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The Sleepover Question

July 25, 2011
Posted at 11:30 am
Updated: December 27, 2011 - 2:39 pm

From my good friend peregrinf comes this link to an opinion piece in the NY Times on parental attitudes toward teenage sex. Since many of the stories here pertain to just that topic, I thought readers here would find it interesting and relevant.

I do remember all the sneaking around and lying when I was a teenager - and even in my twenties before I was married - and since I've been posting stories at SOL, I've heard from readers who have told me how strict their upbringing was and how cruel their parents could be.

I don't think we'll ever come around to thinking like those decadent Europeans, for much the same reason we'll never have universal health care and we'll never stop interfering with the teaching of evolution. Schalet makes the point that openness about sex leads to greater contraception use and fewer unwanted pregnancies. She thinks that's a good thing, and so do I, and so, probably, do most of you, but there's a large section of American society (like the church I grew up in) that is outraged by it, because, the argument goes, contraception only encourages kids to have sex.

From this perspective, the enemy is not disease or pregnancy. It is teenage sex itself, the loathsome idea that your precious little girl is out there somewhere getting banged. And when sex is the enemy, disease and pregnancy become allies, a method of enforcement - the price bad kids pay for being bad and the fear that keeps good kids good. I remember
the controversy a couple of years ago over giving the vaccine for the human papillomavirus to teenage girls. What do you think the argument was against it? All together now: that it would encourage them to have sex. It was appalling. Here was a chance to save lives, and we were told we shouldn't do it because it might lead to more intercourse. The prospect of teen sex was so frightening that it called for nothing less than the death penalty.

I'm put in mind of a great line from an activist who was asked what he thought of the idea that AIDS was God's punishment for homosexuality. He replied that it that was the case, then lesbians must be God's chosen people.