email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
269 Amazing Sex GamesA History of MarriageA Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth CenturyActionAll the WayAlways Forever MaybeAmerica UnzippedAmerica UnzippedAmerica's Sexual TransformationAmerican EugenicsAmerican GirlsAmerican HookupAn Interpretation of DesireAnarchism & SexualityAnatomy of a BoyfriendAnatomy of LoveAnthony GoicoleaAnticlimaxArt and HomosexualityArt/PornAssuming a BodyAutoportraitBachelors and BunniesBecoming OrgasmicBehind the Red DoorBest Sex Writing 2005Better Sex Through YogaBetter Sex Through YogaBetter Than EverBetween Mom and JoBeyond Diversity DayBeyond SexualityBeyond SpeechBeyond ToleranceBig Porn IncBill HensonBodies in DoubtBody ImagesBonkBoys Don't CryBreasts - A DocumentaryBrothelBuying SexCase Studies in Communication about SexCase Studies in Sexual DevianceCaught in the WebCelibaciesChildren and SexualityChildren and the Politics of SexualityChildren with Sexual Behavior ProblemsChildren, Sexuality and SexualizationChristy ReportClay's WayClinical Manual of Women's Mental HealthClose toYouClumsyCold HitCollege SexComing of Age in AmericaConfessions of the Other MotherCybersexCyborgasmDare... to Make Love with 2, 3, 4... or MoreDare... to Try BisexualityDating: Philosophy for EveryoneDeadly ButterflyDebating Same-Sex MarriageDeep GossipDeparting from DevianceDesire, Love, and IdentityDigital DiariesDilemmas of DesireDirty MindsDirty StoriesDisorders Of DesireDisorders of Sex Development:Doing ItDoing ItDoing It Down UnderDown and Dirty Sex SecretsDude, You're a FagEarly Embraces IIIEmerald City BluesEmotionally InvolvedEnjoying Guilty PleasuresErotic CapitalErotic InnocenceErotic PassionsEthics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about ChildrenEveryday PornographyEvolution and Human Sexual BehaviorExploring TranssexualismFade to BlackFagbugFaking ItFamilies Like MineFast GirlsFinal JeopardyFinding H. F.Fire on the Mountain DVDFor Lesbian ParentsFor The Bible Tells Me SoForbiddenFrictionFrom Disgust to HumanityFrom Shame to SinFuckologyGay, Straight, and the Reason WhyGender in the MirrorGender OutlawsGeography ClubGetting OffGetting RealGetting the Love You WantGirls & SexGirls Gone MildGirls Gone SkankGLBTQGoddess WorshipGoing DownGood GirlsGood PornGood Sex IllustratedGreat Answers to Difficult Questions About SexGuide To Getting It OnHandbook New Sexuality StudiesHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHard to GetHardcore from the HeartHear Us Out!HeterosyncraciesHit & MissHomosexualitiesHookedHooking UpHow Sex Became a Civil LibertyHow Sex ChangedHow Sex WorksHow To Be GayHow to Do Things with Pornography How to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Have Magnificent SexHow to Make Great Love to a ManHow to Make Great Love to a WomanHow to Make Love Like a Porn StarHow to Think More About SexHypnography for MenHypnography for WomenHysterical MenI'd Rather Eat ChocolateI'll Be Your MirrorIf Men Could TalkImpotenceIn a Queer VoiceIn Praise of the WhipIn the Mood, AgainInsatiable WivesIntense Games DVDInvestigating Young People's Sexual CulturesIt's Perfectly NormalIt's Perfectly NormalItís Your HourJane Sexes It UpJock SturgesJust Between UsKama-Sutra--The Secrets to the Art of LoveKids Gone WildLegalizing ProstitutionLegalizing ProstitutionLet's Get This StraightLets Talk about SexLetters to Penthouse Vol. 50Likely to DieLittle ChicagoLoose GirlLosing Matt ShepardLoveLove and DesireLove and SexLove JunkieLove Lust DesireLove SickLustMad for FoucaultMagical ThinkingMaking American BoysMaking Babies the Hard WayMaking Chastity SexyMaking Peace with PornMaking ScenesMale SexualityMalefemaleMaster BreastsMating in CaptivityMedicalized