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I Would Hate Not Having Sex With You

By Jesse Taylor
Monday, August 11, 2008 14:16 EDT
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imageKathryn Lopez decides to write about Planned Parenthood’s “Take Care Down There” campaign, a frank and forthright series of web videos about sexual health. Because their primary focus in sex is about the sex part rather than the shameful herpes-shooting eyes of God prying into every instance of premarital coitus, they are disgusting, soul-corrupting wretches.

The “Take Care Down There” campaign takes shape in web videos of young people talking about threesomes and sexually transmitted diseases, because that’s all kids could ever talk about, right?

I’ve seen a few takes on this campaign, and they all mention the Threesome spot. None of them have apparently watched it, because it’s not about threesomes at all. It’s about the sexual health dude popping in after sex and telling both of them when and how to get tested. You see, there are three of them in the bed. Not having sex. Just talking about getting tested for STDs. It’s like the opposite of a threesome, unless you really want to find two sexy people to talk about the shit that could be crawling all over your genitals.

It’s also odd that you’d critique a sexual health website for only talking about sexual health. Does K. Lo go to ESPN.com and whine that they only talk about sports? “Why doesn’t ABC.com have any information on Heroes? It’s the MSM at work again! I’ll write an article about it…as soon as I find the Any key!”

Check out Planned Parenthood’s Teenwire web magazine and you’ll have everything you forgot to think about before you embarked on that summer abroad: “Condoms, dental dams, and lube…Even if you think you won’t need any of these items, they may come in handy for a friend.”

What would you do on vacation, after all, without dental dams?!

Improvise?

And therein lies the problem with groups like Planned Parenthood — and with way too much of pop culture. For Planned Parenthood and the anything-goes ethos it represents, young people are always going to have sex. In their worldview, there’s no reason for living if you’re not going to mimic the rutting bachelorettes of Sex and the City. What could you possibly do to have a successful, happy life if it doesn’t involve going through a condom a day?

It’s less that they’re going to have sex than that they by and large do have sex. You see, groups like Planned Parenthood treat young people like they’re capable of making reasoned, intelligent decisions about sex – whether or not they have it, how they have it and what precautions they take. It’s absolutist prudes like Lopez who treat young people like any information about sex will cause them to go stupidly fuck crazy, which then sets the table for them to get a scrap of honest information about sex…and go stupidly fuck crazy.

I would have hesitated to brush with such broad strokes, until I watched the abstinence video on the “Take Care Down There” website. In “Let Me Do Me,” a teen girl turns down her friends’ invitation to a party because she has plans to “stay in tonight” and “do a little strumming the banjo,” because “I like spending time with me…Tonight I think I want to go all the way with me.”

She adds, to her friends: “Plus it’s not like I can get me pregnant or give me diseases or something.” Older dude walks in and tells the girls “abstinence can be a beautiful thing. It’s kinda’ like being a virgin all over again.”

Whoa, there. So abstinence to Planned Parenthood means masturbation? No wonder they think abstinence education is a total waste of time. They can’t get their minds out from Down There. They can’t believe that if you challenge young people to want more than what they see on TV and in the movies, they’ll take you up on it. Planned Parenthood just doesn’t get it; abstinence education can never be about simply saying, “Here’s what you can do so no one gets pregnant but you can still get some sexual kicks.” It has to be part of a greater education: a character education. A physical education. A moral education.

Wait, shut the fuck up for a second.

Abstinence…without masturbation? Are you fucking kidding me? Having experienced my own stretches of abstinence, both voluntary and involuntary, abstinence without masturbation is like a sandwich without bread. I’m sure it’s something, but the idea of calling it a sandwich is fundamentally invalid. What do you even do if you’re abstinent and don’t masturbate? Go watch videos of oil derricks way too intently? Sit on top of the dryer and just “think”?

Anyway, on to the “moral education”.

Planned Parenthood and most sex education is about finding a stopgap solution, trying to fix kids’ warped view of sex while still allowing them to watch One Tree Hill. But condoms and STD awareness aren’t the fix that kids need. We must teach our kids to treasure all their gifts, to see themselves as complete persons who have tested values that won’t be compromised in the face of peer pressure or biological urges.

How about one of the values we teach them being that if they decide they do love someone very much and they want to have sex with them, that they don’t do it like a blithering moron?

The girl in the Planned Parenthood video is, of course, right to say that her night at home won’t give her disease or a baby. But it’s no way to live. She’s cutting herself off from others. She believes she lives in a world in which sex and simulating sex are the only options on a Friday night. There are, of course, alternatives, and good ones at that. If there weren’t, all married couples would get divorced after only a few years of nuptial bliss.

No, actually. You are entirely and without exception wrong. The point of the video is that she wants to spend time by herself. It happens. She’s not squirreling away in her dildorium forsaking all human contact until a latex-bearing man offers himself up for some soulless rutting, she’s deciding to spend a Friday night in rather than go to a party. And no, “party” isn’t some Planned Parenthood code for a bukkake orgy, it’s just a gathering of people who get together in a central place to interact and have fun. And then set up the bukkake orgies.

The bottom line is that we need to be doing more than simply saying, “don’t have sex.” Of course that won’t work. Teens are not stupid; they’re human and know there’s something appealing about it, and they shouldn’t be told otherwise. But they should understand that there’s more to want, and that they should hold out for more — for love, commitment, and fulfillment. We need to seriously talk about character formation. This is why some of the religious schools exist. This is what a group like the Best Friends Foundation does for schools. But those groups and messages are getting hard to hear in a prurient culture obsessed with youth and selfish pleasure.

Oddly enough (well, not odd at all), the Best Friends Foundation is entirely focused on preparing girls to deny sex, and, in fact, to deny the entire onset of sexual feelings or activities until as late as possible. But in a frank, fun way that brings the family together around entirely non-masturbatory cooking activities like Stroke the Pickle and Pump the Pita.

It’s perfectly fine to set the expectation for your kids that they’ll delay the onset of sexual activity until they can make a responsible, mature decision about their sexual activities and be safe, healthy and secure. It’s incredibly dangerous to set the only critieria for that decision as having a wedding band on your finger.

On behalf of comprehensive sex-ed advocates everywhere, I firmly and sincerely apologize to abstinence-only advocates for being entirely, 100% right. If you’re interested in also being right, you can stop acting like assholes long enough to know how. We promise we don’t bite. Unless you ask.

Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor is an attorney and blogger from the great state of Ohio. He founded Pandagon in July, 2002, and has also served on the campaign and in the administration of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. He focuses on politics, race, law and pop culture, as well as the odd personal digression when the mood strikes.
 
 
 
 
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