Friday, November 19, 2004

From abstinence to abortion

A Ms Magazine reporter recently attended a US conference on how to teach abstinence in schools in the place of sex education. A speaker suggested using the following metaphor to teach students to abstain from sex, with a real lollipop as a prop:
Your body is a wrapped lollipop.

When you have sex with a man, he unwraps your lollipop and sucks on it.

It may feel great at the time, but, unfortunately, when he'’s done with you, all you have left for your next partner is a poorly wrapped, saliva-fouled sucker.

ARGH! That's just so terrible on so many levels! It's incredibly sexist - putting the guilt, the tarnish and the responsibility all on women. It's gross. And it makes sex seem gross. How terrible are the girls who've already had sex going to feel when they hear that? And those that haven't are going to want to vomit. When they do finally have sex, it won't be without unique issues.

And it's worse when you realise the further ramifications of this kind of education. When kids receive no instruction at school on contraception and STD prevention, you can bet that there are more kids getting pregnant and diseased.

Even at my Catholic school we had some information about condoms and the pill. In year nine we were told that the most effective form of contraception is abstinence ... but failing that there are other things you can do. We even had the condom-on-the-banana demonstration.

A friend of mine had an everything-but-intercourse relationship with her (quite religious) boyfriend. After they broke up she predicted that his next girlfriend would get pregnant, because they wouldn't be prepared for sex if it happened. Sure enough, that's what happened. These were intelligent, reasonable people.

I sure hope abstinence education doesn't take over here - although the Christian Democrats would like it to. It seems that for every stupid conservative thing the Bush government does, the Howard government isn't far behind. Gay marriage, abortion...

Australian politicians are making a lot of noise about abortion these days. At the moment, it's just noise, but some fear that when the government has control of both houses - from July next year - it could become more than that. A recent Sydney Morning Herald editorial suggests how there could be fewer abortions - to reduce trauma to women and to placate conservatives:

The obvious way to reduce abortions is to cut the number of unwanted pregnancies through better education and more freely available contraceptives. But the issue goes beyond contraception. For example, better welfare support may be what is needed to persuade the married mother of two to keep the third child she cannot otherwise afford.

It's painfully obvious, but this government won't be able to see it.

As the slogan goes: Against Abortion? Don't Have One.