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 11 July 2013.
Yes, I’m being picky. But if you can’t be picky when you’re looking at somebody’s deliberate, planned, entirely-under-their-control press release, I don’t know when you can be. Emphasis mine:
“Of course, there is a significant number of children who go to school to hungry, because they have not been properly fed at home, and of course poor nutrition has an adverse effect on learning and the subsequent development of the child.
“But that is not the issue – rather, the question is what is the best way of addressing this problem,” Mr Dunne says.
Translated from the original Conservativesian: yeah, kids are hungry and it’s fucking them up, but that’s not the issue.
The real problem is that I can’t support anything with Hone Harawira’s name on it because I’m too heavily invested in camouflage-racist Common Sense.
But of course, a scheme which involves government subsidisation of religious organisations like Sanitarium who pay no tax on their profits (which they then invest overseas) who then get to market themselves as caring about New Zealand children, that’s totally cool!
You may recall that Family First’s line was much the same. Only two questions: how do these scumbags sleep at night, and why do they never get called on their shit by actual paid journalists?
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.
This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 11 April 2013.
Above all else, there’s nothing I hate more than someone who lies about their intention. It’s the one redeeming thing about, say, rabid antichoicers who accept that people who get abortions should be imprisoned for murder: their beliefs are reprehensible, but at least they’re consistent, and don’t try to pass laws saying, say, “we just want to regulate the evil babykilling industry so it’s safe!”
Which is basically the line Peter Dunne is trying to sell in this media release about “legal highs”:
Today is the beginning of the end of an unregulated legal highs industry, and young New Zealanders will be the safer for it
Because you see, the problem is that a lot of whacked-out shit is getting sold in party pill format, and it’s untested, and this can end badly, and as someone just catching up with season 1 of Banshee I have no real disagreement with that premise.
But dig just the teensiest bit deeper?
The Bill will replace the temporary class drug notice regime that has been in place since August 2011.
“It has done its job very well, taking 33 substances and as a result, more than 50 products off the market, but it was only ever a holding regime until we could get this law in place.”
Now, I may be completely missing the point here, but I was personally under the impression that you regulate things so that the unsafe things are taken away and the proven-safe things are permitted to be sold, albeit perhaps limited to grown-ups. But for some reason, Peter Dunne’s press release doesn’t talk about how many substances have been tested or evaluated, just how many have been taken off the market, as though that’s the real measure of success.
And that is, in fact, a pretty different kettle of fish.
I mean, I’m not at all surprised that Dunne’s real focus is the killing off of all fun, I just wish he wasn’t co-opting ideas about sensible regulation and liberality in allowing adults to make informed choices to sell it.
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.)
This post has been rather overtaken by other far funnier events since I drafted it. But dammit I did proper research and everything so read the damn thing, then go back to the far funnier posts at The Civilian, Dim Post, and Scoop.
So, following the glorious third reading of the marriage equality bill, Colin Craig had dire warnings for our Parliament:
“The day of reckoning on the redefinition of marriage is still to come,” says Conservative Party Leader Colin Craig.
“Last night was not a vote of the people of New Zealand. If it had been, the answer would have been no.”
And he has precedent to back him up:
“We have seen the public vote disregarded on law and order, on the number of MP’s and on the Anti-Smacking Bill. Parliament’s unwillingness to even put the marriage issue to the people sadly comes as no surprise.”
Let’s take a look at just how convincing his precedents are.
Laura Norder & 99 bottles of MPs on the wall
In 1999 we the people voted on two referenda which served to illustrate a lot of the problems with citizens’ initiated referenda.
In one of the few unambiguously-worded referenda put to the NZ people, 81.5% of voters supported reducing the number of MPs in Parliament to 99.
In one of the stupidest referenda put to the NZ people, designed primarily to give people like the Nonsensical Sentencing Trust material for unjustified panic-mongering press releases for the next decade and a half, 91.78% of people voted yes to:
“Should there be a reform of our Justice system placing greater emphasis on the needs of victims, providing restitution and compensation for them and imposing minimum sentences and hard labour for all serious violent offences?”
Restitution, focus on the victims, AND harsher sentencing and hard labour. That’s a clear-cut result if I ever saw one.
The referenda were held on election day and subsequently completely ignored by the incoming Labour/Alliance government. (NZ First MP Barbara Stewart did later put up a bill in 2006 on the number-of-MPs issue, which was shot down in Select Committee because it made no sense.)
Three years later, in 2002, the people’s vengeance was swift. Of the 120 MPs who had callously ignored the voice of the people:
- 57 retained their electorate seats
- 27 retained their list seats
- 4 MPs inherited seats from their party’s previous MP
- 5 MPs switched from list to electorate or vice versa
Quite interestingly (now I’ve slogged through all that), only four electorates actually changed party hands at all, and the government did not change (though some might argue that was proof of God’s wrath, or United Future getting the balance of power was God’s wrath, etc.)
And in today’s Parliament? 21 of those terrible evil wrath-of-God-to-descend-upon-them class-of-1999 MPs still hold the same seats. (3 were list MPs and gained seats).
As you can see, the carnage wreaked upon our Parliament as vengeance for the denied wishes of the electorate was massive and bloody.
Punching Larry Baldock in the face
In 2009 a truly dreadful referendum question was posed to the New Zealand public:
“Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”
… which is no way loaded.
This of course followed on from the passage of the repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act, meaning child abusers and other people who think hitting kids is neat-o could no longer get off scot-free for whipping teenagers with riding crops.
That Bill, introduced by Sue Bradford, was passed by the slimmest of slim margins: one hundred and thirteen to eight.
87.4% of voters (on 56% turnout, as it was a postal ballot) voted “No” on the referendum, which even John Key agreed was pretty meaningless.
Once again, Parliament ignored The Will Of The People. Result?
Of the MPs who voted in favour of not letting child abusers pretend their violence against minors was totes justified because they were being a brat:
- 48 electorate MPs were re-elected
- 27 list MPs returned on the list
Of the eight who voted against,
- Rodney Hide was re-elected in Epsom and dragged Heather Roy and a few more Actoids back in with him
- Everyone else fucked off
Gordon Copeland – who rage-quit from United Future over the issue – magically failed to gain any traction from it and was not re-elected to Parliament. His righteous, God-fearing Kiwi Party folded before the 2011 election.
But John Key, humble Member of Parliament for Helensville, may have suffered the greatest indignities, for through God’s loving wrath he was elevated to the office of Prime Minister and forced to appear on Letterman.
Now, there’s also the tiny trifling fact that the 2008 election was a bit of a smashing one , eliminating NZ First (temporarily), crushing United Future, resurrecting ACT, and seeing a bit of a swing towards National. So I guess the issue of smacking kids (and having fewer MPs and being tough on victim compensation or whatever) might not have been the number one thing on people’s minds.
Conclusion? Given Parliament’s callous disregard for the Will Of The People on stuff dating back to ’99, God has a heck of a lot of reckoning to get through before we need to worry about his marriage-equality-related vengeance. And even Colin Craig has already gotten bored enough with this particular travesty of democracy to get distracted by a satirical news site making fun of him.
So we’re probably going to be OK.