No, not quite.
The good news: NuvaRing is in New Zealand! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY
The bad news: $75 for a three month supply! BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
Sometimes our glorious socialised healthcare really drops the ball, and this is one of those times. A number of the most effective, least side-effect-y contraceptive methods aren’t subsidised the way the good old Pill or Jab are, so it’s bloody prohibitively expensive, especially for long-term use – and a lot of people will spend a huge proportion of their life using contraception.
Of course there’s the cost of research and development and production and all that jazz, but I think there’s another really obvious reason for the good shit being expensive: the manufacturers know that their customers will pay for the good shit. Because contraception is vital for a lot of people. It could be the difference between getting through university and having a better-paid job before starting to have a family … or not. The difference between protecting your mental health by avoiding the physical and psychological costs of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood … or not. The difference between having a comfortable life raising your three kids … or struggling to feed six. The difference between learning to live with violent mood swings, irregular or even constant bleeding, nausea and cramping because it’s worth it not to get pregnant … or not.
Access to sustainable, affordable contraception is a huge part in allowing people, especially women, to take control of their lives. It pays back huge dividends to society. In our current capitalist model, of course someone’s going to try to make a buck from that, and in New Zealand we do already take steps to mitigate that for some forms of contraception. I just wish we did more.
The ability of doctors to refuse to provide proper healthcare if God says it’s bad is again in the spotlight, with a Blenheim GP refusing to prescribe the Pill to a patient because he decided she needed to have babies, and her views on the matter didn’t mean shit.
Oh wait, sorry, I mean his ~Catholic conscience~ wouldn’t ~allow~ him to ~interfere~ with ~God’s plan~. And her views on the matter don’t mean shit. Which, because patriarchy, is something we protect under law.
Sorry, Dr Joseph Lee, but as far as I’m concerned, you don’t have a fucking conscience.
People who think that they get a controlling vote in the reproductive choices of others don’t have a conscience. People who think that their personal religious beliefs should be enforced on others – especially other who don’t share those beliefs – don’t have a conscience.
Medical professionals who advise teenagers to use the incredibly faulty “rhythm method” because it’s their “destiny” to get pregnant at 16 seriously do not have a conscience. Medical professionals who also refuse to prescribe condoms, because their religious extremism means they’d rather their patients get sexually transmitted infections which, super-irony-alert, might harm their fertility? Yeah, no conscience there either.
Medical professionals who say
The only circumstances in which he would prescribe the contraceptive pill would be if a woman wanted space between pregnancies, or had at least four children.
“I think they’ve already done their reproductive job”.
have no fucking conscience either. It’s not your fucking job to assess whether or not a patient has ticked enough of God’s boxes to access healthcare, you fucking shithead. You’re meant to be a fucking doctor. Fucking act like one or get the fuck out.
Oh, and “lead GP” Dr Scott Cameron, who thinks it’s okay to just have a “pamphlet” advising that “some” of your staff won’t provide contraception, and thinks getting reception to “screen” patients is good enough to protect them from being bullied by your religious fanatic employees? You don’t have a fucking conscience either, mate. You’ve enabled a religious bully. I hope you’re happy with yourself.
There is no conscience involved when a brave 23-year-old has to step forward and expose the underhanded, bullying shit going on at Wairau Community Clinic – except for hers.
Here’s the thing about “conscientious objection”:
Medical Council guidelines say personal beliefs should not affect the advice or treatment offered, and should not be expressed in a way that exploits a patient’s vulnerability or is likely to cause them distress.
You don’t think letting a doctor lecture a 16-year-old about how she must have babies because God says so is bullying? You don’t think that the setting of a community clinic, which, when opened, was heralded as “[making] it easier for those people who struggle to access health care” means the people there are vulnerable?
A truly conscientious doctor would look at the patient in front of him and say, “I’m sorry, I personally don’t agree with contraception. Here is the number of a doctor who can help you.” A truly conscientious doctor would have a sign on the door saying “I am not available to prescribe contraception or refer for abortion services. You can contact [number of a doctor who will].”
But this is never about real matters of conscience. This is about bullying people, especially women, into making the choices which are approved by patriarchal religious bullshit, choices which will permanently affect their lives, choices which will – because we do not support teen parents well, we do not support unemployed parents well, we do not support working parents well – limit their options and constrain their potential.
