What “Sex Education” Should Really Mean

Hey guys, guess what? I’m thinking about sex! I know, you are so totally surprised. Don’t worry, hugs will be distributed at the door.

What I’m really thinking about is virginity. The brilliant ladies of The Sexist and Tiger Beatdown did a great chat about virginity on Friday. And yesterday, I missed a rethinking virginity event right here in Cambridge! Which had drinkable water, unlike my office in Boston! This is like a double-decker sammich of disappointment that I was not able to attend! So man, I am thinking about virginity like nobody’s business at this point.

Rumor has it, I once had a virginity of my very own. These were in the dark days, when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Since then, I’ve frolicked with all kinds of genitals belonging to all sorts of people and Lo, It Has Been Good. Not all of it, of course. In fact, I went through YEARS of considering sex to be something akin to a chore–“I mean gosh, this boy is my boyfriend and I guess since we did that thing with the sexytimes once, I’m pretty much obligated to just keep on going.” So, you know, I kept on going.

And here’s the thing–there is so totally nothing wrong with that. For a while, I had my share of anger toward that fellow, let us call him My First Boyfriend (for that is what he was), but that’s misdirected anger. The dude was just doing what he thought he was supposed to do, and I was doing what I thought I was supposed to do, and it’s not like either of us legitimately had any clue what our penises and vaginas should do when working in tandem, or really what they could do. I mean, we had watched porn he downloaded off the internet, and we used condoms, so I guess we weren’t doing too badly, but that’s really about it. I had no concept of the fact that I could enjoy sex or what that might mean, and I certainly had no concept that at any point I could have said, “Hey, you know, it turns out that I thought I was ready for sex, but I’m actually not. I think we need to stop having it and go back to waiting.”

This is not a sob fest–like I said, I’m not upset at him, and I’ve forgiven my adolescent self for being a bit silly. What I’m upset about is the lack of proper sex ed.

Sex ed isn’t just about knowing to put a pretty wacky dunce hat on the dude’s peenor before you start waggling it where the sun don’t shine. If you’re super lucky, someone will mention lube. The clitoris might be discussed in a purely anatomical sense (“This here body part doesn’t actually serve any purpose, kind of like your tonsils. Also like the tonsils, your girlfriend will make some really neat noises if you poke her there!”). And dudes? I’m sorry, but you don’t even get a nod to your erogenous zones.

But beyond the concept of the clinically sexy parts of sexytimes, sex ed should be covering the emotional side of sex. Abstinence is actually a great fucking idea when the idea is wait until you are ready. For some people, that’s marriage. For some people, that’s in the back of a Ford Taurus on the first date. For most people, it’s somewhere between those two extremes. But the point is, when you’re having sex as a fully consenting, entirely ready, emotionally prepared individual who understands what’s involved then you’re going to have safe, healthy sex (for the most part. Ain’t nothin’ perfect in this world).

So that’s what I mean when I say that I didn’t understand that I could’ve had any sway over my early sexual encounters.

Sady puts it brilliantly in the chat:

I had been taught “don’t have sex,” and I had been taught about the importance of putting a little rubber outfit on his apparatus if I ever DID have sex. But what I had NEVER been taught, apparently, was how to respect what I wanted, and to ask for it, and how to say “no” if I did NOT want something he wanted. I mean, I didn’t even know how to say “ow” or “yikes.” My impression was that one could Have Sex or Not Have Sex, and so my first few experiences were like, “oh, so apparently sex is AWFUL? It seems weird that people are so into it! But, OK! I am Having Sex!”

As rational, sexually literate adults at this point in our lives, it’s easy to look at that and go “Pfft! Everyone knows that they can say ‘ow ‘ or ‘yikes’ or that actually, they’re NOT ready for sex. I mean, c’mon!” And then I think about it for a little while, and I think about how nervous I can even get with new partners NOW, let alone a decade ago, and it occurs to me that no, I couldn’t have said any of those things. I didn’t grasp that “ow” was a variable in sex–I figured that if it was hurting, it was because there was something wrong with me, and I didn’t think that we could fix it. Even if it could be fixed, I didn’t know how (and poor First Boyfriend didn’t know either). These days I know that if I go “ow!” I probably need to move my hips to adjust the angle, or grab a little lube or something.

