Selah March

September 3, 2008

This rant is 99 and 44/100% pure. NOT.

Filed under: blah blah blah — Selah March @ 9:47 am

I’m not really back. That light at the end of the tunnel I thought I saw last month? Yeah. BIG-ass Amtrak passenger train. Not pretty. But that doesn’t mean I can’t get riled and do a turn as Ranty McRantypants if I FEEL LIKE IT. Dammit.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been truly political on this blog (unless you count Romancelandia politics, which I don’t) but at the risk of offending my right-wing buddies (all four of you) and in light of recent revelations, I feel the need to address – or re-address – how much so-called “abstinence education” in our public schools sucks AND blows at the same damn time.

Case in point: Bristol Palin, seventeen-year-old daughter of vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin.

You know, at first? I cringed when I heard the pundits blaming Palin for her daughter’s situation. The usual, “Well, if she’d been home where she BELONGED instead of out running the state of Alaska, maybe her little girl wouldn’t be knocked up.”

Please. Like working mothers have the market cornered on early, unwanted grandmotherhood. I’m no fan of Palin’s politics or party, but slagging her because her daughter made a bad choice – as adolescents are SHOCKINGLY likely to do – makes me wanna kick some misogynist ass. Because where is Bristol’s father in this equation? Or the parents of Bristol’s baby-daddy? Or the baby-daddy himself?

But then I caught a clip of the Palin family’s pastor preaching purity (say that five times fast on half a cup of decaf, come on, I dare ya) and my attitude changed. “Purity is power,” says the pastor. “We teach our kids to abstain.”

This was followed by a clip of Sarah Palin talking about how she opposed “explicit sexual education in the schools.”

Okay, look…I was sexually active at seventeen. Do I regret it? Only my choices in partners, frankly. The actual sex wasn’t all that great, but because I was well educated on the topic of birth control, how to use it, and the consequences for NOT using, it didn’t ruin my life. Am I any less godly because I lost my cherry early? That’s not for me to say. Do I want my kids to follow in my footsteps on this issue? HELL no…BUT…if they choose not to listen to my endless refrain of, “Wait, it’ll be better if you WAIT, please for the love of God, WAIT,” they’ll know how to use a frickin’ condom.

Because really? Purity isn’t power. KNOWLEDGE is power. Teenagers have a nasty tendency to think they know best, whether it’s about the proper amount of time one should spend prepping for the geometry midterm or whether they should be screwing their significant others in the back of the nearest Chevy Bronco. Since they already think they’re invincible, let’s make SURE they know how to protect themselves against becoming parents too young and, incidentally, truly life-ruining consequences like AIDS, hepatitis, herpes and cervical-cancer-causing viruses. Whaddya say? Is it really that radical a concept?

The side benefit of all this icky education about sex is fewer unwanted kids being raised by under-educated parents, which have a tendency to be a drain on society. It never fails to amaze me how the very people who rail the loudest against “the government forcing sex-education on our families” (and for “government” in this equation, please read “your kid’s sixth grade health teacher,” a threat to our God-given liberties if ever I’ve seen one) in the schools are also the ones who bitch and moan about the so-called Welfare State. Fewer babies born to folks who don’t finish high school means fewer kids on public assistance, folks. Do the fucking math. Literally.

Think abstinence education isn’t a widespread phenomenon in this country? Think again. Right now, it’s the ONLY federally funded sex-ed in the United States. The current administration has spent…wait for it…over a BILLION taxpayer dollars on trying – and failing – to get our kids to JUST SAY NO to sexy-time. Why do I say “failing?” Because abstinence education – which isn’t really education at all, but propaganda that in at least one case compares a non-virginal teenaged girl to a dirty toothbrush – doesn’t work.

This paraphrased from a recent UNICEF study (yeah, UNICEF, those pinko-commie-terrorist-liberals who have a vested interest in…uh…feeding hungry children): The United States has the highest teenaged birth rate among 28 developed countries. In Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Sweden, less than 10 per 100,000 teenagers give birth per year. In the good ol’ USA? An average of 40 girls under the age of twenty per 100,000 pop out rugrats each and every year. And the numbers are highest in the Bible Belt, go figure.

Is this because other countries have higher abortion rates? No. The U.S. is currently holding at around 20 abortions per 1000 women per year, whereas European countries average around 12 per 1000.

The difference between countries where girls and boys don’t become mommies and daddies? SEX EDUCATION IN THE SCHOOLS. The real thing, with pictures and graphs and frank discussions that name body parts. Gross, I know. But apparently effective.

