This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 25 July 2013.
The state of California has seen teen pregnancy rates drop to a 20-year low, across all ethnicities.
You would, to the surprise of no one who understands what being a teenager is like, be wrong. From a linked article:
Public health experts say state laws are responsible for the decline because they require public schools that offer sex education classes to provide scientifically reliable instructions on how contraceptives work along with information about abstinence.
What’s that? Scientifically reliable information together with “information about abstinence”, which might involve supporting teens’ individual choices and instilling the idea that they can resist social pressure to have sex if they’re not ready? How the fuck could that possibly be effective?
Especially when compared to the amazing results delivered by the “abstinence-only education, scaremongering, and general judgyness” approach.
Over the past decade, teen pregnancy rates have consistently been higher in Southern states that don’t provide students with adequate sexual health instruction. Since abstinence-only courses often present misleading information about contraception, a full 60 percent of young adults underestimate birth control’s effectiveness and are more likely to skip it because they don’t believe it will make a difference. And teens in rural areas still struggle to access contraception, partly because there are fewer health clinics in less populous places and partly because a societal stigma surrounding teen sexuality still pervades conservative communities.
California has also come up with innovative concepts like “getting bilingual moderators when dealing with bilingual teens”. And check out this fucking sexy graphic from the CDC about how to design “teen-friendly” health visits.
The facts are plain and simple. Giving young people actual full information – not “you’re going to get cancer every time you give head” information – and the power or esteem or respect to make their own decisions works. It doesn’t mean there’ll never be any teen pregnancy, it doesn’t mean we’ll eradicate STDs, it doesn’t mean teenagers will stop being emotional hormonal creatures struggling to find their identity and place in society.
But it does mean they’re far better equipped to deal with that than lying to them.
If you’re of a conspiratorial mind, you might ask why lying abstinence-pushers are so insistent on a strategy which empirically does not work. You might think about modern capitalism’s need for a less-empowered class of worker drones, and its use of racism and patriarchy to keep certain groups of people in line when it comes to doing the shitty underpaid jobs which and making the babies which are necessary for the elite’s continued lives of luxury.
Of course it’s possible that they’re honestly such self-absorbed, hateful douchecanoes that they’ll happily throw teenagers under the bus if they don’t conform to said douchecanoes’ personal beliefs about How Things Should Be.
But moral, upstanding compassionate folks? They are not.
This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 6 June 2013.
Once upon a time, sex education – when it was provided at all, which wasn’t a given – was a simple biology lesson, which assumed that all people identified with the gender which corresponded to their genitalia, which were in the standard configuration.
Students learned the “facts of life” and, if they were really lucky, got a lecture about how they weren’t allowed to use their societally-approved genitalia until God said so.
Because in those days, people were happy to ignore the fact that not everyone’s a man or a woman or heterosexual or cisgendered. So it went without saying that boys grew up knowing they had to force themselves to at least look like they were men, and girls, women.
There were a lot of sexually transmitted diseases, but everyone pretended they didn’t exist because they were associated with immorality, and thus those who contracted them weren’t worth caring about.
Certain behaviours were labelled as “not normal” and there were harsh social and even criminal punishments for being at all different.
Things have changed. Kinda.
Now we have comprehensive sexuality education, which acknowledges the fact that humans are generally social creatures who have relationships and emotions and and aren’t all heterosexual cisgendered men and women. Children learn they’re sexual from birth, because we install sexchips in their brains, and that the proper time for sexual activity is when they’re ready, because we want them to be sluts.
They’re taught they have a right to pleasure, birth control, and abortion, because … um, they are.
The terms husband and wife aren’t used, ever. Using them is punishable by death. The union of man and woman is one of several options, because, um, it is. And trying to erase the glorious diversity of human relationships under the guise of “morality”? Well, that’s judging, and judging is douchey.
