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"Abstinence Plus": Soothing to Parents, or Still Lying to Teens?

Will abstinence-only programs continue to get funding to misinform kids about sex?

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Sessions Stepp justifies flogging the hell out of this model -- and shaming women who follow their own sexual star by having sex because it feels good when they want to, and not because they're trying to trick a man into being their husband -- as a matter of protecting women's mental health by shielding them from heartbreak.  And that would be a legitimate argument, if there wasn't a honking logical error in her system, which is that if a man's interest wanes after he's had an orgasm inside your body, then it probably will if you've dated him 10 days or 10 months, and that getting dumped after 10 months instead of 10 days actually hurts more.  Oh yeah, and none of that has anything to do with pregnancy, because sperm swim just as well on your 50th date as on your 1st.  Or that not all women are straight, or that not all straight women are interested in securing a commitment and getting married as soon as they can.  Or that men actually might like women's company, and that's why people aren't lying when they say they had sex right away and ended up together, because they discovered they loved each other for real, not because they're manipulating sexual desire to secure commitments.  Or that women may not all be needy and easily broken-hearted, but are perfectly capable of having fulfilling lives regardless of relationship status.

Sex, Really, and the entire National Campaign is what I fear we might be getting with the new funding guidelines.  Which means that while they may have real information about contraceptive use, you're still getting a dose of shaming, anti-feminism, and just plain old nose-wrinkling fuddy-duddyness that will cause the students to tune you out at best, or at worst, absorb the ideas that will erode their own willingness to reason and make decisions for themselves.  In the latter case, this will merely continue the long-standing problem of young people not taking basic safety precautions because they don't feel they have the right or the power to demand what they know is right for themselves and their own health.

Amanda Marcotte co-writes the popular blog Pandagon. She is the author of It's a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments .

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