Teenage sexuality – as father and as author

Teenage sexuality - as father and as author

Today I realised that in a few years I would need a shotgun and a rocking chair. I subconsciously practiced the phrase “Son, what are your intentions with my daughter?”

So what caused this train of thought?

Well, today Rhiannon competed in a dance competition. She’s now 11, but since the age of 3 has been learning ballet, tap and contemporary dance at the local EDTA (Education in Dance and Theatre Arts) school. I’ve seen her in lots of concerts and competitions but she was always my little girl. This said, today in one dance I glimpsed the woman that she would become – something very Betty Grable (if you are young, then look Betty up – she’s a 40s/50s movie star). This glimpse was fleeting, but it blew me away.

Oh shit! (pardon the swearing, but there was real panic and surprise and I needed to really convey that to you).

At another point today real tears of happiness and pride also flowed. Her particular dance school did a piece from the Nutcracker suite and it was fantastic – visually splendid.

Gushy father stuff aside, what has all this got to do with the title of my post?

Well, I guess it was some moves in another dance by another troupe that made me think. I felt that some of the moves were a bit too adult for the girls. Let kids be kids. Also, let’s not sexualise our kids because we don’t want any perverts out there seeing them as tasty dishes. I kind of dwelt on all these thoughts as an anxious father does.

My mind stepped back a few days to a car conversation with my wife. You know the types of conversations. Your partner says something, you’re in a car with them, and for some reason in this confined environment you decide that it is a good idea to call them a hypocrite.

Yes, ummmm, yes.

My wife was complaining that the High School that Rhiannon would be attending has far too short a uniform. “Knee-length” Nicole concluded, showing contempt for the improper (dare I say indiscrete) length at which they were now.

“Such hypocrisy”, I cry. “You wore bum-freezers at school!”

For the uninitiated, the term “bum-freezer” is real and it was the 1980s term for school skirts that left little to the imagination. You see, I’ve been with Nicole since she was 18 and I knew this for a fact (I even enjoyed it at the time).

So I let the thought of this recent “conversation” with my wife enter into the context of my current thoughts about Rhiannon and her development over the coming years.

And then a final event today. We visited friends (with a daughter Rhiannon’s age) and the wife told us that today their daughter found a print-out of a “naughty” cartoon that the wife had printed off for the husband. Before she (the wife) could snatch it away, the daughter had read it and smirked. The husband/father upon hearing this said “Good on her, she’s growing up.”

At first the response surprised me, but then I pondered it more. (Damn it, I really ponder a lot don’t I?)

Some hours later I sit here writing this for you guys. Over the intervening time I have been thinking about my own youth.

I was about a year younger than my daughter is now when my best friend showed me his dad’s collection of Playboy (the American issue it was back then). Already I had been noticing girls and was keen to get to know them better. This said, I was extremely shy and – let’s face it – totally scared of girls. When I was 13 I had a crush on one girl that was so mentally painful. I created a secret code roughly based on Mayan symbols that I used in my diary just so that I would write angst-filled comments about her. “I love her. She doesn’t even know that I am alive”. And so on and so on.

As my teenage years progressed I progressively found ways of admiring the female form. Some longer term readers of this blog may recall my story “Finding Teenage Greg” where I show some of my paintings from this period.

So do I really expect that my daughter will be any different as the years progress? Will she pine for some guy who does not deserve her? Will she be curious about boys? Will she do foolish things? Will she be like so many girls that you read about who send “sexts” to boyfriends and the pictures turn up online somewhere? (If this latter happens there may well be some hard kicking of young-man butt).

I guess whatever happens the important thing to remember is that I am her dad and I am here to support her and make things better, not to embarrass her or make things worse.

Yep – sorry – this is a very convoluted brain dump tonight.

So what does all this mean for me as an author?

It’s interesting because here I am writing one novel that is a coming of age story. 15 year old Pari is about to become 16 year old Pari. She is about to undertake her people’s rite of adulthood. She is experiencing a crush on an adult guy that will never love her back. She is experiencing jealousy and the ugliness associated with it.

At first I wanted to make Pari a pure character. In my head I associated pure with having no romantic or lustful thoughts. But how real is that? Not at all.

Is 15/16 too young? In Australia consensual sex is not legal till 16.

By suggesting at a 15 year old has such thoughts am I being perverted? This is a question that really disturbs me. Yet I know for a fact that all my school friends were lustful little blighters at that age.

As a father I don’t want to write anything that condones underage sex because I know that young people are not emotionally ready for everything that involves. But as an author I feel the need to acknowledge that the feelings are there. I won’t make my characters do anything wrong, but I will explore their emotions.

