Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Evolved Views

I wrote "it's interesting how your views change" or something to that effect, but it isn't. It's expected. I just find it interesting how shocking it can be when you realize specifics.

So this is more evidence of my evolving moral views. I know this is kind of the argument made by conservative religions: "Leave the church/denounce god and you will make immoral choices."

Well, I suppose it's down to definitions again. My definition of "immoral" has changed, theirs hasn't. Thus, I run the risk of committing immorality. Truth can be peskily subjective this way. Just don't tell them that.

Anyway, so we're watching Dr. Oz (don't judge! he's fantastic entertainment) and they begin talking about the HPV vaccination. For the first time I think "Yeah, we should probably get Abbie vaccinated once she's old enough."


In many religious environments, this vaccination, given to girls I believe as young as eleven (nine?), is perceived as permission to go out and fuck someone ASAP. If I'm not mistaken, many feminist groups saw the opposition to this recommendation as misogynistic, but let's be real here. The same religious groups feel the exact same way about handing condoms out to boys. I think they'd freak out just as much if a doctor or school handed them out at the age of nine to eleven.

It's a huge quandary for those riding the line. My mom certainly felt it. I remember being privy for some strange reason to a conversation between her and my aunt regarding my brother and whether or not my mom should provide him with condoms. She was really concerned, having decided that he was going to fuck at first chance--which, you know, he might have. But he and I received a cacophony of views on whether or not this was okay. I received two talks: "Wait until marriage" and "Come talk to me when you think you're ready."

She didn't know what she believed as far as this goes. She probably wavered from "premarital sex is wrong" and "dudes, it's reality. face it." Understandable. For this I don't blame her for giving us conflicting views. Even semi-religious folks are caught fighting with what is "right" and what to do about it. They don't know, either. Religion has a huge hold on even passive believers.

Mom also flipped the fuck out every time she thought someone liked me or my brother. Like, even if we were in kindergarten. "WHO KISSED MY BOY?!" I have half a page ripped out of my sixth grade yearbook because an eighth grader proclaimed his crush on me and my mom did *not* like it. To make her feel better, I ripped it out. I wish I wouldn't have now.

So as kids we had no clue what was considered okay and what was not. As far as I know, my brother and I both erred on the side of "wait." I wasn't ready anyways to go quite that far until after high school. And I REALLY didn't want to discuss it with the woman who freaked out over an innocent and entirely flattering yearbook message from a boy I wasn't even attracted to and never, ever saw again.

But I digress. Surprise.

So the dilemma of "do I give him the condoms so he'll be safe or will he view the condoms as permission to screw?" is the same as "do I give her the vaccine so she'll be safer or is doing so permission to have sex?"

Y'all, that's a false dichotomy. Kids of age generally don't do because you give them permission to.

"Gee Mom said I could have sex! Let's go!"

It's a lot different in the religious world, as most if not all of us know, however. It's the whole "abstinence only" schtick that doesn't work. See: Bristol Palin. Also the girls I know who became pregnant at the age of 16 despite religious upbringing. I'm not alone in knowing these girls.

Also, the argument that "abstinence is the safest form of sex" is bullshit. It was even on "The Office" this past week. Andy, attempting to get insight on his ex's sex life, asked "What's the safest form of sex?...No, no! It's abstinence. Who here practices abstinence?"

Darryl responded "Dude. That's like saying the only safe way to ski is to not ski."

Yeah. It doesn't fly. Abstinence isn't sex. Not skiing isn't skiing.

Again, I digress.

As a person who now strongly believes in sex education and understands that my kids may understandably decide to hit home base before they're married, I want them to have all the tools with them to make sure it's not something that'll end up hurting them more than it has to. Obviously we can't ensure 100% they'll be "safe" but we can talk with them and provide them with information that'll empower them. It'll also be a better method than "just don't. it's wrong. it's no better than murdering someone. just...just don't."

So, yeah. My kid will get the vaccination. My boys will get condoms at some point. We'll talk to them about being ready for it and peer pressure, provide them with a stable, supportive and open atmosphere and all that shit, but there's a point where we just have to let go and allow them to make their own, albeit limited by virtue of maturity, informed decisions.

Still can't believe I hadn't thought of the vaccination thing until now.

Et tu?


  1. I was thinking about this, recently, myself (after having watched Penn & Teller's Bullshit! episode on teen sex).

    I think my response is longer than a comment. Expect it to show up on my blog sometime.

  2. You are a great mom. For srs, my mom never talked to me about anything body-related, not even menstruation. Parents, particularly religious parents, can't always rely on their kids to "do the right thing", evidenced by the several girls in my ward growing up who got pregnant.

    Education is key. Even after I decided to have sex, I didn't rush out and fuck my boyfriend right then. I went to the gynecologist (for the first time). I did a ton of research and practiced taking my pill for four months to be sure I wouldn't forget it. I practiced putting condoms on bananas. Giving teenagers plenty of ammo with which to fend off diseases and unwanted pregnancy is not being a bad parent or immoral person.

    ...presumably the safest form of sex is masturbation, which of course the church ALSO frowns upon. Yeah guys, that works out well.

  3. ditto. Withholding information and protection doesn't stop sex from happening, it only stops safe sex from happening.

    I think it's most important for young people to be educated about the hype. Studies have shown that teenagers actually think their peers are having a lot more sex than what is actually going on. And if they don't have any education in sexuality (not just what parts go where) they're not going to understand that what they think is love is actually an instinctual rush of hormones and neurotransmitters telling them to make babies. Education and destigmatization of sex are the solution to teen pregnancy and such, not abstinence-only demonizing of natural functions like sex.

  4. Chedner: Awesome. Look forward to it.

    Diana: Well, we *haven't* talked about it yet, but we plan to. Eric and I have had a few conversations regarding the "s" word as of late. I might blog about those, too. We're getting to the point that we're going to have to have The Talk with my daughter. I think I'm ready. Hope. I think the more Eric and I talk about this the more ready we'll be.

    I'm glad you brought up the gyno point, too. A lot of girls are scared to death of that so they don't go, and if their parents choose ignorance or just trust that their "abstinence" stance will stick, girls could get into a lot of trouble health wise. So, awesome. Thank you.

    Oh god, the masturbation thing. So stupid that it's on the same list of "never dos." For a few reasons. Another blog post. Sigh.

  5. Carla: Yr on my reply! :)

    That was one thing my dad told my brother (WHY WAS I ALWAYS AROUND?): every guy that boasts about his having sex has never had it.

    That stuck with me. I realize it's not always true, but mostly. It was a good thing for me to know too.

  6. i know many people with STIs, and none of them fit the stereotype of people who are *supposed* to get them. it's responsible to take care all of aspects of your health, even if one aspect has a dirty word in it (sex, oh no!). we have sexual parts, and it's a healthy thing to take care of those parts.

    life would be a lot easier if people looked directly at the thing they're protesting, instead of the implications of said thing.

  7. They're giving the vaccine to boys now too, which I think is great.

    I had cervical dysplasia a few years ago and it scared the living daylights out of me. Although, even if the vaccine had existed when I was a kid, I'm pretty sure my parents wouldn't have had me vaccinated. Boo.