My Letter to the PTC Editor on “The First Time”:
To whom it may concern,
My name is Lindsey (omitted). I am a 17 year old girl, I attend a public high school, and I have been involved in an exclusive relationship with the same person for over 8 months.
I watch Glee regularly, and the reason I do so is not because of the realism of the show or its portrayal of a High School setting; any teenager knows immediately that 90% of the stereotypical themes presented of McKinley High are wildly overblown or simply outright untrue. However, Glee and its writers did get some things right….(more under the cut)
Every single episode that has dealt with the issue of teenage sexual activity has done so in a careful, if somewhat silly, manor. The fact of the matter is, whether the vast majority of adults faced with the truth want to believe it or not, teenagers have sex. Period. I am a teenager, I have the right to speak on this matter because every single day of my life, I walk by kids talking about their nights. I’ve gone to Prom, Homecoming, I see my peers making out in the stairwells every day, and if I’m to be honest, I’ve come close to engaging myself—though the definition of what is and is not “sex” becomes more fluid every day.. That isn’t a TV show corrupting us, that’s just what happens. And I’ll tell you what else happens.
In our health classes, each and every teacher makes a concerted, desperate effort to stop us from having sex with Abstinence-only based education. They try to scare us with statistics of STD’s, STI’s, and teen pregnancy and how it’s “destroyed lives.” These efforts are futile—they do nothing to prevent the sexual activity that is prevalent in our schools and the teenage age group. However, they also do nothing to teach us anything about safe sexual practices, willfully ignoring the occurrence of the acts in our age group. Not once, not one single time, have I ever learned how to be safe when having sex, because most parents, teachers and honestly, society in general, prefer to pretend that sex doesn’t exist, making it an act that is forced to be performed in secrecy—and I’m not even talking about safe sex education for same sex couples. I’ve spent more time on the internet trying to learn how to be safe with my girlfriend than I’m sure any teacher has spent trying to teach heterosexual teenagers about safe sex in general. Sex in our society has by and large become a shameful thing that no one can be told about…but that doesn’t for a single second mean that it doesn’t happen. It simply means that it happens in unsafe settings without the protection or precautions necessary to make the act safer. The truth of the matter is, teenagers will have sex anyway. And honestly, wouldn’t you rather know that your children, if they’re going to have sexual relations anyway, that they’d been given the information and the education necessary to be safe about it? Wouldn’t you rather them be comfortable talking to you about what might be going on with their lives, if they need help? I have the blessing of parents who have always been open, frank, and honest with me about anything I felt I needed to know to be safe in my activities, sexual or otherwise. Other people my age are not and will not be so fortunate to have that relationship with anyone, and their safety as well as their health is put at risk because of that.
While “Glee” is only a television show, and doesn’t pretend to be anything other than that, it is still doing more on multiple fronts to help teenagers around the world. Yes, they may be portraying sex on TV, and yes, teenagers are affected by TV and what’s playing on it, but honestly, we’re already doing what’s on our screens. Nothing there has changed. As long as the practices shown (or implied) on our television screens are safe, then they’re already doing far more, and taking far larger strides towards protecting the safety of our age group than any Abstinence-Based program in schools has—and far more than simply continuing to hide the practice under a thin veil of secrecy will.
If the millions of teenage viewers that watch “The First Time” tonight and idolize Finn, Rachel, Kurt or Blaine and aspire to model their lives after them see or hear mention of being safe while having sex, then they will in all likelihood emulate those characters and therefore implement those same safety practices in their own lives. Safety practices that, if I may point out, haven’t been made openly available to our age group much of anywhere else.
The vast majority of teenagers, in order to be safe while doing something that we are widely and openly ridiculed and condemned for, have to hunt down the information to keep ourselves safe all on our own. Often, this results in us getting in even more trouble and becomes something that seems as if it is not even worth the effort.
Yes, Glee may be doing something risky by portraying teen sex on televisions; but it is placing, for once, the reality of teenagers lives on screen—albeit with a veneer of Hollywood. But if “Glee: The First Time” gets the point across in their sexual scenes that teenagers have the need and the responsibility to be safe during their sexual practices to millions of teenage viewers who will then emulate that responsibility in their lives? To me, that’s a risk worth taking, and I pride the show for taking it.
Sincerely, Lindsey (omitted)
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