Here’s some more statistics for ya: In a study of 12,000 young adults who’d done the whole “purity pledge” thing, a full 88% said they went ahead and fucked somebody before the walked down the aisle. Another study of 16,000 teens searched for and found no – nada, zip, zilch – difference in the number of sexual partners, STDs and pregnancies between “purity” pledging kids and slutty little sluts (like me at seventeen).

One more statistic? If I haven’t already bored you to tears with all the hard numbers? If U.S. teen-pregnancy, abortion and birth rates were brought down to…let’s say…European levels? You know, where they teach ACTUAL SEX ED?? We’d save a billion dollars a year that at the moment goes to economic losses and health care costs associated with teens getting knocked up. This doesn’t even count the dollars we spend on treating teenaged STDs and their aftermath.

And yes, sometimes kids who are taught how to use contraceptives don’t use them anyway. And sometimes contraceptives fail. And wouldn’t we all be much happier and safer if our kids would just WAIT to become sexually active, preferably until we’re DEAD?? Of course we would. But so long as there’s a better-than-even chance that we can prevent SOME unwanted pregnancies and diseases among our kids, shouldn’t we give it our very best shot? I mean, isn’t that a true no-brainer?

So here’s the deal, Wanna-be Vice Pres. Palin – I support your right to say you don’t want your kids taught how to use a condom in health class. Fine, whatever, pull your child out of class, have him/her take a study hall. But don’t you dare mandate ignorance for MY kids or – more relevantly – the kids down the block whose parents might not know how to teach them proper contraception and disease-prevention.

And while I don’t hold you personally responsible for the choices your daughter and her boyfriend made, I do wonder if maybe a private mother-daughter session with a Trojan Extra-Large and a green banana might’ve prevented poor Bristol from having to marry a guy whose MySpace page stated right up front as recently as two days ago that he DOESN’T WANT CHILDREN. (Wow…I’m rooting for your grandbaby-to-be to have a loving, supportive home life, but really? Not looking good. Hope you’ll have lots of time and love to give the poor thing…oh, wait…you might be busy running the country, huh? Oh, well. I’m sure everything will turn out fine for the little guy or girl, so long as he/she grows up to understand that “purity is power.”)

In closing, allow me to point out that in the larger scheme of things, if MY teenaged daughter is sexually active, and YOUR teenaged daughter is sexually active, but only YOUR daughter gets knocked up? I WIN.

I’ll take my victory lap on the day my daughter graduates med school without a baby on her hip.


  1. Well. Things haven’t been THAT bad over there because apparently your brain cells are firing brilliantly.

    Bristol holding her brother in front of her tummy on tha stage just about made me cry. And Dh and I were talking last night about this wedding. And when they would be divorced. All in the name of politics.

    Comment by Eva Gale — September 3, 2008 @ 10:13 am | Reply

  2. Get out of my head.

    Comment by Mel-O-Drama — September 3, 2008 @ 10:33 am | Reply

  3. As Chris Rock says so very well. As a father of a girl, “You job is to keep her off the pole.” (Stripper pole but I guess the other one works just as well.)

    I am not going to sit in judgement on how any American family handles their teenagers because no matter what anyone tells you — if they say sex ed is the answer they are lying … abstinence is the cure-all? They are lying – teenagers are insane. Any parent with a teenager knows this. It’s how the parents deal with the insanity that true grace is demonstrated. You do your best with what you believe and hope will work and then watch in horror and fascination as they do whateverthehelltheywantanyway.

    I humbly disagree with your rant that there is a right way to teach kids about sex. Each family has to decide what experiment they want to gamble with and find out that it’s all a lesson in futility anyway. The only thing that matters when all is said and done is a sense of humor and unconditional love.

    And I think it’s inappropriate to use a 17 yo girl who no one knows a damned thing about to hold a public debate about anything.

    I love you anyway. Glad you are back .. sort of.

    Read The Primal Teen: What the New Discoveries about the Teenage Brain Tell Us about Our Kids
    by Barbara Strauch

    I can’t recommend it highly enough to parents of teenagers.

    Comment by FerfeLaBat — September 3, 2008 @ 10:33 am | Reply

  4. A-men, sistah.
    EVERYONE needs to take a visit back in time to their teenage years for a week or so, then come back and preach abstinence.
    Yeah, right.

    Comment by Ella Drake — September 3, 2008 @ 10:41 am | Reply

  5. “UNICEF, those pinko-commie-terrorist-liberals who have a vested interest in…uh…feeding hungry children”

    That reminded me of something Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara said, “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist.”

    Anyway, I’m with you, Selah. We teach kids how to drive a car. We teach them how to do taxes. Why? So they don’t make silly and maybe fatal mistakes.

