"THERE IS NO BIRTH CONTROL EXCEPT CONDOMS AND THEY FAIL."
April 16, 2015 3:38 PM   Subscribe

A bioethicist, at her son's request, sat in on his public high school sex-ed class -- which taught "abstinence only" -- and livetweeted it.

Alice Dreger has had skin in this game before, having written the viral essay, "What If We Admitted to Children That Sex Is Primarily About Pleasure?" (previously)

The high school's principal has claimed that the curriculum also "reviews contraception choices" and that Dreger simply "attended on a day where abstinence was being taught."
posted by Countess Elena (120 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite


 


"Remember, everyone who has ever had sex in the past has died."
posted by The Whelk at 3:45 PM on April 16, 2015 [89 favorites]


I still remember 7th grade, when the visiting abstinence-only teacher said that you could get STDs from jacking off.
posted by muddgirl at 3:46 PM on April 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


I feel bad for the poor abstinence teaching guy. He sounds like he has had a pretty bad life and could use some therapy.

Also, he is pretty messed up about sex.
posted by GuyZero at 3:47 PM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


OK, I kind of lost it at "I'm going to collect the babies that you don't want. We recycle them."
posted by Nerd of the North at 3:47 PM on April 16, 2015 [24 favorites]


STDs from jacking off.

Are sticky gym socks a disease?
posted by GuyZero at 3:47 PM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


To be fair, although this lady is fighting the good fight ... if she had "rais[ed her] hand and saying 'Can I tell my sexual history, which involves a lot of pleasure before and during marriage?'" her kid would have never lived it down. He would get in fights every day until he changed schools.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:49 PM on April 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


Maaaaybe she was talking about the dreaded "Death Grip," but I doubt it.
posted by muddgirl at 3:49 PM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Remember, everyone who has ever had sex in the past has died."

But what a way to go!
posted by sobarel at 3:50 PM on April 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


On the one hand, she is awesome. On the other hand, if I were 12 and she were my mom I would be ready to die right about now. I can say that with the authority that comes from having a mom who totally would have done this.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:53 PM on April 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


I lost it at "LGBYT" which I can only assume is some kind of sandwich.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:53 PM on April 16, 2015 [22 favorites]


From the last link:
Dreger may well have valid points on misguided sex education but I'm not sure embarrassing her own school district using tweets littered with the f-bomb is the right way to make them.
No... I'm actually fine with that.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 3:53 PM on April 16, 2015 [84 favorites]


Yup, this whole thing sounds very familiar except I don't recall ever hearing the specific words abstinence or condom.

This was my sex ed class:
-Watch a slideshow of infected genitals at very advanced stages of untreated STDs
-Everyone take turns wearing the empathy belly
-If you have sex you will either get pregnant or your penis will fall off or probably both actually
-One way to cure the clap is to slam a book down on your penis, it makes a clapping noise, that's how come it's called the clap
-"Heavy petting" is ok but you have to leave your clothes on because you can get pregnant just by touching boy's underwear
So it was pretty useless.

On the other hand, health class was the first period of the day and I started my first ever period during health class on the day we started discussing the menstrual cycle, which is just cosmically hilarious enough to make the whole stupid semester worth it. (Almost.)
posted by phunniemee at 3:54 PM on April 16, 2015 [20 favorites]


I'm wrong! It's the Lesbian Gay and Bisexual Youth of Toronto! So the guest teacher's just being real real real real specific.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:54 PM on April 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


As Boston Legal once put it, the condom is arguably the single most important invention of the past 2,000 years. There's no excuse for a sex ed class to not honestly and openly discuss condoms, their proper use, and their effectiveness.
posted by zachlipton at 4:00 PM on April 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


TRUTH: Liberal parents like me, the mistake we make is thinking of ourselves as the kind of people who don’t interfere in public schools. As a consequence, the only people who do interfere with sex-ed curricula are the conservatives.

This is true for a lot of other stuff too.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:00 PM on April 16, 2015 [96 favorites]


On the one hand, she is awesome. On the other hand, if I were 12 and she were my mom I would be ready to die right about now. I can say that with the authority that comes from having a mom who totally would have done this.

Ok but this kid is awesome too. He's the one looking up studies and passing them out at school. How great is that?
posted by zachlipton at 4:01 PM on April 16, 2015 [61 favorites]


Oh good lord. Here's some more information:
The abstinence class is part of the district's overall sex education unit. According to Fletcher, it is called SMART for Sexually Mature Aware Responsible Teens. It's provided by an independent contractor working with Pregnancy Services of Greater Lansing, a group that counsels pregnant women to avoid abortion.
They're having anti-abortion zealots do public school sex ed? WT everloving F?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:02 PM on April 16, 2015 [78 favorites]


Dreger may well have valid points on misguided sex education but I'm not sure embarrassing her own school district using tweets littered with the f-bomb is the right way to make them.

