacher on Facebook and Twitter to learn more.)
December 1, 2009
Speed dating! If you think it’s a relic of the go-go late ‘90s — guys in fleecewear chatting up these ladies — or a mating practice of the hopelessly superficial and fidgety, you may want to try “deep dating,” like UK Guardian journalist Christine Ottery.
Ottery tested out two events that reflect a new trend in singles gatherings: blending the no-nonsense approach of the “hurry date” with Tantric sexual practices.
Whoa, slow down there, vivid imagination! The practices themselves amount to some G-rated physical affection and soulful eye contact, but it sounds like the attitude behind them is pretty solid: instead of mindlessly chattering away, potential partners get to connect on a slightly more “real” (and even spiritual) level than on a typical coffee date.
As Ottery writes:
Most of the sessions involve long periods of eye contact. Terrifying and liberating all at once, this is like skinny-dipping in someone’s irises, flinging off societal mores as you go.
Of course, eye contact is a big part of courtship whether you’re deep dating or not. Scientists have found that men gaze into the eyes of women they find attractive for twice as long as those they don’t. The researchers also said that women don’t use come-on eyes as much at first – and interpret this as a mixture of mistrust and the fear of ending up a single parent. I take it as a good sign, then, when I can stare somebody square in the peepers after just having met them.
Apart from the extended eyeballing and some pretty innocent body contact, not having to chat someone up is a sweet relief and makes for a surprisingly relaxed atmosphere. And once each individual mini-ritual is over, partners talk to each other, trading a mash-up of insights and giggles. Hawken tells me this can reveal, in a short space of time, the things you need to know about your suitor: “Can they listen? Are they sensitive to who you are? Are they able to talk about their feelings?”
Although Tantric dating hasn’t made a big splash in the States yet, I’m guessing it’s only a matter of time. In the meantime, we’ve still got that relic of the no-go ’00s—the cuddle party.
May 29, 2009
Taking stock on February 16, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I can seem to meet men only in the fall or winter of each year and they never, ever last past three months (into the New Year). This has happened to me with almost all of my potential relationships — the ones that I thought would last. I try to find men in the spring, but my aura must be in hibernation. Is having this three-month limitation normal and what can I do to curb it?
I’m thinking that sometime maybe in early February, your relationship sees its shadow and thus decides it’s gonna last — for only about six more weeks. Other than that, I can’t really account for the particular seasonal patterns in your relationship almanac, but I will say that three months does seem to be the normal human relationship gestation period. For some reason, that’s as long as it generally takes to get to know someone well enough to decide that that’s, well, enough. If you need proof that it’s not just you, let’s just say you wouldn’t believe how many letters I get that start off just like the next few do.
So there’s really nothing for you to “do” to “curb” your tendency. It’s more about the mysterious internal rhythm of relationships than it is about your, um, “aura.” But listen, Clueless, spring is almost here. Don’t let this hibernation thing become a self-fulfilling forecast.
The more things change on February 16, 1998…
Dear Breakup Girl,
I have reached the conclusion that current societal trends suggest that most decent relationships last on average three years. Do you agree that in opposition to the 50’s, contemporary GenX people will therefore exist in a string of three-year relationships and in a constant cycle of grieving and happiness?
— Cross-Eyed and Well-Spun
Are you talking about current societal trends, or are you talking about your current societal life? Anyway — and either way — don’t think for a minute that people in the 50s did not exist in a constant cycle of grieving and happiness (if you remember, it was “Happy Days,” not “Happy Life“). Just because dating procedures were clearer and the institution of marriage appeared more stable, the world — and relationships — were hardly problem-free (McCarthy, Rosa Parks, hydrogen-bomb-building, women “getting pinned,” whatnot). So instead of falsely idolizing times gone by, let’s exist in a constant cycle of grieving and happiness today.
December 11, 2008
Sexting, apparently, is a new trend in teen texting, which involves trading dirty messages and nude or sexually explicit photos. “It’s like flirting and just having a little fun,” say teens. Wow, how did we get here from college-ruled notes saying “check here if you like me”–?
Now, I don’t wanna judge — that’s what the comments below are for — because, as Jezebel points out “Early adolescents are going to test the boundaries of their sexuality and sexual expression whether their parents — or school districts — like it or not.” Furthermore, if something is truly bad, teens will probably learn their lesson themselves, Degrassi-style. Or by watching Degrassi, like we did back in my day.
Now if there were to be a Sexting episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation, it should probably touch on the following points: (Are you listening, Canada?)
- Girls: Don’t trust a teenage boy — any teenage boy — with a nude picture of yourself. Like, duh. And before you hit send on that message, imagine the picture being shared among the entire sleazy school administration, because that will happen. Plus, if you’re caught, you will be suspended from the cheerleading squad for being a slut, while the boys who passed the picture around will simply get off, in both senses of the phrase.
- Boys: You can be prosecuted under child-pornography laws. ‘Nuff said.
- Parents: Don’t buy your teen a phone with a camera.
- Mia: Call me!