Image: Bojack Horseman
Most teen movies went something like this:
‘Girls who were in choir or were good at music are all nerds.’
’Only guys like science, maths, computers – they’re also nerds.’
‘All the ‘ethnic groups’ only sat with each other and never mixed – except for the token black person or couple. Don’t even ask where people on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum fit in, that doesn’t really exist here.’
’Everyone else who is cool was rich, fashionable, a cheerleader or plays some competitive sport… and is constantly thinking about sex.’
Okay, some of those stereotypes haven’t changed. However, what we view on screen, has. We really do have to thank Netflix for changing the cinema/TV landscape for the better.
When I was growing up, TV and movies were all about sex being this amazing achievement.
ALL of it was told through the straight male lens and written by men. Rarely is there a woman who is portrayed as strong for her choices. You’re either ‘weird and slutty,’ ‘a prized virgin’ or ‘the virgin no one wanted.’ But if a nerdy guy screwed anyone, hey, lucky for him. If you’re popular, you just got cooler.
If you want to watch a terrible movie, check out ‘American Pie’ as an example – hint: the sequels are worse. Or even ’10 Things I Hate About You’ – a much better movie, but is still one where women are treated as conquests. This says a lot about the 90’s and the early 00s.
Today, we have wonderful TV programming like ‘Sex Education’ and on the more crass end, ‘Big Mouth.’ Both of these shows explore what teen women experience.
About ‘self-exploration’ that isn’t just boys jerking off.
About those who don’t fit neatly into the ‘straight’ box.
Girls and boys, openly discuss their sexuality – with people who are of the same gender and the opposite gender.
This is a hugely positive step forward. Being young is hard enough – feeling pressured to be a sexually active teen when you don’t even know if you want to have sex, or even who you might like, is another.
You may be a bit like me and… you don’t really care about sex. At all.
Some of the taboo about masturbation might be falling away but it doesn’t mean you want to try it. Maybe you don’t dream about kissing or being naked? Or perhaps porn is something that never ever even crossed your mind? Maybe you just want to take your time and not have sex just yet. Now, or maybe even never?
I’m married and have a wonderful, trusting, intimate relationship with my husband after years of feeling uncomfortable about sex… but it took me a much longer time to work out that I don’t experience sexual attraction like most people do. I am Asexual.
So what would I tell my teenage self or anyone else who is a teen now?
1. If you’re not interested in sex or don’t feel ready, NEVER feel pressured into it.
2. Don’t worry about getting in trouble – if you feel uncomfortable in any way, get yourself out of a bad situation where you feel sexually pressured. Have your parents’ numbers ready to call. Or a close friend who can drive. Or install Uber (that’s a luxury I didn’t have growing up!) Just get yourself out. I can tell you now: you will prefer to experience a little bit of trouble now than carry the heaviness of situations you didn’t want to be in around for years. If you say you felt unsafe, often adults will respect you for making that call, not punish you for it.
3. Most TV is garbage and doesn’t always mimic real life. Don’t feel pressured to do what people do on TV. Or Tik-Tok or any other platform for that matter.
4. Nerds often end up being far more interesting and far more successful later in life. High-school ‘cool’ means nothing in the real world.
5. It was only in 2004 that there were real studies into Asexuality: Asexuality simply means you don’t experience sexual attraction. This is separate from libido; whether you have romantic attractions to others of any gender (you could be Aromantic as well); or how you gender identify personally.
Around this time many other forms of being on the LQBTQIA+ spectrum were recognised not as disorders: but just as the unique way some people are. If you want to watch a TV show that explores the Asexuality concept, watch Bojack Horseman (you’ll get to this by season 3.)
Biggest lesson: Never feel uncomfortable for who you are or who you may like and love! There is no race to have sex. Once it happens, your life really doesn’t change a hell of a lot. But it might if you choose to do it out of pressure and aren’t ready.
If you resonate with the concept of Asexuality or want to know more about it, please check out the AVEN network : The Asexual Visibility and Education Network asexuality.org
DJ | Vocalist | Artist | laurenneko.com Creative Director @ Glössy Events AU
Entertainment Management Lecturer