thumbnail of CSAA Annual Conference: Sexual behavior and social ethics; 
     Reel 2 Morton L. Eisenberg continued and Prof. Donham "Social
    Pressures & Sexual Behavior"
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
That the changes in the direction of a more autonomous regulation of sexual behavior which sanctions premarital sexual intercourse. Within the confines of a serious and exclusive relationship in only a very small percentage of the women in the studies can their sexual behavior be typified as casual or promiscuous. It is highly probable that in these instances we are observing deviant development wherein pseudo sexuality is the expression of a serious emotional disturbance and represents an attempt and a failure to revive the to resolve the internal conflicts of adolescence. Observations from another source seem at first glance to substantiate an increasing disregard for established social mores. I am referring to the great increase in the number of out of wedlock pregnancies. Actually an increase of from 10 to 20 to per 1000 unmarried women over a 15 year period.
However these statistics are not so easy to interpret. It is clear that they do not represent a sudden crisis but a very gradual long term trend that could be traced back at least 30 years. The effect of more accurate or accurate reporting of Vital Statistics over this period is difficult to evaluate. Interestingly enough however the startling increase is in the age group from 20 to 30 years not in the teen age group. The proportion of teenage unmarried mothers may even be slightly lower than in earlier years percentage wise that is. Perhaps those who interpret these figures to indicate the breakdown of a previous of previous standards and restraints along with the diffusion of a fun morality are right. The evidence is not convincing. Undoubtedly the sociological and cultural changes that I have referred to must be taken into
account. From my own frame of reference as a consultant to social agencies working with these young women the internal psychological causes of out of wedlock pregnancy are striking. For some of them out of wedlock pregnancy represented a quasar solution to an insolvable internal conflict. For others it was an inevitable crisis on the path to adulthood. In conclusion then the establishment of a firmer sense of identity is dependent on the interaction of the various segments of the personality with each other and with the traditions opportunities and style of life that the adolescent meets in the world around him. The force of maturing sexuality itself is responsible for the dissolution of the ties to the parents. And the shaking up of the whole fabric of the personality configuration of childhood. It is a force that can be exploited for other more infantine needs. But above all it is a force that
pushes the adolescent out of childhood in more primitive cultures and more distant historical areas. Adolescence was curtailed under those conditions the childhood structure of the personality changed very little. The personal identity of the adult was more irrevocably tied to the childhood relationship with the parents and accordingly to the traditions values and standards of the past. The youth of our society have to weather a more prolonged period of uncertainty and turmoil than any generation that has preceded it. He must enter into a new kind of relationship with his peers where he must embark on a period of experimentation in which he tests his interest and capabilities his ideals and values and his emerging sexual identity gradually. He will organize into a cohesive whole. A stable sense of himself founded on his unique and very personal attributes. There are other prophets of doom
who warn of the disintegration of tradition and morality and who picture an unsolvable dilemma for the youth of our time. There are the optimists who anticipate that the weakening of the authoritative controls of the past. Will lead to an evolution of a sexual morality free from irrational fear and guilt based on independent judgment and reason and an understanding of adult responsibilities to oneself and to other human beings. Perhaps it is too soon to tell. I take my stand however with the optimists. Thank you. Thank you Dr. Eisenberg. You're very very thoughtful and profound as well as clear treatment of a subject formidable to be sure as you say. I'm sure
he justifies our confidence in your skill in doing so. Our second speaker this morning is Professor William Denham assistant director of the Center for Youth and Community Studies and associate professor in the School of Social Work at Howard University. We are indeed privileged to have him address us. On the subject of social pressures and sexual behavior. Professor Denham. Thank you Mr. Bucket. Ladies and gentlemen one assist society is stable and the conditions of life do not change from one generation to the next. Though it's sex then this may be galling. At least they are clear. Once a society is in flux. Then the emotions connected with the sex impulse. Itself are complicated by doubts as to what
forms of sexual expressions are proper and disturbing personal and social conflicts arise between practices and police sets the cost of living in such a time of flux today. This excerpt in a recent article by Dr Jerome Frank provides a pertinent starting point for my comment before this conference on the subject of social pressures and sexuality. When I was asked to speak on this topic I experienced the usual two stage reaction of the busy social worker. Initially I was pleased and intrigued over the possibility of saying something useful on a vital issue at an important meeting. This succeeded however by concern over just what exactly I could say about the linkage between social forces and sexuality which had not been said many times before I finally decided that while I might not be able to promise my audience a new or original look at the topic it might nevertheless be useful to place the social pressure aspect in the context of the special character of the social change era in which we in our
young people are trying to live. Every generation experiences its share of social cultural strain. How old. However only certain generations experience the kind of stress would shake the very fabric of society. We are in such a period. I intend therefore discuss briefly some of the main social change fact is discussed some of the consequences of sexual behavior and to suggest an alternative approach for improving communication between adults and youth. In their search for a more effective system of social ethics. I would like to discuss four aspects of social change which I believe are central importance in terms of the influence of sexual mores and behavior. First the quality and momentum of change. Secondly the rapid alteration of sexual mores and conduct in our youth. 3 The bureaucracy ization of the parental functions and for the impact of birth control technology.