MasculinitiesMelancholia and MoralismMenMental Health Issues in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities MiddlesexMoney ShotMoral Panics, Sex PanicsMy Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me UpMy HeartbeatMy Horizontal LifeName All the AnimalsNatural BeautyNerveNerveNew Sex Now DVDNightswimmingNone of the AboveNormalNormalNot GayNot My ShameNot The Marrying KindNot Under My RoofNothing PinkOedipus WreckedOn Being RapedOne Hot SecondOne Hour in ParisOpenOrgasmOrgasm Inc.OrgasmologyOrgasmsOver 100 Truly Astonishing Sex TipsOverexposedPeekPeriod PiecesPervPhilosophizing About Sex Philosophy of Love, Sex, and MarriagePin-up GrrrlsPINSPlease Don't Kill the FreshmanPolicing SexualityPolyamory in the 21st CenturyPornPorn NationPorn StudiesPorn UniversityPornifiedPornlandPornographyPornographyPornography, Sex, and FeminismPosition Of The Day PlaybookPray the Gay AwayPredatorsPremarital Sex in AmericaPrinciples and Practice of Sex TherapyPrivate Dicks - Men ExposedPrivate Practices DVDProblem GirlsPrudePsychopathia SexualisQueer PhilosophyRapeRape Is RapeRated X - A Journey Through PornRazmatazRecruiting Young LoveRedefining GirlyRedefining RapeRegulating SexRelax, It's Just SexRethinking Gender and Sexuality in ChildhoodRethinking RapeRunning with ScissorsSatan's Sex BookScreening SexSelling Sex ShortSexSex & Single GirlsSex (Ed)Sex and SpiritSex and the American TeenagerSex and the SoulSex and the Soul, Updated EditionSex and WarSex at DawnSex by NumbersSex DetoxSex Fiends, Perverts, and PedophilesSex in CrisisSex ObjectSex OffendersSex on the BrainSex PositionsSex Q & ASex, Family, and the Culture WarsSex, or the UnbearableSex, Therapy, and KidsSex, Time and PowerSextasySexting and Young PeopleSexual ArtSexual Boundary ViolationsSexual DevianceSexual DisordersSexual EcstasySexual EthicsSexual FluiditySexual IntelligenceSexual Orientation and Psychodynamic PsychotherapySexual Orientation and School PolicySexual PleasureSexual PredatorsSexual Teens, Sexual MediaSexuality in AdolescenceSexuationSexyBookShameShamelessShy GirlSlutWalkSmall FavorsSmutSocial Control of Sex OffendersSome Assembly RequiredSplit ScreenStir-FryStraight to JesusStrange BedfellowsStripped BareSurviving Sexual ViolenceSymptoms of Being HumanTalkTalk to Me FirstTechniques of PleasureTestosterone RexThe Anthropology of SexThe BabiesThe Better Sex Guide to the Kama SutraThe Big Book of PornThe Birth of the PillThe Blue Moon Erotic Reader IIIThe BodyThe Breast BookThe Breath of Tantric LoveThe Busy Couple's Guide to Great SexThe Case of the Female OrgasmThe Chemistry Between UsThe Clitoral TruthThe Dangerous Art of Blending InThe Education of SophieThe Emergence of SexualityThe End Of AliceThe End of SexThe Erotic EdgeThe Erotic Lives of WomenThe Essential KamasutraThe Evolution of BeautyThe Fate of GenderThe First Man-Made ManThe First TimeThe Gay Baby BoomThe Good Vibrations Guide to SexThe Happy Hook-UpThe Hite ReportThe Humble Little CondomThe Illustrated Guide to Extended Massive OrgasmThe Illustrated Story of OThe Love CureThe Madness of WomenThe Men They Will BecomeThe Mirror of LoveThe Miseducation of Cameron PostThe Moral Panics of SexualityThe Naked Truth About SexThe Nature of Sexual DesireThe New Erotic PhotographyThe New Gay TeenagerThe Notebook GirlsThe Only Girl in the CarThe Order of the Poison OakThe Origins of SexThe Other HollywoodThe Other PlaceThe Other Side of DesireThe Perils of MasculinityThe Perversion of YouthThe PervertThe Philosophy of PornographyThe Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary ReadingsThe Pleasure's All MineThe Politics Of LustThe Porn TrapThe Pornographer's GriefThe Pornography IndustryThe Praeger Handbook of TranssexualityThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Purity