“I Ain’t Never Did This Before” A look at sexual development among boys.
“I ain’t never did this before no and I ain’t never did this before no..” repeats in my car; as my head bobs up and down to the beat, I can’t help but to return to my days as a teenage boy. As J.Cole’s song “Wet Dreamz,” from his Forest Hills Album, blasts through the airways, I find myself in a state of reflection about my own sexual experiences as a young man. I reflect back on prior conversations I’ve had with my father about sex, but remember that they were limited and simple. “Son, make sure you get as much as you can, and understand that if you can’t get one, there is another one that will give it to you,” sums up the discussions we would have about my sexual future. I believe that his message, though well intended, did not speak to the pressures I would experience as a growing adolescent; pressures I thought only went through. In listening to J. Cole’s song, “Wet Dreamz,” I was relieved; with this song, I was reminded that I am not the only one.
“She wrote a note saying ‘have you ever had sex before?’…Damn/I wrote back saying of course I had sex before (knowing I was frontin).”
Sexual curiosity is a part of adolescent growth, so it only makes sense for teenagers to develop sexual urges. What they don’t tell you is, that as a young boy, not only will you be expected to go on sexual conquests; you will be expected to be an expert on sex even if you are a virgin. In the song, Cole describes the progression of sexual interest between a young boy and a young girl. The young boy becomes intrigued by the young girl’s physique to the point of arousal and is expected to confidently pursue his sexual urges. As J.Cole notes, this young man’s mind is racing with various thoughts both sexual in nature and anxiety provoking: “I’m hoping that she won’t know that this is my first time/I’m hoping that my shit is big enough to fuck with.” Ignorance would allow us to think that these thoughts develop out of the blue, but they do not.
Constantly, young boys are taught that validation of gender comes from the use of their penis. In other words, if you are not having sex or pursuing opportunities for sex, you are not a man. When some are exposed by their peers for not being sexually experienced, they are often times referred to as “gay, pussy, a punk, a girl, etc.” Derogatory terms are used to coerce the young boy into expediting his first sexual experience, even if he is not emotional and mentally ready for it. If and when he obtains the pressured objective, he has now earned a seat at the table of manhood. Although the song ended with the character achieving his goal, it came from the deception of being an “expert” in sex, although he wasn’t. We tend to shy away from discussing how our young boys are achieving these sexual goals and instead celebrate the accomplishment in general.
“She said oh you a pro homie/well I want you to show me…”
I want to make it clear that sexual constructs for young boys are not solely implemented and enforced by other young boys and men. Women also play a part in the enforcement of sexual gender expectations of males. In Cole’s song he perfectly describes the expectations set forth by the young girl being pursued. In a way, a sense of arousal on the young girl’s part seems to be attributed to the idea that this young boy may possibly be a “pro” at sex. The take away for this young boy then becomes that giving the allure of being a “sexpert” allows him access to the actual act of it.
While reflecting on this beautifully written and produced song, I can’t help but consider what we are teaching our young boys about sex. Listening to Cole’s song this is what I came up with:
1. Young boys must be experts at sex, regardless of age.
2. If you are not sexually experienced, you must pretend to be or else you may be denied that opportunity.
3. If it is your first time, suppress your anxiety and make sure the other person is unaware of how scared you may be in this situation.
4. Your “sexual” success is contingent upon the size of your genitals.
5. Emotional connection is not important.
6. You’re the only one who goes through this emotional roller-coaster.
7. It is your responsibility to lead in sex.
Across the board, conversations with our young boys about sex tend to be singular in nature, which is the complete opposite for our young girls. When it comes to sexuality, our constructs restrict our boys’ experiences with sex. We create unrealistic standards which, in turn, leave some of them feeling inadequate. This creates a direct link between sex and their self-worth. Our boys begin to learn that their ability to be sexually promiscuous determines their self-value; not only will they value themselves more but their status will be elevated amongst their peers and others. With this set up, we create the possibility for sex to be a traumatic event for them.
How do we reeducate our young boys to have healthier sexual experiences, so that they turn into men who can truly associate sex with healthy emotional connection?
1. Really talk them about sex. Discuss with them their own anatomy, as well as that of their possible partner.
2. Have them understand that every key isn’t built to open every door. There will those they sexually gratify, and those they do not.
3. Talk to them about the importance of protection. Help them understand that protection is not just for their own safety, but for their partner’s safety as well.
4. Let them know that being nervous is NORMAL. They are not weak for being nervous, nor are they less of a male because of it.
5. Reassure them that they will not be an expert on sex…and that’s okay.
6. Tell them to value the person they are sharing that sexual experience with.
7. Emphasis the importance of listening to your sexual partner’s body, words, and emotional state.
8. Let them know that they are/were not the only ones who went through this emotional experience.
9. They don’t have to pretend.
10. Lastly, there is no rush for them to engage in sex.
Who would have thought a song could inspire such an important conversation.