Rampant sexual coercion, combined with social media and other pressures, is sowing the seeds of today’s record waves of crushing depression among teen girls, and a new report documents just how bad the situation has gotten: Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, teen girls are forced to have sex at the “highest level we’ve ever seen.”
More than half (57%) of girls felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021, double the rate for teen boys (29%), while nearly one in three girls seriously considered suicide.
These alarming statistics shouldn’t surprise us, given that sexually active teens are more likely to be depressed and attempt suicide, and the confidence of teenage girls especially plummets after sexual activity.
Almost 15% of teen girls said they were forced to have sex, up from 12% in 2011 and the first jump since government researchers began tracking. Yet today’s Hollywood culture, run by liberal progressives, often encourages teenagers to embrace hookup sex, albeit “safe sex” with consent. Teen movies and film normalize teen sexual activity as desirable and marginalize virgins as awkward and hopelessly condemned.
What leftist feminists miss in their howling over “consent” is that the free love wrought by the Gloria Steinems of the world unleashed heavy damage on women’s psyches by normalizing a culture of hypersexualization. Consent is necessary, but it’s the lowest possible bar for women. Women deserve far better.
The “women’s liberation” movement of the 1960s chained women to male notions of sexuality, and we lost heartbreaking ground. They don’t talk about this hollowness in women’s magazines shouting at you to have 50 orgasms a day.
The women’s liberation movement achieved valuable outcomes. We could get a credit card or car loan without a husband’s approval and enter previously closed career fields.
But in many ways, 1960s “feminism” swung too far. It accepted the secular male framework around human sexuality and deprioritized commitment. For thousands of years, humans embraced the order of love, marriage, then sex. Modernity switched the order to sex without love, and love or marriage as mere possibilities later down a murky road.
This unleashed massive subsidies for unmarried parenting, a welfare system that destroys low-income families.
Science tells us women are genetically wired more deeply for monogamy; “free love” makes women fight our own biology. What happened to progressives trusting science?
I empathize with these hurting teens: I was sexually assaulted at age 17, and in the aftermath, my confidence cratered. After my father disowned me when I left his religious cult, I turned to pop culture for guidance. What a mistake.
I became sexually active with abusive, manipulative men, thinking that’s what all the women’s magazine writers wanted me to do. Why do we women live for this chorus of strangers clueless about what’s best for us?
American mass media tells women we’re not thin enough, not having enough sex, not wearing the right clothes, not flirty enough. Women’s magazines print reams of glossy pages filled with lies, deceiving young women and making them feel they’ll never be perfect enough. I was drowning in the lies.
Unfortunately, young people in record numbers are turning away from God, the very life force that brings lasting hope. Women who attend religious services at least once a week are 68% less likely to die from “deaths of despair,” including suicide, drug overdose and alcohol poisoning. Men are 33% less likely, according to 2020 research led by Harvard University’s School of Public Health.
We are biologically wired to seek the Divine. Our human species is permanently seeking to fill a “God-shaped hole” in our hearts, and I thought I’d filled it with career achievements, including a full-tuition Harvard scholarship, a national newspaper editorial-board seat and a financial-analyst job at prestigious Goldman Sachs.
But these career achievements didn’t bring me lasting inner peace, and I struggled with suicidal depression. It was only through brutally hard lessons in a long series of events that led me to faith in God and my 2017 Christian baptism.
My friend Ericka Andersen, who wrestled with alcohol addiction, discusses these themes in her wonderful new book, “Reason to Return: Why Women Need the Church and the Church Needs Women.”
Ericka and I realize God is not religion. Religion is a tool. Any tool can be used for good or evil — like the internet, or any other human-run institution. Religion, like sex, is a gift from God, but people abuse religion, just like they abuse sex.
My prayer for America’s young women is they shut out society’s lies and reclaim the power of their sexuality. My prayer is they know they’re daughters of a heavenly King who embraces them with radical, unconditional love and wants them to thrive.