Abstinence, OU Style
So the House has voted to defund Planned Parenthood, a source of free/low cost birth control, HIV, cancer screenings, and sex positive education. And now, we have NCSY Say K(No)w: The First Abstinence Website for Jewish Teens. It must be Erode Access to Important Information Week.
If we’re going to talk about sex, we have to make sure it’s more complicated and honest than simply “don’t do it.” What are you waiting, or not waiting for? What information are you basing your decision on? Is it about pressure from your partner, your parents, or your community? Shame, confusion, or fear of your sexuality? “Facts” about sex that are actually wrong?
You can find all this (and more) on the OU.org’s website. First of all, condoms are bad. They don’t protect you from everything, so don’t even bother. Neither does the Pill, or Depo, or the patch. Of course, because the goal of the website is abstinence, there’s no suggestion that using two forms of birth control might actually be a great option. In case you’ve sought out this website as a guide to protecting yourself from pregnancy and STI’s…good luck. There’s no practical information for you here. We hope you don’t get pregnant!
Also noteworthy-suicide! According to the study credited (“Adolescent Depression and Suicide Risk Association with Sex and Drug Behaviors.” American Journal of Preventative Medicine, vol. 27 no. 3.), “sexually active boys are therefore EIGHT TIMES more likely to attempt suicide!” Girls who are sexually active are three times as likely. I’m going out on a limb here, but maybe it’s because they’ve gotten false/bad information about sex, STI’s, pregnancy prevention and might find themselves in a horrible situation beyond their control? Maybe because they feel ashamed, alienated from their communities, like they can’t tell anyone and have no resources?
If this all weren’t disconcerting enough, there’s gender policing going on. In the section on Messing Around, it’s spelled out for us: Girls are vulnerable. Girls think sex means love, it’s how we get boys to love us. It’s not about pleasure, or exploring sexuality. Boys want sex. All boys, all the time, and they’ll do anything to get it. At least both girls and boys are vulnerable to the “non-physical effects of sexual activity.Guilt, worry, regret, shame, depression and other emotional consequences remain the same, regardless of any contraceptives that may be used.”
I know I’m asking for something that I’m not going to get, which is for the OU to behave as if it were an entirely different organization-one which is sex positive and inclusive. So I’ll set the bar even lower and ask that it be a responsible organization, and give young folks accurate information about sex, as opposed to ignoring reality in exchange for scaring them into abstinence.