Adolescence is a different experience for each generation. In urban India, up until the 90’s/early 2000’s most teenagers were using MSN messenger or AOL to communicate with each other. That was the cutting edge medium of choice used to get in touch with friends after school. Dating was advertised as a distraction even in relatively liberal environments, and only a limited set of people could speak to their parents comfortably about dating.
One would assume that in 2018, just two years shy of a new decade, the way in which dating is advertised to adolescent has changed. Unfortunately for a lot of people, it has not.
In many parts of our country, young women and men are reminded throughout their adolescence that they must first prioritize education and that there is a right time in life for ‘everything else’.
Yet, when these same adolescents hit there twenties, one way or another the majority of them are married. There is nothing wrong with marriage, but there is also nothing wrong with dating. Yet, the attitudes towards the two are different.
There are a lot of people that may relate to or understand the following experience: a young person is told not to focus on anything but good grades in preparation for a good job. When that some young person is put into an arranged marriage, in no time they get asked, “ So when can we expect some good news?”
Why “good news” is only the announcement of a fetus is never explained, no one refers to a promotion or a new job as “good news”.
While there are liberal pockets, a majority of the nation thinks of the words ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’ as something improper or distracting. When young people get married without ever being in a relationship or having the option of dating, they are denied the opportunity to understand themselves. For a lot of people, this forms an unhealthy relationship with sex and creates a lack of self-awareness.
If we consider the national problems of overpopulation, rape culture and honour killing, it is easy to deduce that there is a major co-relation between these issues and the education provided to youth on sex and dating.
As the second largest population in the world, our biggest demon to fight is the epidemic of rape. Paedophilia and gang rape are the ugliest facets of our culture today. These issues are born out of a lack of sex education and an overall unhealthy understanding of sex. If we continue to advertise sex as a subset of marriage and a means to an end (the end being a good news fetus) then the patterns of overpopulation and rape will be difficult to address.
The birds, the bees, and the sleaze
Even though state and national authorities mandate sex education, the same hasn’t been put into motion in many schools. Most of the schools that do offer sex education tend to adopt a more biological approach to the topic rather than a social one. Parents and school authorities often tell their students to be all-rounders, a student should be able to play an hour of football, practice a musical instrument and ace a math test. Can they not do any or all of these things while also having a healthy personal life that is only natural for human minds and bodies?
Life does not follow a timeline and sometimes it takes trial and error to make the right decision. We tell students to apply to multiple colleges, take up multiple extracurricular activities- so why narrow and limit their outlook on dating? Like education and sports, dating is a part of adolescence that should be dealt with care and understanding.
The unfortunate reality is that school faculties have to educate children about rape before they can educate them about sex. Molestation and assault are so rampant in our schools that a student’s first introduction to sex is to recognize rape.
The consequences of assault are tremendous and damaging, lives are lost due to neglect.
Abolishing the archaic
Through many mediums, stereotypes are often reinforced in young minds. The ideas that women shouldn’t be promiscuous even if men are, and that all women want to be pursued and chased are just some of the many stereotypes passed on from one generation to the next.
All these antiquated thoughts are not just suffocating, but they also hinder the growth of young minds. Adolescents in particular need to be informed of ‘dating’ in a manner that highlights the need for mutual respect and equality. When young people are raised in environments that offer freedom and support, they are more likely to be happy and productive. Suppression only leads to confusion, frustration and in the long run, suppression leads to the problems that we as a country are combating today.