    I don’t understand why sex should be different.

    Comment by Rob Graham — September 3, 2008 @ 10:47 am | Reply

  6. Oh jeez, Selah *yes*. THIS. I’ve been dumbfounded by the cries of “She’s *keeping* it! She’s getting *married*!” as if the poor girl had a choice. Her mother being who she is, she didn’t have a choice. All she chose was to have sex.

    And if her mother has her way, none of the rest of us will have a choice either. Right now it’s just one family and one sad little girl who made a mistake. Very soon it could be every family and a LOT more girls and women without choices.

    I don’t care if someone’s right, left, pro choice or pro life…taking away women’s rights is *never* a good thing. Taking away *anyone’s* rights is never a good thing. Agreeing someone deserves a choice is not the same as agreeing with the choice made. It baffles me that anyone would think otherwise.

    Comment by Fae — September 3, 2008 @ 11:00 am | Reply

  7. Hey, I’m one of your right-wing buddies. Well, not so much right-wing as more leaning to the right of center. And I agree.

    Abstinence only education is a joke. I’d rather have them know HOW to use birth-control than get a lecture on keeping their knees closed. That said, I’d rather teach that to my kid myself, but I know how many parents DON’T teach it.

    I think the real difference between the US and Europe isn’t sex-ed. It’s cultural. We still look at sex from a Puritanical viewpoint. Even the non-Puritans among us start from the “sex is good/bad” point.

    Sex is…sex. Love is not sex. Sex is not love. That’s what we should teach. Starting at home.

    Comment by Sela Carsen — September 3, 2008 @ 11:34 am | Reply

  8. Thank you! My first thought upon hearing that first, Palin believed in abstinence-only sex ed and second, that her teenage daughter was pregnant was, “Yeah, abstinence worked for her, didn’t it?” And, as you pointed out, the very people who are against sex ed and abortion are the SAME people who balk at funding the social programs that pay for feeding, educating (and, eventually, jailing) all those unwanted children. Ya can’t have it both ways, people!

    What’s also ironic is the fact that our country doesn’t fund sex education programs at home, yet look at all the money we contribute to programs that teach sex ed AND pay for condoms in African nations. Yeah, nothing broken or out of whack here, huh?

    Comment by Heather — September 3, 2008 @ 12:43 pm | Reply

  9. WOO HOO .. Welcome BACK I missed you !

    Comment by Terri — September 3, 2008 @ 9:21 pm | Reply

  10. I believe in abstinence. I don’t have any problem with it being taught in schools. But I also believe in common sense. Teach abstinence, but teach the reasons WHY they should abstain–and show all the gory, nasty pictures: open sores, labor…remember “Blood on the Highway” in Drivers Ed? Those dangling brains made a big impression on me, and kept me a lot safer than if I’d just had the abstract ideas thrown at me. If I recall correctly, kids don’t develop the ability to think abstractly until early to mid teens. Give them the concrete evidence.

    And then, for the ones who chose not to abstain, teach them the right way to protect themselves.

    I personally believe that most of this teaching should be in the home. But not all kids are lucky enough to have a supportive home environment, so to have a program like this in schools is necessary.

    Comment by SE — September 4, 2008 @ 1:22 am | Reply

  11. I guess my main issue is that I don’t understand why it has to be a political issue.

    We are a country of mixed cultures and values, there is no way a school-sanctioned class can appease every family out there. And is shouldn’t have to. Educating my children about sex need not come from tax dollars. I’ll do it. It’s my job.

    They still won’t listen. They are teenagers. It’s their job.

    Comment by gwen hayes — September 4, 2008 @ 2:30 am | Reply

  12. I’m also strongly in favor of comprehensive sex education. Honestly, I have to scratch my head at the people who insist that educating kids is going to make them want to do it. Erm. Teenagers are going to do what they want, regardless of what adults tell them. That’s the way it’s always been, and it’s not going to change. Even back in the “good old days,” kids still fooled around and got pregnant. It just got covered up, and more girls resorted to unsafe methods of contraception or abortion.

    I don’t think that educating kids about sex, how to be safe, and the potential consequences of not being safe is a bad thing. If they’re going to do it, they will, and I’d rather they have the knowledge to not get themselves in trouble.

    I’d also point out that I’ve never seen someone in sex education encourage kids to have sex as these people would like you to believe. I’ve never heard them say anything but “It’s not a good idea to have sex at your age, but if you should decide to do it anyway, here’s how to keep yourself safe.”

    That these people would rather punish their kids for having sex than keep them safe just boggles me.

