Sunday, March 29, 2009

Missing by a mile

Single, pregnant and panicked starts off well enough, looking at the complex dynamics that lead smart, well-educated 20-something women to get cavalier about their birth control. But it ends with beating the "More contraceptives education" drum -- completely dismissing out of hand the dynamics of relationships.

And of course we have the sidebar courtesy of Planned Parenthood:

Not ready to be a mom? Follow these rules to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.


3. Watch for interactions. [Not between you and other people -- between other substances and your Pills]


4. Learn to love condoms. [Again, ignoring human dynamics. One of Robert A Heinlein's characters once dismissively characterized condoms as "making love without touching". And it is a bizarre idea. "I love you enough to want you inside me -- as long as we don't have any actual physical contact."]

And, my personal favorite:

5. Find “the one.”

Not "the one" as in "the one man you want to build a family with" but "the one" as in "the Pill you want to avoid a family via".

I'll close with this one:

6. Get smart.

How about getting smart enough to drop the hubris? The drive to reproduce is powerful -- one of the most powerful forces in the universe. And we think that we can throw pharmaceuticals at it and tame it.

HT: The Dawn Patrol


Lilliput said...

How would you improve the article without using abstinance only sex education which has been shown not to work.

This seems to be good combination.,8816,1886558,00.html

Kathy said...


I've read a few studies on "abstinence-only" vs "comprehensive" sex ed, and one was very interesting, which is what I remember about it. It showed no difference between the two types of sex ed (although the students were in flux -- going from middle school to high school, many students changed their peers from A-O to comprehensive and vice versa), which isn't exactly a stellar recommendation of "comprehensive" sex education. What it did show was that girls who had 3 or more out of their 5 closest friends who remained virgins were also more likely to remain virgins; whereas girls whose closest friends slept around were also more likely to sleep around. Peers were more influential than education.

Including sex ed in our schools is, to me, a symptom of what is wrong, rather than a right way or a wrong way to address the problems of teen sex. We didn't have sex education 100 years ago, and we had very low rates of teen sex, teen pregnancy, teen birth, teen abortion, etc. Kids haven't changed; sex hasn't changed; culture has changed. We need to get the culture back to the way it was, so that there is a strong peer pressure to remain a virgin -- and this pressure needs to be on both males and females. While females bear the brunt of the downsides of sex (being the only ones who can get pregnant), men and boys should be just as chaste. Still, since women and girls are the only ones who can get pregnant, they likewise have the higher responsibility to avoid getting pregnant, which should include avoiding sex.

I don't think it's the school's job to teach sex education; I think it's a symptom of things gone wrong in families and society that this is occurring and needing to occur.

This comment is more philosophical than practical. I was raised in a segment of society which placed great emphasis on waiting until marriage to have sex; there was great value in virginity, for both males and females. While I didn't get "the talk" or have sex/pregnancy education as such, it was a constant "rumble in the background" if you will, that you should be a virgin until you got married, from the way my family acted and talked, as well as the sermons preached.

A moral revolution, or a sexual revolution (such as the opposite of what happened in the 60s and 70s), could change our society so that we again place great emphasis on sexual purity. Until that takes place, I don't think that sex education will really change the picture of teenage and unmarried sex, pregnancy, and birth. This program appears to be a good stop-gap measure, but I do not think it is best.

Lilliput said...

Well Kathy, I myself went to a girls only, very religious and conservative Jewish school where the drill was that not only did you not have sex before marriage - but you didn't touch at all. Consequently, when we finished school, 99% of the girls in my class were brainwashed virgins who thaught that in order to fulfill God's mission for us on this earth we had to become good wives and mothers. Thank God I did have a mother who realised that marriage isn't the be all and end all of life for a women. There are positives and negatives with this school - just like everything.

Now Fast Forward 20 years:

Last night the start of Sex Ed vs Pornography week - shown on TV to try and address the fact that children have access to the internet and are watching hard core porn - which is obviously affecting them in the way they see sex, their body and other people. Its horrifying and you cannot cage your child so even if you ban porn at home - he/she will acces it in very novel ways anyway.

Now I don't really want to go back to the days where teenage girls were sent to country homes in shame to have their baby torn from them to an orphanage or infertile married folk. Neither do I want the other extreme (maybe its the recolution you're calling for) where in Islam a girls virginity is tied to the family honour and when her hymen is broken - so is she.

We can't go backwards - so we have to come up with a practical solution which incorporates the porn they are watching with the emotional IQ required of an evolved sexual being.

Lilliput said...

Just one more thing Kathy - that Rumble in the background of biblical teaching of anything related to sex is sex education - and I'm sure you learnt the reproductive system in biology - that's sex education - and I'm sure you watched Dirty Dancing - that's sex education.

Kids don't only learn in the classroom

GrannyGrump said...

Lilliput, you raise an excellent point, and "Dirty Dancing" is a fairly spectacular example of how we teach kids to be stupid and irresponsible.

