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The Pledge of Diseases?
March 10, 2004 10:42 AM   Subscribe

Bad news for American Taliban abstinence supporters... A survey commissioned by the CDC (I'm surprised the admin didn't bury this one) shows that "The Virginity Pledge" has an 88 percent failure rate. On average, pledgers do delay sex longer and have 'less' partners, and have 'statistically-insignificent' lower STD rate. Choose among Reuters story, New York Times story, Miami Herald, AP via MSNBC (can't find it at FoxNews or the New York Post yet). Let the spin begin: sex education advocates say: "See?", radio talk show host cries BS.
posted by wendell (42 comments total)

 
I'd be curious as to the emotional scarring the Virginity Pledge breakers experience and how it warps their personal sexual growth.

Education is fine but the problem is that they're pledging to have NO sex, they break that and jump right onto to that slippery slope down into depravity.

What about the other 12%, I wonder if they just couldn't get laid or were actually holding firm (literally).
posted by fenriq at 11:01 AM on March 10, 2004


overkill
posted by Witty at 11:03 AM on March 10, 2004


Come on wendell - get with the plan! That should have been "American Taliban promotes venereal disease to teach evil nature of sex!"

_____________________________________________

The study revealed that the "Virginity Pledge" crowd got married earlier, but what I wanted to know was - did they get divorced at a higher rate than the non-pledgers?

I suspect that would be so for the fact the divorce rates in the US are highest in the Bible Belt and lowest in the Liberal or "sinful" Northeast. The reason? - simple. In the more religious areas of the South, premarital sex is stigmatized and so people get married to have sex. Then many discover that their choices of mates were terrible and so they resort to extramarital affairs and divorce.
posted by troutfishing at 11:04 AM on March 10, 2004


I fail to see how becoming a statistic later is worse than sooner.

And what about people who didnt make any silly pledge but chose such because of religious or moral beliefs apart from some 'pledge'?

Oh, and thanks for calling me Taliban.
Because people who don't have pre-martial sex are terrorist supporters!
posted by cinderful at 11:08 AM on March 10, 2004


The "American Taliban" portion of the post is silly. Does every issue have to be framed by Right versus Left? The world is more complex than that, especially for deeply personal choices like when to have sex.
posted by letitrain at 11:09 AM on March 10, 2004


And really, it depends who is doing all the fucking.
posted by the fire you left me at 11:09 AM on March 10, 2004


The true face of the American Taliban: crackpot cult leader Sun Myung Moon, whose cult members are receiving federal aid to teach in New Jersey public schools. This will be huge if it ever gets out to the public -- forget Buddhist temples.
posted by inksyndicate at 11:10 AM on March 10, 2004


Well, you should also factor in that the Northeast is home to a lot of Catholics (especially immigrant Latinos), who while not as mouthy or bomabastic as Evangelical Protestants attach a pretty big stigma to pre-marital sex and divorce as well.

I aslo wonder how many of those Virginity Pledge kids were put up to it by their parents and had no intention of actually sticking to it.

I oppose abstinence based education simply because I acknowledge that it's unrealistic and safety should come before someone else's idea of morality. On a personal level though, I sometimes wish that I had taken one of these pledges and stuck to it. Maybe because in high school and college America there was an awful lot of emphasis put on sex by peers, enough to foster the idea that it was the solution to all your problems and I now know that it often only adds more, especially when it's treated cavalierly.
posted by jonmc at 11:12 AM on March 10, 2004


This is a hot topic locally because the 2 new school board members in Wake county (Raleigh, NC) pushed through a change in the sex-ed policy. It is a return to abstinence-only teaching plus the stressing of the illegality of homosexual acts. This was effected even though there was no clear mandate-- in fact the topic didn't even arise during the campaigning.

My guess is this recent study will have zero impact-- because when it comes to morality, mere facts hold no sway. Instead morality seems to be what "my heart tells me" or "my gut instinct."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:15 AM on March 10, 2004


at least the radio talk show host is somewhat reasonable.

If you're one of those parents, feel free to congratulate yourself. Now, you might want to work a little harder on teaching your children about the dangers of STDs.

certainly more sensible than the current administration.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:17 AM on March 10, 2004


Here's the place for your official Teen Abstinence Pact(tm) tchochkes.
posted by psmealey at 11:20 AM on March 10, 2004


Instead morality seems to be what "my heart tells me" or "my gut instinct."

As opposed to "what my crotch tells me"
posted by cinderful at 11:30 AM on March 10, 2004


Wake county (Raleigh, NC) pushed through a change in the sex-ed policy. It is a return to abstinence-only teaching plus the stressing of the illegality of homosexual acts.