Remember that part about how we watched porn from the internet? Dude, they don’t even use lube for BUTTSEX in porn. It’s just all “TA DA! Magical penis penetrates willing (and eerily hairless and colorless) ass and then everyone is MOANING and then HOLY SHIT MOTHERFUCKING MAYONNAISE EVERYWHERE!”

Did this confuse the hell out of me? Of course! Did I have anyone or anywhere to go to sort out this confusion and my fears? Most assuredly no!

The internet was fledgling in those days and I was mostly using it to play text-based roleplaying games and sometimes to read slashfic (which also doesn’t use lube for buttsex, in case you were wondering). My parents were not accessible sources of sexual information (though my dad took me to get birth control), and I was the first sexually active person in my social group so I didn’t have friends to turn to.

Later in life, I discovered women’s health forums online, I began reading books–both fiction and non–that broached the subject of female sexuality and female sexual pleasure, and I started to accumulate self-esteem. Almost six years after I had been having sex, I finally had my first orgasm alone, and that really changed things.

I’m not saying this is the experience everyone has, or that there’s necessarily a brilliant simple fix. However, reading the chat between Amanda and Sady was comforting–apparently, I am not the only one out there! Other people have weird and bizarre and sometimes unpleasant sexual experiences courtesy of the Big Hubbub surrounding virginity and the lack of really actually useful sex ed.

As Sady mentions, useful sex ed would not have changed who she (or I) decided to first sleep with. It probably wouldn’t have changed any number of Less Than Stellar And Brilliant mate selections I’ve made in my life. But it might’ve changed how I had sex with these people, and my ability to know what I wanted, that I could want something, and how to say no (or even “ow” or “yikes”).

Sex: It’s Really Not That Big Of A Deal.

So can we accept that, move on, and just do what we can to make sure that our kids and little siblings and younger friends and nieces and nephews and all those strangers out there in the world are not getting any more messed up over it? There are just such better things to be spazzing out over.

Like good looking people being in our proximity. As if sun, water, and the air trying to give us cancer wasn’t bad enough, now it’s official–the pretty people are trying to kill us all.

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05/04/2010. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Feminism and the Sex Trade

I am a bit torn on the sex trade. I’ve turned it over in my head many times and it is just yet another example of one of those things that I don’t think I know enough about to really have a definitive stance on. When I was younger, it was an easily concrete black-and-white issue of “sex trade bad!” Since then, though, I’ve grown up and had a lot of experiences that change things, including being friends with a former stripper (she now sells sex toys). As I’ve said time and again, experience is not monolithic, so what she has to say about being a stripper certainly doesn’t necessarily apply to every stripper, but talking to her has certainly opened my eyes.

Anyways, Iceland has banned all strip clubs, and the Guardian is headlining this as “Iceland: The world’s most feminist country.” I have a hard time sitting by and feeling comfortable with that statement.

It always irks me when people try to add the modifier “pro-sex” when I say I’m a feminist (“Oh, you’re a pro-sex feminist!”). First off, what the hell does that even mean? I know feminists who don’t necessarily agree with my views on sex, but they still like having it. It really bothers me that we are adding the “pro-sex” modifier because that means that being anti-sex is somehow the norm for feminists, and the whole anti-sex humorless man-hating hairy bra-burning feminist is a cultural trope I want to destroy. (For the record, my feminist friends are easily among some of the raunchiest, perviest people I know. We have fun.)

So, I dislike this idea that stamping out sexuality is a feminist victory. Stamping out unhealthy sexuality is a feminist victory, but I don’t think that getting rid of every strip club in Iceland is the answer. You can have healthy sex shows. That much I know. I doubt that every strip club is a bastion of empowered, happy, healthy women, but does that mean that getting rid of all of them is a solution? No, probably not.

