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All the WayReview - All the Way
Sex for the First Time
by Kim Martyn
Sumach Press, 2004
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D.
May 16th 2006 (Volume 10, Issue 20)

This little book published in Canada is aimed at young people contemplating the start of their sexual lives.† It is nicely designed, with drawings and some diagrams, and it has a relaxed yet serious tone.† It includes some quotations from teenagers relating their experiences or questions concerning sex, and Kim Martyn provides information and advice in straightforward terms.† The eight chapters divide up the issues, starting with deciding whether to have sex, then moving on dealing with sexual harassment, assault and rape, how to make the first experience a good one, avoiding pregnancy and STDs, frequent questions about sex, and talking with parents and adults about sexuality.

Martyn does a good job of setting out the facts, avoiding a judgmental style, yet also setting out her opinions clearly.† She has been a sexual health educator for twenty years, so she has a good deal of experience in providing advice to young people, and her advice seems good.† For example, in making the decision whether to have sex, she suggests teenagers should be at least sixteen years old, girls should know risks of cervical cancer, the couple has done lots of making out already and has talked about sex and protection, guys should have practiced putting on a condom, they should feel very comfortable with each other, they don't have to be drunk to do it, and each person feels that it is really his or her choice.† Similarly, when discussing using protection, Martyn sets out all the main options with their pros and cons, and ranks them in terms of their risks of efficacy.† In her discussion of the "pulling out" method, she does not just rule out it, but she does point out that its effectiveness in real life is "crappy."† So without being heavy handed, she makes it clear that she would not recommend withdrawal as a method of contraception.

The book contains little discussion of gay, lesbian and bisexual issues, although much of the content would apply to any couple.† Some parents may find that the book is not judgmental enough, and would want a book that takes a stronger stand against sexual experimentation in younger teens.† Parents are in a difficult position these days, because pornography and misleading representations of sexuality are more freely available through the Internet now than they ever have been, and most adults remember how reluctant we were as teens to talk openly about sex with our parents.† With parents working long hours and many single-parent families, young people often have a great deal of freedom in how they spend their time.† So it may be helpful to give young teenagers this book to help them make wise decisions on their own.

 

 

© 2006 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

 

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island, and editor of Metapsychology Online Review.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.


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