Dr Joseph Lee wants to control women. And Dr Scott Cameron, and everyone at the Wairau Community Clinic who supports him, are letting it happen.
That’s not fucking conscientious. And it deserves no protection under NZ law.
I know, I know. Another day, another dollar, another No Rights to Your Own Uterus media release which waxes lyrical about how the sovereign duty of [women] is to churn out babies for Jesus.
But on the one hand, we need to keep an eye on the crap they’re spewing. And on the other, their language is so desperately tryhard it brings a smile to my baby-hating face:
The Family Planning Association continues to seduce our youth and wage war against women, by its promotion of contraception ,sterilisation and abortion. In God’s plan for procreation women’s fertility is a cause of celebration, not a call for sterilisation. Pregnancy is not a disease and unborn children are not invaders and the enemy to be destroyed.
I need a badge which says “Death Peddler”. Who’s with me?
Leading today’s “most full-of-shit” headlines:
but I’m sure I can’t blame Voxy for that. The opening:
Family First NZ has sent a DVD presentation entitled “You’re Teaching My Child What? Sex Education: A Psychiatrist Calls Foul” to every school principal and every Board of Trustees in New Zealand, highlighting the dangers of Family Planning and Rainbow Youth’s sex education programmes, resources and websites which fail to tell the full facts and which compromise the concerns and wishes of parents, and the safety of young people.
After that it’s basically a copy-paste of their arguments from the last round of this particular lie-cycle, which may leave you wondering exactly what the “agenda” of these malicious “sex ed groups” is. The closest thing you can find in the actual text is:
The current approach … says the moral absolute is – use condoms.
Which is obviously a terrible, terrible message (actually true, insofar as it ignores non-condom-relevant sexy fun times.)
But it’s not much of an agenda.
Here’s my theory: the usual catch-cry in United States antichoice propaganda is “Planned Parenthood profits off killing babies”. But in NZ we have that most terrible of things, free healthcare. Which means on the few occasions Family First etc, whose rhetoric and arguments are basically copy-pasted from US antichoice orgs, have tried to play the “evil doctors want to make your daughters pregnant so they can make money” card, it’s entirely failed to create any real drama.
But fundies aren’t particularly creative, so they’ve stuck with the SCARY HIDDEN AGENDA tagline and then failed to realise they don’t mention what said scary hidden agenda is.
Of course, there’s plenty of implication left: the word “agenda” when connected with groups like Rainbow Youth (who do a fucking good job combating the kind of hate-speech which Family First et al propagate under the guise of “values” … and then act all shocked when we have rampant STIs and youth suicide) obviously connotes the Gay Agenda, by which evil homosexuals try to Turn Our Kids Gay with subversive messages about “listening to your feelings” and “not hating yourself”.
Judging by the current approach’s results – which is a good place to start – sex education has been an utter failure.
You’ve got to love how a one-man band like Family First, which is apparently dedicated to not letting your kids know about penises and vaginas and clitorises, claims that our current rates of STIs and teen pregnancy is entirely the fault of the system they continually undermine. A system which isn’t a mandatory part of our school curriculums, and which is implemented on a school-by-school basis.
If Family First had a smidgen of intellectual honesty (ha) they’d compare the rates of STIs and pregnancies in schools which allow and promote Family Planning and Rainbow Youth and furthermore place importance on teaching kids about sex and feelings and consent, with those schools where kids’ exposure to naughty naughty sex is limited to a lecture about how AIDS will kill you and a screening of The Silent Scream.
I’m pretty sure it would be illuminating. Which is why they don’t do it.
That’s my personal spin, anyway.
The big problem: NCW is the last organisation which should be sending messages about why we need feminism. If NCW is going to solicit people’s feedback on why feminism is necessary, it should only be as part of a gigantic soul-searching “where the fuck have we gone wrong” review.
