Abstinence-Only Sex Education, otherwise known as Godbag Bullshit

Thursday, January 18th, 2007 · 20 Comments »

Courtney Martin has an article at American Prospect arguing that abstinence-only sex education helps to generate the date-rape culture on modern college campuses. I believe it, if only because the abstinence-only crap completely shuts down any real education about sexuality and personal boundaries, leaving young people with very muddled ideas about what constitutes normal sexual behavior. There are some feminist connections I wish Martin had spelled out, but Amanda filled in the blanks admirably. There’s also some great commentary from Jill, Sheelzebub, Echidne, Ann Bartow, Punkass Marc, and Mamacita.

I decided to dig a little deeper to see just what’s in these abstinence-only programs, and what I found is appalling. I knew this stuff was funded by godbags and the same people behind those phony Crisis Pregnancy Centers, so I expected there to be some problems with what those of us in the reality-based community refer to as “the truth,” but I actually had no idea just how propagandistic and blatantly anti-feminist these programs were. A report compiled for Congressman Henry Waxman in 2004 catalogues the misinformation, lies, and propaganda that we are paying to have taught to our young people — to the tune of 170 million dollars a year — and it’s enough to make your teeth implode from grinding.

Here are some of the lies I culled from the Waxman report, organized by topic:

Patriarchal gender bullshit that I cannot fucking believe is in a public school curriculum

* Women gauge their happiness and success by their relationships; men’s happiness and success hinge on their accomplishments.

* Men plan for the future more than women. Women are focused on the present, which is why they are not as concerned about planning for retirement as men are.

* Men’s “top five needs” include “domestic support,” “sexual fulfillment,” and “physical attractiveness” (in a mate, presumably). None of these are women’s top needs.

* Women’s “top five needs” include “financial support,” “affection,” “conversation,” “honesty and openness,” and “family commitment.” None of these are men’s top needs.

* A woman needs to feel a man’s devotion, while a man’s primary need is to feel a woman’s admiration.

* Guys are better at focusing than girls, who are more emotional.

* Men lack deep emotions.

* A woman should not give a man advice or suggestions, since it will lesson his confidence and may turn him away from her.

* Men need little or no preparation for sex, while women often need hours and hours of mental and emotional preparation.

* Sex only within a monogamous marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity.

* A bride price is an honor to the bride, showing that she is valuable enough to pay for.

* The father gives away the bride because he is the man who has had responsibility for protecting her, and now he is giving her away to the only other man who can take over the protective role.

Abortion propaganada

* Life begins when the sperm unites with the egg.

* A 43-day-old fetus is a thinking person.

* A 10- to 12-week-old fetus can see and hear.

* 5% to 10% of women who have legal abortions will become sterile.

* Having an abortion once increases the later likelihood of having a premature, mentally retarded baby.

* Women who have had an abortion are more prone to suicide.

Misinformation about contraception and AIDS that is on such a pre-Kinseyan level of ignorance, I’m surprised they don’t teach that you can get pregnant from a toilet seat

* Even when people use condoms correctly and scrupulously there is a 15% chance of getting pregnant.

* Touching other people’s genitals can result in pregnancy.

* Condoms fail to prevent HIV transmission 31% of the time in heterosexual sex.

* The HIV virus can pass through a latex condom.

* HIV can be communicated through tears and sweat.

That’s what our tax dollars are going for. Nice, eh?

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20 Responses to “Abstinence-Only Sex Education, otherwise known as Godbag Bullshit”

  1. flawedplan says:

    I find most of it appalling of course. Violet I’m stuck on what I always stumble on in feminist discussions, I am an old style cultural feminist and remember when theorists reclaimed some of those traits that have fallen out of favor with modern feminism, and it pains me to see connective, relational, intuitive emotional ways of being put down to patriarchal propaganda. I don’t believe in essentialism, or that women “should” be any particular way, it’s more the devaluation of mores that have always been associated with women that really gives me the freeze. And “my” feminism (Sonia Johnson) worked so hard to get that through our heads. I guess we are just moving on and working to do away with gender-role socialization altogether?

  2. Violet says:

    and it pains me to see connective, relational, intuitive emotional ways of being put down to patriarchal propaganda.

    If I’m understanding you correctly (and if I’m not, let me know), I think you’re reading my post as saying that claims like “women’s top needs include affection, communication, etc.” are anti-feminist. But that’s not the point I was trying to make. What is anti-feminist is the claim that only women need these things, and men don’t. Just like it’s anti-feminist to say that only men need sexual fulfillment, and women don’t.