Yeah, this is the school district I'm about to send my kindergarten-bound son into: I'm very glad this information is public. UGH.
posted by libraritarian at 4:03 PM on April 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


The tweets were great, and her comments were hilarious. It reminded me of my high school's super awkward abstinence only sex-ed/health class. It was taught by the tough-as-nails grandmother that also was in charge of gym, and who led bible studies for some of the athletes. That class was full of awkward/funny moments, like the tweets. Then I remembered all the people I know from high school that were pregnant by the time they graduated. I know at least 3 women from my high school who didn't get pregnant in high school, but had to drop out of college because of kids. And I remember the political debates, where my classmates were convinced that plan-B was murder, because the health teacher said so.

I just wish this cartoonish policy making didn't leave so much tragedy behind.

(to say nothing of the people wrecked by the drug misinformation and homophobia peddled by the same educational policy. fuck.)
posted by DGStieber at 4:04 PM on April 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


Ok but this kid is awesome too. He's the one looking up studies and passing them out at school.
I was also fairly awesome, but I didn't want my mom telling my junior-high-school class anything about her sex life.

I did, however, comply when she made me march in and tell the assistant football coach that my mother had three kids with natural childbirth and would like to have a word with him about whether girls could take pain. I guess he never used that excuse again when explaining why girls couldn't play football!
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:05 PM on April 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


A bioethicist, at her son's request, sat in on his public high school sex-ed class -- which taught "abstinence only" -- and livetweeted it.

can we not with the "omg mom sooo embarrassing!" derail
posted by kagredon at 4:07 PM on April 16, 2015 [87 favorites]


Well, for all I know he's fine with it, but I'm specifically talking about "I feel like raising my hand and saying "Can I tell my sexual history, which involves a lot of pleasure before and during marriage?"" and "And how I've had a lot of lovers and have never gotten pregnant by accident? Yes, I had HPV! And I would get the vaccine!" Because there's a difference between having your mom there/ mocking and having your mom talk about how many lovers she's had and whether her relationship with your dad involves a lot of sexual pleasure.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:12 PM on April 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why do adults act as if teens don't have hormones that kick in ~12-13? I mean... the vast, vast majority of young people will want to have sex at some point. That's what we're designed to do. Instead of trying to force teens to stay abstinent for 10+ years until they can properly raise children (because, really, most people are not going to wait to have sex until they finish school/college and/or get a decent income in their 20s), why can't we teach the truth?

The one retweet from "Danerys Tarbeeryan" that Ms. Dreger posted got it right: "'Sex feels good. Emotions can and will get involved. Be kind to each other. Be safe. Be respectful.' BOOM." Yup, BOOM, indeed.

Even when I was getting the "YOU HAD BETTER NOT EVEN LOOK AT BOYS!!!!!!" lectures during my adolescence, I never understood what made these people preaching at me so ashamed and embarrassed about sex.
posted by droplet at 4:15 PM on April 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's entirely possible for a son or daughter to get on board with this and not be embarrassed at all.

One of my gf's dearest buddies was the sex health counselor/expert (I forget his exact title) at a couple of universities. His daughter, who is now 19, used to be the absolute terror of her "health" teachers in middle & high school because she always knew more than the teachers and had no problem correcting them when they're wrong. And she had no problem at all with correcting her classmates, and yes, her parents had sex, thanks.

(As a teacher myself, I'm fully in favor of this. If you're a teacher and you cannot accept that sometimes one of those 20-40 other brains in the room knows something you don't, you have a humility problem, not a classroom control problem.)
posted by scaryblackdeath at 4:18 PM on April 16, 2015 [42 favorites]


They're having anti-abortion zealots do public school sex ed? WT everloving F?

Yeah, at my alma mater, which had very comprehensive sex ed (as recently featured on This American Life!) including a thorough discussion of every contraceptive method and things like the location of the clitoris, had a guest speaker come in one day to talk about the evils of abortion. There was a lot of eye rolling that day.
posted by damayanti at 4:18 PM on April 16, 2015


Are sticky gym socks a disease?

Depends. Do you do your own laundry?
posted by delfin at 4:18 PM on April 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


And, as she pointed out, it also distracts from the very real, very needed education about consent (never mind teaching women how to navigate coming of age as sexual humans in a hostile and sometimes dangerous environment).
posted by likeatoaster at 4:19 PM on April 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


Why do adults act as if teens don't have hormones that kick in ~12-13?

