People, especially women and girls, are often told to respect their bodies and themselves by rejecting pressure to have sex when they do not want to. Saying "no" is associated with good self-esteem and sexual health. However, other messages in society, especially messages aimed at men and boys, encourage sexual activity. In certain groups, peer respect is gained by the number of sexual "conquests" you claim. When there is a double standard—two different sets of rules—for the male and female genders, how does a young person decide which path to pursue for respect? If you do not want to be sexually active, how do you handle a partner who feels they need to be sexually active to garner respect from their peers? Do you have to end the relationship?
Someone you have had a crush on for months is finally paying attention to you. One afternoon, you are home alone and they call to ask if they may come over. You know your family is not crazy about you having guests when they are not home, but there is not a rule that says you can't. When your crush arrives, you are having a great time until your crush does something that is off limits at your house and which you consider dangerous and/or not smart. Perhaps they pull out a cigarette and start smoking. Maybe they are diving into the shallow end of the pool or making crank phone calls to 911. What do you do? Do you express your feelings and tell them that behavior is off limits? If so, how do you do that in a respectful way?
Your beloved grandparent makes a racist or homophobic joke or starts to rant about how undocumented immigrants are ruining our country. Other family members are silent. What do you do? To whom do you show respect? How do you show it?
You are a high school senior. After graduating, you plan to enter the Air Force. This will help your family pay for your college education, and prepare you to help defend your country, should the need arise. You tell your best friend, who calls you a warmonger and says you are making a bad decision. What do you do? To whom do you show respect? How do you show it?
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Last updated on Friday, March 30, 2012.
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