    I think traditionally feminine traits are immensely valuable and should be valued and should be available to all humans. Being empathetic and caring should not be the exclusive purview of women. And being sexually passionate should not be the exclusive purview of men. What patriarchy does — and it does this all the goddamn time, that’s how it works — is to create these boxes labeled Male and Female and insist that each person must fit into the appropriate box, no coloring outside the lines. And of course I don’t need to point out that the box labeled Male includes running the world while the box labeled Female ends up with a nice coating of pink paint and 75 cents on the dollar.

    But I may very well have completely missed your point, so let me know if I have!

  3. Victoria says:

    (begin extended rant)

    I remember at one point when I was eight and a half months pregnant or so, walking into the main hospital in St. Paul, MN for some final screenings (ultrasound, etc.) in advance of my due date, and being accosted by one such Godbag who was standing at the entrance to the hospital, with the bloody fetus pictures and the whole works. He was screaming at me. And while I’m normally pretty on my feet in terms of dealing with abortion clinic protesters and their ilk (haven’t had an abortion but have escorted women to them, and also used to live across the street from one so whenever I’d get off the bus, trying to struggle home with my groceries, I’d be confronted by the Bigot Brigade), BUT in this circumstance I was left utterly speechless. Because I was walking into a large, multi-purpose medical hospital, where everyone the city went for all kinds of basic healthcare; if, indeed, they performed abortions (medically necessary or elective), I certainly had no idea of this fact.

    But, really, was this particular Godbag so clueless that he didn’t notice that I was As Big As A House? And that I was well past the point when abortion was whatsoever an option for me? (Okay, maybe I’m wrong, and abortions at 38 weeks’ gestation are shockingly widespread!)

    But because, as an obviously pregnant woman, I was walking whatsoever into a medical facility, he thought he had the right to scream his fool head off at me, to shove those pictures in my face and command me to not murder my baby. It was so contemptibly insane! (Thankfully, he was not there when I arrived again two weeks later to actually give birth, or I probably would have had to kill someone: him.

    Postscript: Right now I have an ovarian cyst that’s the size of a small baseball, and has become inseparable from the actual ovary. Given the extent of my bloating, I actually look like I might be pregnant! Tomorrow I’m going to a hospital here in Richmond (don’t know if they do abortions – thought hadn’t crossed my mind until now), to have the whole mess surgically removed. I can barely walk for the pain I’m in, but I rather think that if I encountered a similar screaming Godbag on my way, I think I’d be able to muster enough strength to whack him (or her) over the head with the nearest blunt object.

    And of course the fact that I was not seeking an abortion before, and will not be seeking one tomorrow, is beside the point. It’s the galling presumptuousness of these hateful, un-Godly people that continuously serves to astonish.

    (rant over)

  4. Violet says:

    Oh, V, tomorrow’s the day? Good luck with that, hope it’s the easy version and you can come right home. I didn’t realize the cyst had gotten that big and you were in such severe pain. I really hope everything goes well.

    Those godbags are so full of hate. They’re just as Twisty originally described them, “bags full of hate.” When I was in Baltimore I went to Mass at the cathedral there, a beautiful cathedral built in the 50s that I was fascinated to visit. But outside there was a crazed godbag forcing pictures of bloody fetuses on every woman, including me, both coming in and out of the service. The asswipe actually followed me to my car and kept trying to thrust his stupid-ass bullshit leaflet into my hand.

    I never went back.

  5. Victoria says:

    I never went back.

    Yes, of course, causing random and incidentally non-abortion-seeking (female) citizens to refrain from attending Catholic Mass is so central to the allegedly Holy Cause! That’s mind-boggling, Violet.

    As for tomorrow, I’m in that particular phase of being freaked out that makes me prone to blogorrhea (obviously) when I should be packing for the hospital (or even sleeping) instead, but I’m sure all will be well, and the kind wishes you and others have expressed are a great salve for my state of panic. So, thank you. :)

  6. flawedplan says:

    Yup, you nailed it. I do need to re-think some things though, the embrace of logic and science by modern feminists is hard. And my cabal was more twee and precious than what I’m seeing today, “female divinity” and all that. We *tolerated* men and let them hang around, if they were quiet and acted like wimmin. But we doted on them and vice versa, but we absolutely ruled socially, and I have to say those were good times. There was more Foucoult, Lacan, Gilligan and that sort in the conversation, and logic was male. I can’t get over that. Things change. My bookshelves would make these whippersnappers laugh out loud. But books were written and summarily devoured. I’m glad we’re talking, thanks for your patience, and well wishes to Victoria.