Well, it ain't a river in Egypt.
posted by localroger at 4:19 PM on April 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


Alice Dreger has had skin in this game before

*giggle*
posted by parliboy at 4:20 PM on April 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


Also: eleven-ish years ago, while getting my teaching credential in California, we were told that when teaching sex health, we were required to place an emphasis on abstinence. That phrasing is absolutely key: an emphasis, regardless of what else we taught. And that's entirely right and reasonable, because abstinence is 100% effective. It should totally be emphasized.

It just shouldn't be the only thing emphasized, damn it.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 4:20 PM on April 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


"You'll find a good girl. If you find one that says 'no,' that's the one you want." HE ACTUALLY JUST SAID THAT.

I saw this last night, and I completely understand her fury. I would be incandescent with rage if my daughter was sitting in a class being taught that load of bullshit.
posted by gladly at 4:20 PM on April 16, 2015 [55 favorites]


You know, I said "daughter," but it's just as destructive for young men to get that message.
posted by gladly at 4:22 PM on April 16, 2015 [61 favorites]


I was so confused for YEARS about how it was ok to be pregnant (even if married) bc it meant you had had sex and everyone knew.

I had huge shame issues from the time I found out sex as "bad" until sometime in my late 20s. I thought there was something wrong with me that everyone else seemed to think it was completely grand to have babies when we all knew the girl had had sex and wasn't she a Bad Girl now and no one was supposed to like her? (this is what I thought about adult, married women as well.)

No one wonder I had a series of awful relationships and a drinking problem.
posted by sio42 at 4:22 PM on April 16, 2015 [16 favorites]


On a positive note, one of their other lessons was 'Dont rape!'

It's a tossup as to whether that was intended or a typo, but refreshingly progressive nonetheless.
posted by Dashy at 4:23 PM on April 16, 2015


A couple of the gems from the article linked in comments:
At this point, I confessed to him that I had tweeted about the whole thing and it had gone national while he was at school. He cracked up. He especially enjoyed hearing about the math geeks on Twitter who were trying to calculate what the odds were that a classroom of 20 kids could all have condoms fail and get pregnant in a few dice rolls. It came to about one in three billion.
I’m kicking myself now for not having gone to all those school-board meetings where they talked about the sex-ed curriculum. But I wonder if it would have mattered. Because whatever they write in the curriculum plan, what matters is where the rubber meets Ms. Thomas.
posted by Michele in California at 4:26 PM on April 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


Also, the friend-of-gf sex health counselor I noted above? Honest to God, one time a girl told him, "I can't have gotten pregnant! I had my socks on the whole time!"

This is what abstinence-only ed gets us. Not that I need to tell anyone here that, but ugh...
posted by scaryblackdeath at 4:27 PM on April 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


I am always so bothered by this. Sex Ed at public schools in WI during the late 80s early 90s was fairly good. Not perfect, and had scary STD pictures/stories, but was mostly fact based. I think that's how I learned about planned parenthood and birth control. How have we devolved so much?
posted by [insert clever name here] at 4:27 PM on April 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh yeah, the whole "no is what good girls say" thing was also confusing bc I was curious and then i felt like the HUGEST slut who was going to hell when I finally kisses someone in NINTH grade. I had never had a kiss, not a playground kiss, nothing, bc I was absolutely terrified Something Bad would happen.

So then once I kissed a guy I thought in my head that if we didn't get married, well I was just a huge slut and no nice boy would ever want me.


At least catholicism and sex ed have kept my string of therapists gainfully employed.


I see how fucked up these thoughts are now but back then i believed them and had no one to talk to.

(to clarify, I went to public school but was raised Catholic.)
posted by sio42 at 4:28 PM on April 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Let me tell you the story of a young man, whose mother was horrified to hear that his high school didn't offer abstinence-based health classes, and proceeded to start a local citizens' movement - petitioning the school board in dozens of hearings and dumping reams of Focus on the Family-affiliated studies at their feet, canvassing every neighborhood in a five mile radius and gathering several hundred signatures from local parents and - against all odds in one of the more liberal school districts in New York State - succeeding.

She even got one of my good friends to speak about the importance of abstinence-based sex-ed at a school board hearing. Said friend was, of course, pregnant within a year of leaving home for college.

Further irony: two years after I took the new abstinence-based health class, my sister had a schedule conflict and went through the standard ones, instead. She went on to become a missionary whereas I've been living in sin with a string of girlfriends/fiancees for the past 17 years.

The message here is clear: liberal sex ed is absolutely vital for living in accordance with the Bible and abstinence-based sex ed is an invaluable tool for the Devil, who uses it to drive a wedge between young people and Christ.
posted by Ryvar at 4:29 PM on April 16, 2015 [25 favorites]


The sex-ed I got in Houston in the nineties was actually pretty fine and non-judgmental, from what I can remember, but my mom still gathered some of the other neighborhood moms and conducted a two-day long sex-ed seminar for us at the church, just to make sure that we were getting actual information. It was, indeed, somewhat mortifying, and then wasn't, like, the next day. This woman rocks, and it sounds like her kid does too.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:33 PM on April 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


I still remember 7th grade, when the visiting abstinence-only teacher said that you could get STDs from jacking off.