Now it's the quality and momentum of change. Seldom in human history have the issues facing society been so survival of the entity and so urgently in need of rational solution to mention only a few of. The overhanging threat of nuclear war. Population Explosion was population explosion which now threatens to inundate the planet in the foreseeable future if not checked through means other than not traditionally cost to war. The erosion of our natural resources water land proliferating demands for educational and training resources to equip our youth with the tools to cope with let alone conquer computerize they get only dimly perceived and finally our cities grow beyond control in terms of bigness and human and physical decay. The collective impact of such problems often has the effect of undercutting the individual's ability to deal effectively with even one of these problems such as sexuality. Things seem to get
muddled up in a confused often desperate effort to survive or to push away the change implications of such realities. For example in relation to sex rather than recognize that the so called sexual revolution is a reversible. We continue in many ways to perpetuate police of a pretty contraceptive era in a contraceptive age. This is manifested in such ways as the continued acceptance of a double standard despite its modifications and the persistent often curative and judge mental attitudes to deviant sexual conduct. Parents and youths are caught up in this multiple impact syndrome. The average parent of teenagers has not only the youngsters sex life to worry about but is education the prospector to drive the sociability impaired group to mention only a few. The young student has to cope with identical pressures but because he hears directly and immediately involved he cannot do these problems at a distance
with the benefit of a perspective of. Self-interest and self-serving strategies are therefore developed by both groups with neither group able to grasp the realities of the other. This is particularly true of communication an issue to which I would turn later. Suffice it to say at this point however that the preoccupation of both adults and teenagers about the several social problems confronting them often tends to encourage the development of isolated systems of communication parents and and use often indulge in a process of talking at each other. Thus we have what has been termed by Dr. Frank as the tragedy of the tragedy of American sexuality namely the inability of generations to end and engage in honest dialogue with each other. No on the issue of the rapid alteration of sexual mores. Almost all in the CS and expert opinions on the subject of sex may vary there is a general consensus that sexual standards of behavior are rapidly changing.