In the end I want my daughter (when she is a teenager) to be able to read anything that I write and know that it is honest.

Anyway, sorry for writing such a meandering brain dump. The thoughts were dwelling there since the dance competition and I needed to get them out of my head. :)

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading :)

Greg

PS: the featured image for today’s story is a photo of dad (me) and daughter (Rhiannon) from our local Doctor Who 50 year celebration a while back.

 

18 Comments


  1. An interesting exploration of ideas here, Greg. I can’t offer any advice, as I don’t know what I would do in the situation. But it is definitely a tricky one!
    Looking forward to reading about what conclusions you draw after more pondering!
    x alice


    1. I guess children grow up and we as adults must guide them :) Likewise the characters we write must be honest enough that readers can take something away – perhaps their own ponderings :) Thanks :) Greg :)


  2. If only all Daleks were like that on the inside! =)

    An average 15 y.o. female definitely has the thoughts. She may not really understand everything that stuff entails, but she’s curious. Even I was. And you know that I grew up to be asexual, so it’s sort of universal, I guess.
    After all, in most secular cultures, the very ideas of sex, romance and emotional intimacy are all mingled together. So, especially when you’re young, you can’t always know what you really want out of these three.


    1. LOL. She does make a cute Dalek :) You should have seen her driving the thing around. There were buttons inside that let her say typical Dalek expressions :)

      “Sex, romance and emotional intimacy” – a great phrase and your comment is so true. For me the last of the three was the great driver of my attraction to girls whereas sexual desire was more akin to a deep hunger. It’s not a very romantic way of describing myself as a teenager, but true enough. In plain English, I could and did lust after many girls, but only a very few was I truly attracted to and these offered companionship.

      Perhaps I am being too open about myself all those decades ago. LOL

      Thanks for commenting :)

      Greg


      1. ‘Exterrrrminate!!’ =D

        You’re welcome, and that’s okay that you’re open. If anything, it should help you as a writer. I’ve heard some writers use a phrase “soul striptease” as regards that…


        1. Given that my alias/nickname since 2000 has been SoulThief, the idea of a “soul striptease” is rather worrisome! LOL Jokes aside, yes I think that you are right – it can only help me as a writer. :)


          1. I have actually long meant to ask… why “SoulThief”? Does it just have a nice ring to it or is there some backstory?


          2. Hi, for some reason I cannot reply directly to you post, so I am replying to mine :)

            Way back in 2000 I was a big fan of author David Gemmell. He had an assassin character named Waylander who I really liked. At one point Waylander says that he is also known as Soul Stealer. At the time I was founding my own HalfLife Deathmatch clan and was ceasing to use either Greggar or ThinkICare??? as nicks as I wanted a new beginning. So I borrowed the concept and made it my own.


  3. RE: Growing up

    The dilemmas she’ll face will be different and probably ones that are hard to anticipate (sexting via snapchat or online bullying via ask.fm would have been crazy ideas five years ago) but I think the way to go is to remember your love and support for her won’t change.

    My aunt used to give me these friendly reminders by having chats with me after school. We didn’t talk every time (sometimes we just bought ice cream and ate it quietly) but she would turn the tables on me and ask for my opinion on things. It could be about two of her friends that were fighting, or the motivations of a tv show character, or the angles of a news article (September 11 gave us a lot to consider). It made me feel trusted and a little grown up – and it gave me a place to bring up anything that was worrying me, too.

    On the other hand, my aunt wasn’t interested in/comfortable with technology and found the internet too perplexing to discuss. I guess, with the online angle, you would know the benefits that can come from online forums and chat communities etc., but the hard and scary bit is navigating it as a young adult. I vividly remember a friend in Canada asking me to send photos of myself (they sent me one of another 13 year old, trying to persuade me they could be trusted). Also, reading confusing Google entries because someone said my online avatar looked like a ‘virginal wood elf’ and I had no idea what a virgin was (and they implied it was a bad thing). My advice would be to make it clear you’ll be willing to bat for her and do some of your own research if she ever comes across something puzzling or something that makes her feel pressured/unsafe.

    RE: Book romance

    It depends on the kind of attraction Pari has for this other character. Would it be a mentor kind of crush (attractive because they’re confident/knowledgeable/appear to be really in their element) or proximity crush (a build up of regular interactions that make her smile/feel comfortable) or a baseless lustful crush (can unexplainably make breathing sexy). The realism comes from adding dimensions to the crush. How obvious is it to other people? Does anyone else find this character attractive? Is Pari self-conscious about it? How much of a ‘distraction’ does it feel like – will she go out of her way to encounter/avoid him? Also – THE OLDER PERSON HAS FEELINGS, TOO. The bad ‘May-December’ relationships in books don’t explore as many angles (or make them painfully unrealistic).