Callousmydia
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:35 PM on April 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Callousmydia

Is that the medical term for hairy palms?
posted by Michele in California at 4:38 PM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think that the reason we got decent sex ed was basically AIDS. Parents were more scared of their kids dying than of their kids being slutty. I remember my sex ed being totally focused on condoms. It was like "bodies and hormones and feelings, kids. Ok, now everyone take a condom and practice putting it on a banana. You are going to use one of these every time you have sex or you will die. Do you understand me? Yes? Ok, there's the bell, next class." Pretty much my only takeaway was that my choice was condoms or death, and there were many topics that didn't get covered, but that was much, much better than what kids get today.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:39 PM on April 16, 2015 [58 favorites]


How completely bizarre.
posted by Nevin at 4:43 PM on April 16, 2015


Man, it amazes me that some on of you grew up with parents who actually engaged with you on this subject. My mom wasn't going to touch it with a ten foot pole, and my classes covered nothing beyond "this is how the reproductive system works". But at the same time there was all this hidden unspoken shame! About boys! And attention! And the horrible terrible person you are if you crave it! I have no idea how I unraveled all of it.

Somehow years ago this indirectly came up when I was talking to my mom about my younger sister, and she said "Well I never wanted to talk to my mother about any of this and I assumed neither did you two." What kind of way is that to raise kids, mom? Jeez! Where am I supposed to get this information from? Beyond signing a permission slip to actually attend a lesson do you have any idea what they're teaching us? I'm livid to this day.

There aren't enough high-fives in the world for this woman. (And all of you who care enough about your kids to go into this with them, lovingly and honestly.)
posted by erratic meatsack at 4:46 PM on April 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


ArbitraryAndCapricious, that's an amazing observation and certainly the case. I remember a heavy emphasis on condoms for that very reason. Now I'm sort of sad that it wasn't due to some inherit virtue of the time.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 4:48 PM on April 16, 2015


From Scarleteen: Legit or Unfit? Finding Safe, Sound Sex Educators & Support Online. "The idea that anyone can be a sex educator by virtue of having had sex (or abstained), even lots of sex, is problematic. ... While sex education is a field where there are a lot of different tracks to come through, and many different ways to do it, one thing any good sex educator will tell you is that they know their own sex life or what their friends report are often the WORST places to source sound information about sex because they're so subjective."
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:50 PM on April 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


How have we devolved so much?

By voting religious zealots into State and local governments without any countervailing forces from proponents of scientific based education.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:59 PM on April 16, 2015 [16 favorites]


What kind of way is that to raise kids, mom? Jeez! Where am I supposed to get this information from?

My mother left some pamphlets on my bed, in a brown paper bag. I was so embarrassed that I hid them in the closet. (Never read them. Never opened, them even. They stayed in the bag. Yeah, there may be a little bit of dysfunction there.)

The absence of factual information that goes with the abstinence-only approach is bad enough, but the extra level of shame factored in -- which is one that girls already get plenty of from their communities, their churches, the media -- is really, really damaging. This is especially true for girls who are assaulted or raped.

It's infuriating, really.
posted by mudpuppie at 5:01 PM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


"One thing any good sex educator will tell you is that they know their own sex life or what their friends report are often the WORST places to source sound information about sex because they're so subjective."

When I found out that my younger brother's middle school abstinence-based Sex Ed involved (for some insane reason) his home room teacher encouraging wearing multiple condoms at the same time to be "extra safe" I was infuriated precisely for this reason. Sex Ed should be a little more than just repeating some unsourced locker room bullshit to impressionable teens.
posted by Slurms MacKenzie at 5:03 PM on April 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's not surprising the anti-choice folks were running it, who would they get to yell at outside clinics if people actually had good sex ed? Their whole operation would collapse.
posted by emjaybee at 5:05 PM on April 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Can we as a species please be a little less embarrassed about our biological urges? Just like, a little. Fucking please.
posted by erratic meatsack at 5:08 PM on April 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


This is basically like if health classes taught nutrition by focusing entirely on hyper-obesity and having models come in to tell everyone how being as thin as possible made their lives successful.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:12 PM on April 16, 2015 [24 favorites]


Perfect use of abstinence is indeed 100% successful at preventing pregnancy, but typical use falls off much more than other methods.
posted by jeather at 5:14 PM on April 16, 2015 [24 favorites]


Perfect use also, unfortunately, depends on the actions of others as well.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:15 PM on April 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


I think it is a little more like teaching that food is evil and no one should eat, ever, and then wondering why no one complies with your edict.