As the excellent report by the group pretty advanced of the psychiatry in title Sex in the college student indicates. The young are now asserting that having the right to privacy and choice in their sexual affair is. A double standard that is becoming obsolete. Young people appear to be maturing biologically at an earlier age. The aforementioned report also points out that the average college student tends to go study is more articulate and sexual issues. Often Well I'm informed about current birth control methods although they gross mis an information. A misunderstanding does persist for many. Not to mention that familiarity with the abundance of the joy and sex. Continuing increasing intense campus dialogues suggests that students are simultaneously testing authority and looking for direction and functionally equivalent for sexual standards. Previous previously applicable to other areas but
no longer thought to be sufficient for the present reality. What is our response to all this as adults. Unfortunately all too often it has been one of a big ambivalence pattern ization. The do as I say not as I do past yesterday's Victorian code and it's still perceived by young people. On some insist as we tend to take the typical stance prevalent psychologically conscious of young persons to adjust or to control his impulses. One wonders whether such a response no matter how well intentioned may not be interpreted as frightened. Recently written in an unusually insightful article in The New York Times as one of quote the poit used by society to disarm the troublemakers among its youth. A powerfully institutionalized offense against recognising young people might have something valid and realistic to complain about that we can no longer escape from even when we want to end of quote. How long will we be
a will we persist in defining misery and discontent in our young people as primarily primarily problems in adjustment. Is this in many instances not a gambit to design the agitators. Have we so institutionalized the rationale of adjustment that we are having a difficult time understanding what our young people are trying to say to us. Now to the dimension of the bureaucracy zation the parental functions parents are no longer the exclusive source of wisdom and guidance for the young. The role of extra familial organizations such as the charter school in supplementing or reinforcing the parental role in the socialization process has been part of our culture for generations. In more recent years various types of social welfare agencies such as family and child welfare organizations mental health clinics etc. have assumed other important functions previously regarded as being within the parental bailiwick. As a consequence parental function is like so many other aspects of modern life
have become highly organized perhaps often organized. There is no question as to the values of an organized service which is claim and function available at the time of need and personalizing this response. However as the men for services has increased in volume and complexity services have been become increasingly complex and specialized. Today we find at the human services field is often as cumbersome and complex in structure purpose and program as the industrial sector. While this may be a reality in our present system it nevertheless poses a fundamental dilemma for such an for personal answers to sexual and other problems. A number of questions come to mind at this point. First. Does the complexity of our social system the many. Who need a truly personalized parental touch from using them to. Do social agencies tend to promise more than they can really deliver. As for example in the kind and extent of
personalization sought by youth today. And three our parents in many instances expecting too much of social agencies and in the process further reducing their own roles both quantitatively and qualitatively. And any of these questions would appear to call for such an reassessment of the part of social agencies and adult clients with respect to the mutual responsibilities to you. Now on the issue of the impact of birth control. But Will technology. Sexual mores and conduct are increasingly coming under the SEC the impact of rapid social rapid scientific change which characterizes so many other spheres of modern life. This is of course most dramatically manifested in the development of artificial birth control techniques. Authorities tell us to expect a completely effective form of contraception within the next decade. Like so many other scientific advances the
principle question is whether this one will prove beneficial or detrimental to society. More specifically Well the pill and other devices increase promiscuity and other forms of deviant emotionally behavior. Certainly we can anticipate that for some young people greater freedom to indulge in sexual intercourse may have negative consequences on the personality. For the large majority of young people however development of contraceptive techniques can provide an opportunity for healthy sexual freedom depending primarily on the capacity of the largest society to make realistic adaptations. Specifically this will depend on the extent to which the adult is able to relinquish the elaborate system of myth mystery and emotionalism which is to provide its response to sex over the centuries. This will mean the sex will have to be placed within the general context of the whole style of life. To use a term coined by Alfred Adler many years ago. The special role that sex has played in
our relationships may need may need to be downgraded and realign with other equally if not more vital components of life such as companionship communication and the ability to be concerned not only with ourselves but with others. Thus far this paper has focused primarily on the impact of social forces on the sexual behavior of a dominant American middle class society. The picture however will be incomplete. Without sketching briefly the impact of from social pressures on the sexuality of our largest minority the negro particularly the pride an impoverished Negro youth in the first place. It is import The recognise that despite the promising beginnings of the anti-poverty program and a remarkable surprise economic and social equality made by Negroes in most instances middle class negroes the masses still constitute a subculture on the class. Mores and behavior this group is radically different from white
