Let's cut to the chase: This book is about a realistically intense relationship between Kath and Michael, two teenagers in the 1970s. They meet, fall in love with a speed only teens are capable of, he wants to sleep with her, she is reluctant, eventually they do it, they are both into it, she (responsibly) gets birth control.And nothing tragic happens to them even though they have sex. And they are not 'destined for each other' or 'soulmates' or any of those crap excuses that books present now every time teens decide to have sex. And even more, their relationship does not survive a brief separation. And it's treated as something perfectly normal. And this is why I love it.¹ As one would expect from a young feminist gynecologist, of course.
And guess what - there are many conversations about sex with the blissful conviction of that time that sexual repression and double standards and the battles over birth control and abortion are finally over and common sense prevails. Now fast-forward to the 21st century to see what unnecessary and charged emotions are still flung about when these simple things are concerned - it's like we took quite a few gigantic steps backwards, and that makes me really sad. Because it's not the world I'd like to leave behind for my future hypothetical daughter."This book was first published in 1975. My daughter Randy asked for a story about two nice kids who have sex without either of them having to die. She had read several novels about teenagers in love. If they had sex the girl was always punished—an unplanned pregnancy, a hasty trip to a relative in another state, a grisly abortion (illegal in the U.S. until the 1970's), sometimes even death. Lies. Secrets. At least one life ruined. Girls in these books had no sexual feelings and boys had no feelings other than sexual. Neither took responsibility for their actions. I wanted to present another kind of story—one in which two seniors in high school fall in love, decide together to have sex, and act responsibly."
The parents and grandparents discuss sex with the teens and make it clear that they'd rather have them do it under their roof than somewhere else in the unsafe fashion. Parents advise kids about sex but do not cross the boundaries in explicitly forbidding anything. Birth control is accessible and is viewed as a resposible choice, and Planned Parenthood helps Katherine make that choice (you know, the same clinics that cause politicians' rage-fueled speeches about them 'killin' babies' - and yet, from what I have seen in real world, supplying endless women with excellent prenatal care, helping bring healthy happy babies into this word. How 'bout that?)."It's up to you to decide what's right and what's wrong ... I'm not going to tell you to go ahead but I'm not going to forbid it either. It's too late for any of that. I expect you to handle it with a sense of responsibility though ... either way."
We as a society keep putting sex on an unnecessary pedestal. We keep shaming girls for having sex. We have political leaders who are outraged at having society cover the cost of birth control as to them it means condoning women having sex and - God forbid! - enjoying it. There are so many people warring against birth control and abortion because there should be 'consequences' to daring to have sex! And, of course, in literature aimed at young people sex is only permitted if it's true love, nothing less.
"Just be careful ... that's my only advice."
"And venereal disease."
"Really ... "
"Does it embarrass you to talk about it?"
"No, but ... "
And that it's perfectly okay to not find your soulmate and the 'perfect one' in the 'Twilight'-like fashion, and it's nothing to frown upon. And it's okay to have sex when you are in love, and it's okay to not have that love last forever."That's not a bad word ... hate and war are bad words but fuck isn't."
"I wanted to tell him that I will never be sorry for loving him. That in a way I still do--that maybe I always will. I'll never regret one single thing we did together because what we had was very special. Maybe if we were ten years older it would have worked out differently. Maybe. I think it's just that I'm not ready for forever."