This morning, i read a brief article in the NYTimes called Contr-Contraception. In short, there’s proposed legislation requiring insurance companies to cover contraception, conservative folks argue that this will create a new wave of sexual promiscuity. The second half of the article focuses on abstinence education and “purity balls” where young girls (and yes, only young GIRLS) promise to keep their purity until marriage. The whole article makes me want to scream (which is why you should read it), but i want to address one component of it….
Abstinence education rhetoric speaks of a return to a more pure society, back when people didn’t have sex until marriage, when women stayed at home with the kids and were forced to swallow their pride every time their husband cheated on them (cuz we all know that cheating is not a 21st century phenomenon). What isn’t remembered is that people got married at 16, not 32. Bad marriages were formed out of horniness. At the same time, young men could assume to have a meaningful career path by the time they were 22/23. Today, many 22/23-year olds are still working in Starbucks because the Baby Boomers aren’t willing to retire and give up the privileged positions within society. We also like to pretend like people didn’t have sex outside of the sanctity of marriage. Bullshit. People just didn’t *talk* about it. People relied on the pull-out method, got married quickly before she would show, had babies that weren’t their husbands, etc. Abortions happened with hangers – they didn’t simply not exist.
When i talk to my friends working in sex ed, i get so upset. All of this abstinence bullshit has resulted in an increase in STDs, a dramatic lack of knowledge about sexual health and pregnancy, and a silencing of problems. Based on what i’ve heard, my guess is also that fewer girls are reporting rapes.
Why? Why? Why?
When it comes to sex legislation, folks either take the moral highground or a practical approach. The former argues that the latter is promoting immoral activities while the latter argues that the former is cruel and dangerous. I’m definitely in the latter camp because all of my own research has shown that desire trumps risks for most people. This means that a lot of good people will get themselves into bad situations that could’ve been prevented if folks weren’t so insane about upholding a moral highground that they could never actually live by either. For me, the key is setting the practical as the baseline and then trying to instill moral values on top of that… but not at risk of really harming people in the process.
::sigh:: Conservative politics make me feel so powerless.