Pam Stenzel, my favorite abstinence-only education zealot, was in the news last month for some gnarly comments she reportedly made during her seminar for students at George Washington High School in West Virginia.
According to some students in attendance, Stenzel delivered such golden nuggets of sexual psychology as "If you take birth control, your mother probably hates you" and "I could look at any one of you in the eyes right now and tell if you're going to be promiscuous," as well as her standard talking points such as: Condoms don't work; God hates sluts; extramarital sex will cause death, disease and/or psychological devastation; and the only way to prevent these things from happening is through abstinence.
Just go to YouTube and watch some of Stenzel's speeches. The woman is such a screeching abstinence harpy that I can't even tolerate her pregnant pauses. And she refuses to modify the absolutism of her claims. For instance, Stenzel doesn't say extramarital sex might cause death, disease and/or psychological problems; she says it will. She won't say that the best way to prevent disease and pregnancy is with abstinence; she says it's the only way, which is just so whack since everybody on the planet who doesn't get birth-control information from Nickelodeon knows that condoms are pretty damn good at preventing both.
It's true that abstinence-only absolutely prevents pregnancy and venereal disease. However, abstinence-only education doesn't prevent squat. Because abstinence-only education is not abstinence; it's the act of selling abstinence—usually to curious, rebellious, hormonally saturated, dumb-as-a-bag-of-bedbugs-and-thrice-as-engorged teenagers whose bodies are built for fucking the way Kenyans are built for running.
Sure, abstinence should be taught to students, but not -only. Abstinence should be taught side-by-side with the condom option, the pill option, the mutual-masturbation option and the gargle-Listerine-before-giving-head option.
The average age that human beings lose their virginity is 17, which means that a crap-ton of people lost their virginity when they were 14, 15 and 16. And we know this is true because that's when you lost your virginity, right? And when all your friends lost it. And their friends, too. I was 15 when—under a moonless summer night on the grassy shore of Round Lake in Monroe, N.Y.—a much older woman of 18 burgled my virginity. And by "burgled" I mean that I left the front door to my virginity open, disabled the alarm and pinned a note saying, "Come on in and take what you want, you sexy-ass cat burglar."
My first sexual encounter, by the way, was hilarious.
I grew up in a place and time when sex was not discussed in the home and the only sex education we received in school was if you happened to walk in on the gym teacher tagging a guidance counselor in the supply closet.
Nobody taught me nuthin' 'bout sex, and so, unsurprisingly, I had a plethora of wildly stupid ideas about it—one of which was that you had to pee inside a woman to get her pregnant. I also used to believe that women's breasts were just bags of milk. Another stupid idea I had about sex was that the vagina was located in the same area on the female as the penis was on the man—that it was front and center, between the waist and the pubic mound.
So, there I was, on a pitch-black night at Round Lake, drunk on hormones and an eight-pack of Piels, poking futilely at this young woman's upper mons pubis and muttering, "OK, ya ready?—poke. Here we go—poke. Oh boy, this is gonna—poke—be great. Yup, this is it for sure. Here it—poke—comes! We're almost ther—." Until she irritably grabbed my shaft and marched me down to the vulva the way a teacher yanks a troublemaker's arm and marches him to the principal's office.
What an odd place to put a vagina, I thought when the encounter was finally consummated. I must remember this for next time.
Ah, yes, I remember my sexteens fondly: getting covert hand jobs in my girlfriendís parents' basement; giving good finger on the county fair Ferris wheel; and, of course, laying on the grass at Round Lake and playing hide the memory maker all over again. What a great time. And nobody got hurt. And, hell to the hell-yes, I would approve of that kind of sexual exploration for my teenage son or daughter (if I had one).
Naturally, I would be diligent about providing all the pertinent information. I would warn them of the dangers, advise them about the safeguards and, just, you know, totally freaking prepare them as best as humanly possible for a sexual existence—which is to say, human existence.
I know you parents don't believe that. You're thinking, Ed, if you had teenagers, there's no way you would approve of them getting a little sump'n-sump'n. And maybe you're right. Having kids probably would change my opinion. But that's the point. My opinion is not clouded by the insanity that comes with child-rearing. Isn't it possible that you're the one whose opinion on this matter is clouded? Maybe you're the one who's being overprotective; maybe you've conveniently forgotten what it was like to be a kid, and I'm the one who's seeing things the way they actually are. Who knows? The point remains, abstinence is fine as an individual choice, but this abstinence-only education business is for the birds.
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Edwin Decker blogs at www.edwindecker.com. Follow him on Twitter @edwindecker or find him on Facebook.
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