MythThe Real Truth About Teens and SexThe Right to Be ParentsThe Secret Lives of GirlsThe Sex Addiction WorkbookThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Sex MythThe Shared HeartThe Sleep of ReasonThe Smart Girl's Guide to PornThe State of AffairsThe Story of SexThe SurrenderThe Ten Minute Sexual SolutionThe Tenth CircleThe Transformations of GwenThe Transformations of GwenThe Trauma MythThe Ultimate Guide to Sex and DisabilityThe Vagina MonologuesThe ValleyThe Violence of CareThe Virgin BlueThe Virginity ClubThings Tom LikesThinking KinkThinking XXXToo Hot to HandleTransTransTransgender Children and YouthUltimate JudgementUltimate SexUndoing GenderUnlikelyUntangling the WebUntrue VirginVirgin NationVirgin Sex for GirlsVirgin Sex for GuysVirginity LostWhat Does Consent Really Mean?What Women WantWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhat's Happening to Tom?What's Wrong with Homosexuality?When Jeff Comes HomeWhen Sex Goes to SchoolWhen the Piano StopsWhere Do We Fall When We Fall in Love?Who Has What?Who's Been Sleeping in Your HeadWilhelm ReichWired for IntimacyWomen and Child Sexual AbuseWomen and MadnessWritten in the FleshYou Know Me WellZen Sex
In Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens, and the Culture of Sex, Amy T. Schalet discusses American and Dutch parental attitudes concerning permitting or not permitting their adolescent children to have sleepovers with the opposite sex. When doing so, Schalet uncovers attitudes and beliefs about parent's views concerning adolescent sexuality, individualism and gender. What Schalet does so well is to tie in these beliefs with social, cultural, political and economic changes and trends in both nations, clarifying why American parents explain teenage sexuality through dramatization and Dutch parents through normalization.
Schalet argues that Dutch parents are more likely than their American counterparts to permit teenage sleepovers. To explain the reasons why, Schalet begins by discussing the notions of dramatization and normalization. American parents refer to teenage sexuality as a period of "raging hormones" where adolescents are likely to engage in activities without proper consideration of consequences, creating a battle between sexes, where parental control is needed to prevent sexual activity. American parents are also more likely to focus on the risks of teenage sexual activity, such as pregnancy, contracting STDs or HIV/AIDS. The majority of American parents believe that their children are ready for (and entitled to) sexual activity when they are financially independent and living on their own. In comparison, Dutch parents are more likely to focus on teenage sexuality as part of the household, emerging from relationships, where attachments, desire and readiness are important components. Dutch parents state that they compromise more with their children and that they worry less about pregnancy, STDs, HIV/AIDS and their children's readiness for sex.
So where do these views come from? Schalet describes the political, social and cultural climate in both nations, which lends itself to two types of individualism, adversarial, and interdependent. As much focus is placed on autonomy and independence (both emotional, physical and financial) in America there is tension between self and society, between being dependent on others and self-sufficient. Parents often disapprove of sleepovers due to the conflict that emotional and romantic attachments can entail. These attachments may hinder a child's future, may result in pregnancy and hamper the ability to be autonomous, go off to college and earn a living. Therefore, sexual activity is viewed as problematic, disrupting and even dangerous.
