Relationships Today:
50 years of Love and Sex

Love blooms in the summer time

Soda Springs is about relationships between the sexes:

  • About teen sex . . . or choosing not to have sex.
  • About discovering that love and sex are not the same.
  • About dating . . . and its consequences.
  • About figuring out who we are as we grow up.
  • About parents worrying that their teens are growing up too fast.
  • About adults in relationships that cause them pain.

In Soda Springs in 1963, Rick, Ginny, and Concha confront those ages-old teen dilemmas about boy-girl relationships . . . and sex. Buck and Prue Bennett fear their daughter has “gone astray.” Jock and Mary Helen Sanders agonize over their son’s behavior with their best friends’ “little girl.” Priscilla seduces young Rick to spice up her troubled marriage. Flor . . . aeii, poor Flor . . . she’s got to rethink her life in the aftermath of her clever scheme gone terribly wrong.

Our friends in Soda Springs: Love, Sex and Civil Rights live in a world all too familiar to us 50 years later. The dilemmas never go away . . . they present themselves to each new generation.

This page poses key questions about relationships in Soda Springs . . . and asks, “How do these questions relate to our life today.” On this page, we’ll both comment on these issues, and post links to blogs and other websites devoted to these topics.

Rape: it’s too, too common

From TM blog: Uncensored, June 14, 2011

Rape is a nasty word . . . and a despicable act.

But it’s all the news these days . . . what with the allegation that Dominique Strauss-Kahn tried to rape a maid in a fancy New York hotel. (Before this incident, this guy was a big-time hot-shot: head of the International Monetary Fund, and odds-on favorite to be the next president of France.)

The shocking fact is that rape is all too common. Not only that, most rapists get away with it. Look at these figures—from Marianne Mollmann, women’s rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch (in the Los Angeles Times, June 7, 2011):

  • In the U.S. someone is sexually assaulted every TWO MINUTES.
  • Only an estimated 40 percent of the victims report the assault.
  • Nationally, police arrest a suspect in only half the sexual assault cases filed.
  • After “justice is served,” only an estimated one of 16 rapists spends time in jail.

No wonder Flor Hardwick agonized over what to do in Soda Springs. Report it? Why risk community disgrace . . . only to have the criminal go free?

And no wonder Odell Andrews shrugged her off. Here’s his mocking response:

“Odell laughed. ‘You’re a cocktease, gal. No one rapes a cocktease. I came to the church to help you fix the youth problem. You invited me home. Made coffee. Fed me. Kissed me. One thing led to another. Consensual sex, as they say. Besides, who you gonna tell? . . . Chief Zeigler? He’s got a whore in Mexican town. And who would believe you over the football coach? Especially when there’s been no harm done, nothing broken or bruised. Sorry, gal . . . thanks for that delicious taste of paradise.’”—from Soda Springs: Love, Sex, and Civil Rights

What to do if you or a loved one has been raped?

No easy answer.

We can only be thankful that the New York maid has the courage to stand up to power. And that women like Flor Hardwick will risk reputation to fight for justice.

The issues of the Sixties haunt us still:
Questions for life today from Soda Springs

What are the costs (or rewards) of a teenage summer romance? Ginny Sue is 18, heading for her first year in college when Rick shows up. He’s a college senior. When she rescues his ill-fated project, love blossoms; they believe they’re soul mates. She gives herself to him; he’s her first. But their adventures––including wild sex––scandalize the town.

  • Is Ginny too young for Rick?
  • Does he take advantage of her?
  • Rick and Ginny aren’t dummies; why do they behave so recklessly? Hormones? Peer pressure? What?
  • Is their break-up really her fault––the fact that she falsely accuses him of fathering “that Mexican girl’s child”?
  • Overall, was Ginny Sue’s summer a terrible mistake . . . or a grand adventure?

Is “love at first sight” a myth? Or is it real? Rick and Ginny Sue hit it off immediately.

  • How did their own personal pasts affect their quick romance? Growing up as neighbors? As fellow students at Soda Springs High? Rick’s “affair” with Priscilla? Ginny Sue’s dating Jeff? Rick’s dating Concha?
  • Is such a quick romance realistic? Or is it merely another cliché: charismatic stud blows into town and wows the local farm girl?

Are there particular dangers or rewards in cross-cultural dating? Rick is Anglo, and Concha, Mexican-American. Their dating in high school caused a scandal . . . simply because of community traditions.

  • What evidence do we see that Anglo/Mexican dating is taboo in Soda Springs . . . as Anglos see it? As Mexicans see it?
  • Would Ginny have treated Rick differently if she thought he fathered a baby with one of his Anglo classmates, rather than with Concha?
  • Does cross-cultural dating create problems that don’t exist when people “stick to their own kind”?
  • What if Rick is attracted to Concha because she’s Mexican? Is that racism?

When it comes to sex, where’s the literary line? At times, the story portrays Ginny Sue and Rick’s sexual encounters in explicit language, as it does with Rick and Priscilla McPherson.

  • Are such descriptions pornographic . . . even when set in a larger relational context?
  • What makes us squeamish when we talk about sex? Is it the use of “taboo” words? Description of certain sexual acts? Explicit names for body parts? Degree of detail?
  • Do euphemisms for sexual acts cause teenagers to underplay the possibly negative impacts of sex on their lives?
  • Should we shield teens from explicit sexual terms?
  • Do current attitudes toward pre-marital sex differ from those of the Sixties? How?

How do we respond to rape? Flor’s attempt to revive the youth group leads her to propose that Odell back off and let Ginny run the youth program under Flor’s and Odell’s guidance. Her request gives Odell his opening to turn a simple planning meeting into a rape.

  • How could Flor have recruited Odell’s help without leading him on?
  • How could she have neutralized him once things started going so wrong?
  • Does she share responsibility for her rape?
  • Can a woman be “blamed” for scrubbing away every trace of a rape?
  • How can she file charges if she has destroyed the evidence?
  • Can she fight back . . . in a town that would believe the coach’s word over hers?
  • If Odell were to claim publicly (as he threatens) that Flor was a “cock-tease”, would it really destroy Bob’s career?
  • How do we defeat lies, threats, and bullies?
  • Should Flor and Bob move away, or stay and fight? Do they have other options?
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Dealing with relationships:
Check these out

On romance

Romantic Whispers offers you ideas to verbalize your most intimate feelings in a sweet, passionate and romantic way.

On rape

Read Marianne Mollman’s op-ed column in the June 7 Los Angeles Times: With reported rapes, the DSK case is the exception.

And if you think Ms. Mollman’s figures are appalling, read this: in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a recent study reported in the American Journal of Public Health found that an average of four women and girls are raped every 5 MINUTES – that’s 48 every HOUR. In short, in the Congo, rape is a devastating weapon of war.