Shocking discovery: Kids who fear sex are open to anti-sex messages

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, January 26, 2010 14:15 EDT
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Robert McCartney wrote a puff piece celebrating organized misogyny for the WaPo, and the thing is full of unintentional comedy. Why? Because McCartney decided to focus on the presence of young people at the March for Life, which requires tacitly admitting that the message of the anti-choice movement is perfectly pitched for bitter old cranks lashing out at young women. (Granted, I’ve seen some bitter old cranks in their 20s, and I’m impressed to know they’ve already decided that it’s over for them and they’re going to hate on others.) But there is another group who is often open to hearing wack-a-doodle anti-sex hysteria: fearful virgins. (Blah blah usual disclaimer about how no, I’m not talking about you if you’re a liberal-minded, pro-sex virgin, so please be calm.) I think it was Susie Bright who pointed out that it’s not that hard to get a bunch of young people who are not quite ready to be sexually active to run around going, “Ew, sex!” and to take highly judgmental, ill-thought-out positions about people who are sexually active. And of course, the anti-choice movement is going to be keenly interested in putting as many nubile virgins out front as they can find, and probably for reasons sane people would see as creepy, such as the religious right’s obsession with nubile virgins. McCartney himself got to interview many nubile virgins, and comedy ensued.

There were numerous large groups of teenagers, many bused in by Roman Catholic schools and youth groups. They and their adult leaders said the youths were taught from an early age to oppose abortion…..

“People our age are going to be the ones to change, to be the future leaders,” said Lauren Powers, 16, who came with a group from an all-girls Catholic school in Milwaukee.

Let us all ponder for a moment that the anti-choice movement is willing to put a bunch of Catholic school girls out there to hang out with the creepy old men giving off the strong stench of pervert that hang out around women’s health clinics and scream all their bitterness at patients. If that’s not misogyny, I don’t know what is.

And it probably does feel that way when you’re in a group organized by adults to protest something you don’t understand yet. But I’ll bet this young lady’s peers are already starting to drift away, starting sexual relationships with boys and beginning to realize that the abstinence-until-marriage-no-birth-control message is a tad unrealistic. Maybe a few are realizing they don’t like boys, but like girls, and are coming around to realizing that doesn’t mean they have horns and are out to destroy the world. Future leaders, picked off one by one by the allure of sexuality and maturity, until just a few are left to grow bitter because their own hang-ups mean they were left out of the fun.

After I asked to interview them, a group of eighth-graders from St. Mark School, a private Catholic school in Catonsville, sang a song they wrote, based on a Miley Cyrus tune:

Hands up for saving the babies;
Bad doctors go away . . .
We’re saving the babies;
You know they’re going to be okay.

Again, I fail to see why I should be impressed that anti-choicers were able to hoodwink a few 13-year-olds into buying their childish worldview that paints doctors as fang-dripping villains and fetuses as fully-formed babies, floating free of their mothers’ bodies. Girls that age are predisposed to think of gynecologists as unbelievably scary—I remember gathering around with a few friends to hear the horror stories from one girl who had to go see one because she had some minor problem, and how terrifying the whole process seemed—and they’re also predisposed to listen to fantasies about pregnancy that place them outside of their body, because when you’re 13, being pregnant seems about as weird as carrying an alien parasite that’s going to burst out of stomach at dinner. That these girls have such a simplistic view of the situation isn’t cause to celebrate, since maturity and complexity is around the corner to chip away at that.

Here’s the saddest quote:

Young people in the March for Life said they thought they were more opposed to abortion than people in their parents’ generation because they had more information about the issue, in part because of their education.

“We start learning early on why it’s wrong. I don’t think they got the chance to do that,” said Kelly Brennan, 17, who came here with a group from Archbishop Ryan High School in Philadelphia.

Except, of course, that their elders have explicitly decided that keeping kids ignorant is a value, thus abstinence-only education. Being subject to mountains of hysterical religious propaganda about the evils of sexuality isn’t “information”. Much of what she’s talking about are blatant lies: that condoms don’t work, that a 12-week-old fetus is as developed as a newborn, that abortion causes mental illness and breast cancer, that having sex with more than one person will doom you to die of cervical cancer, that being a virgin when you marry means you won’t ever get divorced, that Planned Parenthood is a for-profit institution that makes most of its money off abortion, that contraception is made not to work so that you’ll get more abortions, that doctors kill already born babies, that the birth control pill works by sloughing off fertilized eggs (it works by suppressing ovulation), and that if you have sex before marriage, men won’t find you loveable anymore. We can hope that Brennan realizes that she’s been lied to, and that if information does influence opinion, then accurate information means having better opinions. And maybe she will learn. Like I said, starting to discover your own desires to have sexual relationships often changes your relationship to this anti-sex hysteria.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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