Really? Because I thought the U.S.'s affinity for abstinence-only sex education is to blame.
Oh wait, it is.
In fact, "abstinence-only efforts appear to have little positive impact, more comprehensive sex education programs [have] positive outcomes including teenagers delaying the initiation of sex, reducing the frequency of sex, reducing the number of sexual partners and increasing condom or contraceptive use."
So much research is coming out showing us that abstinence-only education is completely ineffective, a total waste of money, and carried on exclusively by the Bush administration. Still, here are some of the abstinence-only lessons that take place in classrooms around the country everyday:
"A peppermint patty is unwrapped and passed around the class. Once returned, the teacher asks if a student would like to eat it. The teacher is instructed to ask, 'Why is this patty no longer appealing?' The answer they give is 'No one wants food that has been passed around. Neither would you want your future husband or wife to have been passed around."
"Men sexually are like microwaves and women sexually are like crockpots… a woman is stimulated more by touch and romantic words. She is far more attracted by a man’s personality while a man is stimulated by sight. A man is usually less discriminating about those to whom he is physically attracted.”
Wow... way to generalize, take part in heteronormative language, and not give men any credit or freedom of thought...
“Girls need to be aware they may be able to tell when a kiss is leading to something else. The girl may need to put the brakes on first in order to help the boy.”
“A guy who wants to respect girls is distracted by sexy clothes and remembers her for one thing. Is it fair that guys are turned on by their senses and women by their hearts?”
Holy crap... I really don't even know what to say about this one...
“One thing that sex education and the media fail to communicate is the power of sex. Spies, who are trained not to give away government secrets, even lose their sensibilities and give in to the power of sex, often because of what a woman is wearing.”
haha... nice... what about ninjas though? ;)
“Each time a sexually active person gives that most personal part of himself or herself away, that person can lose a sense of personal value and worth. It all comes down to self-respect.”
What is with the self-respect/self-esteem bit!? Ugh! I absolutely agree that a developed sense of self-esteem is incredibly important to adolescents and teens, especially girls, but threatening that they will have low self-esteem if they engage in sexual behavior is not the way to increase self-worth.
But I digress... the radio show i was listening to got into a discussion of ABC Family's new tween series The Secret Life of the American Teenager, which i'll admit i watched last week and yesterday... They said this show, too, will contribute to an increase of teen pregnancy because the main character, Amy, becomes pregnant after the first time she has sex (at band camp nonetheless...) Truth is I absolutely love Degrassi: The Next Generation and hoped that The Secret Life would be an American counterpart to the progressive, smart, and educational Canadian show. It isn't. In fact, it's not like Degrassi at all. After looking into The Secret Life a bit more i learned that it is written by Brenda Hampton from who i have learned to expect nothing other than faith based "family values" bullshit. Brenda is most famously known for writing 7th Heaven. After 11 seasons of that god awful show (no pun intended) hasn't Hampton shoved enough conservative propaganda down America's throats?!
I was disappointed after i realized The Secret Life would be nothing like Degrassi because with the lack of comprehensive sex education in the U.S. i was really looking forward to a show unafraid to tackle serious issues like Degrassi did. Degrassi too examined teen pregnancy - from two sides actually. Manny's pregnancy ended with an abortion. Liberty also got pregnant in the series and gave the baby up for adoption. They also had episodes in two different seasons on eating disorders, one where Emma suffers from anorexia so badly that she is hospitalized and another where Toby attempts to "make weight" for wresting by using laxatives. Degrassi tackled rape, cutting, stalking, plastic surgery, coming out, mental health, relationship violence, ableism, drug use, guns at school, and so many other relevant and important issues. Good for Canada, i'm really glad there's a show like Degrassi out there to hopefully balance out the crap like The Secret Life of an American Teenager.
(in the above Degrassi banner alone the scenes are a same sex couple kissing, Manny finding out she's pregnant, Ellie cutting herself, and a drug overdose...whoa! Bet you'll start watching the show now too!)
The other interesting thing i learned while looking up fun Degrassi facts was that although the show was picked up by The-N, certain episodes and scenes were cut and not allowed to air in America. The network aired Liberty's pregnancy (she's the one that kept the baby and gave it up for adoption) but refused to air the episode where Manny has an abortion. The episode was finally shown two and a half years later in a "Degrassi Marathon" in the middle of the night... yea...
In the very first episode of The Secret Life of an American Teenager, Amy, the quiet, shy, inexperienced, band girl, has sex for her first time, gets pregnant, and explores her "options" with her two best girl friends: "Her friends tell her she has options, but abortion is apparently not one of them; that choice is dismissed right away in horrified tones. The despairing Amy does not even know the baby’s father well enough to tell him, and he probably wouldn’t care; he’s a cad in the high school band who sleeps with as many girls as he can because, viewers quickly learn, he has low self-esteem."
To me all this is just so cliche. Obviously, you can get pregnant the first time you have sex... but this scenario as a plot is just getting a bit old. It would be nice to see a character get knocked up because the condom breaks or because she's on antibiotics and doesn't realize that they decrease the efficiency of her birth control pill. I mean really, aren't writers supposed to be a bit more creative? Unless this show is purely written to scare teens out of having sex. Oh wait, it is...
Want a summary of the show? Ok, here it is, pay close attention:
Sex is bad. Sex will make you pregnant. Sex will cause low low low self-esteem.
Scarring children away from having sex by teaching them that the first time they have it they will become pregnant, immediately have low self-esteem, and will become terrible people is inadequate sex education.
The only exciting thing about this show: the school "bad boy stud" is in the marching band! word :)
A post I really wanted to link but didn't know how to tie it in here: "Too Young, Too Pregnant"