In an earlier blog I mentioned that there were certain bathrooms at XHS that were designated for the rougher crowd. Those of us who did not identify ourselves in that genre avoided them like the plague. But, there were other methods of sorting oneself that did not have anything to do with whether or not you smoked or drank or cursed. This one was the big one, sex.
I could probably have told you with great accuracy when I was in high school which girls “did it” and which girls did not. I do not ever remember being asked about my willingness to have sex, nor do I remember making a conscious decision not to have sex. It was more a matter, I suppose of which type of girls you identified with.
I do not know that we ” don’t do its” were more chaste or virtuous than the ones who did do it. We were probably just scared. Remember, this is before birth control pills were readily available, as a matter of fact any kind of birth control was not readily available. If you wanted to use condoms ( ewww) you had to either know someone who knew someone who had access or go to one of the local drugstores and ask the clerk, who probably knew your parents, for condoms, which were kept below the counter.
In addition, if there had been easily accessible birth control we would still have needed our parents’ permission and I cannot imagine myself or any of the females I socialized with asking our parents to help up have safe sex. Fear is a great motivator and considering we were woefully ignorant about anatomy and sex and reproduction it is not wonder we did not have sex. Too chancy. To have a baby out of wedlock would be disastrous for you and your family.
There were, however, girls who did. They not only did they bragged about doing and the males in our midst did not miss a chance to let you know who did. I was always fascinated by the girls who did. They were not the ones who got taken to the movies, to ball games, to dances, to the prom or the Snow Ball. They were the ones the boys went to visit after they took those of us who did home. This phenomenon was not race specific. There were after hours girls of both races, black and white.
These girls talked openly about entertaining our boyfriends after we had been dropped off, making sure we heard them talking about what a good time they had playing cards, drinking and fooling around–sometimes to the point of actually “doing it.”
To my knowledge none of us who did not do it were ever jealous of the girls that our boyfriends did it with. We thought doing it was dangerous and slutty. And, they did not even get the privileges of having a real relationship. They were not the ones who got flowers sent on Valentine’s Day or presents at Christmas. All they got was the opportunity to put out because we would not.
I never understood why they did not resent the hell out of us, or why they did not refuse to have sex with a male who tried very hard at school and in public to pretend he did not know them, or at least only knew they very casually. What made them willing to settle for so little in return for such a huge risk?
I cannot answer that question today any more than I could then.
Mores have changed. I imagine having sex in high school is now standard operating procedure. I can perhaps understand why a more informed and more sexually casual group would be more sexually active than we were, but I still think some of the old patterns hold true.
I taught my last high school class almost two decades ago now, going on to college teaching and administration, but back then I still had heart broken girls come to see me who had believed that since the boy said he loved her, while he was trying to convince her to have sex with him, that he actually did love her. When they found out his professions of love were being dictated by the wrong head, they were crushed.
I do sometimes wonder if there are still girls who do and girls who don’t and if everyone at each high school knows what category each girl belongs to. Have we reached enough sexual savvy and gender balance that there are also boys who do and boys who don’t and who are comfortable enough to declare their status? It is perhaps not hip today to be openly one who does not. Although I do not necessarily appreciate getting old I am glad I do not have to go to high school in this era. It was easier to be one who did not when I was coming along. But then, it was easier in a lot of ways. I did not have to wonder about whether or not to take drugs, drink or smoke. Folks like me did not do that. The peer pressure was seemingly opposite to what it is today.
I was not particularly virtuous, but I was scared and happily caved to peer pressure. Thank goodness for fear and a society that demanded certain things. Perhaps what we need today is a slight infusion of both.