    @FerfeLaBat: With modern media the way it is, kids are going to come into contact with sexual imagery and miseducation at increasingly earlier ages. Unless you shelter your kid to an extreme, there’s no real way to avoid that. It’d be nice if kids didn’t have to learn about sex and could just be kids, but even when I was 11, my friends were talking about sex like crazy (and this was back in 1996ish; it’s only gotten worse). I think that parents have a responsibility to keep their kids safe — and that includes teaching them about sex. Otherwise, they’re going to learn it from their friends. :-\

    Comment by Nonny — September 4, 2008 @ 3:52 am | Reply

  13. My 7th grader happens be attending the “just say no to sex” seminar offered by the school this week. (If even that is too risque for the parents, they had the option to opt out on behalf of their children.) I’ve read the material. It’s ridiculous. There is NOTHING about “If you do, protect yourself as fully as possible.” Just “DON’T.”

    Because that always works so well on teenagers.

    And we’ve also managed to produce a generation who think oral and anal sex don’t “count” because you can’t get pregnant and therefore don’t need to use condoms because no one tries hard enought to make it clear that a baby isn’t the worst thing you can get from exchanging bodily fluids.

    What pisses me off the most is that so many people have delegated this job to the government. The school system can’t even manage to teach my kid MATH properly. No way in hell am I leaving life-and-death education in their incapable hands. That’s my JOB as a parent.

    Comment by Kerry Allen — September 4, 2008 @ 7:24 am | Reply

  14. I have to agree with you. I talk to my kids about sex. It’s hard b/c you don’t want your kids having sex, but you know they’re going to make up their own minds so why not give them an advantage. They know all about condoms and what will happen if they don’t use one. They also know what will happen if they use one and it doesn’t work (disease…etc). I’ve even put my daughter on birth control as an added measure. We have sex ed in the schools here and I fully support it. We have to sign a paper that gives permission for the kids to take it and I’ve heard of so many parents refusing to allow their child to take the class because “we don’t want strangers talking to our kids about sex”. And so many of those kids end up pregnant or worse. Apparently no one talked to them about it. How crazy is that?

    Comment by Stories4Me — September 4, 2008 @ 9:53 am | Reply

  15. Many several years ago, I worked on a National Youth Event for the United Church of Christ. They had a ton of workshops for the teens — everything from integrating dance in worship to coping with death and dying. But the biggest workshop — the one we kept adding sessions to — was the one on sex education.

    Yes, there were bananas and condoms, and other graphic pictures and props. We told parents up front that there would be. And we sweated big-time that we were going to get screamed at about it.

    Know what we got? A lot of “Oh, thank God! I thought my child was informed — I thought I was informed — but he came home with information I never even thought to give him.” And, “I was too embarrassed to even start a conversation about sex with my daughter, but she came home with your list of questions and we got through it.”

    In our house, in addition to one-on-one education, we have on the shelf “The Family Guide to Sex and Sexuality”. The boys know that they can take it to their rooms and look up anything they want, no questions asked. At least twice their friends from school have come to look something up — and once they dragged my husband upstairs for some intense Q & A. I would much much MUCH rather they got accurate information in advance.

    Comment by Lyra from Ohio — September 4, 2008 @ 4:41 pm | Reply

  16. I think I love you a little bit right now.

    Comment by Amanda Brice — September 4, 2008 @ 6:57 pm | Reply

  17. Exactly! And here is the main point. Sex is not a moral question. Learning about sex has nothing to do with having sex and in point of fact, the children who know the most about sex wait the longest to have sex.

    Yeah, Selah!

    Comment by Maria — September 4, 2008 @ 8:55 pm | Reply

  18. Also, as you know, Sarah Palin does not support Roe V. Wade and would love to see abortion illegal. (Returning women to back alleys with coat hangers is not my idea of a good America.) But Sarah Palin isn’t running for President, and it’s interesting how the focus has shifted to her. McCain is running for President and McCain opposes Roe v. Wade as well. So there you have it.
    They both represent something I don’t want for this country. I am against most of what they believe in. Obama will win, because he has to.

    Comment by Jolie du Pre — September 7, 2008 @ 10:33 am | Reply

  19. *In our house, in addition to one-on-one education, we have on the shelf “The Family Guide to Sex and Sexuality”. The boys know that they can take it to their rooms and look up anything they want, no questions asked. At least twice their friends from school have come to look something up — and once they dragged my husband upstairs for some intense Q & A. I would much much MUCH rather they got accurate information in advance.*

    What a great idea! I have books that I’ve let the kids take (they didn’t know that I knew) but I never thought just making a shelf.

    Comment by evagale — September 13, 2008 @ 11:03 am | Reply

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