“Girls save themselves not for marriage but for the prom”

The title of this post was uttered by a retired school principal to Meghan Cox Gurdon, the author of an opinion piece in today’s online WSJ: “Emily Post Would Be Rightly Appalled.”

The article discusses the appalling  (lack of real) sexual advice given to teenagers in the “Prom and Party Etiquitte” book by Peggy Post and Cindy Post Senning — the relatives and cultural heirs of manners maven Emily Post, whose own book on “Etiquitte” came out in 1922.  Mrs. Emily Post once wrote to young girls at such dances, “Don’t let anyone paw you” — frank and, regrettably, necessary advice.  Under the watch of her descendants, that advice has become asking oneself “Am I willing to buy and use condoms?”  How sad.

The authors of the newer book apparently recognize that sex on prom night has become a big expectation and they “made a conscious decision not to try to lecture teens or tell them what to do,” as Ms. Post told the author in a phone interview.  “We didn’t want to preach to teens.”

However, “[f]oolishness is bound up in the heart of a child” (Prov. 22:15) — and if anyone doesn’t think that applies to most teenagers, they haven’t taught in the public schools like I have.  Teenagers need to be told what to do, how to behave.  They need to have explained to them right expectations and then given support in meeting those expectations.

The idea of creating “morally neutral” instruction in this area is a farce, as Ms. Gurdon explains:

“Here’s the problem with morally neutral sex advice to teenagers: It isn’t neutral.  It can’t be.  The very discussion of coital practicalities creates a moral framework, a matrix of what is reasonable and acceptable.”

How many teenagers are going to make one of the greatest mistakes of their lives this prom season, not fully understanding the far reaching consequences of their decision?  Thanks to the descendants of Mrs. Emily Post, perhaps even more than would otherwise.  The title of the WSJ piece is right: she would be appalled.

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Here are three Tomorrow’s World articles related to this topic that you might want to check out, whether you are a teen or a parent:

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4 thoughts on ““Girls save themselves not for marriage but for the prom”

  1. While this really is an appalling situation, it does allow the following lesson to be written in experience: there’s no such thing as metaphysical neutrality (and morals are part of metaphysics). Thanks for underlining the point here.

  2. Amanda

    It’s the same premise as parents thinking that telling their children “no” and using structure will damage them. Who comes up with these ideas? Telling kids how to behave and setting tangible limits gives them confidence, and, frankly, makes them bearable to be around.

  3. Alex

    I took a minute to read the WSJ article… Very well done. The end was especially telling. The same authors, who wouldn’t tell teens to avoid premarital sex, have no problem warning adults.

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