It's much better to teach about how to not get botulism while trying to get your food needs met and that type thing. That's instructions people will follow. Usually.
posted by Michele in California at 5:18 PM on April 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


It seems very informed by the 12-step method. Which is weird.
posted by bq at 5:22 PM on April 16, 2015


Are sticky gym socks a disease?

How sticky?
posted by Thorzdad at 5:24 PM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would tell abstinence advocates to go fuck themselves, but it's clear they'd have no idea where to start.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:25 PM on April 16, 2015 [21 favorites]


I went to school largely in the nineties and got a great sex education, but a friend of mine in college graduated several years after I did, when the abstinence stuff was just taking off. She once told me condoms had a 50/50 chance of breaking. She learned that in abstinence only sex ed, among other things. Her educational career was temporarily disrupted by an unplanned pregnancy and which ended in a bad miscarriage. So yeah, sex ed is important.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:45 PM on April 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


I went through Catholic sex ed when I was about twelve, because my mother got a bee in her bonnet and wanted to make sure I was sufficiently educated about Jesus. It had a lot of focus on the "special bond" created between two people who had sex and how amazing and important that bond was, and how it would weld you and your partner together forever so you had to be very careful who you bonded to! Because that special bond would make you so emotionally connected that you couldn't bear to separate in the future, so you had to be careful they were someone good and pure.

Of course, I was a huge Mercedes Lackey fan at the time, and I immediately concluded that telepathic soulbonds were a real thing and everyone had just completely failed to mention them before now. I only held onto this notion for a few weeks before I gave it up, fortunately, but it was an interesting few weeks while it lasted.

My public school sex ed was more notable for its almost total absence from my life, except for a litany of sexually transmitted diseases and a rough explanation of genital anatomy that did not include anything so obscure as labia or a clitoris. I didn't see a condom in person until I got to college and ran into the ones that mysteriously kept littering the streets on the way to the dining hall. It... may have taken me an embarrassingly long time to realize what those whitish plastic things were.
posted by sciatrix at 5:48 PM on April 16, 2015 [19 favorites]


It's bad enough in America, where at least countervailing fact is available. But meanwhile in Africa, the Catholic church continues to oppose condom use and actually claims that condoning them would encourage the spread of AIDS; a position that is furthermore miscommunicated or misheard -- not necessarily unintentionally -- as "condoms cause AIDS".
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:54 PM on April 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


My mom lobbied for sex ed at our school 35 years ago because she was too embarrassed to have "the talk" with her sons.
posted by Knappster at 5:58 PM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


It... may have taken me an embarrassingly long time to realize what those whitish plastic things were.

sciatrix, back about 10 years ago when Post Secret was a thing, this was my submission. Which I was able to find because it's the first google image result for "postsecret tic tac".
posted by phunniemee at 5:58 PM on April 16, 2015 [24 favorites]


abstinence is 100% effective

AT PREVENTING PREGNANCY UNDER CONDITIONS OF CONSENT

Abstinence is not effective at preventing incest, rape, exploitation, or manipulation. It does not prevent misunderstandings, it does not teach biology, it does not teach sexual agency or consent or relationship intelligence. It does not prevent STIs, especially where it perpetuates "everything but" mythology.

Abstinence is 100% effective at preventing pregnancy under ideal circumstances.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:04 PM on April 16, 2015 [39 favorites]


meanwhile in Africa, the Catholic church continues to oppose condom use

Oh, they oppose it in America too, it's just that they still get laughed out of the public sphere in the US whenever they acknowledge their actual policy preferences. Unfortunately they have a stronger hold on the education infrastructure in Africa and are free to spread their disingenuous medieval disinformation unchecked by an informed public.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:05 PM on April 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


Seventh grade (1985ish), Central Indiana. Film featuring a talking condom with cartoon arms and facial features. Started laughing so hard at the ridiculousness that I got to go talk to the principal - who then handed me off to the school nurse because the male principal was not comfortable with 12 year old girl me knowing this film was crap.

I don't even remember what the film taught - I think it was really just basic anatomy stuff and basic info. I just thought it was ridiculous to have a cartoony condom presenting the info.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 6:32 PM on April 16, 2015


My mom gave me the world's most technical and most boring sex talk when I was 9 and got my period. We were at a York Steakhouse at the mall - I was eating sirloin tips. By the time she was done with the facts - sex sounded like ZERO fun at all.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 6:36 PM on April 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


GuyZero: " STDs from jacking off.

Are sticky gym socks a disease?
"

"Anyway, that's how I got tinea pedum on my ding-dong. Don't do a marijuana kids!"
posted by boo_radley at 6:38 PM on April 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I still remember 7th grade, when the visiting abstinence-only teacher said that you could get STDs from jacking off.