    SERIOUSLY, with both things, I have every faith in you. I really enjoy reading your ‘brain dumps’ because you show honesty and compassion in your thoughts. Those are key qualities that will see you and your family through anything :)


    1. Hi Sharmaine :) Great to hear from you. Have you managed to read much of the book since you picked it up at the pool?

      I love the way you describe your aunt conversing with you and can imagine its efficacy. Rhiannon and I have a lot of deep and meaningful discussions – usually at bedtime after a story is read to her. So much of her current problems revolve around her inability to truly judge the motives of others. I must admit that I share that inability and that has got me in trouble. But as you say, maybe instead of telling her, I should seek to draw the answers from her. :)

      Re: Book Romance:

      At present I can only surmise the relationship that Pari and Warim had before this moment. I think that it is one of mentor and beloved student. I say “I think” because I have discovered in the other 150k words that I have written so far that characters tend to strive against the plans we have for them and can often break free. In my mind Warim is a man in the prime of his life (so not really December). He truly loves his bride, but he is also attracted to Pari albeit he recognises the impropriety of it. Does this make him a bastard? That’s something to explore. I would hate any bloke his age chasing after Rhiannon when she is about to turn 16 – so Pari’s father would feel the same. The bride-to-be obviously senses a problem. In the part of the book already written I have already mentioned a boy a year old than Pari who has a major crush on her. So I can really stir up something there. I think the goal will be to have Pari go out and face the world alone for her Tempting (rite of adulthood) in a very mixed up state and use the story to grow her. Maybe she will end up avoiding him – but maybe that is the right thing to do. Human emotions are fickle and uncomfortable at the best of times, so a great story perhaps :)

      As for him and his feelings, we’ll see :)

      Thankyou for commenting and I look forward to seeing her more now as we cannot chat in person anymore. :)

      Greg


      1. An aside thought: Wood elves. When you mentioned “virginal wood elf” it made me think that I cannot remember ever seeing elves sexualised in mythology or novels (maybe I have not read broadly enough). Yet their Mediterranean cousins, the Dryads, Hamadryades and other wood nymphs are very much sexualised. I wonder why the Germanic cultures versus the Mediterranean ones have chosen to portray them differently?


        1. Sorry for butting in, but I’m sorry to say that elves have been sexualised since the dawn of time. Those legends may not be in the spotlight, but they are out there. The wikipedia article is surprisingly good when it comes to all those early sources:
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elf
          And as for a glimpse into contemporary elves… this is an elven goddess from my favourite CRPG setting, The Elder Scrolls (the actual name of that world is Aurbis, but that’s something only the more dedicated lore maniacs seem to know =))
          http://plangkye.deviantart.com/art/Better-Almalexia-117176004
          It’s a mod, but it closely follows the ingame mesh and concept art. And if you read the seminal religious text of that culture, well… let’s just say it gets trippy. http://www.imperial-library.info/content/36-lessons-vivec
          And I’m not even talking about countless “second rate” fantasy games and books where a female Elf in a boobplate and high-heeled war boots is the main selling point.
          This is a tangentially related post, but it features the line “fantasy is a boys’ club”, which just about explains it all. And, well, you may find it interesting in some other ways:
          https://ladygeekgirl.wordpress.com/2014/11/29/sexualized-saturdays-on-the-tragic-shortage-of-queer-elves/

          I wouldn’t say either that elves have any sort of relationship to the dryads, save for the whole supernatural angle. Elves aren’t necessarily “woodland spirits”.


          1. LOL. Naturally you are correct. :) It was a thoughtless response by me. I was just thinking of a very narrow band of elf writings :)


        2. In case my previous comment got eaten; short version:
          Greg, you should check out the wikipedia article on elves. It should clear your misunderstanding.
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elf
          // as an Otherkin elf who has obviously read everything possible about my mythological kin, I testify the article is good //


    2. I must admit that you have given me another idea for another novel in the series, and maybe as you say I can write it from the older man’s perspective. It will be a different couple, however. I have plans for Pari. This said, I am driven to think of it as a tragedy, maybe with minor similarities to Dangerous Liaisons (1988).


    1. Thank you my friend :) Life just keeps on getting more complex :)


  4. Were you thinking of JRRT’s elves? His stuff is remarkably… innocent in that regard. =)

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