I'm on vacation this week but the "Savage Love Letter of the Day"—a.k.a. "SLLOTD"—must go on! Subbing for me this week...
Chris Savage is an industrial chemist by day and Michigan's most widely read progressive political blogger the rest of the time. His work covering Michigan's take over by corporatist Republicans has been featured on MSNBC, The Nation magazine, the New York Times Magazine and beyond. Rachel Maddow calls Chris's blog Eclectablog "The indispensable Michigan politics source—the essential Michigan blog". And get this: His last name is "Savage." That makes Chris the natural and obvious choice to take over the "SLLOTD" in my absence. In addition to his writing, Chris is a local organizer for the Michigan Democratic Party where work is already underway to return control of the state government to Democrats in 2014. He also coordinates a community garden that provides (literally) tons of fresh produce to a local food bank. Chris is married to photographer Anne C. Savage. They live on their suburban homestead just outside of Ann Arbor with their cat and pit bull where they tend a large organic garden. You can follow Chris on Twitter (@Eclectablog) and his Facebook page.
Chris will be answering your questions all week. This is his first crack at sex-and-relationship advice so… be gentle with him in the comments, okay? –Dan
Big fan of your column, and I've just started listening to your podcast.
My family is quite conservative, and when it came to the sex talks, my sister and I never had them. I learned everything on the internet. I didn't learn too much at school, since I went to a private Christian school for middle school and high school where the main message was 'wait until marriage'. Now the thing is, I have a younger brother, 14, who is in the same situation. I know that my parents aren't going to have a sex talk with him. My mother point blank said she didn't see the need. I think this is important information to know!
I'm 23 and I have a good relationship with my brother. I'd feel awkward having this conversation with him, but is there an age-appropriate book you could recommend that I could give to my brother? And would this be the right age to give it to him? At this point, he seems more interested in hanging out with his friends than anything related to sex.
Or is it better to just let him discover it like I did, through the internet?
P.S. Should I just have the talk with him?
My response after the jump...
SC, your sisterly concern is as admirable as it is, frankly, a bit naïve. Your brother is 14 so, by now, there's little he doesn't know about the act of sex. Between his pals and the internet, he probably knows more about sex now than your parents did when they were in their 30s.
But, there are some very serious aspects to sex that young boys (and girls) don't usually get on the internet. The first is how to protect themselves from sexually-transmitted diseases and how to prevent unwanted pregnancies. I won't recommend any specific book to help him with this. You're savvy enough to go online and find good recommendations from experts in the field if you need help.
There's one other part about sex you can help your brother with and that's how to be a caring, compassionate, respectful partner. The type of sex your brother is seeing online (and he IS seeing it online, make no mistake) is not a healthy start for a young boy. There's nothing wrong with porn for well-adjusted adults but it's no place for young people to learn how to treat others in a sexual relationship.
So, yeah, have "the talk" with him. A woman's perspective will be especially helpful. Give him a good foundation for having a healthy sex life and healthy relationships and then he'll be prepared for whatever sexual wild-and-craziness the internet throws at him.