Monday, January 23, 2006

Brainwashing Sexuality Talk: Celebrate Life!
A celebration of Life!? Or simple repression

The above link is about the travails of an AJC student who had the misfortune of having to sit through an abstinence-only 'sexuality' workshop and having the brains to see why its wrong. I feel his pain.

To give you a taste of what he had to sit through, here's a sample assertion made, "Any sex outside of marriage demeans the true value of love & sexuality"

Now before I start asking all the akward questions that I so love to ask on these issues, here's something that NUS students should access through their eLibrary, it's an abstract from the January's Journal of Adolescent Health, entitled, "Abstinence and abstinence-only education: A review of U.S. policies and programs". According to ChewLin, the entire month's journal is good so go read it.

The following is the abstract:
Abstinence from sexual intercourse is an important behavioral strategy for preventing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and pregnancy among adolescents. Many adolescents, including most younger adolescents, have not initiated sexual intercourse and many sexually experienced adolescents and young adults are abstinent for varying periods of time. There is broad support for abstinence as a necessary and appropriate part of sexuality education. Controversy arises when abstinence is provided to adolescents as a sole choice and where health information on other choices is restricted or misrepresented. Although abstinence is theoretically fully effective, in actual practice abstinence often fails to protect against pregnancy and STIs. Few Americans remain abstinent until marriage; many do not or cannot marry, and most initiate sexual intercourse and other sexual behaviors as adolescents. Although abstinence is a healthy behavioral option for teens, abstinence as a sole option for adolescents is scientifically and ethically problematic. A recent emphasis on abstinence-only programs and policies appears to be undermining more comprehensive sexuality education and other government-sponsored programs. We believe that abstinence-only education programs, as defined by federal funding requirements, are morally problematic, by withholding information and promoting questionable and inaccurate opinions. Abstinence-only programs threaten fundamental human rights to health, information, and life.

Now that's what I would call a damning indictment.

But back to the statement above, what exactly might/is wrong with it? Well, here are some questions.
1. Please define sex and what's wrong with any of its forms? If all we're talking about is vaginal intercourse then you run the very real risk that teenagers not knowing any better end up thinking it is justified to engage in activities like fallatio, cunninglingus and anal sex.

Now while anal sex will not result in pregnancy, the risk of contracting an STD goes up because of the likelihood of a tear in the rectum which would allow for the transmission of various STDs.

On the other hand, given that the risk of STDs from unprotected oral sex exists, you simply are not providing them with the knowledge and information that would protect them. And while granting that it is probably lower than vaginal or anal sex, nevertheless, if you're constantly going to bleat about minute possibilities of harm and consequences, then you have to accept this very real problem as well.

What about mutual masturbation? The risk of STDs of pregnancy are minute or next to none, so where's the harm? If I adopt a consequentialist notion of morality (say the Harm Principle or Utilitarianism) then where's the 'wrong' in this?

But say I don't adopt such a consequentialist stance, then what exactly is wrong with pre-marital sex? Which leads us on to the next question...

2. Why is sex immoral before marriage but not after?

Why marriage? What is marriage anyway? Whether it be today or in ancient Greece, one could well easily argue that marriage is simply an economic contract.

And if I choose to stay single? Does that mean I have to lead a life of celibacy? Especially when I'm not allowed to masturbate (see above link for yet another hillarious non-sequitor)?

The only way their argument works is if sex is PURELY for procreation. Sorry, no go hose. I definately do not subscribe to this notion. And if so, how is my normative belief any less valid than yours? And the plus side of my policy is that I at least come out better on the consequence side of things.

But even if we ignore that and say teenage sex is bad for whatever reason. Does this necessarily extend to adults? Even if I do not use the sexual age of consent as a guide, by the time I'm 16, I have the mental capacity to enter into a legal and binding employment contract i.e. selling my body and my skills for wages. By 18, I can smoke, drink, drive and in numerous ways kill myself in a slow and indirect way. I'll also be starting to serve my nation and can on my superior's orders kill someone overseas or even locally in times of war. By this time, I'll be long considered an adult with an adult's capacity when being sentenced. By 18, I can hang. By 21, I can vote and determine the nation's path, I can become an MP.

And I can't decide when to have sex?!

3. "demeans the true value of love and seuxality"

Wow, the post-modernist will have a field day with this. Given all of the above, how does it 'demean' the true value of love and sexuality? Especially when they define it in such an odious form (sex with contraceptives or homosexuality no better than masturbation?)

It's bad enough they try to define what love and sexuality is, but it's way way worse when they ill-define it.

For those who have not read "The Republican War on Science" by Chris Mooney, pick it up and read the chapter on pro-abstinence/abstinence-only sex education. That's a true misuse of science. Not unlike Intelligent Design (ID).




At 4:33 PM, Blogger Wicked said...

good essay.

At 4:33 PM, Blogger Shaun Lee said...

Thanks. It's not the first time I've written on the issue so it's actually a rehash of some of the stuff I wrote previously.

At 10:49 PM, Blogger budak said...

lucky i neber had much sex education in school.. or sure die liao!!


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