I’m unfamiliar with Icelandic culture, so I cannot speak to what might play out there. But in the US, it doesn’t seem to me like it’s the presence of strip clubs that’s leading to women being commodified–that is a symptom. So even if all the strip clubs were shut down overnight, the commodification wouldn’t stop. Instead of purchasing access to look at a woman’s body legally, it will go underground, and that’s when it immediately becomes that much more dangerous, particularly for the women involved. Now it’s a lot harder for them to draw the line and say no to customers, because the customer has the leverage of the woman’s illegal activity to hold over her. It will be that much harder to get help from police. When strippers are harassed or raped, they already face a much harder time getting legal help or taken seriously; make them illegal and it will become quite nearly impossible.

You know what would be a feminist victory in my mind? If women could do what they want–be strippers if they want–without it being illegal, without getting judged, shamed, and scorned by the population, and without being blamed for any attacks they suffer. I would love for the same thing to apply to men, as well!

I had a brief discussion recently about why there are so few strip clubs that have men stripping (related: Nevada’s first male prostitute has quit his brothel after over two months, but only 10 clients) and so on. The initial knee-jerk response given was “well, women don’t want to pay to see men naked! Women aren’t wired like that/don’t have the same sex drive as men/aren’t as horny” and so on. I disagree with that. Women have libidos as well, and we like to look at naked men. However, it’s been socially programmed into everyone that women don’t want this and won’t pay for it, and if we do/would, we’re abnormal and inappropriate. So, the market has been neutered, essentially.

So to me, a feminist victory would be equal opportunity sex trade–anyone who wants to strut their stuff can, without recrimination. They will be provided with safe working conditions, health care, vacation time, etc. The social stigma will be removed. Their clients will treat them with respect and appreciation.

Sexuality is powerful, wonderful stuff. The more we make it illegal and shameful, the further we will have to go to achieve a state of healthy, happy sexuality.

P.S. Would you look at that! In the time it took me to write this, Feministing did a write-up that bludgeons mine into the ground. Go check it out!

03/29/2010. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Love in the Time of Feminism

Hello, my name is Cuppy van der Cake and I am a single feminist.

Dating as a feminist isn’t actually as glamorous as you might think (for starters, the expressions of genuine surprise when I show up on a date wearing a skirt and heels–“Wow, you look amazing. Wait, you’re a feminist. Are you allowed to do that?” Foot In Mouth Disease continues to afflict huge numbers of our nation’s men). Feminism is such an “f-word” in our society and so loaded with so many connotations–most of them patently false–that just casually dropping the word into conversation can lead to more melodramatic facial expression than a college performance of Hamlet. On the one hand, it’s a great litmus–if the guy immediately looks like his genitals just took up residence high up in his abdomen, he’s probably not compatible with me. I’ve also gotten some great teaching opportunities out of it, such as with my friend who, when out with me once, remarked, “I still can’t get over the fact that you’re a feminist. I mean, you’re so much fun!” (While I enjoy elucidating my politics to him semi-regularly, you’ll note he’s no more than f riend.) Sure, it’s always great to demystify feminism and have the opportunity to help someone better understand what this whole racket is about.

Trust me, I’ve got my fair share of aggravation that it requires the guy hoping that he’ll get laid to make him willing to actually listen to me.

There’s also been the fair share of people who respond really poorly. That’s terribly disappointing, believe me, but also disappointing is the fact that they receive such mixed signals that it’s almost hard to blame them.

This morning, one of my friends linked me to an article on CNN about first date rules for guys to help them get a second date.  I don’t even know where to begin with disappointing this article is, and should be, for both women and men. For starters, the entire thing is just one constant reinforcement of gender roles in the worst way.

We do not want to decide where to go. We will never tell you this, but it is true. Ask us what kind of place and/or food we like; then, pick a place like that. Do not leave it up to us to choose. You are the man. Act like one.

Really? Is that REALLY necessary? Why does picking the place have to fall on the burden of the MAN? What does it have to do with gender? I’ve always thought that the person who does the inviting should make suggestions on where they would like to take the other person. I mean, why ask someone out if you have no ideas about what to do? But likewise, person being asked out, why would you agree to go out with someone if you can’t come up with something or someplace that you’d like to share with them?

