Sexual revolution or not so much??

Please read the last post and the New York Times’ article and slide show to have some context about my thoughts.

This has taken me a bit longer as the amount of hits I got on the last post makes me a little nervous. On the other hand, this somehow has not motivated me to improve my thoughts. In the meantime, Heather has posted her thoughts. Abby has too. 

Personally, I think that the sexuality and sexual promiscuity of Chilean youth is more blatant, in-your-face today than it was in the past. The media has had a field day trying to understand the new “urban tribes” and the underground parties. There has definitely been a decline in long term relationships and a serge in hooking up with strangers (or at least the idea of these has gained prominence). However, I am not sure that there is really more sex than before or that Chile was a sexually conservative country to begin with.

The New York Times’ article refers to “old” Chile as one of the most conservative countries in Latin America. I can see if someone just stopped by for a day or looked at the written laws of the country that they could think this. The country is more conservative in its color pallet than many Latin American countries, such as Dominican Republic or Guatemala. Grays and blacks abound; loud patterned clothing is rare. Housing, while colorful, is not flamboyant. Additionally, the laws of country reflect a conservative, religious, political view point. Up until 4 years ago divorce was illegal; people had to seek annulments. Abortion is still illegal. Sex education in the schools continues to be non-existing or inadequate. Teen pregnancy, while it may have risen among youth under 15, has been a huge issue for decades.

With the internet and these under 18-parties, kids have more open spaces to explore. Sexuality is being questioned and discovered. I am not arguing that the spaces are not the start of a sexual revolution. However, I think that the idea that the country was sexually conservative in the past is absorbed. I was a high school student in the 1990’s in Chile and in the US. My high school class in the states had 1 or 2 pregnancies out of 116 students. My high school in Chile had 5 or 6 pregnancies out of 90 students. Part of the problem is lack of accurate information about sex in Chile stemming from a lack of adequate sex ed in schools. The other problem is a lack of access to birth control. Free condoms are not available in Chile, pharmacists can choose to not distribute birth control. or, in smaller areas, can report to parents when students buy birth control.

I think the gut reaction that a lot of people have when they read the New York Times article is too worry about STDs. However, this risk, and the risk that people faced in my adolescence and before that, would be decreased if adequate, age-appropriate, sexual education was provided starting in elementary school.

Overall, I see nothing wrong with the trends. I think it has been particularly helpful for youth that do not traditionally fit in and have more questioning. I do, however, think that it is incredibly dangerous to not equip youth with adequate sex ed. Abstinence ed is not enough. Hoping they are getting enough and accurate information at home is not enough. Chile needs to get behind a comprehensive sex ed program before the 0.3% HIV infection rate and other STD infection rates increase.

Other posts of mine that might be of interest:



  1. I agree… and maybe some things always happened but people wouldn’t dare to talk about it! The NY Times article sounds like my old catholic teachers who used to say that everything was in order in the past and now the world’s a huge chaos… blaming technology, of course… Whatever!

  2. Thanks for clearing up the whole contraceptive issue! Your post was really interesting, and I agree with you about the whole internet opening up new avenues for kids to explore, sexually and otherwise. And it’s also really important to point out (as you did) the contradictions in regards to Chile being this “very conservative” society. I think in some ways it tries to portray itself that way just to then be able to break with that stereotype.

    Ha, and my hs…I actually doubt she ever had a fotolog…she bought a laptop when I was there and I had to set it up for her. Plus she just liked making fun of me in general 🙂

  3. Interesting but I am not really sure WHERE you live in Chile. Chile is and always has been sexual conservative. The N.Y. time article is addressing a fringe group representing less than 1% of the population. The closest losing of sexual norms is with the “one night stand” but even that is not common. Anyway why would anyone who reads the N.Y. Times be interested in Chilean youth sexual practices? Do they not have enough problems with their own teenagers in the U.S.A.?

  4. Hi Mercy. I guess views here are based on my experience of over 12 years in Chile, including high school (which I compare to my high school in suburban Wisconsin). I lived in Rancagua (smaller town), Machali, Vina, Valparaiso and Santiago (only 6 months in the capitol). I hope that helps for you to see where I am coming from.

    Yes, the article is talking about a very small subsection of society — including some of my cousins. They have gotten a huge amount of attention in the national news media (Chilean) for quite a while now and have made it into the referenced New York Times article.

    That said, the article references Chile as being very sexually conservative – this is the point I take contention with. Comparing high school classmates and friends from Rancagua, Granero, San Pancho, Pichillemu, Machali, and Santa Cruz (all smaller, some rural, towns) to my classmates and friends in Milwaukee and suburbs form the same period (I bounced back and forth in high school from the two), I would say that the Chileans were more promiscuous and took more risks. They were having sex at the same age or earlier. They had a high rate of unwanted pregnancies. They never got checked for STDs. The Americans, at that time in the mid 90s) were simply more flamboyant about the fact that they were having sex. And yes, not in every case is everyone involved, but I do think it is a fair generalization.

    Also, as for why I am commenting on Chile and not focusing on problems of own teens in the US– well, personally, I am commenting on a NY Times article that I think was a misrepresentation of Chile, a country that I do love and am a part of. You seem to as well, but for a different reason.

    On a broader spectrum, I think it is interesting for New York Times readers to learn what is going on in the rest of the world. This doesn’t take away from the amount of articles they have on teens and sex practices in the states. And yes, this was not a frilly come visit Chile travel piece, but it was a valid expert from society that makes the country feel/ seem more real to people who have never been.

  5. Hi Clare,

    Thanks for responding, not sure how anyone can really be a “valid expert”, flashy cultural pieces do not necesarily have to show up the the Travel Section of the N.Y. Times in order to make people want to visit chile. As far as conservative sexual practices go maybe Milwaukee is more conservative but Los Angeles and San Francisco are not. Really, everyone is having sex but the ways in which we educate, and the ways in which couples communicate are quite different. For example, last week on Buenos Dias Todos, the hosts were talking about female orgasim and it was concluded that orgasim is really not important as long as some pleasure is derived. Everyone agreed, including the women. Now tell me, does this sound like a country in the midst of a sexual revolution when a womans orgasim is not considered important? To top it off the women around me were agreeing with the talk show hosts, so I said not having an orgasim is like being constipated, and neither is pleasurable.

    being sexually conservative is not about how much sex you are having but how you are having it.


  6. hahaha, Mercy, I love your comment about “not having an orgasm is like being constipated, and neither is pleasurable.” hilarious!

    If we are talking about “how” we are having sex as the measure of a sexual revolution, I would say the United States has a long way to go! If you grab a Cosmopolitan magazine, or any of those girls magazines. Almost every issue has tips about how to please your man, but rarely about how to get him to please you. (And that’s counter-intuitive since the male orgasm is so much easier to achieve than the female one.) And there’s the occasional article that talks about women who fake orgasms. O sea, it’s all about his pleasure.

    I agree with you Clare about the mis-interpretation of Chile as a “sexually-conservative country”. Ha! There was an article in Las Ultimas Noticias, una fina fuente de noticias, jajajja, that said a couple of guys from Amsterdam went to South American to find the best country for prostitution…and Chile won. I guess the guys really liked that the prostitution in Chile didn’t cater so much to tourists. It was more for the locals. Which may only show how far women have to go to make sex be about our pleasure too…

    anyhoo, my thoughts 3 years after the fact, haha

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