CHAPTER V. SEX IN THE ADOLESCENT MALE
(FROM PUBERTY TO MATURITY)
Adolescence is the period when the boy is lost in the man. It is the time of life embraced between the ages of fourteen or sixteen and the age of twenty-five. Every boy, if properly trained, should reach this period in a state of good general health and spirits. Hitherto he has been led and guided. Now he must develop mental strength and will power himself to choose the good and refuse the evil in the sexual problems confronting him.
According to climate puberty, the age when the human male becomes sexually perfect, varies from ten to fifteen years. In the United States puberty in the male usually occurs at the age of fourteen and a half years. In tropical climates it occurs at nine or ten, and in cold countries, such as Norway and Siberia, it may not take place until eighteen or nineteen. Vigorous physical exercise tends to delay puberty, anything exciting the emotions tends to hasten it. Stimulating foods, pepper, vinegar, mustard, spices, tea and coffee, excess meat nutriment hasten puberty. A cool, unstimulating vegetable and farinaceous diet may delay the development of the sexual system several months or a year.
THE SIGNS AND CHANGES OF PUBERTY
In the boy the signs of puberty are the growth of hair on the skin covering the pubes and in the armpits. Chest and arms broaden, the frame grows more angular, the masculine proportions more pronounced. The vocal cords grow longer and lower the pitch of the voice. Hair grows on chin, upper lip, cheeks, and often on the body surface.
THE SEXUAL MORAL LAW
The sexual moral law is the same for both sexes, and equally binding. It may be summed up as follows: “Your sexual urges, instincts and desires should never consciously injure an individual human being or mankind in general. They should be exercised to further the value and happiness of both.”
THE MALE ADOLESCENT AND CONTINENCE
The perfect carrying out of this general moral law implies continence on the part of the male adolescent until marriage. Continence is positive restraint under all circumstances. Strict continence is neither injurious to health, nor does it produce impotence. While self-denial is difficult, since the promptings of nature often seem imperious, it is not impossible. It is certain that no youth will suffer, physically, by remaining sexually pure. The demands which occur during adolescence are mainly abnormal, due to the excitements of an overstimulating diet, pornographic literature and art, and the temptations of impure association.
WHY YOUNG MEN GO WRONG
Foul thoughts, once they enter the mind, corrode it. The sensual glance, the bawdy laugh, the ribald jest, the smutty story, the obscene song may be met with on street corner, in the car, train, hotel lobby, lecture hall and workshop. Mental unchastity ends in physical unchastity. The habit common to most adolescent boys and young men of relating smutty stories, repeating foul jokes and making indecent allusions destroys respect for virtue. In addition there are such direct physical causes of undue adolescent sexual excitement as constipation and alcoholism, and such mental ones as nervous irritability.
To the constant discussion and speculation regarding sex and its mysteries by the adolescent young male, must be added the artificial idea that idle prattling on the subject is a sign of “manhood.” Thus many young men whose natural trend is in the direction of decency and right sexual living, “step out” or “go to see the girls,” as the phrase is, because they think that otherwise “they are not real men.” More subtle in its evil effect, yet somewhat less dangerous physically, perhaps, than the professional prostitute is the lure of the “hidden” prostitute, who carefully conceals her derelictions, and publicly wraps herself in a mantle of virtue.
The training of the average male mind in impure language and thought during boyhood and adolescence, the cultivation of his animal at the expense of the moral nature, often leads the adolescent to seek satisfaction by frequenting the prostitute.
Prostitution, known as the “social evil,” is promiscuous unchastity for gain. It has existed in all civilized countries from earliest times. Prostitution abuses the instinct for reproduction, the basic element of sex, to offer certain women a livelihood which they prefer to other means. Love of excitement, inherited criminal propensities, indolence and abnormal sex appetite are first causes of prostitution. Difficulty in finding work, laborious and ill-paid work, harsh treatment of girls at home, indecent living among the poor, contact with demoralizing companions, loose literature and amusements are secondary causes. They all contribute to debauch male and female youth and lead it to form dangerous habits of vicious sensual indulgence.
Prostitution seems inseparable from human society in large communities. The fact is acknowledged in the name given it, “the necessary evil.” Regulation and medical control only arrest in a degree the spread of venereal diseases to which prostitution gives rise. The elementary laws on which prostitution rests seems to be stronger than the artificial codes imposed by moral teaching. It is an evil which must be combatted individually. Men are principally responsible, in one way or another, for the existence of the social evil. In the case of the young man, abstention is the only cure for the probable results of indulging his animal passions by recourse to the prostitute.
Prostitution, both public and private is the most dangerous menace to society at large. It is the curse of individual young manhood because of the venereal diseases it spreads. One visit to a house of prostitution may ruin a young man's health and life, and millions of human beings die annually from the effects of poison contracted in these houses. “Wild oats” sown in company with the prostitute usually bear fruit in the shape of the most loathsome and destructive sex disorders.
The development of self-control, the avoidance of impure thoughts and associations, the cultivation of the higher moral nature instead of the lower animal one, and, finally, marriage, should prevent the young man from falling into prostitution. All the state and medical regulation in the world will not protect him from the venereal diseases he is so apt to acquire by such indulgence.
Free love is the doctrine of unrestrained choice, without binding ties, in sexual relations. For altogether different reasons, however, it is quite as objectionable as prostitution for the young man. It may offer better hygienic guarantees. But it is a sexual partnership which is opposed to the fundamental institution of marriage, on which society in general is based throughout the world. And, aside from the fact that it is a promiscuous relationship not sanctioned by law or society, it is seldom practically successful. It cannot admit of true love without bitter jealousies.