Ultimately, this is a disgusting reinforcement of the idea of women as receptacles in the dating world–we are passive objects, upon which dating is an action that men perform. Why on earth would we want to show any agency in making any decisions or being active in the potential relationship? Our willingness to conform to whatever our man wants, and to prop up his ego with grateful appreciation that he has spared us from the agonizing pain of having to make a decision, is really where our charm lies. Or at least it must be, because our charm is apparently not in the fact that we know a really great hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant with a fantastic cocktail list that we’d love to share with someone interesting.

If you forget, we will feel angry and want to leave. Then you will be sorry.

Are we on a date, or are we negotiating a hostage situation? Yes, that’s right, do as I wish or NO VAGINA FOR YOU! Listen buddy, I’m not screwing around here–either you start listening and asking thoughtful and sensitive questions, or I will start letting my pubic hair grow in! YOU’LL BE SORRY!

Feminism, shmeminism. Take care of the bill without comment. That is what we want. Wave off any offer to go dutch. We lied. We don’t want to pay half.

Oh. My. God. Do I even need to say anything? I can’t even decide which part of this comment to bold for emphasis. It’s just all so finger-lickin’ good rage-inducin’ IDIOCY. I can’t bring myself to sell short any of it by emphasizing one part over another.

Sweet merciful apeshit pogosticking christ on a fuckshingle.

MUST we push women back fifty years every time we turn around? Really? Look, I’m not saying I don’t appreciate it when a guy picks up the tab because my dates usually make more than I do–I’m a grad student and I work in the education sector, so if you think I can afford, well, anything, then you’d be wrong–but to expect it, and to suggest that not paying the whole tab could be the reason why a guy doesn’t get a second date… That is incredibly insulting.

It is 2010. The age demographic that is reading CNN and stumbling upon these dating tips are presumably all in at least their 20s. Therefore, we have jobs, we have apartments, many of us have crippling student loans, possibly even car loans or mortgages. Gym memberships, cell phones, all of that jazz–modern living is not cheap, and yet us ladies are managing to pay our way through all of that. So why, for fuck’s sake, can we not pay for our share of a dinner? What happened to being independent and competent?

Don’t even get me started on my reaction to the “feminism shmeminism” bit. I think I burst so many blood vessels from my rage that I have permanently discolored my face (bonus: no more need to navigate the tricksy dating landscape!). THIS IS WHAT IS WRONG. THIS IS WHERE MIXED SIGNALS COME FROM.

Women: are we still children? Do we need our dates to be our fathers? If the answer is NO, then find that backbone that you surely must have somewhere inside that body of yours and pay for your fucking dinner! If that’s too challenging, then maybe offer to pay for after dinner drinks. Basically, this isn’t the 50s anymore–women can, and do, work. We have our own income, so there’s no longer a RATIONAL reason to have the men pay. It’s just upholding a gender imbalance, encouraging restrictive roles, and continuing to relegate women to commodities that are purchased (sure, he’s not actually handing you cash and saying “that’ll be one blowjob, please,” but there’s a heavy cultural subtext in that direction).

Anyways, continuing on down the line. Let’s say the date is successful, despite all these ridiculous expectations and bullshit norms flying around, and we keep on seeing each other. We make it to the sexytimez. Awww yeeeaaah.

First off, as Lady GaGa has so aptly observed, “When a guy says, ‘Oh I fucked all these chicks this week,’ there’s a high-five and giggling. But when a woman does it and its publicised or she’s open about her sexuality or she’s free or liberated, it’s, ‘Oh, she must have a dick.'”

So, that certainly launched into the “oh god it’s hard to be a woman and have sex” segment of this post!

But yeah, it’s hard to be a woman and have sex. The virgin/whore dichotomy is so popular and so prevalent that it almost doesn’t need a name; it’s just “our culture.” Women need to be sexy and sexualized and utterly sexually available–but also to just one man. He shouldn’t have to exert any effort to obtain her services–because that would make her a tease; she’d be blueballing him!–but nonetheless he should be the only man who ever has or ever will touch her. (Why is this? Is it because every man secretly knows that Captain Kirk is the coolest, so they too want to go where no man has gone before? Is it rampant insecurity about their performance? Is it the ability to claim ownership of the woman’s sexuality? I have no idea. I prefer not to hypothesize too much.)  So if you can even manage to get to the sexytimes, they are fraught with the peril that you will suddenly transform from desirable partner into shameful hussy, all in the matter of minutes.

