Scott Fitzgerald had described ribald "petting parties" in the s, and, in fact, conventional morality often had little to do with people's actual experience even in the s. Almost all of the sexual metaphors of the era describe heterosexual sex where the male is the aggressor and the woman the defender. This idea encapsulates decades of fear of sex, which has its roots, for both sexes, in the church and notions of mortal sin and—for young men—perhaps a latent fear of women as well. Most sex education of the time revolved around the general theme expressed in the title of one popular book, How to Say No.
Describing pre-intercourse sexual acts, or foreplay, the word petting manages to capture both the innocence and the euphemistic repression that we identify with the s and early s. Kinsey's statistics challenged the notion that women were by nature less sexual creatures than men. Interestingly, many girls found they preferred the partially permitted petting to the totally forbidden intercourse for purely sexual reasons. New Jersey , Prentice Hall, The very word petting implies a passive recipient, a "pet" receiving attention from a "petter. Since boys were largely viewed as slaves to their raging libidos, it was up to girls to control the sexual urge. Kinsey reported that 99 out of of female interviewees born between and had petted by the age of There was, and is, so little awareness about women's sexuality at mid-century that these figures remain surprising. Once released, they tend to press for completion. Petting Though the term "petting" may seem quaintly archaic in the sexually frank latter days of the twentieth century, it reveals a lot about sexual attitudes in the earlier part of the century in which it was coined. Scott Fitzgerald had described ribald "petting parties" in the s, and, in fact, conventional morality often had little to do with people's actual experience even in the s. It was not women's nature, but the will of s society that demanded sexual repression. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. The social meaning of petting and other forms of introductory sexuality is explored in Obie Benz's documentary film, Heavy Petting , which juxtaposes representations of sex in the media of the s with sex education materials of the time and the reminiscences of celebrities who came of age then. Almost all of the sexual metaphors of the era describe heterosexual sex where the male is the aggressor and the woman the defender. Evelyn Duvall, author of a much-used sex education guide of the s, Facts of Life and Love for Teenagers, defines petting as, "the caressing of other, more sensitive parts of the body in a crescendo of sexual stimulation. This idea encapsulates decades of fear of sex, which has its roots, for both sexes, in the church and notions of mortal sin and—for young men—perhaps a latent fear of women as well. Petting was focused on the female body and often led to orgasm for young women, while the self-involved male fumblings of early intercourse seldom did. Likewise, the definitions of necking and petting have been a subject of intense debate, especially among those engaged in the activity, but necking is generally described to be passionate physical contact occurring above the neck, while petting comprises attention to the parts of the body below the neck. In the same age group, one third of the unmarried women were no longer virgins by the age of 25, and a sizable percentage of those had had several sexual partners. That situation, too, was euphemistically couched as "getting in trouble. Though this was the conventional morality of the s and early s, it had not always been that way. Most sex education of the time revolved around the general theme expressed in the title of one popular book, How to Say No. The Kinsey Report on women's sexuality, released in August of , scandalized the conservative society of the time with its statistics compiled from interviews with women. This post- World War II period, which is loosely referred to as "the fifties," was characterized by coded and metaphorical references to sex, the baseball metaphor being one of the most common. There are regional differences in the meanings of the bases, but one common definition describes first base as passionate kissing, second base as touching the girl's breasts, third base as touching the girl's genitals with the boy's hands, and home base as intercourse.
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