You will find biology in sexuality education, it’s just part of a wider curriculum designed by heathen sluts who understand that relationships are about a little bit more than Tab A entering Slot B to produce Baby C. There’s also voluminous information on the existing, factual varieties of sexual expression, the pros and cons of different contraceptives and abortion, and the harm of gender stereotypes.
Gender itself is taught like it’s a complicated matter. Because, um, it is.
We now actually discuss the many types of sexually transmitted disease, and how common a lot of them are, which some people insist on pretending means that we think getting one is totally cool.
And childhood innocence? Well, we no longer treat sexuality as an inherently immoral thing from which children must be protected in a fake, sheltered state of grace. On websites recommended to students, things are explained, even if they were previously labelled “deviant”.
Oh, Dr Grossman, I wish it were so. What a fantastic world it would be where we treated sex like a natural part of human existence (which it is) and stopped trying, with words, peer pressure and naked violence, to force everyone into little boxes labelled Husbandfatherworker and Wifemothercarer.
We don’t. But giving the rising panic amongst fundies, I think we’re getting closer.
Source. Click for her armchair-albeit-professional psychoanalysis of Alfred Kinsey, which oh-so-conveniently aligns with her own biases.
This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 23 May 2013.
God, we’re a terrible society to be a teenager in. Scary, dramatic adolescent shit is going down, you’re trying to discover who you are and what you want to be in life, and at a time when you could seriously just use a little bit of understanding and hands-off-yet-supportive guidance from the adults in your life …
Things which are apparently news now:
- Teenagers have sex
- Teenagers don’t tell their parents they’re having sex
- Teenagers, especially teenage boys, aren’t really hyper-focused on the legality of their actions
Things which are apparently the problem:
- The teenage brain is so underdeveloped that they’re literally incapable of understanding where babies come from. And walk into poles a lot.
- Binge drinking culture, which affects only young people and is not a reflection of their parents’ generation’s behaviour and attitudes at all
- Teenagers watch TV and go on The Twitters and that’s how they figure out that they have fun nerve endings in their genitals (seriously, go re-read paragraph 8)
Things which are totally not the problem:
- Adults throughout history treating teenagers like they’re fucking idiots/criminals who must be monitored and tracked at all times
- Adults throughout history panic-mongering about young people having sex
- Our media constantly panic-mongering about SEX!!!!!!!!!! yet ignoring the wider social context even when that context is described in their coverage
- Young adults being denied decent information on sex and relationships because ew, sex is icky
Things which you would think are the solution but clearly aren’t because ew, sex is icky:
- Comprehensive sex and sexuality education which emphasises consent and gives teens the power to resist peer pressure
- Not treating sex like it’s the bubonic plague – because maybe teens would feel like they had more of a support base if our answer to them having sex wasn’t LOCKDOWN! CURFEW! CONSTANT VIGILANCE!!!
Quiz time! Out of the following quotes, which do you think was uttered by Bob McCoskrie, upstanding pillar of the community, in a recent press release?
“Putting aside the general atmosphere which must be counter productive to raising healthy, well-balanced children, one must consider the “role models” such children will be influenced by. “
“Street prostitution also continues to plague communities highlighted by retailers and families … being affected by the activities of prostitution, including half-naked prostitutes, used condoms, propositioning of family members, intimidation, noise and nuisance, and a general reduced sense of safety.”
“It is time the government looked at the social reasons underpinning why these young people end up as prostitutes. Clearly broken and dysfunctional families are a root cause. Until we have a government willing to enact family-friendly legislation, the problem will continue to get worse.”
“Same sex ‘couples’ are already breaching the bounds of what is morally acceptable by choosing such lifestyles. Adults consenting to such relationships is one thing; to raise children in such an environment is morally irresponsible.”
“Nature dictates that a man and a woman are required for procreation. This limitation shows that a child’s best interests are served by it having a mother and a father. The two most loving women in the world simply cannot provide a daddy – and vice versa.”
Confused? Was it all of them? None of them? Did I just make this up in some twisted “try to write like a judgemental shithead” thought experiment?