As it turns out, sex is FUN. It feels good. The female body is wired incredibly well for sex. Ladies, our bodies kick ass. Even without another person present, our bodies are capable of some truly awesome stuff. So really, there is no shame in enjoying sex.

But of course, now sex has become a performance. Jezebel had a great piece about skin mags in Britain that talks about the pornification of sex. In it, author Natasha Walters observes “sex was now seen much more as a kind of performance rather than the intimacy and communication and emotional experience that it was once seen as, and I think that’s clearly tied in to the rise of pornography.” Now, as Anna, the author at Jezebel, notes, sex isn’t necessarily about intimacy and communication and emotions (and it doesn’t need to be), but it shouldn’t really be a performance. Real life sexual encounters and porn are two different things. The “pornification” of sex is getting ridiculous (no, really. If I was more into sharing my personal life, I’d have some stories!) and it’s leaking into the ability of people to have healthy, enjoyable sex lives.

I’m not saying it’s not fun to smack the occasional ass, pull some hair, shove up her skirt and go at it doggie style on the kitchen counter (because it’s fun. It’s really fun). However, porn is about sex LOOKING interesting. Sex is about sex ACTING interesting. Like with fancy shoes, just because it looks good doesn’t mean it feels good.

There was an article a while back on Salon that I just never get tired of linking: How Not To Make Love Like a Porn Star. I laugh so hard every time I read it, and I just keep coming back to it because it just keeps being true.

But I will conclude (because I’ve been working on this entry too long and really need to get to class) with the simple question of: how do you make it work? How do you own your sexuality and get what you want in bed without having to deal with enormous fallout from the social implications? How do you have a satisfying dating life without being a passive receptacle? How can you be a force for positive change in the dating paradigm without being so over the top that you lose people’s attention? It’s easy to be sexually aggressive, get what you want, etc, but if you’re too overwhelming, you get branded a “slut” and no one will listen. It’s frustrating and ridiculous, but there we have it.

I’m passionate about the concept of “every day feminism” and making how you live your life and conduct yourself in everyday ways be little acts of feminism. Live your dissent! So, it seems to go without saying to me that how I date, engage in relationships, and have sex absolutely must be informed by my feminism (thank god I’m nowhere near worrying about cohabiting or marriage, because that’s yet another can of worms that I occasionally reflect on, and then pretty much go into the fetal position from feeling overwhelmed). But how do I balance my personal feminism with the ability to make feminism more accessible? Teaching and opening minds is quite possibly one of the single most important things in my world (oops, is my grad school showing?) and I recognize that sometimes in order to bridge gaps, you must compromise. How does one achieve balance?

All that said, I’m glad that I live in a time when my concerns about dating and sex are how to balance them with my feminism. We don’t live in a golden age of women’s lib or anything, but I’m still glad that we’ve come far enough that I even have the option to worry about how to conduct my sexual relationships (that do not need to involve marriage) and so on. “How do I best live my feminism?” is the kind of pretty awesome problem that I’m okay with having to work with.

02/25/2010. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Once again, sex–with a condom, with a magic vagina, with a fatty, or just not at all.

Oh hai internets. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Well, I’m back. And, as ever, I’m talking about sex.

Specifically, how we need to get our heads out of our collective asses and be a little smarter about it.

It seems like lately I’ve been embroiled in a lot of discussion about sex. First there was that really special comment from the pope about how condoms won’t help solve the AIDS problem in Africa (o rly? plz to be sharing with me your brilliant answer, Mister Popeman–and don’t you dare say Jesus!). I think what made that extra special is that when I commented on that in my personal LiveJournal, people responded to it with the idea that I should be used to this, that I should just shrug it off because it will never change and that I really ought to expect it of the pope by now.

