Sex & Relationships

Conservative Myths and the Women Who Love Them

Right-wing women benefit from promoting anti-feminist values -- at the rest of our expense.
When it comes to thinking about the people who are ruining this country, I've always reserved a bit more disdain for women who do the very easy work of bashing feminism--often for little more than a patriarchal head-pat. (After all, what's easier than reaping the bountiful rewards of telling conservative men that women indeed are inferior, different, and desperately in need of their guidance?)

Organizations like the Independent Women's Forum, which exist solely to further conservative, anti-woman nonsense--like their insistence that the wage gap is actually good for women or that the biggest danger to young women on college campuses is The Vagina Monologues--piss me off like little else does. Perhaps it's unfair that women's anti-feminism irritates me more than men's, but there it is nonetheless.

The latest in anti-women diatribes comes from Wendy Wright, from Concerned Women for America. In a recent Fox News Special Report, Wright said that proponents of comprehensive sex education are encouraging young people to have sex because "they benefit when kids end up having sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancies and then they lead them into having abortions…You have to look at the financial motives behind those who are promoting comprehensive sex ed."

(For some perspective, Wright has also made the argument that the increase of women in prison is all feminism's fault, for teaching women that "they don't need to be dependent on a husband and they shouldn't have to depend on their family" which could lead them to "where they're forced to fend for themselves." So, yeah.)

While the idea of sex educators rolling in piles of dough made off the backs of sexually active teens seems laughable to most, Wright is playing on some truly hackneyed, but often-believed, anti-feminist myths: That comprehensive sex education causes teens to have sex; that all young women who have sex end up teen moms; that abortion providers make oodles of money, and--perhaps most dangerous--that sexually active young women are victims. Victims of educators, doctors, men, you name it.

Positioning the pro-choice and comprehensive sex ed community as benefiting from young women being sexually active is not only untrue, it also does a huge disservice to young women. (Let's not kid ourselves, when these folks talk about "kids having sex," they're clearly talking about women.) Young women benefit from being well-informed, they don't get knocked up from it. And if women like Wright really cared about kids, they'd be fighting to make sure American youth had accurate, comprehensive information about sex--not lying on television for conservative brownie points.
Jessica Valenti is the executive editor of Feministing.
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