Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sexuality Education

This is a good post from the "strategy center advancing faith in the public square as a positive and unifying force for justice, compassion and the common good," Faith in Public Life, that reminds us that the University of Pennsylvania study is not an abstinence only in abstinence until marriage but abstinence only in that people shouldn't have sex unless they want to and feel ready. HUGE difference.

What bothers me most about the articles announcing this study is that all the twisted headlines imply a study that is abstinence-until-marriage and that people are so willing to drop all the other research we've done for YEARS on how abstinence only doesn't work. Hello? Remember how a few weeks ago we were slapped in the face by the teen pregnancy rates in the US? Ridiculous that people are so quick to jump on the abstinence-only bandwagon because of one study that points out abstinence used in a medically accurate comprehensive program may have some merit.

For me, the most important aspect of sexuality education we can teach people is respect. Too many women are socialized not to respect themselves and too many men are socialized not to respect women. Advocating abstinence "until ready" is a way to encourage people to take the time to decide what is best for them. To cultivate relationships (perhaps- of course sex does not have to be about relationships) not based on ye old "just say no" but on empowering people to make their own decisions about their bodies.

As a victim of abstinence-only-until-marriage bullshit, I can tell you that it is completely useless in encouraging people not to have sex, in empowering people to act against the culture of sex sells, and in fostering respect among all parties involved. This ties into our rape culture as well: abstinence-only-until marriage programs do not promote any kind of healthy sexual relationships. Nor, I would assume, do condom-only programs. So let's stop victimizing kids and instead focus on how we can empower them to make their own decisions concerning their sexuality.

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