In "Dirty Dancing", "Baby" proves to her friends that she is "grown up" by lying to her father to get the money to pay for an illegal abortion that very nearly kills a girl. Bad, stupid, irresponsible behavior presented as noble and worthy and likely to win you acceptance and love.

Then Patrick Swayze's character -- after seeing his friend nearly die from a botched abortion -- has unprotected intercourse with "Baby" -- who he supposedly loves. Yeah, you show you "love" a girl by putting her at risk of the death your friend very nearly suffered.

We do need to talk to our kids about the deplorable messages put out in society.

Kathy said...

Actually, I've never watched Dirty Dancing! When I was young, it was forbidden; and since I've grown older, I declined to watch it. I was given a lesson in female biology (private Christian school; perhaps not quite as restrictive as your Jewish school, but very conservative nonetheless; the male principal took the boys to one room and the female biology teacher took the girls in another, and we each got a lesson in our own biology), but it wasn't really about "sex" as in "intercourse" but more about the internal organs and the menstrual cycle.

I agree with a lot of what you said in your other post, including the informal sex ed not called by that name. I think it is important that children are raised that way -- whether or not they get formal sex ed. But I don't like the attitude of hopelessness that "kids are going to find porn and there's nothing we can do about it!" There are ways to prevent it in your house (internet filters as an example), but more importantly there should be a training of children so that they are given tools so that when they are first shown porn, they know to turn and walk away. (And I think this is more important for boys than for girls, because they are more prone to visual porn; girls are more prone to "mental" porn -- steamy romance novels as an example.)

As an example, I read of a family that does just what I mentioned above, and their children have been exposed to sexually explicit images -- a "Sports Illustrated" swimsuit magazine inadvertently dropped on the sidewalk, and hard-core porn stapled onto the trees in their woods, put there deliberately by people who thought the kids needed the "liberation", I suppose. In both of these instances, as soon as the boys glanced at the images, they recognized them as being harmful for them, and turned away from them -- folding up the magazine immediately and throwing it away; walking backwards to the trees and tearing down the paper and crumpling it up and throwing it away. Without this instruction beforehand, undoubtedly the boys would have done more than glance, and would have filled their minds with porn at very early ages. And they would have wanted more. Instead, they were taught as children that porn was evil and to be avoided -- much as you teach toddlers that ovens and stoves are hot and can burn them. You teach them about the dangers, and then they are better equipped to handle and avoid them, and to avoid being hurt by them. You don't wait until your kids are suffering 2nd-degree burns to teach them to avoid hot things. In a similar way, you don't wait until your kids are old and have their minds filled with trash to tell them that it is trash.

I wish I had been raised more like the family I mentioned above, because I would frequently read things like women's magazines that would have sex questions in it, and it filled my mind with things I ought not to have been thinking about as a teenager (yet I remained a virgin until marriage). I currently have two boys; we will be teaching them about the dangers of porn. If we have any girls, I will be teaching them about the dangers of "mental" porn. I may not be able to completely eliminate any and all threats this way, but I will do my best. If more parents had this attitude, I daresay society would change within a generation.

I don't want to go to the Islamic extreme of "honor killings"; but I disagree with your statement that "we can't go backwards." If you look at history, you will see an ebb and flow of sexuality and sexual expression. I remember reading something about Jane Austen -- that she and her brother went out for a drive with another girl and *her* brother, just the four of them; no chaperon, no adult. Later, her niece (or grand-niece), in the Victorian "prim and proper" times, remarked with horror that Aunt Jane would have done something like that. "Sure, it was just two men taking a drive with their sisters, but *still*!!" So, in one generation, there was a remarkable change in society, from a small driving party like this being acceptable to being a flagrant violation of propriety, and something that caused shame.

Lilliput said...

Hi Christina

I know you hate "Dirty Dancing" and in hindsight I should maybe have used something like Pretty Woman or any other romcom or any movie where there is an interaction between girls and boys. Although I can see your point of view on Dirty Dancing, I think you miss out the following:

1. Baby is a staunch feminist and probably believed the abortion should have been legal and free to begin with so she didn't do it only for Patric's affection,
2. They used condoms but we weren't shown - just like all the other movies except Pretty women but that came much later and she was a prostitute.
3. Have you ever been a teenager in love? That's what the movie is about so if you haven't it will be really difficult to understand but if you have - it transcends language or culture - that's what made it a huge international hit.

As for going backwards, I didn't mean that we can't as in its not possible, rather - we can't as in why would we - its like going backwards from enlightenment to the dark ages - that isn't going to help us at all. The thought of going back to prim and proper Victorian times makes me nauseous as I kinda like the ability to vote and have a choice about who I marry. And if truth be told - in this highly repressed society, mistresses and lovers were very much the norm.

So we both agree that we do need to have pornography discussions with children. Now the world can discuss what shape these discussions will take.