I don’t want to go about crowning myself Queen of NZ Feminism or anything, so here’s a list of Official Feminist Topics as discussed by two group feminist NZ blogs or featured in the Down Under Feminists Carnival, over the last month or so (I was going to do six months, but damn, we shrieking harridans cover a lot of stuff):
- The Southland abortion fight
- Fundraising for Women’s Refuge
- Family First’s attacks on Rainbow Youth and comprehensive sex education
- Rape culture and rugby culture
- Gender discrimination in the police force
- The inaugural Fat Studies conference
- The eternal porn vs erotica debate
- Women’s political representation
- Marriage equality
[Sources: random scans of The Hand Mirror, The Lady Garden, the Down Under Feminists’ Carnival]
A pretty diverse bunch of issues there, being discussed and publicised by … maybe a dozen writers with families and jobs and other things to do?
You’d think some of them would have hit NCW’s radar, right? As “the country’s leading women’s organisation”?
Their website lists five things as “some of the key issues facing New Zealand women today”:
- Women and Work
- Women and Leadership [in work]
- Pay Equity [also kinda about work]
- Family Violence
- Parliamentary Representation [which is kind of like work]
So that’s 60% work-related, 80% if we count Parliament as a workplace, and Family Violence. Hmm. Let’s look around the rest of their site.
Under “Campaigns” we have two: Women And [you guessed it] Work and Facebook Campaign, which is about putting pressure on Facebook to take down pages which openly promote sexual violence. Last update: December 2011.
But in terms of big, largely women-related issues of 2012? No mention of abortion, either generally or in reference to the Southern DHB issue. No mention even in passing of SlutWalk, not even the 2011 events which made headline news throughout the country. They supported and even had a speaker at Reclaim the Night … in 2009. Nothing at Queer the Night, but I base that assumption on the fact that a search for “queer” doesn’t return a single result.
Gay marriage? Marriage equality? Gay adoption? Bueller?
How about the non-work-related big-red-buttonclassic feminist issues? “Rape” is mentioned only in terms of the aforementioned Facebook campaign. “Contraception”, nada. “Queer” and “abortion” as mentioned above.
How about “pregnancy”? Among quite a few links, we find a press release from 2008 about the rates of abuse pregnant people face. Wait, not just pregnant people:
it is abhorrent to think that mothers-to-be, and their defenceless unborn children are being exposed to this kind of physical violence.
Fuck yeah, I love me a “leading women’s organisation” that just flops out some antichoice vocab and lets it hang there.
Let’s get some intersectionality going here. “Disability” returns a resolution about “under-65 year olds who next rest home grade care”. Charming. “Maori” returns a few side mentions, particularly around the ACC issue, but nothing specific. “Racism” returns no results. “Transwomen”, “transsexual” and “transgender” return no results. For “queer” see above. “Class” can apparently only come after the words “middle” and “antenatal”.
What’s really interesting is that NCW’s Twitter and Facebook accounts do a far better job addressing a large number of issues, pushing information from other sites and organisations, and generally being interesting. One can only assume they’ve got some keen young Gen Y stuck in a back office doing that Weird Modern Communicating stuff while the adults write press releases and create godawful videos.
Wait, press releases, you say? Those are always a good way of seeing what an organisation cares about. Let’s have a look at those. A whopping seven published for the year 2012, covering:
- Mandatory reporting of child abuse (where the focus, according to the headline, is that NCW has totally supported this for aaaaaaages)
- Extending paid parental leave
- Inadequate consultation on welfare reforms
- Valuing caregivers
- The NZX taking gender representation seriously
- The closure of Salisbury School
- NCW supports Paula Bennett’s welfare reforms because solo parents on benefits need to “become contributing members of society”
… HOLD THE FUCKING PHONE.
Yep, you read that right: NCW’s President, Elizabeth Bang, issued a press release saying:
“NCWNZ supports policies that help parents on a benefit to get into the workforce where possible, so they can become contributing members of society and they and their families can enjoy a better quality of life,”
Now, before anyone accuses me of smearing good President Bang, you’re completely right. That line is not in the version of the press release on the NCW website. It’s immortalised on Scoop. Kinda like someone noticed how the President of the National Council of Women just basically said “women’s unpaid labour isn’t worth shit” and thought maybe they should try to step that back.
I don’t want to downplay the good work I’m sure NCW is doing somewhere, presumably working hard to get an older white cis woman appointed to the board of Telecom because that’s fighting the good fight. No, that’s a bit harsh. There is (if you dig) some good work that’s been done on child tax credits and ACC’s horrible treatment of sexual abuse survivors. And pay equity is still a big fight to fight.
