When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

CLARIN

Adolescent Love Evolves: From Yearning To Exploration

For many teenagers today, the rules and taboos of love have disappeared. They see it as territory for sexual — and bisexual — discoveries, not a quest for a partner.

A sticker on the back of a marcher's jeans reads 'live under your own rules' and he carries a condom in his back pocket during the 17th annual gay, lesbian, transsexual and bisexual pride festival and march in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, Argentina
A sticker on the back of a marcher's jeans reads 'live under your own rules' and he carries a condom in his back pocket during the 17th annual gay, lesbian, transsexual and bisexual pride festival and march in the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires, Argentina
María Florencia Pérez

BUENOS AIRES — Spontaneous, open and diverse: This is how today's teenagers could describe their sexual relations. Their grandparents' unending, chaste courtships seem implausible, while their parents' "boy-meets-girl" format is just an option. They reject gender stereotypes, defend the right to follow their desires and freely experiment with intimate relationships outside the heterosexual norm. Spontaneity prevails over forced commitments.

Fifteen-year-old Jean Paul Rimbaud uses inclusive language and is perfectly at ease with gender theory jargon. He has no qualms donning a skirt or wearing makeup, even if adults around him react in "aggressive" or "inappropriate" ways. This secondary-school pupil realizes there is an abyss between the adolescence that his parents lived almost four decades ago and his present experience, in which he can openly declare himself bisexual. It is "another world today. Their ideas were set in stone. They didn't question many issues that now are no longer taken for granted."

Jean Paul's awareness about his sexuality began at his secondary school. It was a private school, he says, "which did not give me the tools to see life from a different perspective. Sex-ed classes were limited to teaching boys to put on a condom and taking girls to the other room to talk about menstruation. In that context, it was difficult for me to think my feelings for someone of the same sex were alright." This changed when he switched to a public school with participatory sessions, which helped him change his views: "I can feel attracted by a woman, a male or a non-binary person, and you're not heterosexual just for being a boy. Sexuality changes and is built over time."

Mara, 15, says she began to like her girl friend at the age of 12, but found it difficult within her "closed surroundings' to consider that normal. "Later, I realized I do not like boys... last year I changed school and found that my new classmates were much more open about the issue. I reckon that at least 20% of our class identifies itself as bisexual, including people I would never have guessed might be interested in someone of the same sex."

A growing number of teenagers identify themselves as bisexual.

There are a growing number of teenagers identifying themselves as bisexual in public, private, secular and religious schools. Such changes may be in part due to the current feminist discourse, which says gender is not biological but a socio-cultural construction. Joaquín Linne, an academic at the public research body Conicet, says Women's Day and Gay Pride marches, "among others have contributed to creating greater awareness and connections among diverse groups, with an exchange of information, advice and strategies." Moreover, as a result of a 2006 law that makes sexual education compulsory in schools, such topics are being discussed more widely.

But psychoanalyst and author Luciano Lutereau believes that teenage bisexuality is no novelty. "Homoeroticism was treated in other ways in the past, for example through relations with "best friends'," which he says included physical sex of differing intensity. Today's sexual stance among teenagers should not be considered "conclusive," he says.

Men kissing at the annual Gay Pride parade in Buenos Aires, Argentina Photo: Gay Travel 4u via Twitter

Till A Moment Do Us Part...

Most teenagers are questioning ideas of permanent or "eternal" love, exclusivity or the dramatic "first love" at school. Many prefer multiple and simultaneous experiences, not one that implies loss of personal freedom. Last year, 14-year-old Daiana Ormachea began going out with a girl from her religious school in the Almagro district of Buenos Aires. "She came home and even met my parents. But we just went out for two months as there were problems almost immediately," she says. Infidelity appeared to be the cause. "It's so difficult to find someone who wants a serious relationship, and it doesn't matter if they identify as hetero, homo or bisexual," she says. "Everyone wants to have fun, go out and in one night make out with various girls and boys."

There is jealousy, competition, calls for attention and exclusivity or the need or desire to create a couple.

Open, fleeting relationships appear to be models that transcend sexual identity — as do tensions. "There is jealousy, competition, calls for attention and exclusivity or the need or desire to create a couple," says Linne, from Conicet. What one can observe in many youngsters, he says, is "this ambivalence between the traditional vision of enduring, romantic love (the love of their parents and grandparents) and the post-modern vision of "liquid" relations, untied to any contract, label or commitment, since these are associated with losing personal autonomy or freedom."

Parents are always concerned by their children's first sexual or intimate encounters. Jean Paul says he had to sit down with his parents to explain several things to them. "Now they know how to name me for example, because adults are quite basic when it comes to talking. Some even ask the most condescending questions like, "so what are you?". So you have to help them to learn. Dialogue is very important because they grew up in a culture that was very different to ours."

Lara also believes adults have "misconceptions." She began talking to her family members about her experiences last year, after seeing the soap opera 100 Days to Fall in Love, which showed a transgender teenager's transition in a surprisingly understanding family. Mass media, including social networks, have undoubtedly brought the broad public closer to non-hegemonic gender themes.

But this broadening of personal problems into the public sphere has also undermined the authority of parents, and their ability to help, says psychoanalyst Lutereau. "Accompanying a young person means recovering the transformative and creative dimension of adolescence, without judging it, letting us change ourselves as parents," he says. "That is if we can give up being parents of a child, and we can accept being the parents of a child who is no longer a child."

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Geopolitics

What Lula Needs Now To Win: Move To The Center And Mea Culpa

Despite the leftist candidate's first-place finish, the voter mood in Brazil's presidential campaign is clearly conservative. So Lula will have to move clearly to the political center to vanquish the divisive but still popular Jair Bolsonaro. He also needs to send a message of contrition to skeptical voters about past mistakes.

Brazilian votes show a polarized national opinion with two clear winners: former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and sitting president Jair Bolsonaro

Marcelo Cantelmi

-Analysis-

The first round of Brazil's presidential elections closed with two winners, a novelty but not necessarily a political surprise.

Leftist candidate and former president, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, was clearly the winner. His victory came on the back of the successes of his two previous administrations (2003-2011), kept alive today by the harsh reality that large swathes of Brazilians see no real future for themselves.

Lula, the head of the Workers Party or PT, also moved a tad toward the political Center in a bid to seduce middle-class voters, with some success. Another factor in his first-round success was a decisive vote cast against the current government, though this was less considerable than anticipated.

The other big winner of the day was the sitting president, Jair Bolsonaro. For many voters, his defects turn out to be virtues. They were little concerned by his bombastic declarations, his authoritarian bent, contempt for modernity, his retrograde views on gender and his painful management of the pandemic. They do not believe in Lula, and envisage no other alternative.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