Don't have sex. That's the message some groups insist on pushing to the young and/or unwed. Don't have sex. That's it. No guidance about birth control. No information about how to protect oneself against STDs. Just don't have sex. And now the abstinence movement has a brand new Barbie to push their fruitless agenda - Bristol Palin. I don't know why I'm surprised. It's the perfect lemons to lemonade story. "I got pregnant so you don't have to." Argh.
These days the "just say no" maniacs do need an infusion of some sort since Obama just recently hacked away at two $100 million abstinence only programs from the George W. Bush-era. In their place, he's offering up $110 million for comprehensive "teen pregnancy prevention." In other words, real sex education. It's so obvious. The forbidden is enticing. Think Adam and Eve, Bluebeard, or, how about Prohibition? Ring any bells?
Don't get me wrong. I don't necessarily think teenagers are ready to have sex. But I know that they DO have sex. And if they're going to do it, I want them to have the whole story - from soup to nuts. (Pun intended.) And I think Bristol Palin is sort of a strange pick. For one, she said that preaching abstinence is "not realistic at all" in her very first post-pregnancy interview and now is back peddling at an alarming rate. Uh, guys, is this really who you want as your poster child?
Meanwhile, she's telling young people that pregnancy isn't "glamorous" while we watch her all dolled up and preening for the media. Really? Looks pretty damn glamorous from here. I know. I know. It's because she's Palin daughter that she's getting the attention. But would she still be news if she hadn't been knocked up? She needed a story. Now she has one. Aside from accidental pregnancy, a sense of being needed or valued is one of the primary reasons teenagers get pregnant. She's a statistic, not a role model.
We need to talk about sex more, not less. At school, at the doctor, at home. Wherever young people are seeking information. We need to talk about masturbation. We need to talk about foreplay. We need to get sex out of the dark because that's where things fester. If we tell kids the truth about sex -- the good, the bad, and the ugly -- then they won't feel the need to engage in it simply to find out what all the fuss is about. And if they still chose to do it, at least they can do it safely.
It's nuts. Sex happens. And all the promise rings and purity balls in the world aren't going to stop it. Only one question remains -- is the next generation going to do it safely or not?
Follow Jenny Block on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Jenny_Block