I checked the links and I don't see anything about "stressing the illegality of homosexual acts." Which is good, since homosexual acts per se are not illegal anymore.
posted by Tin Man at 11:33 AM on March 10, 2004


Good point, jonmc, I would guess a large proportion of the kids had no intention of sticking to it. A follow up poll would be very interesting indeed if that question were asked.

And I guess I don't get the American Taliban reference, how does terrorism have anything to do with pre-marital sex? Or is it a lack of pre-marital sex that makes people become terrorists? Did you mean to type, American Tallywhackers?
posted by fenriq at 11:33 AM on March 10, 2004


if having sex were starting a fire...

"Keeping fire extinguishers in a building and teaching children about fire is practically INVITING them to start fires!"
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 11:33 AM on March 10, 2004


where fire extiguishers = condoms
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 11:34 AM on March 10, 2004


fenriq - the taliban reference is in regards to oppressive morality legislation.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 11:34 AM on March 10, 2004


Get the adolescents to pledge they'll wear a condom!
And don't forget, kids, to invoke the Dental Dam Pledge!
posted by mcgraw at 11:35 AM on March 10, 2004


Would it be okay if they pledged to not have sex but masturbated together?
posted by fenriq at 11:40 AM on March 10, 2004


mcgraw - spot on. I was reading recently that many of the "pledge" kids don't consider oral sex to be sex at all - though the article didn't spell out what the hell they call it if not "sex".

So, oral sex crazed religious teen "virgins" constitute a major STD vector!
posted by troutfishing at 11:40 AM on March 10, 2004


I though that's what we were doing here, fenriq.
posted by jonmc at 11:42 AM on March 10, 2004


I aslo wonder how many of those Virginity Pledge kids were put up to it by their parents and had no intention of actually sticking to it.

Or the schools, more likely. When given a piece of paper by a teacher who gives you a grade in class (or a principal, or some other "authority figure"), most kids will probably just sign it to not rock the boat.
posted by mkultra at 11:42 AM on March 10, 2004


Thanks, troutfishing!

Hmm... now where did the kids get the idea that oral sex isn't really "sex"? Could it be from.... Clinton?
posted by mcgraw at 11:45 AM on March 10, 2004


mcgraw - hmmm, could be!

Or, it could be Satan! (unless Clinton IS Satan!)

Anyway, this is bad considering the newly evolved antibiotic resistant gonorrhea strain, just discovered, which is now spreading like wildfire......
posted by troutfishing at 11:47 AM on March 10, 2004


Ignoring any "bias" that I may personally have, the biggest problem that I see with this discussion and the pledge-STD connection in particular is that it's a clear case of correlation not implying causation. At least as presented in the media, discussed on the editorial pages, and even discussed here, it's clearly presented as a causal relationship. Both sides are twisting the findings of the CDC and NIH, although one side is certainly more abhorrent than the other.
posted by azazello at 11:48 AM on March 10, 2004


azazello - ain't that the timeless story of sloppy science reporting...
posted by troutfishing at 12:01 PM on March 10, 2004


The Virginity Pledge failed miserably for the same reason that "Just Say No" failed miserably; morality cannot be legislated.
posted by wsg at 12:13 PM on March 10, 2004


To be fair, wsg, neither "Just Say No," nor the Virginity Pledge were legislation, just PR programs.
posted by jonmc at 12:27 PM on March 10, 2004


I'll make a promise. I won't use "American Taliban" if you guys stop using "Commie Pinko"
posted by aaronscool at 12:45 PM on March 10, 2004


Of course you're right, jonmc. The pledge was the work of the Southern Baptist Church, who will and do legislate morality whenever they get the chance.
posted by wsg at 12:51 PM on March 10, 2004


This study should be enough to kill "abstinence-only" sex ed in every school in the country, and to go back to a more reasoned and reasonable attempt to educate kids. The fact that they're more likely NOT to use condoms when they break their pledges is very telling.
posted by amberglow at 1:32 PM on March 10, 2004


Another member of the American Taliban checking in here. Although the numbers are called "statistically insignificant" it looks as though in pretty much every category the "virginity pledgers" had a lower occurance of STDs (except, curiously, Asians had a higher rate).

Personally, I'm 21 and I am a virgin and plan to remain so until I get married. I am a Christian, and I did attend a southern baptist church when I was a teen. Most everyone there took a "virginity pledge" and I didn't. I thought the whole concept was kind of silly and I knew that most of the kids who were "pledging" had no intention to keep it and some were not virgins at the time they made the pledge. Most of them took it because they were worried if they didn't their parents would read it the wrong way. A lot of them are not virgins anymore, some of them are. Part of the problem is that there is no way to determine if someone really has the conviction to remain a virgin or if they just did it sometime because of the group situation that they were in.

