October 2010: Featured Post
On a monthly basis, lifeseek.org will be featuring a thought-provoking essay that is designed to stimulate healthy dialogue and a collective resolve to seek the face of God for answers of some of the most pressing issues of our age. Your participation and feedback is very important to us and we encourage you to leave your comments, facebook or tweet this post after reading.
Depending on how old you are, some of you may recall when Salt-n-Peppa released the song “Let's talk about sex”. I remember when I first heard the song as a 9 year old girl; I thought the song was quite catchy; I had memorized the hook, which quite frankly wasn’t hard to remember because it just said “Let's talk about sex”. BUT I did not dare want my parents to catch me listening or singing this song.
It wasn’t until recently that I actually read all the lyrics to this song and realized their message actually may have been one my parents would approve. The lyrics to the song was not promoting young people to go out and have sex, but they were telling us that sex without real love and commitment leaves you empty. This song really could have been a teaching moment in my family. The issue, I am learning, is that neither families nor society as a whole know how to effectively talk about “taboo” subjects, such as sex. Yes, we try to sell products with it, we broadcast it, we desire it, but we don’t talk about it. And I’m not referring to having sex education classes (where you learn about STDs, contraceptives etc.). I’m talking about having a meaningful conversation about the purpose of sex, and what our desire for sex tells us about our identity as humans made in the image of God.
Henri Nouwen states that “desire is often talked about as something we ought to overcome. Still, being is desiring: our bodies, our minds, our hearts, and our souls are full of desires. Some are unruly, turbulent, and very distracting; some make us think deep thoughts and see great visions; some teach us how to love; and some keep us searching for God” (Bread for the Journey). So what does our desire for sex tell us? Does it just reveal the “animalistic” side of humans, or our need to procreate in order to keep the human race in existence, or is it deeper than that? Does it reveal our need to be intimate with others, to be in relationship with others and loved?
Nouwen goes on to say that “Our desire for God is the desire that should guide all other desires. Otherwise our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls become one another’s enemies and our inner lives become chaotic, leading us to despair and self-destruction.”
So I end my musings with this thought, how can our desire for God, who knows us fully and accepts us completely, guide our desires for sex and our desires to be intimate with another human being?
Minister Alisha Tatemwas born in Allentown, PA to Pastor Melvin and Jacqueline Tatem. She attended Messiah College and received her bachelor’s degree in social work. After graduating from college she worked for Early Head Start as a Child Development Partner, and served as a youth minister at Grace Deliverance Baptist Church for three years. She was licensed to preach on May 20, 2007 at her home church in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and presently serves on the ministerial staff at Total Grace Christian Center, in Decatur, GA. She will be graduating from Columbia Theological Seminary, May of this year with her Master’s of Divinity, and looks forward to pursuing further education in pastoral counseling. If there is one thing that describes Minister Tatem best it would be that she has a heart for young people and she is passionate about seeing young people give their lives over to God in the midst of competing societal pressures. It is her hope that she would be able to touch many people’s lives on this life journey and one day hear God say, Well done my good and faithful servant.
[Click Image For Video]
Its really hard for me to watch this video on the surface, and not be drastically unmoved by the facade of happiness and youthful “exploration” that is shown by Montana Fishburne. In case you didn’t know, Montana Fishburne, is the daughter of actor Laurence Fishburne. You know Morpheus from The Matrix? She currently has the Internet buzzing about her recently released sex tape. Being a father to a daughter, I could not even begin to feel the disappointment, shame and hurt that Laurence Fishburne is experiencing.
As parents, this is not the career path that you envision for your little girl, and what’s so ironic about this whole thing is according to Montana, she had a “privileged” life of travel, choice education and just about anything she wanted. She even said although her mom and actor father divorced while she was at the tender age of 2 she still had a “good” relationship with her father.
In most cases, statistics show that most women who enter into the porn industry come from abusive situations and bad experiences in their childhood or some form of male neglect. However, as I was diving in to the research, neglect did not surface as an issue in Montana’s life.
So this made me ask, was it the divorce of her parents that affected young Montana? Or was it the lack of attention from her father, as he was away pursuing his acting career? How is it that her lost of virginity can turn into an all-out fascination to use her talents in an industry that has a reputation for swallowing young girls up. Why not pursue thespian aspirations as an alternative route? I mean your father is Laurence Fishburne, right?
Was this an issue of survival? According to Haley Volpintesta, a Chicago-based human rights advocate with 10 years experience working with youth impacted by the sex trade, the juvenile and criminal justice systems document that while many young women are coerced into prostitution, many others engage in survival sex. That is to say that they are in the practice of trading sex for basic needs like food and shelter, even in the Unites States of America.
"They may see their involvement in the sex trade as temporary, until they can figure out how to get their needs met in other ways," she says.
It was reported that her father was starting to take some of her privileges away, such as her car and other things, but this in no way threatened her well-being or prevented her from getting her basic needs met.