But the notion that an organisation which so clearly does not represent the breadth and depth of women’s issues in New Zealand*, which, as far as I’m concerned, actively works against certain classes of women, is in any position to say “yeah grrls, let’s show people why we need feminism!!!” is fucking laughable.
But then, the disclaimer on their Tumblr should have warned me:
We want to inspire dialogue and we want to you to share the many ways in which feminism is important to you – but we want to encourage respectful discussion.
We are keen to receive submissions that are radical or provocative but we reserve the right to decline submissions if we deem them to be hateful or otherwise inappropriate.
Or there’s President Bang’s own comments in the press release for the campaign:
The idea is to show that feminists are not ‘man-hating’ and ‘bra-burning’ and they’re not just women – feminists are people who believe that men and women should be equal.
There goes my “I need feminism because the National Council of Women are doing fuck-all to advance causes that aren’t mainstream and popular” submission idea. And my “I need feminism because even so-called feminists keep buying into bullshit bra-burning myths” submission idea.
We do need feminism. Unfortunately, the National Council of Women isn’t even in the same room as it.
*And there’s a whole other argument to have about the gender-binary-imposition inherent in having a “women’s” organisation
Edited to add: This just keeps happening to me. I had this post all ready to go (bumped a day due to fantastic, blatant double standards in the justice system) and this pops up on the reader: a press release from NCW (that’s 8 so far!) about our report to CEDAW.
Maybe now the UN has mentioned that whole icky abortion thing, NCW can be bothered to do something about it.
On the back of Dr Miriam Grossman‘s appearance at their little conference, Family Fist are – of course – now calling for total defunding of sexuality education courses run by Family Planning and Rainbow Youth, those known sowers of smut and depravity and concepts like “consent”.
Family First also claims that groups like Family Planning “ran for cover” when “challenged” to a “debate” by Grossman. Yeah, and I probably would too, because you know what? It’s really difficult to keep a straight face when “debating” someone who just lies in order to score points and whose entire “argument” is based on a complete refusal to treat teenagers like they’re autonomous individuals with dignity and choice. And who apparently has never met any teenagers.
(I’m sure that Dr Grossman and Bob McCoskrie would argue they know plenty of teens who are angelic and saintly and virginal. Yeah, because you two totally set yourselves up as people who teens will be open with. Just like how I don’t mention the word “feminism” in front of some of my work colleagues …)
Anyway, Family Fist’s press release devolves, as they generally do, into another rehashing of The Terrible Sinfulness of NZ Society, including terrible websites which just try to sow confusion about sex.
By “sow confusion” we of course mean “present the notion that there isn’t One Godly Way of doing things”.
Let’s take a tour!
Currently down for maintenance – hence one assumes the dark, conspiratorial “SEE SEE THEY TOOK DOWN ONE OF THEIR WEBSITES!!!!” claim in the release (yet not the one with the R18 how-to on buttsex?) – but it sits under the Rainbow Youth site, which contains confusing statements like:
If you feel pressured or feel that you can’t trust someone, listen to your instincts. Take control and make a choice to wait or not tell them how you feel. If you feel unsafe, get out of that situation, and get help.
NO! DON’T LISTEN TO YOUR INSTINCTS! Instincts are Satan’s way of telling you to ignore the righteous path, which involves (a) endangering yourself and (b) lying to yourself and everyone else about your inner feelings. He’s all about love, y’know?
And how’s this for full information?
Being gay or homosexual is being attracted to and loving someone of the same sex as you. It’s not always this black and white: you might like both boys and girls, or not be sure right now about who you’re attracted to.
NO. FULL INFORMATION = being gay is wrong, and your urges are bad, and if you just do what religious fundamentalists insist then everything will be fine. See the difference? It’s fucking disgusting, isn’t it, the way Rainbow Youth presents life as not being a black-and-white moral battle between the forces of Princess Don’t Leia and Darth Sodomy?
Now here’s a site I had not encountered before, and would agree is probably not for the kiddies. Hence, you know, the way they clearly label content as R18.
