Throughout the millennia of history, societies all over the world have protected their young women from sexual exploitation by using cultural norms, family support and strict rules.

But no more.

In today’s America, girls are left completely uncovered and vulnerable. When you look at the results, you may wonder if those ancient cultures actually had some wisdom that we have lost.

In the recently published book Girls Uncovered by Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr., MD, and Freda McKissic Bush, MD with Stan Guthrie, two OB/GYN doctors focus on the dangers of America’s sexual culture to our youth, in particular to our girls. They provide current research on the devastating physical effects of sexually transmitted infections (infertility, even death) as well as the emotional effects of early sexual activity (humiliation, depression, higher suicide rate, astounding divorce rates, etc).

Though some in the media have claimed that exposure to sexual content does not affect kids’ behavior, recent studies put that question to rest.

“Multiple studies now link heavy exposure to sexual content in mainstream media with early sex, faster progression of sexual behaviors, sexually transmitted infections, and increased unplanned pregnancies.” (Girls Uncovered, p.21)

Not only do kids get bombarded with sexual messages promoting early sexual engagement, they get false information about the safety of their sexual activity.

I honestly had no idea that many STI’s show no symptoms. Teens, thinking they are “clean” assure their partners that there is no risk, and these diseases spread like wildfire.

One of the saddest stories in the book was about a 24 year old married woman who came to the author’s clinic with infertility issues. She and her husband had been trying to get pregnant for three years. When the doctor looked inside using laparoscopy, he saw that her female organs were an “inoperable mess of scar tissue.” Before her marriage she had been a flight attendant and had had several sexual partners, though she never felt any symptoms of STI’s. Unfortunately, her case was irreversible, and very typical of what fertility doctors see all the time.

But the emotional fallout can be equally devastating. The second half of Girls Uncovered shows how our brains are wired for connection, and how sex can either “deepen our joy and sense of connectedness as relational beings or, when misused, can set us up for a lifetime of pain and failure.”

Did you know that your teen daughter’s 20-second hug with a guy can start the oxytocin (the brain chemical that promotes human bonding) flowing in her brain? She begins to trust him, though he may be completely untrustworthy.

Kids and young adults are taught by our culture that they should explore their sexuality and that as long as they use appropriate “protection” there is no harm. Girls Uncovered shows mountains of very credible research that prove the opposite.

Both the “hooking up” (casual sex) culture and pornography promote the false idea that you can separate the emotional, relational component of sex from the physical act of sex–and just have fun. Advocates of “hooking up” promote it as a way to have fun when you don’t have the time to waste on developing a monogamous relationship. Proponents of pornography see it as a way to let off sexual “steam” and again avoid the messiness of a real human relationship.

But here’s the truth: You cannot separate the emotional from the physical without long-term consequences. whether your engaging in casual sex or viewing pornography. It’s all the same lie. Our brains are wired for using sex in a trusting, loving monogamous relationship. When we use sex via pornography and masturbation or “hooking up” simply for fun, we can’t avoid the consequences of depression, disease and a decreased ability to develop and maintain a long-term relationship when we do want one.

I highly recommend Girls Uncovered for any parent who wants to understand the sexual realities of the world their kids are growing up in.

Let’s arm our kids with the truth. Let’s uncover the lies of our popular culture. Let’s protect them with good information and guidance. That way they stand a much better chance for a healthy, happy future.

Kristen Jenson
Kristen A. Jenson is the founder of Protect Young Minds and author of Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today's Young Kids. Kristen enjoys speaking, writing and anything else that will help empower kids to reject pornography. Kristen earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, and a master’s degree in Organizational Communication. Kristen currently lives with her husband in Washington State, where she enjoys growing a vegetable garden, watching Masterpiece Theater, and taking long walks with friends who tolerate her incessant talking about you know what. Above all else, her husband and three children are her greatest treasures.
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