Just because I expect it and I am used to it doesn’t make it any less infuriating or any less important of a public health issue. Condoms save lives in very real and important ways. When people claim that condoms should not be promoted because it promotes having sex, I have to call bullshit. My response: “The problem is that saying condoms promote sex is a fallacy, no more than wearing seat belts promotes reckless driving or purchasing homeowners insurance promotes leaving your doors and windows open and unlocked when you leave.” Condoms are not flawlessly reliable, they are not some magical panacea for all the ills of the developing world. However, to say that because they allow people to get it on now and again with less risk means that we are promoting sex and that AIDS will spread? That is bullshit. And anyways, sex promotes itself just fine. Biology took care of that one. We don’t need latex to help out.

Next there was the Manic Pixie Dream Girl article. Let’s steer clear of what films were selected for the article because I do not agree with many of them. The premise of the article, however, is very valid: in an absurd number of films (particularly self-reflective indie flicks as of late) the protagonist is a homely, awkward, depressed and stifled young man. He finds his salvation between the thighs of a beautiful, quirky, free-spirited woman who liberates him through her magical vagina and all of its live-giving powers.

I don’t even know what to say to that. I mean, vaginas are pretty cool, don’t get me wrong. But it seems that sex–usually with a woman who would be classed “way out of his league” by stereotypical measures–is all it takes to solve the problems of these “complex” men. The girls are caricatures at best, tropes exacerbated into the worst state of two-dimensional utility. They exist as vessels that carry their vaginas through the world to deliver salvation-via-splooge to the protagonist. She is the quintessential example of Simone de Beauvoir’s analysis of the female as other, serving as a mirror into which the male may gaze and discover himself. It is through his interactions with her that he achieves agency and self-realization; my god, movies, could you get anymore 1950s?

I dunno. I liked the article because the MPDG trope is one that I’ve been subconsciously noticing and wincing about for a while now–I’m glad someone could put it into words better than I could.

Moving on, following hot on the heels of that was the truly glorious article on what to do if your girlfriend starts getting love handles. I think I’ve pretty much blown my load (LOL GUYS!!!1!) on this one already, and really, it speaks for itself.

For those of you who have read this far, here’s the reward for you to reap: two Princeton professors bemoan the horrors of collegiate sex. Thank god professors at a top notch school are so open-minded and rational about something that should be such a non-issue. …Oh, wait. Crap.
Basically, these guys are pretty horrified by late teens/early twenties students getting it on. Therefore, Princeton ought to have a “Purity Center” for students who want to live “honorably.” Because everyone knows that if you aren’t a virgin, you’re a goddamn filthy horrifying disgusting tainted and worthless whore. A WHORE, I say! Do you hear me? Do I need to shake my fist at you? Don’t think I won’t wave this Bible!

…Ah, yes, a nurturing environment for over-stressed college kids. I can see it already.
Never mind referring to a women’s center or an LGBT center as “ideological groups” (cause being a woman ain’t just my biology, baby, it’s my philosophy!) or claiming that Princeton should provide a paid full-time staff… The over all attitude of shaming, and particularly finger-pointing at women, is ridiculous. I don’t feel that surprised when I see things like this coming out of Bob Jones U or Deep South Religious Right R Us, but this is Princeton. This is supposed to be a bastion of education, reflection, and reason. Mostly, I’m just saddened and disappointed.

Coming soon: rape–myth or reality? (You’d be surprised who thinks the former!), sexual violence and the military from a handful of different perspectives, and up-skirt photography–because you didn’t need another reason to feel sketched out by that dude in the checkout line who just keeps getting a bit too close and tying his shoes.
Till next time (and may it be a sooner next time than last time).

03/27/2009. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Musings from a saddened bitch.