Also, one of their frontpage images is going straight to the pool room:
Anyway, rutting balloon bunnies aside, Get It On is also clearly not about full information. It’s just about glamorizing sex! It makes sex sound harmless and awesome (which … it should be, under ideal circumstances)! Just look at THIS little piece of pro-sex anti-moral propaganda:
Second, it’s not an intelligent question because there is no way you can ever be sure that what some random online hook-up tells you is the truth. Maybe a guy does think he is HIV negative and says “yeah I’m clean”. Maybe he had a test done three months ago, but how much sex has he had since then? And with who? And how often without condoms?
It’s a concern because HIV is often passed on by guys who don’t know they have it yet. So they might say “Yeah I’m clean” but be genuinely mistaken.
NO NO NO. We can’t just be writing thoughtful articles about practising safe sex and thinking carefully about who/how you fuck! The only way to never get an STD is to completely abstain from sex for your entire life unless you are hetero and planning to have babies (before that window closes!), in which case you just save yourself for marriage and voila, problem solved.
And look, they have “STI Info” right there in the banner. How disgusting, giving people clear, informed medical information and still saying sex is OK. Remember, you can tell what “full information” about sex is: information which makes you not have sex. No, it’s not biased, it’s science, shut up.
Now here’s the site which should put the shits up conservative parents, because it is targeted at teens. And it clearly has no interest in telling them they can talk to “responsible adults”, to quote Dr Grossman. You can tell by the way their “Helpful contacts” page is entirely made up of the personal cellphones of girls called Madison and Kaytee. And what about this?
Understanding our bodies and those of our partners helps us to keep healthy.
NO. NO NO NO. Keeping healthy is all about having full medical information! Which is different from “understanding our bodies” because that implies that our bodies are something good and positive, and they’re not, OK?
And also cis girls can never learn about cis boys’ bodies because, as Family Fist’s press release points out, giving kids pamphlets that use the word “cock” is obviously wrong.
And here’s what they’re telling kids about sex!
Remember that having sex will not necessarily:
- Make you more mature.
- Give you better status with your friends.
- Make your relationship stronger or closer.
- Give you an orgasm or immense pleasure – or be terrible either.
- Look like it did on TV or at the movies.
How dare they imply that sex … um … isn’t the answer to all life’s problems? Wait, no, LOOK! They said right at the end of the 4th bullet point that sex might not be terrible! Witness how they corrupt and enslave our children!!!
Boy, I’m sure glad Dr Miriam Grossman encouraged parents to check out these sites on Close Up. I think we can all see how they’re actively hiding negative information from people, telling them “the moral absolute is – use condoms”, and (OK, this one is actually accurate) not treating sex like it’s bubonic plague.
How are our kids meant to know what’s right while these websites are telling them that they have a right to think for themselves?
Finally, a return to an old favourite, and if nothing convinces you that Family Fist and everyone they approve of are really just scary, body-shaming control freaks:
One concerned father took his 12-year-old son out of a sex education class at his all-boy school after he came home upset about what had happened during one of the lessons. It included a question-and-answer session that focused on, “I have learned that my girlfriend has a thing called a clitoris. I really want to play with it. Is that okay?” The answer was: “Yes, if you ask her and she’s okay with it.”
PEOPLE DON’T GET TO CHOOSE IF THEY’RE OKAY WITH HAVING THEIR OWN CLITORIS TOUCHED, OK? How dare people be teaching 12-year-olds that certain biological bits exist and typically have certain responses and that the person possessing said bits can exercise control over said response?
Oh, and this old canard?
A poll of parents in 2010 found that three out of four parents of young children want the abstinence message taught in sex education – with 69% of kiwis overall supporting the ‘wait’ message
Is bullshit according to their own site (if you can apply Basic Critical Thinking skills) which spells out the actual question as:
Do you think schools, as part of their sex education programme, should be required to encourage pupils, to abstain from sex until they are old enough to handle the possible consequences of pregnancy?
Do you know what “as part of” means? Because Bob McCoskrie doesn’t, apparently. When 69% (never fails to make me chuckle, that) of people say “Yes, I would like chocolate cake as part of my wedding menu” they do not actually think that this means “THE ONLY FOOD AT MY WEDDING WILL BE CHOCOLATE CAKE”.
But that’s Bob for you. Twisting the facts (and getting a certain NACT-shill-owned marketing “research” company to pre-twist the questions) to suit his moral agenda.
Remember, this dude also thinks that 11-year-old pregnant people should be forced to carry their rapists’ babies. You really think he’s got your teen’s best interests at heart here?