To answer Fenriqs question about if it's just 12% of people who couldn't have sex anyway; I can only speak for myself and say that I've had ample oppurtunity to (wow, I'm so cool). But I've wondered this before as well. If some of the pledgers were just people who were too hideous or had no game so they said they were "pledgers". I think that you are talking about a "statistically insignificant" number of those kind of people however.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 1:50 PM on March 10, 2004


I am highly skeptical that taking the pledge was the cause of students' ignorance of STDs. More likely, a conservative family background cause both signing the pledge and the ignorance.

I also don't get how these virginity pledges have anything to do with the "abstenance only" debate (other than that they're probably advocated for by the same people). As far as I'm concerned, society ought to be doing everything it can to encourage teens to wait until they're old enough to handle it. Teen sex causes nothing but problems.
posted by boltman at 3:01 PM on March 10, 2004


Sometimes I wish I were a parent, just so I could tell my kids to ignore all that abstenence crap they teach in schools and use protection.
posted by moonbiter at 3:03 PM on March 10, 2004


I'm still waiting for someone to stand up and say, "Kids - have sex! Its fun and its good for you!" You know, STDs aren't particularly fun, but if you use appropriate protections and have 'safer' sex, you really reduce the risk. Why should kids be denied all the fun adults get to have?

We're so uptight about sex in this country. It's great fun! Indulge!

You know, many countries around the world have an age of consent of 14 and they haven't all fallen apart at the seams.
posted by PigAlien at 3:39 PM on March 10, 2004


I'm still waiting for someone to stand up...

Jocelyn Elders tried when she was Surgeon General and got fired, but is still spreading the word.
posted by amberglow at 3:48 PM on March 10, 2004


Instead morality seems to be what "my heart tells me" or "my gut instinct."

As opposed to "what my crotch tells me"
posted by cinderful at 11:30 AM PST on March 10


No, as opposed to "what my mind tells me" which is abstinence-only sex ed does not work. "My mind tells me" that no matter what adults say, hormone-driven teenagers will eventually end-up having sex. I would prefer it if they know how to use a condom, and why it is so important to use a condom.

Wake county (Raleigh, NC) pushed through a change in the sex-ed policy. It is a return to abstinence-only teaching plus the stressing of the illegality of homosexual acts.

I checked the links and I don't see anything about "stressing the illegality of homosexual acts." Which is good, since homosexual acts per se are not illegal anymore.
posted by Tin Man at 11:33 AM PST on March 10


Sorry, my laziness. I've been following this in the newspaper and not on-line, so I hoped I could slide by.
This is an article about how the new board members did not have a popular mandate.

This is an article that outlines the critical position the the county's health agency has taken against the new sex-ed program, including:

The shift eliminated high school electives that discussed homosexuality and contraception in detail. It also removed parts of the middle school curriculum that promoted tolerance of gays and lesbians.

Under the state's instructions, homosexuality is presented in sex-education classes only in terms of the legal status of acts that are a "significant means of transmitting diseases

posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:31 PM on March 10, 2004


to me, the most shocking thing about this was that any sentient adult actually thought the virginity pledge would have any effect on anything.
posted by mcsweetie at 5:34 PM on March 10, 2004


Here is another article that says:

The policy Fletcher developed mandates 11 guidelines. Among them: preventing school employees from encouraging or demonstrating the use of contraceptives and requiring employees to discuss the legal status of "homosexual acts" in North Carolina when talking about how AIDS is transmitted.



And this is the latest word on NC Sodomy law: N.C. Sodomy Law Still Enforced Despite Ruling on Texas Measure

posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:49 PM on March 10, 2004


Cool. Just found this State by State guide to Sodomy laws. North Carolina isn't the only place where the act is still illegal, although we do tie with Mississippi as to the harshest punishment ( up to 10 years.)
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:55 PM on March 10, 2004


to me, the most shocking thing about this was that any sentient adult actually thought the virginity pledge would have any effect on anything

On one hand, I can understand this statement -- I can certainly see some kids more-or-less making commitments for the sake of not offending parents or some other authority figure, and I can also see that even well into adolescence somebody might not have a good idea of what their values are.

But to say that a pledge (based on a personal decision) simply isn't effective in guiding personal behavior over time seems pretty sad to me.
posted by namespan at 9:13 PM on March 10, 2004


Clarification: My lined-through reference to "American Taliban" was a naughty little tweak at those who might be over-reaction-prone. AND IT WORKED! Bwahahahaha!

I'm glad nobody called "NewsFilter" on this post. I intentionally did multiple links to the story and two opposing opinion pieces to avoid some of the pitfalls. AND IT WORKED! Bwahahahaha!

One more thought about the story: Defending the Pledge because it delays (but does not prevent) the acts of "sin" is really endorsing an attitude that such a commitment can be disregarded sometime down the line... So, do they feel the same way about the troublesome "til death do us part" line in the wedding vows? Talk about breaking down the institution of marriage...
posted by wendell at 9:38 PM on March 10, 2004


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