“Generation Yes” needs to learn the word “No”
Oh god, it all could have been so different; for the 17-year-old girl; for the AFL; for the St Kilda footballers; for Ricky Nixon; for an enthralled, outraged public - if only she had known how to say one word- ‘no’.
Watching the AFL nude scandal girl’s 60 Minutes interview on Sunday it became startlingly clear that this whole sad affair could have been averted if she had known how to extricate herself from a footballer’s Sydney hotel room last year.
“I guess as soon as I walked into that hotel room I though ‘Oh no, this is bad, I don’t know how to get out of this situation’” she told an ever- nodding Liz Hayes.
“I didn’t know what to do really, I didn’t know how to stand up for myself, I thought he was going to be like really angry if I say I have to leave.
“I felt like crying. If only she had known how to turn down some horny, possibly-sloshed footballer, this whole mess of anger and public humiliation could have been circumvented and the girl would today be obsessing about Robert Pattinson or fantasising about university instead of facing down a media squall.
But, then again, when do we actually teach girls how to say ‘no’? When does the question of choice come into sex education?
We might herd teenagers into a room and force them to sit through the excruciatingly embarrassing charade of putting condoms on bananas, and we might instruct them about the base mechanics of sex, all the while instilling the fear of god in them about contracting STDs - but is that really enough?
What no-one tells you when you’re 16 is that sex begins long before any buttons are undone and there are emotional repercussions that will continue long after you’ve located your underpants again.
Part of sex education needs to be about how to make choices about sex that reflect what you want, and at the same time, the importance of taking responsibility for your pants on/pants off decision.
The garbled diet of messages about sex that teenagers are fed doesn’t help either. The distorted Sex and the City brand of feminism-lite peddled by women’s magazines has left a generation of bewildered girls who seem to think that saying ‘yes’ to every proposition that comes there way is a bold statement of independence (it’s not).
If you’re constantly being told how to have 17-hour orgasms and given ten hot tips to please your boyfriend, or bring told what particular waxing trend is all the rage, when would it ever occur to you that saying ‘no’ is an option?
In the last 30 years, sex has been transformed from a NEVER, NEVER ‘Aren’t you a slut’ thing into some muddled, supposed symbolic act of modernity. Young women are still trapped into thinking that sex has a particular meaning and don’t know how to make sense of their own desires in that context.
In the year since the AFL scandal girl didn’t say ‘no’, her life has spun out of control as she irresponsibly, naively, and stupidly tried to deal with the fallout of the situation. It really didn’t need to be this way.
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