Friday, March 23, 2007

There is an evil I have seen under the sun,
the sort of error that arises from a ruler:
Fools are put in many high positions,
while the rich occupy the low ones.
I have seen slaves on horseback,
while princes go on foot like slaves.

Someone visited my blog after searching the term "Gardasil". I think My Private Casbah wound up in the results because I mentioned it yesterday in my post about the Bush administrations cuts to the National Institute of Health. I went back and looked at some of the other results that came up from this search. Not surprisingly, there were several links regarding the evangelical movement's reaction to this new vaccine.

This issue really concerns me as a woman, a parent, and a religiously-inclined person. In the past, I've written about how I am still struggling to come to grips with my religious background. My old church is not a part of the controversy about Gardasil but, to protest the idea that girls should be getting this vaccine, many right-wing leaning individuals, evangelical churches and organizations have converged (no surprise there) on the basis of their beliefs about sex and I have a lot of feelings about that. To me this is a utterly horrifying thing to witness.

The amount of misinformation being passed is just stunning but maybe I shouldn't be surprised. Having kept abreast of politics for the past decade, I've witnessed more than enough to stop being so optimistic. Watching the news as people in charge of countries show that they have fewer critical thinking skills than the average junior high student at VanGoghGirl's school. Still, I find myself believing that nearly everyone should be able to see through the drivel that gets passed on as facts these days. Unfortunately, it is not so. I'm not saying that the majority of people in this country are stupid. It's just that there are groups of people, large groups of people, who refuse to allow themselves to even examine the arguments put forth by individuals who claim to be experts about medicine, about politics, about "God's will". And these folks are driving this country into the ground, seriously.

As a former libertarian, I still lean towards allowing everyone as much freedom as possible. If an adult wants to move out to the mountains and start their own hydroponic paradise at home so that they can get baked everyday for the rest of their life, I have no desire to stop them. It doesn't affect my ability to live in a smoke-free house. However, here's where it gets a lot muddier: Sure, everybody has the right* to be ignorant but that doesn't mean that we as a society should encourage and nurture this stance.

This nonsense with the abstinence-only fad is just downright ridiculous. I am all for teaching children not to just engage in sex with every person they meet. I personally think many folks would benefit from abstinence education. That includes a lot of married folks too. We all need to know how to negotiate situations where our partner's wants and desires are different from ours and we aren't interested in budging beyond our comfort zone. However, sexuality is much, much bigger than this.
These days there are a lot of folks who are promoting abstinence-only programs where the only message is that if you have sex before marriage horrible things will happen to you but if you wait until after you're married, it will be the most wonderful and carefree experience you could ever have. And what facts do they have to back it up? Nada. Zip. Zilch. Sifr.
When I was a year older than my daughter is now, we spent one half of the school year in P.E. (physical education) and the other in a health class. Our instructor was a no-nonsense teacher with a strong belief in instilling a sense of self-respect in her students. Our teacher taught us all about how to practice good oral hygiene, then she went on to care of the cardiac system, and slowly we worked our way down to the reproductive tract. We all had to get our parents to sign permission slips saying they did or did not want us to sit in on the lessons about "sex-ed". The teacher talked to us about how all of our sex organs worked and why females menstruated and boys had nocturnal emissions. She even used the words "penis" and "vagina".
When I got to high school, we all had to take a Home Economics course where we had to carry around a bag of flour for week at school to simulate having to be responsible for a baby. If the teacher saw us without our bag of flour, then she dropped our grade for the semester. After that week, we all had to carry around a raw egg for a week. The teacher signed each egg so that you couldn't just replace it if you dropped it. After those two weeks had passed, she had us talk about the experience. By that time, almost all of us were sure that we were not ready to have any children.
Now, a lot of these advocates for abstinence-only programs would have you believe that these sort of frank lessons on the workings of the human body and what being a parent
http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/april/18.26.html
http://www.houseofzathras.com/?p=281
http://pereiraville.com/scribble/?p=2615
http://andrightlyso.com/2007/02/21/gardasil-isnt-what-they-claim/

I will definitely be getting my daughter vaccinated. I have an incurable form of cancer and while it is not the cervical variety, I can attest to the fact that cancer is one of the worst things that one can have to experience while on this planet. As a child I was sexually assaulted by a total of three different teenaged boys--all of them were evangelical-church going boys from families that were active in our congregation. Now I'd love for someone to explain how abstinence-only messages would have prevented me from contracting HPV from one of these young pedophiles.

*Rights are a topic for another post but I should add that my use of it here basically means those things that no one can prevent another from exercising.

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