Buzz Cuts and Bedrooms and Byrne
Through the Window, Pain

Smiles of a Sommer Night

Achtung, baby!

Sure, Sweden is the nation of "Old Europe" that Americans immediately associate with, ahem, sex.

The French, of course, are not to be counted out in the all-world sensuality competition.

And heaven only knows what may be going on in Amsterdam at this moment. 

But we must not, no we must not, forget the Germans.

Der Spiegel's English-language site continues its education of anglophones in What Makes Germany Germany with the revelation that German teens in their thousands obtain a weekly ration of advice on their burgeoning sexuality from "Dr. Sommer," writing in the pages of Bravo, a magazine otherwise devoted to music and pop culture.  Germany is very different from the USofA, don'cha know:

Lodged between the ads for tampons, zit concealers and mobile phone ring tones is a weekly sex advice column splashed with photos of teenagers, au naturel -- kind of like Penthouse Letters for kids.  It's the kind of thing that would land the publishers in jail were it to hit newsstands on the other side of the Atlantic.  If the Christian right or America's comb-over Congress got their hands on this, the courts would be busy for months.

But this is sex-positive Germany, not the Bible Belt.  And here there are few taboos when it comes to telling kids where to insert the dipstick should they need to check the oil.  The cultural epicenter of this sex-friendly youth society is 'Dr. Sommer,' the weekly Bravo column that has been providing teens with sex advice since its birth during the 1969 Summer of Love.  And the Germans love it.  The column's liberating message to teens has been greeted with open arms from across the religious and political spectrum.  Indeed, it's not unusual for the column's staff to receive invitations to church groups to deliver youth sexuality sermons.

Even here in swingin' California -- where the Summer of Love arrived two years sooner than it apparently did in Germany -- I doubt that very many congregations would roll out the willkommen mat for Dr. Sommer. 

Spiegel itself is coy about exposing Americans to the legal and spiritual risks inherent in the good doktor's columns, but nonetheless provides a "Photo Gallery Made Office Safe for our American Readers." 

One suspects we are being gently mocked here: in several cases the potentially offensive features of the young Germans that would otherwise be on display have been covered over with variants on the "smiley face," and each expurgated photo comes with the disclaimer:

Sensitive parts of this image have been censored to adhere to American anti child pornography laws.

If you have a German-speaking teen in your household and don't object to him or her learning a great deal about her or his natural urges and what to do with them, the Spiegel story provides a direct link to Dr. Sommer's pages at the Bravo magazine site.  You won't find such a link here, however, because I am not a teenager, I do not speak or read German, and I would not want it to be suggested that those American anti-pornography laws were being violated on my site.

An Important Policy Initiative

In light of these discoveries, the Prudish Protective Puritanical Parents of America may wish to launch a campaign to have the insidious German language banned from those few U.S. classrooms in which it is still being taught. 

Not only does learning German give our teens access to the perilous advice of Dr. Sommer, it might ultimately lead the young and innocent to read Goethe's Faust which, even when translated into French and sung in impenetrable operatic voices by sock puppets, has recently been found to pose supreme moral dangers to the young and to those who teach them. 

In this regard, it is a good thing that America's schools do such an ineffectual job of teaching English.  Developing skills in that language might lead the kids to Marlowe's version of the Faust story, and then all -- well, you know -- Helen might break loose.


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