It’s always fascinating to watch lawmakers tout their belief in small government while simultaneously legislating extremely personal components of Americans’ lives.
Republican Washington state Rep. Mary Dye demonstrated just that with her inquiries regarding teen sex.
It all started when a group of high school students from Olympia, Washington turned to Dye on behalf of Planned Parenthood to make their case regarding the importance of accessible birth control. The meeting was part of “Teen Lobbying Day,” but unfortunately their political act quickly turned into an awkward and uncomfortable moment.
After the students pushed for the expansion of health insurance to cover contraception, Dye quizzed them about whether they’re virgins, and even went so far as to suggest that one high schooler wasn’t.
“After she made the statement about virginity, all of my teens looked at me,” said Rachel Todd, an education specialist with Planned Parenthood who accompanied the students on their lobbying misadventure. “And I said, ‘You don’t have to answer that. You don’t have to answer that.’”
According to Todd, the high schoolers felt disrespected and one student even said Dye’s comments bordered on crazy.
Dye released a statement after her line of questioning received negative press attention.
“I shared with them that I did not support the issues they were advocating for,” Dye wrote. “Following a conversation they initiated on birth control for teenagers, I talked about the empowerment of women and making good choices,” she continued.
One great way to empower women is to give them the tools they need (like birth control) to make smart decisions for themselves. But Dye’s perception of empowerment is simply judging them for being sexual active.
“In hindsight, a few of the thoughts I shared, while well-intended, may have come across as more motherly than what they would expect from their state representative. If anything I said offended them or made them feel uncomfortable, I apologize,” Dye continued.
“Motherly” is a convenient euphemism in this context, but in reality the students didn’t feel her advice was motherly at all.
“It seemed kind of insane for her to say that, especially on the record, to constituents,” said 18-year-old Alex Rubino. He also added that Dye’s sex advice was “unprompted” and unsolicited.
Asking teens about their virginity is obviously out of line, but what Republicans need to be called out on more often is their obsession with sex and their desire to get the government involved in extremely intimate decisions people make. Whether it’s access to contraception, reproductive rights, gay marriage, drug legalization, porn, or which bathroom a transgender individual can use, you can always count on the Republicans to rally behind big brother to tell you what you can and can’t do.
According to right-wing precedent, small government is only reserved for corporate donors who have a financial incentive to remain as unregulated as possible.
“I truly believe that the bigger the government, the smaller the citizen,” Dye proudly states on her government website. “I will be a vocal advocate for limited, but effective government, speaking out against any and all government overreach.”
Did she not think asking teens about their sex lives was overreaching?
In case she’s really concerned about stats and preventing abortions, she should be informed that a whopping 46 percent of all high school students have had sex. The number jumps to 62 percent when looking specifically at high school seniors. In other words, an estimated nine million teens have already had sex.
A great way to prevent abortion is to make sure birth control is easily accessible. But why turn to facts when Republicans can just creepily obsess over the sexual habits of teens?