  7. will says:

    excellent post.

    I’ve got some great godbag stories. I’ll try to post them later when I have time. They would be more fun to hate if they were not so destructive.

  8. simply wondered says:

    if they are “bags full of hate.” where do they keep all the fear and ignorance?
    ha!

  9. Sam says:

    The first set of bullet point bullshit about sexuality has a lot of ideology in common with the lies pornography tells about men’s and women’s sexuality through various scenarios played out.

    A popular theme in pornography is violating what’s assumed women need/want for the transgressive kick. For example, Bang Bus dropping the women out of the vehicle without paying her is intended to violate the precepts “A bride price is an honor to the bride, showing that she is valuable enough to pay for” and “Women’s top five needs include ‘financial support…’” It’s the same patriarchal bullshit belief system viewed from opposing sides of the funhouse mirror.

  10. Violet says:

    Sam, that’s an excellent point. Remember this post?

    They say that having kids keeps you young, which is why I’m old. No kids, and out of touch with youth culture. When I read stuff like this Waxman report, it scares me to realize how much anti-feminist propaganda is being promulgated to the younger generation. It’s like rap music, which whenever I hear it basically seems to revolve around the mesmerizing topic of “Fuck that stupid bitch.” Or comments at a place like The Superficial, where it is common and utterly routine for young men to talk about hate-fucking and raping women to punish them.

  11. Mandos says:

    I’m a little surprised at the bride price reference. In what context did *that* happen? Where in American traditions is there a bride price such that it would be listed in some widely-used sex-ed material? I mean, a dowry at least would make more sense since it was common in the European heritage.

  12. Janeen says:

    This kind of thing just puts me into a blind rage. If they try and teach that crap to my kidlet in school, I’m going to have to hurt somebody.

  13. Violet says:

    I’m a little surprised at the bride price reference. In what context did that happen?

    According to the Waxman report it’s in a teaching unit on wedding traditions, so I imagine it’s a multicultural spin around the world godbag style. I’m sure they cherry-pick the most patriarchal customs they can find to help reinforce that it is God’s Plan for women to be chattel. Somehow I don’t think cultures like the Mbuti are included in the curriculum.

  14. Violet says:

    This kind of thing just puts me into a blind rage. If they try and teach that crap to my kidlet in school, I’m going to have to hurt somebody.

    I’m really still kind of stunned that this misogyny is being taught in public schools, at our (taxpayers’) expense. Can you imagine if your child came home and told you that she’d learned in school that women were too emotional and impulsive to focus or plan for the future, that women require the financial support of men and men require the domestic support of women, that it’s wrong for women to give men advice….

    It’s astounding. Can you imagine if the public schools were teaching that Jewish people are greedy or black people are lazy?

  15. will says:

    “This kind of thing just puts me into a blind rage. If they try and teach that crap to my kidlet in school, I’m going to have to hurt somebody.”

    Janeen is dangerous when she is pissed!!!!!!!1

  16. Older says:

    I thought that having kids made you old. And hey, I can prove it! I had some kids, then some more kids, then some more, and now I’m old! QED Or maybe you just get old either way.

  17. Flamethorn says:

    if they are “bags full of hate.” where do they keep all the fear and ignorance?

    In saddlebags.

  18. simply wondered says:

    flamethorn – applause!

  19. roamaround says:

    I see this stuff every day in the public high school where I teach. It’s crazy. Catholic Charities puts informational flyers in all the girls’ washrooms (as we say here in Chicago, aka restrooms, bathrooms) and on the back of all the girls’ stall doors. They say relatively innocuous things but have prominent contact information. There is no equal time given to secular organizations. (I’ve tried to fight it, but have zero allies. The leftists in the school are busy with other causes….)

    Between that and the mushrooming influence of ROTC and military academies, I feel fascism creeping closer by the minute. It’s very scary.

  20. Anita says:

    That is quite shocking. When I was in Junior High and Highschool abstinence-only was not in the curriculum. In fact, sex eduaction was hardly touched upon. In Junior High a waiver was needed with the signiture of a parent allowing you to hear what was going to be said. In High School a whole day was dedicated in health class to the proper use of contraceptives and sex. Of course, this was about 6 years ago.

    What is the point of having abstinance only sex eduacation…with “facts” like those. Reading the artical in American prospect gave me the idea that this isn’t working…that it contributing to the problem of sexual ignorance and an increase in rape. It is quite scary…when you think about it.