Quotes number one, number three, and number four were from Graham Capill, the former leader of the Christian Heritage Party, who in 2005 was sentenced to nine years in prison for sexual crimes against children as young as 8.
I am categorically not accusing Bob McCoskrie of any crime.
I am categorically saying we shouldn’t give a fuck what religious extremists have to say about society. Their entire movement, and its assumption that a “return” to Good Wholesome Judeo-Christian Values will save our society, is in no position to pass judgement on anyone.
You know what probably traumatises kids a hell of a lot more than the existence of a brothel on a street in their neighbourhood?
Seeing their parents having sex.
… Yep, we’ve all been there.
Sex work is legal in New Zealand. Busybody moralising fucks stalking sex workers and clients fucking shouldn’t be.
Especially moralising fucks who are trying to play the Big Man by threatening people with public shaming who he knows won’t be comfortable defending themselves.
Wayne Hawker, in short, is a fucking bully.
For a more in-depth discussion with the occasional terrible joke, check the Storify.
A local government candidate has jumped aboard the brothel-hating bandwagon, making it very clear that the Chinese people who are totally running all the shady brothels on Manukau Road (it was in the paper, so it must be true) aren’t really Chinese people.
“It is equally distressing to learn that they were operated by Chinese,” continues Chuang. “They do not seem to understand the Auckland Council’s bylaw and believe their actions are legally acceptable.”
“The Chinese community in general are not supportive of their behaviour, blaming them for ruining our reputation as good citizens and turning Epsom into a red-light district.”
Because the Good (Chinese) Men of Epsom certainly aren’t the ones paying for all that naughty sex. In the alleged brothels with signage in Chinese out front.
Also, the soundproofing in brothels is just terrible these days.
“Mothers have been complaining about the foul language coming out of the named establishment,” says Bevan Chuang, a local resident and a candidate for the Albert-Eden Local Board election. “They were very distressed with such behaviours in the present of their daughters and friends.”
And when the mothers of Epsom are complaining, you know shit’s about to get real.
It’s sex-work-panic season again, and this year’s lucky suburb to get the spotlight as its well-to-do residents clutch their pearls is Epsom, where, horror of horrors:
A cluster of premises offering commercial sex are operating within a kilometre of one another in an upmarket Auckland city-fringe suburb, irking residents and businesses in an area where house prices average over $820,000.
A cluster of premises! Three places doing the same kind of thing within a kilometre! Unheard of!
It’s the usual complaints: not near the children! We’re a god-fearing community!
Te Unga Waka Marae even blames the three brothels for their parking issues.
Paula Hakaraia, a marae office volunteer worker, said she had noticed an increase in traffic and parking problems between 11am and 3pm.
“These are definitely not cars belonging to mothers picking kids up from school.”
Yes. Hordes of out-of-zone sex-work clients are clearly the answer. It cannot have anything to do with the marae sitting on the intersection of Clyde Road and Manukau Road, i.e. a few minutes’ walk from Broadway, Newmarket, a hub of shopping and commerce, business meetings, and good buses for the university students who could only afford rent in the “city-fringe suburbs” if they had a flat kidney-selling roster.
The possibility that Epsom is a good location for brothels because the wealthy dudes of Epsom occasionally like to pay for sex is completely ignored, because they are good people. You can tell by the way they can afford $820,000 homes.
Let’s face it, there are two “problems” here: one is that the Concerned Residents of Epsom are, just like Cameron Brewer and Asenati Lole-Taylor and John McCracken, in complete denial about the absolute normalcy of sex work. The second is that it must seriously offend their sensibilities – and the Herald’s – that lowly brothel-keepers are able to afford Epsom properties.
I say unto the people of Epsom as I have said before to the people of Sandringham and Papatoetoe: maybe if y’all stopped creating DEMAND there wouldn’t be any fucking SUPPLY.
(Also, as discussed on Twitter, how common can it really be for people to door-knock the wrong place and out themselves as sex-word clients? Who knocks on a door and says “Is this where I get rimmed for a mutually agreed sum?”)