(Updated 18/6/13 to re-acquire adorable sexing-balloon-bunny images)
In my last post I talked about Dr Miriam Grossman and how her objections to sexuality education were passed off as being about “full information” (clearly the fundy meme for 2012). The other thing that struck me was her insistence on making the conversation not about morals or ethics or even in any way religious. From an article in the Herald:
I’m not talking about morality, I’m a physician
Yes. And you’re also of orthodox Jewish faith, and you’ve also been brought here to speak by Family First, who talk about morality a lot.
And … hang on … the FAQ on Family Fist’s website is “Adapted from “The Natural Family – A Manifesto” – World Congress of Families”. And the World Congress of Families is a “project” of The Howard Centre for Family, Religion and Society, and their site is just chocka with religious writings – writings which are, interestingly, somewhat open to non-Judeo-Christian religious teachings, but only if they’re sufficiently patriarchal and anti-sex, of course. (Please note in the linked article that it’s assumed the divorce rate in highly religious couples is lower than average. Yes, when you’re convinced your choice is between an eternity in Hell or 20 more years with this bastard, I can’t think how that could happen.)
Point is, your fundamentalist faith of choice is there, and it’s the basis of Grossman’s/Family First’s/etc teachings (or, alternatively, their Unbiased Medical Research just happens to correlate with 3,000-year-old dogma) but gosh are they cagey about waving the God flag when they’re telling us what to do.
Let’s face it, the early 21st century is actually a bit of a shit time for fundy conservatives. When the Pope gets out in his Popemobile and says “homosexuality is bad, mmkay” a large chunk of the Western world goes “lol, shut up, you don’t really have a clue, do you?”. Yes, there are also significant areas where religious moral rectitude holds sway – and endangers people’s lives – but there’s not the society-wide “hush, Man of God is talking” reaction that maybe the various churches or Maxim Insitute-esque lecturers on morality used to get in the Dark Ages, or the 50s.
So coming out and saying what they really think – “Our particular deity says any sex outside the hetero married cock-vag style is a no-no” doesn’t get a lot of traction outside their own, already-converted audience.
Hence, the medical information thing. Doesn’t it sound lovely and neutral? “Hey now, we just want accurate, unbiased medical information to be taught to our kids.” It’s so safe! And unpreachy! Maybe they just have everyone’s best interests at heart!
And then we remember that the kind of people who say this are coming from a point of view which says that even acknowledging that sometimes Boys Like Other Boys and Girls Like Other Girls is “teaching morality”. They think that saying “sometimes [basically, all the time] some people have sex before they tie the knot in a god-approved ceremony” is ideological. Not, you know, basic social fact.
On the other hand, skewing the information given to teens so that it’s all about “you only want to shag because of your hormones and they make you dumb” and “who cares if the nerve endings like a tickle, God WAIT NO WE MEANT SCIENCE designed your ass for only one purpose” is just giving them “full information” (TM).
The forces of evil, aka “the moral majority” are very good at a couple of things: incrementalism (oh, we just want parental notification laws, and we only want to make sure you’re sure about having sex, and we’re merely protecting sex workers by forcing them off the streets) and subverting progressive language (full information! Medical issue! I just don’t want my kids preached to!).
They are liars. They don’t care if your kid gets HPV and dies of cervical cancer, or gets another kid pregnant and has to drop out of varsity to support their new “family”. Every time their actions cause you harm they sincerely see that as proving that they were right all along. It’s fucking sociopathic. Don’t buy it.
So, as previously posted, Dr Miriam Grossman visited our shores, at the invitation of Family Fist. If you missed her on Close Up, the video is now up on their site, and it’s totally worth it just for Mark Sainsbury’s rather matter-of-fact “but don’t adults have oral sex too?” line of follow-up questions. 5 points to House Glorious Moustache.
Anyway, here’s my thoughts on the matter, based on my notes from the original screening because I don’t want to end up yelling at my monitor. Again.
Dr Grossman’s basic claimed thesis is that sex education isn’t actually giving kids full, in her words life-saving information (bingo!) about the medical dangers of dirty, dirty sex. This is, on the surface, an objectively bad thing, since proponents of sex ed also talk about being concerned that kids need to be informed.
