Dear Readers,

I now consider this blog to be my Juvenelia. Have fun perusing the archives, and find me at my new haunt, here.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Barbara Ehrenreich Unleashes Her Fury on Abstinence-Only Education...

And she's so fucking brilliant comme toujours. (Have you ever read her take-down of the breast-cancer phenemenon? OMG, readership, OMG).

The best part of her critique of the Abs-Only movement is this farcical suggestion:

Here's my advice for the abstinence training industry and any novice abstinence
trainers: First, leave the teenagers alone and focus on the vast neglected
demographic of middle-aged and elderly people, including the married. Many of them have thought they just weren't getting any, so imagine how happy they will be to see their lifestyle affirmed as a noble, pro-active, choice!
Think of the market for silver chastity rings in nursing homes and other long term care facilities!

Secondly, and I realize that this may be more controversial: The abstinent training profession should be restricted to abstinent people. Would you undergo computer training with someone who hasn't touched a computer since 1987? Would you hire a flabby, out-of-shape, personal fitness trainer? No, nor do I think you should study abstinence with someone who behaves "like an animal" in bed.

Oh, Babs! By satirically highlighting the blatant hypocrisy of the abstinence-only movement, she has given us fighting feminists a moment to ponder the ridiculous absurdity of our enemies' raison d'etre. It's a lesson in double-speak and twisted logic.

A "Pro-Lifer" follows the following rules:

I'm a former HS teacher at a Bronx school where sex-ed was not taught til 12th grade (!!!) at which point a significant percentage of the kids had already gotten pregnant, become fathers, and/or had aboritons. I had one or two heartbreaking instances of kids coming up to me asking for advice about sex. One boy used his fingers to demosntrate how far he'd (unsafely) penetrated his girlfriend and asked me if he was at risk to get her pregnant.

Another student of a friend of mine came in and announced to me and her teacher that she was "going to get that abortion," and we shouldn't worry. I was comforted similarly by a 9th (!!!) grader who dropped out of 9th grade because she was pregnant and promised me that everything was okay and she hoped to have a healthy baby at the end of her 9th grade year. One senior student discovered that her boyfriend was a cheat and tearfully took a day off for an AIDS test.

It was painful and uncomfortable for me to talk about sex with my kids because I felt unarmed with all the knowledge and expertise they needed, but mostly because of the idea that no one else had done it yet. It was staggering. At my liberal parochial school, sex ed started in 5th and 6th grades. And I'm glad it did. Because the fact of the matter is that KIDS WANT TO TALK ABOUT SEX. They want to talk about it with grown-ups, or younger adults who can give them honest, real advice. Does this mean they will follow that advice? Not necessarily. But at least they're armed.

And for that matter, I agree (sortakinda) with the wingnuts that in our society women can be taken advantage of sexually--but obviously that's due to misogyny, not some sort of inherent difference. I think some sex-ed classes should be gender-segregated and deal with issues of power-dynamics and self-confidence in relationships, date rape and setting boundaries--even the emotional stuff--as well as the nitty-gritty physical. But as long as it's medically accurate, health classes are absolutely fucking essential.

*Immortal Technique featuring Chuck D," Bin Laden" Remix

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