They meant STAs: Self Transmitted Abrasions.

I don't recall sex ed being covered at all in the public high school I went to, though it might well have been taught on a day that I skipped. (I skipped a lot of school.) It was covered in a surprisingly open way (and by a priest, no less) at the Catholic school I attended briefly, contrary to stereotype. At the high school I was somehow in a group of students used to test-view a film on HIV prevention (that I recall as being very open and good), but that the administration decided to not use because of the inevitably pushback from parents. The film wasn't explicit in any way, just earnest talking by young actors, but even that was a step too far in a small, conservative town.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:51 PM on April 16, 2015


Oh god this fuckin lady again.

This is the "my mommies on her period, which means her uterine lining is shedding!" toddler mom.

I have a seriously hard time believing that anything she does isn't just theatrics for high fives, and saying what everyone on the internet wants to hear.

Not that i don't think she believes what she's saying, just that it's a performance that hits all the right notes and might play a little fast and loose with reality.

Seriously, go reread the tail end of the last thread. Either it's made up, or the kid is just repeating stuff they don't understand.

I'm suspect of anything she does at this point.
posted by emptythought at 7:10 PM on April 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


sciatrix: It had a lot of focus on the "special bond" created between two people who had sex and how amazing and important that bond was, and how it would weld you and your partner together forever so you had to be very careful who you bonded to! Because that special bond would make you so emotionally connected that you couldn't bear to separate in the future, so you had to be careful they were someone good and pure.

I went to a Christian (non-denominational) high school in the late 90s where I'm just remembering (and confirming with fellow classmates) that we received no sex ed at all. But we had a Bible teacher, and of course, various youth pastors that always tended to be around, who took every opportunity to remind us girls that every time we fell in love with someone, they took part of our heart. And by the time we found a husband, oh no, we wouldn't have any of our heart left to give him. I assume they thought the same thing about our sexuality but certainly no one ever mentioned that.

Earlier than that, I was home schooled in another country and luckily had a mom who was pretty open about sexuality and did actually answer questions honestly, albeit with an emphasis on being married first.
posted by persephone's rant at 7:33 PM on April 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Seriously, go reread the tail end of the last thread. Either it's made up, or the kid is just repeating stuff they don't understand.


In the first paragraph of the linked article by straw, right there at the top of the thread:

In middle school, he had to help the teacher explain something about sex anatomy when the teacher was stumped and my son happened to know the facts. (I am a sex researcher and I work on intersex; he knows a lot about sex anatomy.)

Kids pick up stuff from their parents. He probably (1) knows a lot about anatomy, (2) knows a lot about sex education, and (3) picked up some of that knowledge at home. He's 14, and even if he was just "parroting" the stuff when he was younger (which is not crazy- my cousin, when she was 4, could accurately describe her grandmother's lung issues and the medications she had to take for it), he's obviously absorbed a good deal of the material.
posted by damayanti at 7:35 PM on April 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


I just think an awful lot of what she posts stinks of enhanced truthiness. In that the basic synopsis of what happened is true, but the actual details have been gussied up. Every single thing i've ever read by her(and yes, i really do read the links on fpps) just has this gross bravado-y quality to it. It's not as bad as the recent "i was a schoolteacher who took lots of drugs!" thing, nor is it super gross or anything, but it always makes me roll my eyes.

I'm probably viewing this through tinted lenses, but she just reminds me way too much of the braggart sanctimommies i ran in to over and over in homeschool groups and alternative schools espousing much of the same things, and talking about how their kid had totally built a cold fusion reactor right after his 7th birthday. Not to that degree of exaggeration, but enough of it raises an eyebrow for me.

I mean, i was the precocious young kid like this. And i knew a bunch of them as friends younger siblings and stuff. Even the premise of this kid bringing his mom in is weird to me, not to mention the quotes of the younger kids.

I guess "some elements of this seem implausible to me and it makes me question the integrity of the whole piece" is pretty much my thesis here.
posted by emptythought at 7:43 PM on April 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Ok, now everyone take a condom and practice putting it on a banana. You are going to use one of these every time you have sex or you will die.

To this very day I still can't have sex without putting a condom on a banana first.
posted by webmutant at 7:44 PM on April 16, 2015 [40 favorites]


Even the premise of this kid bringing his mom in is weird to me, not to mention the quotes of the younger kids.


My guess is that part of why it seems weird is that it's about sex, and that's sort of her point. My dad was an economist, and came to the high school to talk about economics. I'm sure, in the future, I'll either go to my future kid(s)', with their permission, school to either talk about language, or to collect data/ observe language use in the classroom. Why should a mom coming in to talk about sex ed, or to observe the class as part of her research/service interests be any weirder?