The New Role Models
So what was it? A case of innocent rebellion? Whatever prompted her actions, the bottom line is that this episode of exploration has made its course into the mainstream and into the homes of millions of Americans. Whether you have a sister, step-daughter, niece, friend, or a daughter between the ages of 13-18, this will have an interesting affect on them.
If you don’t believe me, check out Montana’s recent tweets,
“Aw this little 13 year old girl came up to me talking about I'm her favorite celebrity and she is going to make a sex-tape when she turns 18...”
“It's too late fools. Me and @ihatekatstacks are the next generation's ROLE MODELS. You had your chance and decided to go to college smh hoes”
Although, I’m not blaming Montana for the ills of the world, it should be noted that when the media magnifies her intentions, it does have a direct or indirect influence on the rest of us.
It especially presents a challenge for parents that already have a tough time dealing with their teenage son or daughter that hide in the crevices of their room chatting with their friends online. This challenge is especially significant in a time when there is a power struggle for influence over the minds of teenagers. In the case of Montana, her dad being a famous actor and probably being away from home because of his work, is not much different than most American families now. In this day and age, it is likely that one or both parents must work to earn a half decent living. Given this dynamic, it is easy to understand the tensions between parent and child.
The Father-Daughter Relationship
There are a number of factors that affect the bond between father and daughter. The daily grind of family life and employment can affect the strength of this important bond. According to studies, “men still spend an average of 15 more hours a week at work and commuting than their employed wives do, and American fathers spend about 70 more hours each year at work than do men in other industrialized countries. Dads still don’t have as much time as moms to be with kids.” In the same study, it was found that “father absence was an overriding risk factor for early sexual activity and adolescent pregnancy. Conversely, father presence was a major protective factor against early sexual outcomes, even if other factors were present. Girls who have poor relationships with their dads tend to seek attention from other males at earlier ages and often this will involve a sexual relationship.”
“This surprising characteristic of strong father-daughter relationships was not duplicated between mothers and daughters.”
So with the increased absence of the father, whether it is by overworking or just plain absenteeism, what messages does this send little girls who are looking for the approval of a male figure? In particular, what about little black girls? Drawing on research from several books she authored on the topics of the Father-daughter relationship, professor of adolescent psychology and woman's studies at Wake Forest University, Linda Nielsen, states that 70% of all black children are born out of wedlock. Most of the time all we hear about absent black fathers is the negative impact on young black men. What about the impact on black daughters? The emphasis is on the boys, and how much they need their fathers, but the highest rate of AIDS infections right now in our country is among teenage girls.
Why is this? My assumption is these girls are dating guys and having sex too early. Most likely the girls are coming from a poorer family where the father is not present leading to girls at the ages of 12 and 13 engaging in unprotected sex with multiple partners. Oftentimes their partners are drug users and alot older than them. The fact that these men are usually older shows that the girl consciously or unconsciously is looking to fill that father void. It seems that there is a strong connection between the increase in Aids related infections amongst black young women and the issue of absentee fathers.
Who Is To Blame?
When they do not see their father presently active in their lives it induces a counter-intuitive reaction for the young girls need for male affirmation and begins a process where the little girl is searching for this affirmation elsewhere. It also could be a case of mere rebellion. Montana gives a hint of the fruit of her rebellion from the reactions of an absent father:
Don’t blame me...blame yourself! If you spent more time on Twitter than with your kids this week.#YouToBlame
So who is to blame? Parents? Society? The girls? I think the blame is placed on those who are not willing to take responsibility for the little girls in their life that are trying to find their way. Nas, had a prophetic song on his second album, It Was Written called Black Girl Lost and tapped into the conscience of this girl:
Diamonds all shinin, lookin all fine
Pretty little face, get a little high
Young girl stugglin, tryin to survive
Mother of the Earth, she made you and I
Just tired of playin the same ol' games
Messin with my mind, emotional thangs
And there goes.. a black girl.. lost
We want to hear your thoughts and experiences:
- Were you a “Black Girl Lost” and now are found? Did you have any positive male role models to help you get on track?
- As a man, do you have any “Black Girl Lost” in your life, how can you begin helping her get back on track?
[Editors Note: According to multiple sources on the Internet, Montana Fishburne recently admitted herself into a mental facility in Southern California and Montana will be there at least 30 days. Sources say part of Montana’s stay will be devoted to anger issues, but she’ll also undergo diagnostic tests to determine if there are underlying behavioral or mental issues. Please keep her in your prayers.]
Tremayne Tatem, currently resides in Allentown, PA with wife and two children. Graduate of Temple University, in Philadelphia,PA and co-founder of lifeseek.org. Tremayne spent almost a decade in the Christian entertainment circles as a rapper and on the business side of things. Tremayne has passion for communicating where culture and Christianity intersect; to identify how the love and wisdom of God is seen in both worlds.You can find him blogging his thoughts at lifeseek.org and tremaynetatem.com.