Sex Among the Americans
I teach a seminar for first-year undergraduates on the troubles of adolescence. During a discussion of teenage illegitimacy not too long ago, I mentioned in passing a surprising datum I had just come across: the average American woman, during her lifetime, has two sex partners. The reaction in my classroom was electric—amazement, disbelief. That can’t be! It’s more than that! They must be lying!
These are youngsters, mind, who can absorb the most horrendous social statistics—that the killing of adolescents has increased fourfold in the last decade, that two-thirds of all black children are born out of wedlock—without batting an eye. They may or may not find such data troubling (it is often hard to tell), but they do not find them shocking. What shocked them was the not-shocking—news of modesty, decorum, restraint.
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