In re: (and yes, i really do read the links on fpps) my comment came across as unintentionally snarky-- I was trying to point out a link that wasn't in the fpps, but in the first comment. Sorry!
posted by damayanti at 7:50 PM on April 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Or, for another angle on it, it's not weird or suspicious to me that a wonky, obviously very open and unashamed person who's a researcher on intersex would have an equally wonky, very open, and unashamed son who knows a lot about sex ed and genitalia, even if that son happened to be a teenager at this point in time.
posted by damayanti at 7:53 PM on April 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


I guess I'm just confused about what's supposedly been embellished. Passing on sensational horror stories is pretty much all abstinence-only education is equipped to do.
posted by kagredon at 7:56 PM on April 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


In fifth grade, a kid named Brian transferred to my school and was assigned the lunchroom seat across from mine. He was basically this kid, in a lot of ways. Sex-researcher mother, knew a ton about sex, from the physical details to medical facts about STD pathologies to one, reported, actual experience (and even as a cynical adult, I believe him there, but I'm not going into all that.) Kids pick up a lot and like to talk about it, and our lunchroom crowd was hungry for any information we could get. I don't have trouble believing her stories, no matter how self-congratulatory they might seem.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:59 PM on April 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


I can't say if it would be the same if one of my parents was a sex researcher, but I can testify to kids being way over-informed about their parent's professions. My dad was an audiologist and we would often visit him at work and have fun testing out hearing (as in "raise your left hand when you hear the tone in your left ear, raise your right hand when you hear the tone in your right ear", which is the about the only piece of Spanish my dad still remembers).

Anyways, in 10th grade we had in-school hearing screening, and the tester sat down with me after I took the test. Before he had a chance to speak I said "If this is about the approximately 35 dB decrease at around 1000 Hz in my left ear, don't worry about it" (Yeah, I was that kid.) "It showed up after I had a bout of pneumonia in 7th grade and we already know about it. We assume it's just a small dead spot on the cochlea from the infection." So I wouldn't be too surprised if her kids knew a lot about their parent's field and were perhaps a bit over-eager to share it.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:22 PM on April 16, 2015 [25 favorites]


Sorry, Lyn Never. I kinda thought all that went without saying on the blue.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:36 PM on April 16, 2015


When I was in 8th grade we had one of several rounds of sex ed I had in my life, but this one was taught by the fertility doctor father of a classmate (just the boys. The girls got sent to another room to talk about menstruation). We got the usual explanation of the plumbing, no discussion about birth control, and then he showed a video of a technique his practice has developed to help men with low sperm counts conceive. All of a sudden we are watching a video of an OR where a man's testicles are sticking out of surgical cloth, and then they are CUT OPEN WITH A SCALPEL AND THERE IS SO MUCH BLOOD and every boy in the room reflexively cups their junk. The video goes on to explain that they cut out part of the testicle to grind up and extract spermatozoa from to inject directly into eggs.

I'm still not sure what I was supposed to learn from all this.

By this point my parents had already given my sister and me their yellowed copies of Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex, which is definitely dated but at least had some educational value. Plus around then I discovered Elf Sternberg, so there you go.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:32 AM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Totally unrelated to the subject, but...Alice Dreger may happen to be right about the awesome stupidity of abstinence-only sex education, but she is very wrong about a lot of other things--she's compared transgender children to kids who think they're locomotives, for instance; written about her opposition to New York no longer requiring SRS as a condition of changing gender markers on birth certificates and identification; supported the reparative therapy for transgender children and said that "they think they're trans because they have dysfunctional families"; spoken out in support of the recently-sacked reparative therapist Kenneth Zucker of Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health; defended the "autogynephiliac"/"homosexual transsexual" transgender typology of Ray Blanchard (that's been pretty extensively debunked in various studies) and defended one J Michael Bailey, formerly of Northwestern U, in a controversy over those same theories and his "research" and sensationalist book, some years back (and doubled down on it in a new book, apparently). Oh, and she was instrumental in having intersex conditions renamed "disorders of sexual development"...which resulted in significant pushback from the intersex community.

She's really awesomely shitty on multiple issues that aren't "abstinence education is stupid", and in ways that probably cause actual harm.
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 3:09 AM on April 17, 2015 [33 favorites]


My sex ed had none of this abstinence bullshit. Maybe because it was 1984 and sort of still the seventies and somehow we got dumber about sex since then. What the fuck happened?
posted by angrycat at 4:45 AM on April 17, 2015


What the fuck happened?

Reagan was just kicking in.
posted by localroger at 5:34 AM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I had sex-ed in the seventies and there was none of this abstinence crap then.
posted by octothorpe at 5:50 AM on April 17, 2015


Oh hey this is my high school! You will probably be amused to know that the official mascot is the Trojan. I'm not kidding.
posted by tractorfeed at 6:05 AM on April 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


Ok, now everyone take a condom and practice putting it on a banana.