The fact that her only example of this is that none of our Family Planning / sex ed websites mention that oral sex causes throat cancer leads one neatly into her very thinly-veiled actual thesis:
Sex ed isn’t oriented toward scaring kids away from having sex.
For all the talk of sex being “a medical issue” and that we should “tell the truth” about sex, what it boils down to – and the related reading in my previous post contains more examples of this – is that “full information” means lying to kids by saying things like (direct quote from Close Up):
To be sexually active during the teen years, with multiple partners, is high risk – you’re going to get an infection.
My Twitter and Facebook feeds were hilariously flooded that night with people declaring they were obviously freaks of nature, given how they’d been sexually active teens with multiple partners and managed not to get any infections. Clearly, our sexuality education is a miserable failure, what with it enabling their safe sexual activity instead of scaring them into abstinence as God intended.
(Meanwhile, Dr Katie Fitzpatrick talked about teaching young people to have critical thinking skills, looking at a range of information … the sex-encouraging teen-pimping Satanist.)
Grossman also criticised Family Planning pamphlets telling young people that sex was their choice, apparently assuming that the only sex-related pressure teens come under is from *adopt martyred pose* People Who Just Want Them To Wait For Their Own Good. In Grossman’s world, of course, there’s no pressure on teens to have sex before they’re ready, which maybe we might want to mitigate by telling them they have a right to autonomy and to say no and that their consent is an important thing which should be recognised. Nah, they just need to be protected by the evil forces of sex-encouragement.
The logical conclusion to this, of course, is that “full information” from Grossman’s perspective is information which causes teens to not have sex. Which seems … I don’t know, a little presumptive? What if teens read about the scary throat-cancer dangers of oral sex* and still decide “actually, I’m ready to have sex”?
I’d guess we’d be in for some weasel-word-filled equivalent of “if they still want to have sex it’s because they’re stupid/not really informed/sinful and thus deserve to get STIs due to not being taught about condoms.”
Here’s the thing. When you don’t tell kids about sex and contraception, you put them at risk. When you make sex a no-no topic, you protect sexual predators. When you try to make sex a big scary monster in a world where sex is constantly portrayed as fun, loving, exciting, the ultimate display of their commitment, they’re going to do what teens have done since the dawn of adolescence: write you off as another stupid adult who’s just telling them what to do because you get off on your bullshit adult authori-taaaaa.
And then when their boyfriend pressures them into something they’re not comfortable with (probably after reading Cosmo) and their girlfriend gets pregnant and kicked out of home and their partner cheats on them and gives them that infection which Dr Grossman is so concerned about … it’s going to be a fuckload harder on them having no adult they can trust to help them.
But hey, it’s not about the kids, is it? It’s about Moral Authorities getting to wag their fingers and impose their prescribed way of life through fear, manipulation, lies, and treating those who don’t measure up like shit to bring the others into line.
I defer the last word to Jackie Edmond of Family Planning, quoted in the Herald:
“We don’t aspire to talking about the ideal of one sexual relationship. We are pragmatic – and we are dealing with young people.”
*A risk which just coincidentally disproportionately affects hetero girls and gay boys but allows jocks to get head to their heart’s content, and is actually linked to HPV, which (a) WE HAVE A VACCINE FOR NOW and (b) LESS PREVALENT WHEN PEOPLE HAVE SAFE SEX
I’m a bit pissed off about this whole free-contraception-for-beneficiaries thing. And it’s not because of the policy.
It’s because of the number of people who should know better saying “Oh well, it doesn’t sound that bad.”
The number of people who claim to give a shit about reproductive freedom, but are quite happy to assume the worst of beneficiaries, who apparently just don’t know that sex leads to babies – babies they should not be having because look, while we all agree with social welfare and supporting families and stuff it shouldn’t just be handed out to sluts.
The number of people who want to shy away from the word “eugenics”, when this policy will pretty clearly affect certain groups of women – i.e. poor, brown, and with disabilities – disproportionately (albeit the “non-working” ones, because Labour bought into that fiction so NACT are hardly likely to let it go). Groups of women who dominant white western patriarchy have a slightly bad history of shitting all over in the reproductive department.