middle class. This is true in sex. As well as in other areas of life. As many writers have pointed out the Negro has been denied access entry routes into the wider society. Consequently he has played a relatively minor role in influencing directly the norms and values of the culture. His response to the social forces referred to elsewhere in this paper have tended to be essentially reactive rather than active. His reactions however are characterized by daily grinding struggle to survive in a hostile environment. Life is this concretize and prime values attached to those things which are available and visceral. It is in this context that legal sexuality must be viewed. Such novelist as Baldwin and Brown have depicted this most vividly. It is fashionable to cite statistics which indicate that the Negro is overrepresented in various official indices of social pathology. However these figures do not show
us the meeting which lies behind these facts. They do not show us that many poor negroes attach a primary value to sexual gratification simply because they don't have any or sufficient alternatives for making it in a larger society outside. They do not explain the cavalier attitude of many impoverished negro boys to the use of contraceptives nor their promiscuity in relationships. They do not reveal the real reasons why an unwed mother. Possibly a product of an out of wedlock relationship is not interested in making even a minimal attempt to find a putative father. They do not explain the basis of a young mother's fatalistic attitude towards the disappearance of a husband. The themes running through such examples can and most often aren't up it is reflecting individual pathology. More to the point however is that such schemes also reflect the appalling socio cultural and economic heritage of the negro. The 200 years of slavery followed by NOT a century of second class citizenship which is systematically denied
him equal social status and the opportunity to obtain this. It may be important to understand the clinician who tells us that the basis of negro male sexuality rests on of unconscious need to impregnate in order to prove his masculinity. Ultimately however we must recognize that the negro man will never be a man either in his own eyes or in others eyes until he can find real masculine equivalence. Such as a study inadequately paying job a sense of personal dignity and social power. Similarly Negro girls will continue to act out their relationships with boys that denigration of the negro male until the Negro men achieve comparable status in a wider society without the men. What I'm saying is that problems of lower class negro sexuality cannot be dealt with exclusively in terms of social interventions. Basing a white middle class morality. Psychologically and politically oriented methods would seek to deal with such problems will need to be combined in a total package of
socio economic therapy get the opening not opening up not only the psychic but the economic systems as well. Let me now turn for a moment to the question of birth control as it pertains to the poor. As I stated earlier authorities maintain that simple contraceptive methods will be perfected shortly and made available for large scale use. We can anticipate red dot action that is continuing from various sectors. However public with spectrums are likely to decrease. The present climate of public opinion therefore. Present social and health agencies with special opportunities to develop programs a sex education for the poor. I would venture to guess that such programs would go a long way toward reducing the negative attitude shared by many poor people about the response of this of social agencies to the needs. Here would be a tentacle example of the reaching out concept. The importance a well-designed program should not be underestimated. Such services should be
available to individuals families and teenagers on the basis of choice. There was a miracle evidence that the poor can be trained to make effective use of birth control information with substantial positive side effects improve family functioning and reduction of unwanted pregnancies. A recent demonstration conducted a Harlem hospital involving a lower class group of Negro mothers impressively showed a short group counseling strategies under professional leadership could enable quote low income mothers to control their fertility and function more effectively when exposed to a carefully planned professional intervention. Yet to their value systems and styles of life. And the quote. I would suggest that we might extend this kind of experimentation to include the training a representative from the poor for rolls a sex educational counseling AIDS. Under the supervision of skilled professionals. In fact it would seem to be considerable validity for developing into intra cultural approaches on this highly charged subject of
sex. Throughout the country evidence as being a mess that indicates that the indigenous professional or power professional can be quite effective in reaching a lower class. In this connection I had reference to the new training project conducted by the Center for the stage at Howard University which is concerned with the training of indigenous technicians for utilization of health and welfare agencies. I'm also talking about the work at Lincoln Hospital which involves the training of the poor for roles as mental health aides. If there's been a dominant theme implicit in my comments up to this point has been concern with the communications gap which exist between youth and adults on the issue of sex as well as another many many other vital areas of life. Social scientists this generation is God. I would advance two propositions concerning the implications of this great divide. One is that our ability to develop a rational healthy outlook on sex. Will be significantly
influenced by the extent to which we can bridge this gulf. Secondly that success in bridging this gap may be contingent on the extent to which the status differential between adults and US can be reduced. Or put more bluntly on the extent to which youth can participate as rational as equals influence in the influencing the development of more rational standards on issues such as sex with which they have a mute as much of a mutual concern as adults. In these last few moments I would like to share with you my thoughts on these two propositions. It is possible to conceive of at least two forms a structured group interaction in which young adults in which youth and adults are not communicating with each other. First there are the policy oriented types of group exchange such as forums conferences workshops accept. Which provide opportunity for public dialogue directed towards influencing change in community attitudes and standards on issues such as sexuality.
