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Can I see your I.D.?

By Dan Savage · June 30th, 2004 · Savage Love
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I wanted to let you know that your advice to DOM, the 29-year-old anxious to get it on with his legal-where-he-lives 16-year-old coworker, was spot on. When I was 14, I had a very satisfying sexual relationship with a 24-year-old man. We met through some friends who were college age. I pursued him for months. He was resistant because of our age difference and the legal risk to him, but ultimately I was hard to resist.

Still, at his insistence, we progressed slowly. I was a virgin, and he was actually more precious about it than I was. He bought me a copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves. We read The Joy of Sex together. We talked and talked about the risks, about condoms, about my feelings, about the possibility of regret. We also talked about our age difference, the need for discretion and the impossibility of anything more than a short-term relationship evolving between us. We talked for months before we finally did it.

It was seriously great sex. Our relationship lasted for nearly a year before I broke it off. (I was ready to explore other guys and girls.) The only downside is that, because of the taboo around our age difference, I haven't been able to share my experience with many people without rousing severe judgment. So your advice to DOM was refreshing. I hope he follows it.

-- Got No Regrets

Speaking of rousing severe judgment, GNR, a lot of readers wondered why I didn't order DOM to register as a sex offender now, thereby saving himself the time and trouble of being arrested and sent off to prison. (Can no one read? The girls DOM were lusting after were of legal age, people.) It seems to me that a lot of grownups have screwy ideas about teenagers and their sexual desires and rights -- which is odd, considering that all grownups were teenagers once, most teenagers lust after people in their 20s and many grownups lost their virginities as teenagers to people who were older and weren't harmed.

But the official grownup position is that anyone who admits to being attracted to a particular teenager -- a young adult, above the age of consent -- has to be complete scum. What's worse, many grownups use "teenager" interchangeably with "jailbait" and "minor" despite the fact that in most places teenagers are as likely to be above the age of consent (roughly 16-19) as below it (13-15). Note: Age-of-consent statutes vary widely, so please check your local listings for more information.

And, to top it all off, the younger person is always the lusted-after victim, never the initiator.

Fact is, a lot of teenagers want to bag/succeed in bagging older, more experienced sex partners for their first times. When I was a 16-year-old, for instance, I had sex with a few people in their early 20s -- a couple of women, one guy -- and I was grateful for the experience and unharmed by the sex. (Well, the sex with women was kind of traumatic. No one warned me about queefs. I had to be peeled off the freakin' ceiling. "Holy shit!" I thought, "Why is that thing barking at me?!") As a grownup, I refuse to shove those early, beneficial sexual experiences down the ol' memory hole.

It seems to me that so long as the older, more experienced person in an April/June romance is kind and sensitive -- and doesn't mislead the teenager about the long-term prospects, which are nil -- I can't work up much outrage. I didn't think it was wrong when I was a teenager, God knows, and it would be hypocritical of me to blow my stack about it now. But check back with me when my kid is a teenager -- I might feel differently then.

The trick for a young person who's attracted to an older person is being able to tell the good grownups from the bad grownups. One easy test: Feeling pressured to put out immediately or attempt a varsity-level sex act? Walk away. Another test: Some people seek out much younger sex partners because they either enjoy the power trip of exploiting a younger, more naive person or they can't convince older, wiser people -- people who can see through their bullshit -- to sleep with them. Again, walk away.

Finally, I'm not only officially against sleeping with someone under the age of consent, I'm really most sincerely dead set against it. The man to whom you were lucky enough to lose your virginity, GNR, sounds like a nice guy, almost the Platonic ideal of a first sex partner. (If only everyone's first lover came with a required-reading list!) You were lucky to find him.

He, on the other hand, was lucky too -- lucky he didn't get caught and lucky he didn't wind up in prison. You might have been ready for sex at 14, but I doubt he was ready for prison at 24. And yet you pursued him anyway. You were a bad teenager, GNR. Bad!

As a female who had sexual experiences with older men as a teen, I'm concerned about DOM. While at 16 or 17 many of us females might look and act like adults, we aren't yet. I felt so pressured by peers and media to grow up fast, and the lure of an older man prompted me to have sex at 16. I even initiated the situation. I wish I could take that back.

DOM needs to put desire aside and think about what I've said. I work now as a youth worker with many girls who have been in my situation. We're so regretful of what we did when we weren't ready.

-- Regretful Teen

I hear you, RT. Not all folks who have their first sexual experiences with older partners remember them fondly. (The same could be said, however, of teenagers who lost their virginities to other teenagers.) We both need to bear in mind, however, that neither your negative experience nor my positive one proves anything.

Whether or not people who lose their virginities under similar circumstances will feel good or bad about them years later depends on a whole host of factors -- including whether they were ready and whether the older person was an asshole. Clearly I was ready, RT, and you weren't. I would encourage any teenager thinking about becoming sexually active -- with anyone, whatever their age -- to think long and hard about whether they're ready.

A bunch of us were sitting around talking about sex. This girl mentioned that her boyfriend disconnected his speaker and connected the speaker wire to her genitalia. I tried to obtain more details but was unable to due to a combination of the group's shock and laughter and the girl's realization that this was a tad unusual. She did indicate that it was painful. I assume that this would fall in the "not recommended" approach to e-stim.

-- Worried Over Wires

Speaker wires? Definitely not recommended, WOW. And while we're on the subject of "not recommended" approaches to e-stim...

I wrote that e-stim was for genital and anal stimulation. Perhaps I should have emphasized more strongly that e-stim is not recommended for above-the-waist play, period. Passing an electronic current through someone's chest cavity can cause him or her to have a heart attack -- and unless we're talking about Dick Cheney, heart attacks are never sexy.

To read more about e-stim and e-stim safety, go to www.eroticelectrostim.com or www.sextek.com.

 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
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