Apparently, a teenage girl named Amber Cole was recorded performing oral sex on a teenage boy. Apparently, said teenage boy's friend recorded the event and posted it on the Internet. Apparently, this is a matter that has transcended the private and crossed over into the realm of public concern.
The Amber Cole episode is the latest manufactured moral panic and hysterical moment, a temporary stopping point while the Internet and mass media wait for the next missing white woman story.
The Amber Cole episode is also revealing of a culture where everyone is a victim and no one takes responsibility for their deeds. Amber Cole is not a death row inmate about to be executed for a crime she may not have committed. I am not Amber Cole. You are not Amber Cole. Amber Cole is not a tragic figure who symbolizes the lost generational possibilities of black youth and how black women are marginalized in American culture and society. Hip hop did not cause Amber Cole to have oral sex in a gym; nor did the rise of social media and the Internet cause the young auteur filmmaker to record his friend receiving oral sex. Boys will be boys; Boys should also be held accountable for their choices.
In all, Amber Cole is a story about a teenage girl, who like many teenagers, made a misguided choice to have sex with someone in a public place and was recorded while doing so.
Young people make poor choices--that is part of the luxury and curse of youth.
If we are to "scale-up" and generalize from teen sex to more troubling social ills, the most problematic aspect of the Amber Cole oral sex debacle is how her father, a supposedly responsible adult, makes excuses for his daughter and casts blame on every party--except himself--for her "adventurous" sexuality.
What type of home environment and parenting would produce a young girl who has sex in a public school gym? What did he teach his daughter about love and relationships? Did he have a real talk with Amber Cole about sex and her emerging sexuality? About the emotional, physical, and financial consequences of sexual intercourse?
Children often fail their parents. Parents often fail their children. In the case of Amber Cole, I suspect it may be more the latter than the former. The cliche is "that it takes a village to raise a child." As a a public service, I offer my version of the talk that Amber Cole's dad should have had with her about sex and relationships. There are likely millions of Amber Coles in this country today. Many of them do not have responsible male role models in their lives. The following is also an open letter to them.
As a teenager you are growing up very fast. At times you are going to feel like you are an adult, at other times you are going to very much feel like a child. Being 14 years old is an awkward age; in a perfect world you should have the protection of your family and elders while you figure out where your life is going in the future. You are also going to have the freedom to make some choices that could follow you forever. So let's be real. Your friends are either having sex, thinking about it all the time, doing some combination of the two, or lying and exaggerating about how much sex they are having.
I am not going to lie to you. Sex feels good. It feels really really good with the right person and when you are in the right frame of mind emotionally and physically. I am not going to lie to you. You can have sex without being in a relationship, you can have sex with yourself, and love and sex don't necessarily have anything to do with one another. I know that is an unconventional thing to say to a teenager, and pardon my stereotyping, perhaps especially so to a young girl, when society sells you a bill of goods about love, relationships, dating, and romance, and then compellingly packages those lies in bad movies and poorly written R&B songs.
Americans are fascinated with sex but are really immature about sexuality. Sex is all around you and you are going to feel a natural impulse to want to experiment. These yearnings and feelings are nothing new. Teenagers and young adults have been having sex without their parents' knowledge or approval for thousands and millions of years. In fact, I think most parents prefer not to know how the erotic awakening of their sons and daughters is proceeding.
The difference today is that you have far more opportunities to get into trouble with sex. The internet and social media are new inventions that create a false sense of intimacy between people (remember just cause you text someone or send them messages on Facebook does not make them your "friend" in real life), and for many communities there really isn't any shame at having sex with multiple people and getting pregnant out of wedlock. In fact, those poor choices, especially when they are made by women with few resources, are valorized as the actions of "strong women," when, in fact, they are bad choices that reveal anything but a strength of wisdom and commonsense.
You are going to have sex at some point. You are probably already having sex or doing "sexual" things already. That is okay. Of course, you need to play safe. At 14 or 15 or even 18 are you necessarily ready for the emotional, physical, and psychological consequences of sex? The answer is no. But I am also a practical person.
So, before you let someone put their penis inside of you, or other parts near you, in your mouth, or elsewhere, ask the following: Would I want to be connected to this person forever if I got pregnant? Do I know where his or her penis or vagina was last night? Would I be ashamed if my friends or family found out I was butt naked and carrying on with this guy or girl?
Those questions and moments of reflection can prevent a good many poor decisions on your part. Will you always do the right thing? Of course not.
I am an adult and have made many questionable choices. Some nights it felt good in the moment, and she was sexy and gorgeous in the right light and with a few drinks in me, and the next day I said "what the hell was I thinking!" The difference between an adult and a teenager is that I have the resources to clean up after myself and to fix any problems I may get into without going to the state welfare office or my mom and dad or other relatives.
You do not have that luxury. Consequently, you need to be much more careful with who you have sex with at such a young and vulnerable age. You also don't have the emotional maturity and life experience yet to figure out all that comes with having sex with someone. There are folks in their 30s and 40s (and even beyond) who still get all twisted up emotionally by someone who knows how to please them sexually. If grown folks confuse a great orgasm with love, imagine how vulnerable you are at such an early age in the game?
Amber, the following is something that your dad really should have told you. And if he did, you should have paid much closer attention to his words.
Young men and teenagers will say anything to have sex with you. They will promise you the world...the scary part is in that moment said Lothario probably means it because those words will get him one step closer to being inside of you.
If he tells you to have sex with him to "prove" that you love him or "he will leave you" that is a cue to get your things and go. Never let him "just put the tip in" or "try it raw for a few minutes." Trust me, once you get to that point he is not going to put a condom on. You will not want him to. He will not want to. So don't go there.
I don't want you to be afraid of boys and developing a relationship that will one day blossom into something substantial. In fact, one of the worst things that parents can do is to give their kids a guilt complex about their sexuality and create a sense of shame about what is a very natural and human desire. In the black community, I see this a good deal where heavy handed moralizing, hyper-religiosity, and a real fear that young girls will become teen moms, creates a culture where parents' prudery and fear actually encourages their daughters and sons to make poor decisions about sex. This baggage follows many of our young people into adulthood and they never develop a full and healthy attitude about their sexuality.
Amber please be smart. Do play safe and enjoy life. Finally Amber, always keep in mind that sex has little at all to do with love.