When Americans ask if pre-marital sex is socially acceptable, especially within a democratic society, the answer lies with what the majority believe. A large portion of the society would have very few qualms about an unmarried couple having sex, so long as that large portion of society was comfortable with the idea. There really are no normative ethical standards, no absolute rights or wrongs in our culture. Under these conditions, how could sex be applied to any moral scrutiny? It is whatever the individual thinks it is. The meaning of sex is what you give to it. But social acceptability is the question, isn t it? In that case the only applicable standard would be something like political correctness. So long as the majority isn't being offended by the act, and so long as the participants care for each other, there probably isn't going to be any objection. So the answer, which will be discussed further in this paper, is yes, pre-marital sex is not only socially acceptable, but also socially demanding. There s nothing surprising about that, but it sure is sad.
The reasons that individuals give for engaging in pre-marital sexual activities are usually relatively similar. Some people believe that if they are not sexually active as an adolescent they will not fit in, or they will be ridiculed for their choice to abstain from sexual intercourse until marriage. Around school, sex is usually a major topic of conversation; students are constantly talking about how great sex is and how often they "do it". Those same students are usually the ones who do not worry about protection (Meier 8). Teenagers find it to be some sort of competition nowadays to see who can have the most sex before they graduate. Boys often find that they are being pushed to prove themselves by "scoring" (Meier 9). None of them think of the consequences. Some of them even end up impregnating younger women. Some teenagers believe that if they have sex a lot, they will not get pregnant. Others believe that you cannot get pregnant in a hot tub, girls cannot get pregnant during their period, and that you cannot get pregnant the first time they have sex. Some even believe that if birth control is taken right before intercourse, it will prevent a pregnancy. Those are all myths. Getting pregnant is easier than anybody would think.
Some pressures come from other sources and not just their peers. When a young person becomes involved with a boyfriend or girlfriend, the couple may have to deal with the pressures directly. One might pressure the other to have sex. This can often lead to break-ups causing more emotional problems. A girl is more likely to think of sex as something romantic but, however, have sex with boys with whom they have no real relationship.
According to Charles Krauthammer, "Sex oozes from every pore of the culture and there's not a kid in the world who can avoid it." (7). Teenagers are surrounded by some sort of sexual connotations all the time. Whether it is television, radio, school, or even the Internet, teenagers are hearing the effects of sex on our society.
Other people believe that if two people are truly in love then engaging in sexual intercourse is just a way two prove it. This latter ideology is probably the least common but the most detrimental of the three, because of the fact; teenagers are more likely to mistake love for infatuation. These misleading feelings can then lead to the couple having sexual intercourse under false pretenses.
Alcohol or drugs also play a major role in the sexual activity of teenagers. Sometimes, alcohol and drugs play a part in the teenager's decision to have sex. A person who is drinking alcohol or using drugs is less likely to be cautious and responsible about their behavior (Meier 10). Teens will often go to parties and get so "smashed" that they have no control over what they are doing. Some of them go back to school and brag about what happened at that party or gossip about what happened to someone else. That is where some people earn their reputation as sluts or whores. Often, those same people are the ones not doing well in school, and they may have few goals or little hope that things will get any better. Some teenagers think that if they are drunk, they cannot get pregnant. That is yet another myth. Unless something is physically wrong, a boy and girl run the risk of beginning a pregnancy every time they have sex (Meier 12). Teenagers should think of the consequences and read over the statistics before jumping into anything.
Now that the reasons people are having sex have been somewhat considered, the consequences that come with having sex will now be discussed.
The price that teenagers pay for being sexually active greatly outweighs any advantages. For example there are numerous sexually transmitted diseases (STD s), also known as venereal diseases (VD s), which are contracted by sexual intercourse. These include syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, herpes, PID, and genital warts. These diseases could be deadly, however, if they are diagnosed in time they are curable. Unfortunately there is one disease in particular that, despite numerous years of study, is fatal in 100 percent of cases: AIDS. AIDS is an acronym for acquired immunio-deficiency syndrome, and is caused by the human immunio-deficiency virus (HIV). This is a fairly common disease among homosexuals but because it can be passed through blood it has also made a dominant appearance in the heterosexual community as well (Milton 34).
The major religious belief in the United States is Christianity. Christianity teaches that having sex before getting married is wrong. Having sex is a sin and when people sin they go to hell. Lots of people have sex with other people just to do it. They don't think of that others feelings. Christianity teaches people to treat others as they would like to be treated. And no person likes getting his or her feelings hurt. People should think about others before they do such things such as use others for sex.
Christianity also teaches that lust is a sin. In fact, it is one of the seven deadly sins and it should not be taken lightly according to religious teachings. Lust leads to sex, and if sex is taken lightly then more and more people will begin to have children out of wedlock.
However, the worst-case scenario of pre-marital sex, of course, would be an unwanted pregnancy. People are capable of creating babies as soon as puberty begins, between the ages of ten and fourteen. So having unprotected sex anytime after this age could result in an unwanted pregnancy. Couples who have unprotected sex twelve times risk a fifty percent chance of having an unwanted pregnancy, and it increases to a seventy-five percent chance after twenty-four times (Milton 42). In fact, one out of every 20 girls becomes pregnant the first time having sex and one out of every 5 becomes pregnant during the first month of sexual activity (Meier 12).
Rather than deal with a pregnancy after the fact, more teenagers seem to be trying to prevent pregnancies. Teenagers are learning to better use contraceptives and are using them more frequently than before. Some teenagers are aware of the contraceptives available, but they just choose not to use them. Others may find it difficult and embarrassing to talk to their partners about birth control or contraceptives. Contraceptives such as the condom, Depo-Provera, diaphragm, IUD (intrauterine device), and the pill are effective more than eighty percent of the time some of those, more than ninety percent. Nine in 10 sexually active women and their partners use a contraceptive method, although not always consistently or correctly. About one in six teenage women practicing contraception combine two methods, primarily the condom with another method (Guttmacher 19). The only method effective 100 percent of the time is abstinence, which means not having sex at all. Although there are contraceptives, they only work so much percent of the time. The other percent of the time, they will fail and lead to a traumatic downfall for anyone involved. Teenagers pay a great price for being sexually active. The risks are just too great for getting pregnant and contracting an STD. There are more important things in life to worry about than things a person has control over.
Along with the physical status of a sexually active teen, the emotional status can also be depleted. The emotional problems a teenager will feel after becoming sexually active can be overwhelming. Sometimes the stress from friends and family members becomes too much for a teenager to bear and can often lead to suicide or delinquency.
Television has also had an affect on the way adolescents perceive sex. On average a one-half hour situation comedy contains eight allusions to sex. In the movies or on television, the actors and actresses make sex look easy, fun, and glamorous. It appears to be something everyone is doing. On television shows like Dawson s Creek , sex is usually the major topic of the entire show. Whether it is guys and girls, guys and guys, girls and girls, or multiple persons of each sex, the sex act itself is a major conflict. Movies, such as Cruel Intentions , portray sex as a game. The main characters are placing bets on each other that one of them will have sex with some girl who is against the idea of pre-marital sex. That movie is rated R, but younger children were watching it with their parents. Those types of movies are not meant for a young audience, and could very easily influence them in their adolescent years.
By the time that today s adolescents are grandparents pre-marital sex will be as acceptable to society as swearing has become today. The only way to change or prevent this is to make teenagers believe that there is nothing cool or glamorous about sexual activity. That task would be a miraculous feat if accomplished. So Americans will just have to live with the fact that pre-marital sex is becoming a socially acceptable part of society.