December 1, 2005

by Andrew Silow-Carroll
The middle ground is "outercourse"

Reform leader Eric Yoffie steals a page from Clinton's playbook, and comes up with a sensible Jewish sexual ethic for teenagers.

My drash:

Yoffie is opening the door here for what some have called “outercourse,” or what the Happy Days generation might call heavy petting.

At last. The frustrating thing about the sex-ed debate is that it has become a parody of the abortion debate, pitting one set of absolutes — total abstinence — against another: comprehensive, non-judgmental education about birth control, STDs, and the pleasure principle. But unlike abortion, there is a middle ground. Outercourse imagines a healthy sexual — or, perhaps, quasi-sexual — relationship in which teens can find ways to bring pleasure to one another without risking disease, pregnancy, or their self-esteem.


  • Anyone gettig concerned over teenagers telling survey takers how often they're getting laid probably believed his own teenage peers when they were telling him the same stuff.
  • Anyone getting excited over teenagers experimenting with their minds and bodies better get used to it. It's what they do.
  • But anybody thinking he can actually influence teenagers to be more responsible is beyond help.
  • Respectfully,

    Father of a teenager

    Posted by: Yori yanover at December 1, 2005 3:59 PM

    C'mon, FOAT. Parents have no influence over their teens' behavior? Nothing is foolproof, but experience, and studies I'm too lazy to access right now, show that teens tend to tack in the direction set for them at home.

    Posted by: andy at December 1, 2005 5:24 PM

    Sure, parents can impose strict behavior modification on their children, like sending them to a bootcamp yeshiva or military school, or in a similar fashion orchestrating their lives. The result is, more often than not, a less than creative member of society who, despite his acceptance of the drilled behavior modification goals, has little to contribute to society at large. Indeed, as soon as they're somehat released from the educational leash, they often explode in the opposite direction.

    But that's not influencing, that's engineering. Influencing means offering guidance and cultural alternatives in the teen's normal environment, and that's a limited force at best. It certainly isn't powerful enough to change the forces in operation inside and outside that hormonally crazed organizm.

    One's teenage years are a crucible, into which a child enters and out of which an adult emerges. It's their opportunity to make mistakes, because they have enormous reserves an can recover quickly. Keep them away from firearms and lock the liquor cabinet and pray.

    Also, if you don't inflict emotional abuse on them every day, that's good, too.

    Posted by: Yori Yanovert at December 2, 2005 5:35 AM
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