Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Politics and sexuality: A brief redux -

"With your feet in the air and your head on the ground, try this trick and spin it.
You head will collapse, but there's nothing in it, and you'll ask yourself:
Where is my mind?"

Though massive cuts in most social progams were proposed by this years White House budget (many of which were subsequently rejected by the Senate), one group of programmes had their fundings greatly increased again, with further increases proposed in the next few years: Abstinence-only programs.

These programs, for those living under rocks or what have you, these are sexual "education" programs mandated in primary and secondary schools that are designed to coerce sexual abstinence from teenagers. To this end, they're not allowed to talk about 'safer' sex practices at all, often resorting to complete disinformation about the efficacy of condoms and other birth control methods. A member of a religious group promoting this sort of garbage said ""Look at the trends if you want to see whether abstinence education works." Well, Jimmy Hester, I'm glad also noticed that "students... didn't even realize that abstinence was an option." No? You mean, there is a way out of the rampant mandatory sex parties that all high schools have? That's genius! About condoms and safer sex: that just "waters down the message." Which is what? Let me turn to my dear friend Julia for the answer to that:

"Unlike Winston, she had grasped the inner meaning of the Party's sexual puritanism. It was not merely that the sex instict created a world of its own which was outside the Party's control and therefore had to be destroyed ... more important was that sexual privation indued hysteria, which was desirable because it could be transformed into war fever and leader worship. The way she put it was: '...All this marching up and down and cheering and waving flags is simply sex gone sour.' "

Fortunately, ( but also with frightening implications), telling people not to do something doesn't actually mean they'll do anything about it. You'd think they'd have learned that about laws regarding alcohol or marijuana. But in the case of this sort of intentional dis / mis-information, it's had the predictable effect of reducing the use of condoms and birth control, without any accompanying reduction in rates of sexual activity. Nice work!

From several studies on the matter :

"29 high schools became increasingly sexually active after taking such courses"
"no evidence the large amount of money we're spending is having an effect,"
"80 percent of the curricula examined contained false, misleading or distorted information."
"Students who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are more likely to take chances with other kinds of sex that increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases."

The clincher about the hacks who promote the abstinence-'education' is that they're not particularly interested in what actually happens, instead focusing on what would happen if their desired result was achieved. About the studies showing that those who pledge abstience are less likely to use protection, especially during oral and anal sex:

"Kids who pledge abstinence are taught that any word that has 'sex' in it is considered a sexual activity," Unruh [one of the hacks] said. "Therefore oral sex is sex, and they are staying away." [emphasis mine]

They are? Not in reality, of course, but, as we've all heard about lies, damnes lies, and statistics -- they're unconcerned with surveys of what people are actually doing. It's great to not actually have anything to do with, you know. Actual events.

Sources :
Article 1
Article 2
Ninteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
The Pixies: Where is my mind? (Surfer Rosa)


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