(Also also, there are some “victims” in this story: the massage spas which are actually massage spas. But guess what: brothels labelling themselves as “massage clinics” has nothing to do with liberalism and everything to do with the same anti-sex-work attitudes on display in this story.)
Well, another lethal blow to my ego: no one in the mainstream media reads my blog.
That’s the only reason I can think for them breathlessly covering a “report” from Family First – who, let’s all remember, were de-registered as a charity, in part because all their “research” is baseless propaganda – which dishonestly covers much the same ground I did nearly a year ago.
That is, the dark, seedy underbelly of New Zealand’s sex ed websites.
If only I’d published my post as a “critical review” under the banner of some vocal, extremist Christians, then the mainstream media might have
taken me seriously published my opinions as though they were fact.
Anyway, you should totally go check out my original post, if only because there are balloon animals fucking each other in it.
Our problem in New Zealand is not that the resources produced by great organisations like Family Planning and Rainbow Youth are wrong. It is that we know what works but have failed to ensure that every school uses a sexuality education approach consistent with these criteria.
And one of the obstacles in our way is extreme conservatives trying to force a ludicrous Mad-Men-if-you’ve-never-actually-watched-Mad-Men style of morality on us.
Prohibition. It has a long and noble history of totally working exactly as intended. So it’s not at all telling when a group says “we need to ban X to save the people who are doing X!”
Case in point: New Zealand First’s latest bandwagon-jump, onto the eternal tribulations of South Auckland street corners.
“So far the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective has received about $8.6 million from the Ministry of Health to help tackle these issues. But there is another way that would prove to be effective.
“Our Prostitution Reform (Control of Street Prostitution) Amendment Bill would ban all street prostitution and confine sex work to brothels.
Or the men of South Auckland could stop picking up sex workers on street corners, like they’ve been doing since long before prostitution was decriminalized in New Zealand.
But clearly Lole-Taylor is on to a serious issue here. After all:
Of major concern is the growing prevalence of girls as young as 13 offering themselves for sale on the streets of South Auckland.
Um, hang on.
13-year-olds can’t consent to sex, much less to sex work. But Lole-Taylor isn’t saying “we’re concerned about child-abusing pimps trafficking young girls”, she’s saying it’s concerning that so many young girls are slappers.
By using the phrase “offering themselves”, Lole-Taylor clearly implies that they are consenting, and that their behaviour is the cause for concern. She further goes on to refer to them as making “a choice”. We don’t let 13-year-olds sign binding employment contracts to deliver pizza, Mrs Lole-Taylor. Why is it suddenly okay to act like underage sex workers are entirely to blame?
Not to mention the fact that apparently Mrs Lole-Taylor knows of many 13-year-olds being forced into sex work and thinks the correct response is “holding a forum”, not “calling the police“.
It’s a tired old story. Drum up social panic. Hold a town hall meeting. Listen to the Good Men Of The City decry the Plague of [anti-sex work slurs] Upon Our Streets and advocate for Law Which Recognises The Community’s Needs.
Pay no attention when they sneak out at 2am to cruise Hunters Corner and rape 13-year-olds.
It’s a common catch-cry of the lesser spotted homophobe: homosexuality just isn’t natural because babies.
And it’s no good trying to convince them with the many, many documented instances of homosexuality in animal species, because we’re dealing with bigoted assholes who don’t even really believe what they say; their goal is really just to bully everyone into following their personal lifestyle choices by any means necessary.
But just for fun, next time you’re confronted with the “it’s not natural” argument, consider dropping this into the conversation:
Scientists have been studying the males of a particular species of Amazonian frog. During that time of the season, the males just get so darn vigorous that often they accidentally drown the female they’re all trying to hump.
At which point they give her a good ol’ squeeze to get her eggs out and jizz on them, thus completing the Circle of Necrophiliac Life.
That’s fucking natural, that is. And you can’t argue with Nature.