I debated on whether or not I wanted to wade into this arena, and in the end decided “what the hey” – I’ll dive in. My discussion of this is inspired by the USA Today, which printed a story yesterday on the topic, the headline of which was: Abstinence message goes beyond teens.
The basic gist of the piece is that the federal government is spending about $50mil a year trying to promote abstinence amongst adults. It goes on to quote people who think this is a ridiculous idea – but not because they think the federal government should be smaller, which would be my rationale (I’m more in favor of private sector promotion of abstinence amongst adults, if it is to be done). The excuse they use, essentially, is that trying to convince adults that abstinence before marriage is healthy is akin to whistling in the wind. First up:
“They’ve stepped over the line of common sense,” said James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that supports sex education. “To be preaching abstinence when 90% of people are having sex is in essence to lose touch with reality. It’s an ideological campaign. It has nothing to do with public health.”
Sarah Brown, director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, says abstinence programs are among many messages that have helped reduce teen pregnancy rates. But “the notion that the federal government is supporting millions of dollars worth of messages to people who are grown adults about how to conduct their sex life is a very divisive policy,” she says.
“We would oppose any program that stigmatizes unmarried people,” adds Nicky Grist, executive director of the Alternatives to Marriage Project, a non-profit organization based in Brooklyn, N.Y., that advocates for the rights of unmarried people.
“I think the program should talk about the problem with out-of- wedlock childbearing — not about your sex life,” Brown says. “If you use contraception effectively and consistently, you will not be in the pool of out-of-wedlock births.”
Now that sure makes sense, doesn’t it? Promoting abstinence is talking about “your sex life” whereas talking about the problem of out-of-wedlock childbearing, and how to avoid it, is not. Oook. But I digress …
The people quoted in this article are against adult abstinence education essentially because they believe it’s hopeless, intrusive, and divisive. My issue is this: if we hadn’t given up on the value of abstinence before marriage back in the late 60s/early 70s when the feminista “woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” movement was hitting its stride, we wouldn’t have experienced nearly the amount of STDs, out-of-wedlock births, and rise in welfare rolls that we did afterward. What’s so wrong with promoting the idea that promiscuity is something that should be frowned upon? Oh, that’s right. We don’t want to “stigmatize” or “divide” people. And it’s a “waste of time” because “90% of Americans are doing it, so we should just give up.
Are Americans just so sex-starved that we just can’t help ourselves? Whatever happened to self control? Well, that went out the window during the feminist movement as well, because the very idea that a woman should exercise restraint with her newfound freedom to sleep with “whoever” without consequences was offensive and oppressive to the free-love crowd. “Responsibility for ones actions” was a slogan you’d never have heard used back then, because the idea was if it felt good, you should do it. Sadly, that attitude has only ‘progressed’ through the decades since it became popular, and our culture is saturated with TV shows, movies, books, etc that reflect this carefree attitude.
One of the biggest pet peeves I have about movies today is that there is almost no development of the relationships between the men and women who become couples in them. I mean, it’s like they meet, talk for a week, then you see the first kiss, and then they immediately fall into bed. What the hell is up with that? What’s wrong with developing the relationship, and then sharing that first kiss without doing the wild thing a few seconds later?
What does it say to young adults when they see things like that? I mean, promiscuity is something that is just accepted today. It’s the norm, we’re not supposed to question it, and when someone tries to promote the idea that hey, abstinence is a surefire way to prevent disease and not get pregnant, not to mention gain respect, all hell breaks loose, the person is accused of being a prude, behind the times, frigid, etc.
Now, millions of people in this country smoke in spite of the fact that it’s bad for them. But we don’t give up on the campaigns to try and get them to quit, do we? So why do people (like the ones quoted in the article) advocate giving up on trying to preach abstinence to adults (as well as kids)? I guess because it’s acceptable to jump on the anti-smoking bandwagon because it hurts the evil tobacco companies where it counts – in other words, there is a ‘bad guy’ to target – there’s someone else to blame other than the person who willingly purchases a pack of cigarettes, whereas abstinence campaigns “stigmatize” promiscuous people as ‘the bad guy’, meaning that there is no one else to blame but the people directly engaging in the irresponsible sexual activities, and gosh we sure can’t have people frowned upon for promiscuous behavior that could have negative consequences not only for that particular person, but society as well. Promoting a healthy, responsible attitude towards sex is wrong and unfairly stigmatizes people, but promoting ways to stop smoking (and to eat better, for that matter) are a-ok.
I think I’m living in the wrong era.