things that, upon further reflection, really piss me off and have come up recently

Abstinence-only education
This is in the news because Sarah Palin supports it, but it really didn’t make me angry until I thought about it for a while. I understand teenagers having sex is bad (in a relative sense) and abstinence is a good thing and all that, but the fact is that around 60% of high school seniors will have had sex at least once before they graduate. (saw this recently, although I can’t find a reliable citation at the moment)

If you think condoms are immoral (looking at you, Catholic Church) then I can at least understand the objection here (not that I agree), but imagining that not telling kids anything else except “don’t have sex, it’s horrible, etc.” will make them (teenagers! the most rebellious age group?) just decide not to have sex, despite the fact that hormones are raging.

Not telling these kids about how to protect themselves is irresponsible. Only 15 percent of Americans support only teaching abstinence.

“Traditional” gender roles
This weekend, there were some books and movies and stuff in the beach house we rented, one of which was “Husbands Who Won’t Lead and Wives Who Won’t Follow”. This really grinds my gears (I read like half a page over breakfast and couldn’t continue). Firstly, the existence of gay couples is brushed aside with no explanation or anything, which almost makes me more upset than if one were arguing against us directly.

But even beyond that, this is flat out sexism. And what is the justification for this? I know that’s the way it was in the past, because men were slightly stronger so they could go kill the mammoths while the women cared for the children, but I don’t see anything fundamentally good or bad about that. Why is sex supposed to determine our role, and not personality and the particular relationship we’re in or whatever? This is a conservative point of view (“conservative” in the this-is-how-things-were-done-in-the-past-so-we-better-keep-doing-them-because-the-past-was-awesome-compared-to-now) but why is it pushed by religions as well? I know there are a few small examples of this in the Bible (“Wives, be submissive to your husbands”) but I just don’t get how this fits in with anything else.

13 thoughts on “things that, upon further reflection, really piss me off and have come up recently”

  1. Agreed on Abstinence. Cause we all know telling teenagers ‘don’t do that, your too young’ works so well. And abstinence is an easy, one step program instead of actually doing work to inform about something they will have to deal with their whole life. Part of making a responsible decision is having adequate information on which to actually excercise decent judgement. The need for information is even greater when it potentially can change not just one life, but several. On gender roles…. well you answered your own question really. The majority of religions are conservative entities. They too want to keep things how they are/were. I do suspect we have some degrees of actual ‘typical’ gender role adaptations, but those are minor in comparision to actual talent and skill. But there is a lot of social adaptations to certain roles, and anyone going against typical role still sees a ton of resistance.

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  2. Like you said, those opposed to teaching any sort of contraception want are divided into two main camps. The first is those who think it’s immoral (contraception) and such don’t want it taught in schools. This I have some sympathy for, but knowledge of immoral things isn’t the same as teaching someone to DO it (for example, we teach people about the Holocaust so genocide WON’T happen again, not to give them ideas). Second are those who think that if we take away ANY impediment to kids having sex then they’ll have more sex. It’s better for them to be too scared of aids, stds, pregnancy, myths. Then, perhaps they won’t have sex. Telling them “This is how you have consequences-free sex” even if it’s attached with the controversial phrase “once you are in a situation where it’s moral to have sex” still gives them tools to have consequence-free sex.

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    1. … except there is no such thing as consequences-free sex (well in my opinion). And I think that too is major important lesson that is being omitted.

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      1. You can minimize the risks. But to me the risks are a sub set of the consequences. Especially with teenagers, the potential emotial consequences and all that mess are not to be ignored.

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      2. True, but teenagers don’t pay attention to those typically. And if you minimize the risks, you increase the chances that teens will have sex.

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  3. Yeah, anything that reinforces archaic gender roles really really really grinds my gears. I’m fine with a woman choosing to quit her job and stay at home with the kids if it was TRULY entirely her decision and not forced upon her by her upbringing, societal pressure, family pressure, the workforce, her husband, guilt, religion, etc. I really this really angering article by this guide who did an interview study where he interviewed gay couples that have been together for 25 years or longer (these must be rare and exceptional couples because 25 years ago things were way freakin different). He “determined” that the way gay couples should work optimally is if one acts like a woman and one acts like a man and even gave a 4 point test so you can ask your potential partner to find out if they are a “man” or a “woman”. The questions were “Are you a top or bottom”, “Would you prefer to be in charge of the financial or emotional aspects of the relationship?”, “Do you like to talk about something or do something?”, and something else stupid. Greg and I turned out to be about half man/half woman each according to this test.

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    1. Abstinence only education really helps high school guys get laid. I will explain that statement by using traditional gender roles shown to us in Hollywood movies. You see men are smarmy, and in high school your one quest in life is to have sex with a woman. Nothing else really matters, and often prom is your best shot at completing the end goal. Now given a choice of being raised in an environment where they teach everyone about STD’s, consequences, preventative measures, teen pregnancy, and so on and so forth…man that’s a buzzkill. It’s enough to scare girls into not wanting to mess around anymore. Now raise them in an environment where its a simple decision..you either do it or you don’t…and base it all on loooovee..and sure they probably know about pregnancy, but you can make up any sort of ritual that will ward off pregnancy and they won’t know any better! BAM you’re back in the game.

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    2. I think Patrick and I would be each half man/half woman in that test. What rubbish. (Then again, we try to be very egalitarian in our relationship–we actually think the gender-role-free gay relationship model is the healthiest way to do things. So…yeah.)

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  4. Abstinence-only education is analogous to not teaching kids about the dangers of intoxicated driving. Kids under 21 shouldn’t be drinking, so we must assume that they won’t drink, and it would be irresponsible of us to teach them anything that could imply that they might drink.

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    1. Oh shit, I never realized that! Gah, this society is totally going under when we have teachers and parents talking to kids about drunk driving! This has to end at once.

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  5. Not that I’m adding anything in particular, but neither abstinence-only, nor teaching birth-control and the “horrors of pre-marital promiscuity” is going to cause a severe reduction in a teenager’s hormonal desire for sex. It’s built into our genetics. However…one thing that has seemed reasonable to me is an attempt to de-taboo(to coin a new phrase) talk about sex and sexuality. The more open people are to discuss it, from all aspects, the more likely someone is to use their brains when it counts. It’s not just the potential physical and emotional consequences that have to be discussed, but also the more pragmatic social and financial sides as well. The earlier we make sure people understand, and the more comfortable they are in coming to respected adults for advice, questions, etc, the more influence we can have to make sure our moral standpoint(whatever that may be) is reflected in our youth.

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