Tuesday, April 29, 2008

News Nibblet

So the US Congress is finally considering pulling its head out of its collective ass. And the abstinence only crowd is throwing a hissy fit over it. Shocking, I know.

Valerie Huber, chief executive of the National Abstinence Education Association, makes use of the classic "I know you are but what am I" rhetorical device and claims that the high teen pregnancy and STD rates are a result of not enough abstinence only sex ed.

Because you know what is really bad for teaching kids? Information. Like say for example, a comprehensive lesson plan. Because well-informed decisions always turn out so poorly.

But it's okay, because it's not ideologically driven. Says Ms. Huber:
"Compare this with healthful eating. We know that obesity is rising in America. That doesn't mean though that we minimise the optimal health message.

We still stress good eating habits, we still stress exercise, knowing that, unfortunately, many Americans are not going to listen."
Healthful eating is great and all but you know what would curb the so-called obesity epidemic? Abstinence only nutritional education.

We just have to start teaching kids that eating before you commit to a single dish for the rest of your life is bad, because you might occasionally eat something that tastes yucky. And you'll probably get food poisoning.

But it's not all fun and game. The agenda that Ms. Huber is pushing is a dangerous one. The saddest part of the article is a quote from a 15-year-old girl who says,
"I'm pretty confident I can keep my abstinence vows, it was pretty hard reaching that decision, because living in this world today, it's almost expected of you to 'do it.' But with my religious upbringing and convictions and commonsense, it's really not that hard."
The US Census Bureau estimates that, for 2000 to 2003, the median age at first marriage was 25 for women.

Perhaps Kirsten is an unusually precocious 15-year-old and she really can say that celibacy will be the best choice for her over the next ten years or so. More likely, she is a fairly normal 15-year-old, and sex still seems kind of scary and maybe a little gross. Meanwhile, the grown ups that Kirsten trusts are telling her that abstinence in the only way. Statistically, most of those grown ups are hypocrites.

In a few years, what if Kirsten decides that celibacy doesn't actually sound like such a good idea? Would it be better if she had the knowledge to protect herself or the guilt for failing at her purity pledge?

What if Kirsten decides to get married some day. Would it be better if she did it to publicly proclaim her love and devotion to a life partner or because she really would like to stop feeling guilty about having sex?

What is Kirsten was your friend? What if she was your sister? Or your daughter? Statistically speaking, the people you care for will almost certainly have sex outside of marriage. Wouldn't you rather that they do so in joyfully and in good health?

Temporary note: if the link to the article doesn't work it's not because the link is broken. I can't get any BBC news pages to load right now.

1 comment:

Adam said...

Great post!

It totally works better for the people that push abstinence only to perpetuate ignorance and guilt. How else will they get butts in the pews?

Shit, I used to feel guilty for masturbating. I can't imagine what I would have done for my church if I'd had sex during those years. Self-imposed penalties like tithing an extra 15% maybe.