What’s scarier than a clown itself? A clown that teaches ab-only sex ed.

27 08 2009

Needless to say, abstinence-only sex ed is proven ineffective. Not only does ab-only sex ed eliminate a lot of (slash all) important truthful information about safe sex: using contraception (condoms, birth control, etc.), but it also is highly moralizing (who are you to tell me what choices I should make concerning my body and my sexuality?), slut-shaming and heterosexist by alienating the LGBTQ population. Ab-only sex ed relies on false facts (which are essentially lies), scare tactics, and the reinforcement of patriarchal gender roles. Furthermore, countless studies have proven that students of ab-only sex ed don’t have decreased rates of pregnancy, HIV and STIs. The research shows that after receiving ab-only sex ed, people are less likely to use contraceptives when having sex.

The latest in ab-only sex ed epic fails: clowns teaching sex ed. Elizabeth’s New Life Center in Ohio employs Derek the Abstinence Clown to go around to middle schools teaching them that having sex before marriage is “just like juggling machetes!” (yes, what an apt comparison) and “will destroy all your life’s dreams!” Seriously, this is what our tax dollars are funding?! Clowns using ridiculously absurd scare tactics to tell kids not to have sex until they’re married?! Sigh…just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse.

And then, over at Feministe I saw Operation Keepsake’s Are you a treasure or a target? quiz. Operation Keepsake is one of Ohio’s highest funded ab-only sex ed proponents and providers. And the quiz questions? Absolutely ridiculous, as expected. One of the questions is:

Your crush asks you out.  He seems really nice but you’re not sure he values waiting to have sex until marriage like you do.  You:
a. Ask him straight up.
b. Go with the flow-it will come up sooner or later.
c. Assume he’s a good guy. I mean, he’s cute and dresses well.

Who would ask someone right after they’ve asked you out, “Do you value waiting to have sex until marriage too?” Seriously, come on!! More evidence that ab-only sex ed is waaaaaaay out of touch with reality.

And then when you’re done answering all the questions and add up your score, you will see that if you are a treasure, then:

You know who you are, what you believe, and where you want to go in life.  When it comes to guys, you value yourself and your future too much for random hook-ups.  Besides, it takes time and some investigation to find out what someone is really all about.  And, while you appreciate looking good, you know that if a guy wants to be with you simply because you look hot, that could be trouble down the road.  Our advice: continue respecting yourself!  You’ll build healthier relationships if you do.

Such slut-shaming language. Only girls who don’t have sex until they get married “know who they are, what they believe, and where they want to go in life” (because having sex before marriage will ruin all your future career and life aspirations!) Meanwhile girls who have sex before marriage don’t respect themselves and don’t build healthier relationships. Ab-only sex ed doesn’t teach about healthy relationships, healthy sexuality, communication and mutual consent. It just reiterates over and over again, DON’T HAVE SEX! JUST DON’T DO IT!

But I digress…If  you’re a Danger Zone, then:

You value yourself, but when you’re in tough situations you have a difficult time speaking up for the things you value.  You get scared that your friends or your guy will think you’re stupid, so you don’t speak up.  It’s normal to feel scared, but if you want to be a leader instead of a follower you’ve got to practice speaking up and doing the right thing.  You may get laughed at for the moment, but in the long run you’ll be better off.

If you’re a target, then:

You make decisions based on what others think instead of what is best and healthiest for you.  It’s not a big deal when it comes to picking simple things like shoes, but when it comes to major decisions-like who you date-you could be in a lot of trouble.  If you want to be truly respected and valued for the real you, then you’ve got to know what makes you truly valuable.  Hint:  It’s more than your body, your looks, the friends you hang with, and the guys you date.  If you don’t know what really makes you valuable, then why would anyone else?

Aha. Of course. What makes you truly respectable and valuable is if you “save yourself” until marriage. Because you don’t want to just toss your “treasure” to just anyone; no it’s just too valuable and irreplaceable. Saying “…but when it comes to major decisions – like who you date – you could be in a lot of trouble” is fear-inducing, slut shaming, and victim blaming rhetoric.

Thank goodness President Obama is eliminating the federal funding for ab-only sex ed for the 2010 budget. But that doesn’t mean that this madness will just end, like it should. It will be up to the jurisdiction of state/local governments and whether or not the ab-only organizations can manage to stay afloat on their own.





A Closer Look at “The Women’s Crusade”

27 08 2009

Earlier this week, I wrote a post about “The Women’s Crusade”, the leading article in last weekend’s New York Times magazine by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The first time I read the article, there were several things that irked me but I chose to ignore them because I was just so excited that the Times, a prominent and well regarded mainstream publication, was dedicating an entire magazine to international women’s issues. Emblazoned on the magazine cover was of the magazine was “Why Women’s Rights Are the Cause of Our Time”. Seeing this thrilled me because it was exciting to see women’s issues being brought to the forefront instead of shoved aside, like what typically happens.

But after mulling over the article over the past few days, I decided that the things that irked me originally should not be ignored. While it’s phenomenal that Kristof and WuDunn wrote a compelling article about the need to elevate the status of women across the globe, it is also important to approach it with a critical eye.

The first thing that I noticed that was bothersome was right in the first paragraph where it says:

In this century, [the paramount moral challenge] is the brutality inflicted on so many women and girls around the globe: sex trafficking, acid attacks, bride burnings and mass rape.

Kristof and WuDunn discuss these brutalities as they occur in Asian and African countries, but for all of the international rhetoric used, shouldn’t the focus then be truly global instead of just limited to Asia and Africa? Sex trafficking occurs in wealthy western nations as well, including the US. According to the Polaris Project, each year an alarming 200,000 American children are at high risk for being trafficked into the sex industry.

Rape, while utilized as a weapon of war in conflict ridden countries like the Congo, is also a brutality that women and girls endure in America as well. Let’s not forget the 68 page report released by Human Rights Watch in March 2009 that put Los Angeles to shame by revealing that at least 12,669 untested rape kits have just been sitting in police storage facilities and crime labs in Los Angeles. (But the good news: yesterday L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yarovslavksy announced that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles Sheriffs Department will 100% fund the testing of every single rape kit in the backlog within the next two years. Furthermore they will expand their staff to ensure that rape kits will no longer be just languishing on the shelves.)

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