In contrast, Dutch parents state that they are emotionally closer to their children and able to discuss and compromise when it comes to their children's wants, needs and sexual experiences. Dutch parents, and Dutch teens both believe that love is an integral part of sexual relationships.
As Schalet describes American parents as more authoritarian and eager to win the big, important battles, the "softer" approach of Dutch parents, who focus on compromises and discussions, is deemed more effective in terms of curbing teen pregnancy, reduce the risk of contracting STDs, and minimize feelings of anxiety about sexual experiences. Although the Dutch approach lends itself to fewer conflicts and secretive behavior, no approach is "fool proof", and teens from both nations are likely to disregard parental authority and rules. "Breaking free" is however more important to American teens facing a stricter home environment, social environment and justice system.
The use of techniques that prohibits and controls teen sexuality by American parents makes sense as the nature of the economy results in rapid changes and sudden successes, and as the political system relies less on mutual accommodations. There is a sharp division between "winners" and "losers" as economic fortunes depend on a person's ability to secure work and be financially independent. Therefore, the notion that parents would like their children to abstain from sexual activity and emotional attachment, evident in parental reluctance to sleepovers during the teenage years, is a response to the nature of the American social, economic and financial climate. At the same time, religion, marriage and a strict justice system help provide a higher authority, shared morals and reconcile contradictory cultural imperatives, while also contributing to more conservative notions of teenage sexuality.
The Dutch society, on the other hand, depends on politics of accommodation, consultation and integration, which is evident in how parents relate to their adolescent children. The "needs of the group" is taken into account through accommodations of the welfare state (which pregnancy does not threaten), public policies, and the justice system, which leads to the Dutch society being more equal and less authoritarian among family members. Schalet also refers to the "moral revolution" taking place in Dutch society over the last few decades resulting in a more liberal and relaxed view of teenage sexuality.
When discussing the experiences of the adolescent interviewed, gender becomes a unifying factor in terms of acceptable behavior and beliefs about boys and girls. Even though American girls face more stigma in terms of the sexual double standard, Dutch girls also state that acceptance of sexual behavior depends on gender to a greater extent.
No matter what approach to managing teenage sexuality one might prefer or agree with, Dutch and American parents try to make sense of and integrate cultural norms and societal expectations in ways to help their children be successful. Both approaches therefore make sense in terms of how to raise children and manage teenage sexualities in these two nations. At the same time, Schalet acknowledges that the high rates of teen pregnancy, STDs and HIV/AIDS in America when compared to other industrial nations is a problem, and she also describes ways in which we could manage these issues in her ABC-and-D's framework designed for adolescent sexuality.
What I find intriguing about this book is the how well Schalet manages to describe and integrate factors (such as culture, the political climate, penal system, religion and personal beliefs) that affect sexuality in a way that describes each nation and makes sense of parental decisions. At the same time, Schalet acknowledges the fact that she focuses on white, middle-class, secular or Christian parents and children, which excludes the lower or working class, minorities, and their views. The same is true for sexual orientation, as all parents interviewed were in heterosexual relationships, and same-sex desire or sexual orientation was rarely discussed among the youth interviewed. The notion that there is a certain target group among those interviewed does not negate the findings of the book, but is important to mention.
The intended audience is parents and teenagers who can relate to struggles, worries and discussions concerning sexual activity and sexuality. However, one does not need to be a parent or adolescence to appreciate the book, or its international comparison, as the book is relevant and applicable in the classroom in sociology, gender studies, and human sexuality. As Schalet integrates interviews into the chapters it is easy to understand her claims. The addition of personal views from parents and teenagers also makes it easier to relate to her analysis and findings.
© 2012 Hennie Weiss
Hennie Weiss has a Master's degree in Sociology from California State University, Sacramento. Her academic interests include women's studies, gender, sexuality and feminism.