(About a 5 minute read)
One of my insufferable peeves as a cranky old man is that so many of us cranky old men enjoy meddling in much younger women’s sexualities. Mostly, it takes the form of deciding for much younger women what their proper manner of dress should be. At least here in Colorado Springs, when you hear someone tut-tutting about a young woman’s manner of dress, it’s usually a cranky old man.
I see that as meddling in a young woman’s sexuality because, of course, the comments are almost never about whether the woman’s outfit is creative, artistically tasteful, expresses her personality, or makes some other kind of statement — no, the comments are usually along the lines of her outfit is too sexually revealing in one way or another.
I myself am not the most astute or wisest cranky old man on the planet, but I did manage to learn a long time ago that young women typically put a whole lot more thought into their clothing, and into what they wish to accomplish with their choices, than I do. So I tend to defer to their judgment
except in the case of Teresum’s judgment — I mean, really? Lime green striped mini-skirts with knee high paisley socks and florescent yellow plastic tops? What’s she trying to do? Scare to death Australia’s salt water crocodiles? and besides, if a young woman chooses to dress pretty, or even sexy, I figure she deserves to be honored with a silver medal for doing a public service by making life more interesting.
Of course, not every cranky old man thinks as I do, and — recently — I came across a new source of grievance for at least a few cranky old men.
Yes, just when I thought there was already enough meddling by cranky old men in young women’s sexualities, I discovered there happens to be a new way for us to meddle.
Period parties are parties given to young women in celebration of their first period. A couple days ago, The New York Post published an article on them in which it described the parties as becoming “increasingly common”:
Period parties focus on educating young girls about menstruation and teaching them the lessons they may not receive in sex education classes at school.
It’s intended to be an open space, where girls can discuss starting their period, ask questions and debunk any myths they may have heard from friends (like the age-old “can you get pregnant while on your period?”)
It’s not just about education, though.
Many young girls often feel apprehensive about starting their period. For parents, period parties are about making the occasion something to celebrate, rather than fear.
Now, if you’re wondering what period parties have to do with cranky old men, you’re not alone. I was wondering the very same thing when — you guessed it — a cranky old man (almost my own age) remarked, “What’s next? Parties for a boy’s first nocturnal emission?” And he wasn’t really joking. He thought the idea was ridiculous.
He also thought he himself was a fair judge of what they should (or should not) mean to young women, and defended his view that the parties were ridiculous and on a level with celebrating nocturnal emissions. Another cranky old man, same age as me, chipped in, “Ok, my head just imploded”.
Such wit! The retirement homes will no doubt soon be bidding to draft either or both of them. But more to the point, I simply don’t understand why it’s any of their business?
In my admittedly obnoxious opinion, cranky old men like me need to get completely out of the business of telling young women how to handle their sexuality — unless, perhaps, we have some genuine insight that might be of actual help to them. But how often is that? “That shade of red lipstick doesn’t favor your complexion, my dear. Let me get my magic markers and I’ll fix it for you!”
Ok. Maybe even cranky old men have more genuinely wise advice to offer young women (and others) than I’m letting on here. You don’t need to be a perfect sage to advise a young person who is determined to “terminate her virginity with extreme prejudice” (as a 17 year old friend once phrased it) in order to advise her to use birth control. And you only have to be marginally sensitive to the issues a young woman faces in order to encourage her to set and maintain her own boundaries in a relationship.
But let’s get real. What do most of us cranky old men really know about how young women feel about themselves as they go through the changes brought on by puberty? Even those of us who have listened to a lot of young women on that and similar subjects are unlikely to grasp what a first period might mean to someone. Should we be so quick to ridicule period parties, then?
In my opinion, American culture is far too oriented towards youth. But I wonder how much of that is brought about in part because cranky old men like me typically don’t spend a whole lot of time, nor make that much of an effort, to listen to kids these days — before we pronounce judgment on them. Which assumes that pronouncing judgment is even necessary most of the time. The ages have become segregated, and I do not believe that is a good thing.
There is so much cranky old men (and cranky old women too!) — if they have any wisdom at all — could provide young people that would be of genuine help to them, that I just can’t see judging and condemning things like period parties as anything other than a waste.