The number of people who would happily agree with concepts like “compulsory heterosexuality” – i.e. that we live in a system which makes heterosexuality the only viable option yet presents it as simply normal – but are now saying “oh, but the contraception is voluntary” – like anything is really voluntary when the entirety of the world in general, and the bureaucrat in front of you who controls whether your children eat this week specifically, is saying if you don’t do this you’ll just be proving you’re a stupid greedy hobag.
The number of people jumping on the bandwagon of “but what about the men involved? [remember, all sex is hetero, all pregnancies the result of PIV sex, and only cismen ejaculate/ciswomen gestate] Why aren’t we handing out vasectomies?” GUESS WHAT, THAT WOULDN’T BE OKAY EITHER. And I don’t know about you, but I think giving NACT another opening to push their perennial “let’s force women to name the father or no monies!” issue is not the most feminist idea I’ve heard all day.
The number of people who don’t get how obviously this is the top of a slippery, pre-ordained slope. It’s basic NACT governance: put together an extremist “advisory” group, act shocked at their extremist recommendations, implement policies which are watered-down versions of those recommendations, and once everyone – especially you so-called progressives – has gone “see, it’s not that bad, they’re reasonable people, actually I think this is quite a good idea” they get re-elected and really put on the thumbscrews.
I mean, y’all seem to fucking get it when it’s parental notification (i.e. a step towards full criminalization of abortion) or banning street prostitution (i.e. a step towards full recriminalization of sex work). But when it’s beneficiaries, somehow the Welfare Queen paranoia takes hold.
Here’s what plenty of people who should know better seem to be missing: This is not a socially liberal policy created in the interests of reproductive choice. This is about adding yet another signal to the pile that certain women should not have children.
It’s an absolute masterpiece: misogyny wrapped up in a vaguely feminist banner. That doesn’t mean you have to fall for it. It’s still sexist, classist, racist, and fucking contemptible.
So why paraphrase their excellent points?
If cost really is the rationale, then these family planning methods should be being made available for free to all women on low incomes, whatever their occupational status. Otherwise, the state is making a distinction between the virtuous working poor and the poor on benefits, who are being regarded as irresponsible and/or morally degenerate. From October, this contraceptive assistance will be offered to allwomen on benefits, and their daughters aged 16 to 19.
That’s outrageous. Think about it. Most women are on the DPB due to marital or relationship breakdown, leaving them – usually – with the prime custodial care of the children from those relationships. In response, Bennett is offering to pay to insert IUDs or contraceptive implants in those women and in their teenage daughters. That is pretty insulting. From October, the state intends to treat all such women – most of whom are on a benefit not by choice but through divorce and relationship breakups – as if they and their children are sexually irresponsible. In this respect at least, the government’s view of beneficiaries seems to belong to the 19th century.
… that’s not what the government is planning. Instead, they’re making it freely available to some, in a form which will limit their fertility for prolonged periods, in the very specific hope that they will use it. This isn’t about enabling choice – its about constraining it.
“We have long had a culture of ‘benefit bashing’ and the power imbalance that comes with walking into a Work and Income office will mean many will feel bullied into getting whatever form of contraceptive they are told to get. These measures take away an individual’s right to choose what is right for them” says spokesperson Ta’ase Vaoga.
The right to plan ones family has explicit protection in International law. This entitles both women and men to the full range of contraceptive choices, as well as to information about sexual and reproductive health. Singling out young women on benefits and the female dependants of beneficiaries, and funding the uptake of only one type of contraception, undermines their ability to make an informed choice about the method of contraception, if any, that is right for them
Hilary, comment at The Standard:
It’s eugenic in that it targets one group of people for whom reproduction is deemed ‘undesirable’. Such ideas (of restricting the breeding of certain groups) were gaining popularity in New Zealand 100 years ago, and led to various policy manifestations including segregated residential confinement, and forced sterilisations of institutionalised people. There is a dark eugenic undertone in much NZ public policy and among certain groups of politicians that has never gone away.
Anthony Robins, The Standard:
Now here we are with the current offer, free long-term contraception for beneficiaries and their daughters. In some respects its a perfectly sensible plan, remove the price barrier to women asserting control of their own fertility. Who could argue with that? The problem is that a perfectly sensible plan comes wrapped in two layers of baggage. First, it’s from the same Nats who last year were speculating about compulsion, so it has to be seen as the thin end of a wedge. And second, it targets one sector of the community only, and therefore carries an implied stigma.