Sexuality. We all need more healthy doses of it. I’m certainly not about to preach my own approach to sexuality, because I’m actually pretty certain that I made a hell of a lot of mistakes (20/20 hindsight and all that). However, I can’t stop feeling overwhelmed with, well, sadness when I look at the direction our country is going in regards to sex and sexuality. The construction of shame and “dirtiness” associated with sex, the deeply proprietary way teenage girls’ bodies are being transformed into commodities (purity balls anyone?), and yet the continued sexualization of everything (high heeled shoes for infants, padded bras for eight year olds, the “don’t bother getting dressed when you leave your house” concept of fashion, and the continued slash-and-burn of young girls’ self-esteem. I have my fair share of hang-ups about sex and sexuality, and I think I was pretty fortunate in having a not-too-messed-up upbringing in regards to these things, and GFA was certainly pro sex ed. So I can’t help but fear for the teens growing up without any sex ed, those who don’t understand how to have safe sex, let alone the fact that wanting to have sex is perfectly normal, that masturbation is not only normal but can be good for your health, that no there is nothing weird or dirty about those feelings you have, and that menstruation is not you dying (girls getting their first period and thinking they’re DYING or feeling ashamed is just too prevalent for me to write that off). We don’t give kids nearly enough credit. A properly educated kid will probably make a smart decision. Ground them with the facts–about diseases, pregnancy, safety, what their bodies are doing, etc–and then support the facts with self-esteem, a nurturing environment, and trust and respect, and I think we’d all be impressed by how many healthy, happy kids would appear out of that (and I don’t mean babies :P).

What I realize the more I grow older is exactly how easy it is to pass judgment on teenagers. To have that knee-jerk reaction of “You’re too young! You don’t know what you’re doing!” or of “You won’t feel this way in three months!” But if nothing else, passing judgment like that won’t help them make a healthy decision. Most likely, they’ll go ahead with their original plan just to spite us jerks. Honestly, we’d be the jerk in that situation. Maybe they ARE too young, and maybe they DON’T know what they’re doing. But it’s better to guide them through educating them about the risks (you know, the real ones, not the “but you are a rose, and every time you have pre-marital sex, you rip off a petal and someday you won’t be able to find a husband cause you’ll just be a thorny brand” ones, and yes, that is a real abstinence ad campaign), and then stepping back and giving them enough trust and respect to let them make their own choice.

I don’t know. I’ve just been feeling very overwhelmed lately with how much our culture is focused on the negative of everything–the negative of feminism, the negative of sexuality, the negative of Democrats or Republicans, the negative of people who make less than six figures buying houses… It seems like a lot of fear-mongering, and I hate to see the results. Great, now I’m depressed. Hey, guess what? Planned Parenthood still hasn’t hired me to be a sexual health educator. I’m sad about that. 😛

10/28/2008. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Abstinence: Stop Doing It For Yourself, Do It For Daddy Instead!

So, we have yet another beauty of an abstinence article. I think a lot of us have heard of purity balls, but I just can’t stop being horrified by them. First off, there’s something a little Electra-complex-ish about pledging your virginity to your father (“I swear, Daddy, I will love no other man until on my wedding day you give me to my husband, who will then own me in your place!”). Also, why must the girl pledge to her father? Why can’t she pledge to remain a virgin for herself, for her own reasons? This is once again requiring some sort of male presence and guidance, whatever you want to call it. Also particularly great are some of the examples of these shining role models:

“It’s also good for me,” said Terry Lee, 54, who attended the ball for a second year, this time with his youngest daughter, Rachel, 16. “It inspires me to be spiritual and moral in turn. If I’m holding them to such high standards, you can be sure I won’t be cheating on their mother.”

I can only hope to one day have a marriage that healthy and fulfilling! I mean, if it requires your daughter’s virginity being at stake to keep you from cheating on your wife, you must have a really great marriage!

Recent studies have suggested that close relationships between fathers and daughters can reduce the risk of early sexual activity among girls and teenage pregnancy.

I don’t buy it. My dad is one of my best friends, and has been for just about as long as I can remember. We’ve always had a great, close relationship, but that didn’t stop me from getting involved in “early sexual activity”–looking back, holy crap was I young! All that happened was that I went to my dad to help me get a gyno appointment, get on the pill, etc. So via the theory of that article, there is no good reason that I should’ve started having sex so young, except that maybe I didn’t pledge my hymen to my father. 😛 However, I’ve turned out pretty much okay–this is probably because my dad, although he wanted to strangle my then boyfriend, did the right thing. He got me the care I needed, thanked me for coming to him rather than doing nothing, and gave me as much advice as he could.

Can any of the girls who went through those purity ball experiences feel confident that their fathers would do the same for them? Or do you think they are now even more terrified to broach the subject with their dads?

((Originally written 5/20/2008 for my LiveJournal and reposted here))

06/06/2008. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.