Secondly they are the more individually oriented varieties of group interaction in which the primary purpose and purpose is to meet the educational and or social needs of individual members. Included here would be parent education and discussion groups. Teenage councils and organized forms of social or recreational activities. Excluded from these categories are the therapeutic types of groups with the primary goal is to resolve an individual's insight into psychic problems. Also excluded would be the primary type of structured small group such as a family. It's not always recognize that one of the major properties of these groups is the exclusiveness of membership. Most often they are composed of youth or adults seldom and adults. Interaction is really into group. The focus is primarily adult centered or youth centered seldom adult centered issues dealt with however such as sexuality frequently of equal concern to both.
Is essential to mention one additional characteristic which is common to the groups. Namely that in many instances there are genders and interactions are likely to be significantly controlled supervised by the adult rather than the youth themselves. This division between youth and adults and Group Life is especially pertinent to the issue of sexuality. It supports the contention that historically formal sex standards and practices have been defined and promulgated by the adult world. Youth have been the outsiders the recipients rather the participants in setting the standards. The rationale for the state of affairs has been based on the traditional view of youth as immature and Bevell in terms of approaching adult responsibilities or overwhelmed by was surges of their sexual drives and feelings. Less often acknowledged as a key variable however is a hidden agenda right and which concerns the issue of power.
The need of adults to maintain their control over young irrespective of their level of maturity or the nature of the responsibility which they're expected to assume. Thus the power balance between adults and you seems to be institutionally tilted sharply in the favor of the in favor of the adult. In this connection there may be a correlation between the lack of a sense of social power and particular precipitous sexual behavior. To the extent that the latter may represent an attempt to obtain a sense of importance and status denied him in non-sexual relationships. Unfortunately some of our most progressive organizations. Those who are committed to the equal rights for young people tend to exclude them inadvertently from participation in issues in which they are key actors. For example should we not have had some young people participating in this conference. It might have been exceedingly enlightening for example if we could have heard the you side of this subject. We think we know how we see
this problem. We think we know how we see this problem. How do they see the effect of social forces on their sexual mores and behavior. Isn't this more the crucial question before us. It is time to begin to devise and test new ways for adopting our group methods for bridging these gaps. One strategy might be for agencies which are committed to improving or changing community standards governing youth conduct to find ways of involving youth in such efforts. The actual participation of youth with adults in various meetings and other forms of public dialogue may prove to be equally or more important than a change in values that might evolve. Another strategy might be focus in those groups where the purpose is educational. This would involve experimentation which with mixed groups of adults and youth. Such groups could be convened around common problems of personal concern. On the sexual aspect a wide range of issues might be considered such as the going study dating pattern
premarital intercourse early marriage early marriage contraceptive practices abortion homosexuality.
Please note: This content is only available at GBH and the Library of Congress, either due to copyright restrictions or because this content has not yet been reviewed for copyright or privacy issues. For information about on location research, click here.
CSAA Annual Conference: Sexual behavior and social ethics
Reel 2 Morton L. Eisenberg continued and Prof. Donham "Social Pressures & Sexual Behavior"
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-sx648w9r).
No description available
Media type
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 4878 (University of Maryland)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:00?
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “CSAA Annual Conference: Sexual behavior and social ethics; Reel 2 Morton L. Eisenberg continued and Prof. Donham "Social Pressures & Sexual Behavior" ,” 1966-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 22, 2024,
MLA: “CSAA Annual Conference: Sexual behavior and social ethics; Reel 2 Morton L. Eisenberg continued and Prof. Donham "Social Pressures & Sexual Behavior" .” 1966-00-00. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 22, 2024. <>.
APA: CSAA Annual Conference: Sexual behavior and social ethics; Reel 2 Morton L. Eisenberg continued and Prof. Donham "Social Pressures & Sexual Behavior" . Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from