This is dead embarrassing.
posted by Gelatin at 6:20 AM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Knappster: "My mom lobbied for sex ed at our school 35 years ago because she was too embarrassed to have "the talk" with her sons."
Talk about doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.
posted by brokkr at 7:10 AM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


"I'm going to collect the babies that you don't want. We recycle them."

Soylent Green Premium?
posted by Mezentian at 7:25 AM on April 17, 2015


All of a sudden we are watching a video of an OR where a man's testicles are sticking out of surgical cloth

And I thought the dreadful birthing video they showed us was traumatising.


Which I was able to find because it's the first google image result for "postsecret tic tac".

I am so glad I can buy that as a canvas wrap, but could you do one as a throw rug or tote bag?
posted by Mezentian at 7:57 AM on April 17, 2015


Every single time I hear about sex ed, I burn a patchouli offering to the wise UU elders that put together About Your Sexuality. When other kids were (and still are, jfc what century are we in?) being taught that abstinence is the only proper lifestyle and that even thinking too hard about your own genitals or those of other would cause parthenogenesis of a syphilitic monster-baby, I got an honest and graphic talk about sex. Sure, it was awkward, in part because the presentation was clearly put together in the 70s, but also because the tone was just so earnest. Yet, I got a sex ed class that emphasized healthy expression of sexual feelings and acceptance of the bodies of yourself and others. It wasn't just that it comprehensively covered various forms of birth control and disease prevention, it was also that it started from a completely different mindset than some of the garbage nonsense that passes for sex ed. I mean, this was basically my AYS experience:
Sex? IT'S GREAT! TOTALLY NATURAL!

But how does it work? HERE'S PICTURES OF PEOPLE FUCKING!

Is it just PIV? NOPE! FULL BODY EXPERIENCE! HERE'S SOME MORE FUCKING PICTURES!

What about, like, gay stuff? YUP! TOTALLY NATURAL!

Penises are weird! NOPE! HERE'S SOME PICTURES OF DICKS, THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL AND UNIQUE!

But what about-- TITS AND VULVAS TOO! MORE PICS!

I touch myself at night. WHY NOT DURING THE DAY TOO?
This took place at church.
posted by Panjandrum at 8:05 AM on April 17, 2015 [54 favorites]


My mom was a nurse at the college up the street from my high school for over 20 years. When she started in the early 90s it was mostly handing out birth control (for free!), doing the occasional STD test, getting freshmen over their first cold away from home, and mending the occasional broken bones (or broken hearts). A couple of times a year, and always on Valentines day, she'd don one of those bopper headbands with condoms on the end of the springs and come down to our open high school campus with a giant basket of condoms to hand out under the guise of being the Condom Fairy. She did this at the college too, of course, and when I went away to school she'd offer to send giant boxes of condoms to me so that I could make sure everyone was well stocked. I don't know that I was ever embarrassed, and over the years I definitely became more proud of her (mostly) quietly fighting the good fight.

About 10 years ago she started lamenting that the STD problems and unplanned pregnancies were worse than ever, and that she was having to have the sex-ed talk with full grown adults; not only had their parents failed them, but school had too. People were having sex, just as much as always, but had no real scientific grounding in pregnancy or STDs, just vague notions, rumors, etc.

Abstinence-only ed is such a terrible disservice to society. If conservatives really wanted to do something to reduce the number of abortions and risky behaviors they'd be much better served by putting effort into proper sex-ed than in the abstinence-only nonsense.

Around the same time that my Mom started complaining about the lack of basic sex-ed knowledge she also started noting that there were more and more kids coming to the health center for anti-depressants than for birth control. I'm sure that a lot of that has to do with outside factors (there's no way I'd want to be facing this job market fresh out of school), but I can't help imagine that it's at least a little bit related.
posted by togdon at 8:21 AM on April 17, 2015 [14 favorites]


Oh man, Panjandrum, I'm jealous. That's what I've always thought sex ed should be (well, with some added bits about enthusiastic consent. And maybe stuff about "here's some ways to navigate sex conversations when you have to". Was there anything about that?)

Instead I had adequate, non-abstinence based sex-ed, in the 90s. I was actually sort of sad we didn't put a banana on a condom (I'd heard that such classes did that, but ours didn't). So anyhow I didn't see a condom until using one myself in college. Which led to the somewhat weird incongruity of being a pre-teen who knew quite a lot about the mechanics of esp. women's bodies (Dad was an OBGYN), but was very very confused about condoms. Dad also wore earplugs, the orange ones that are shaped like a rotation of the normal distribution curve. He'd leave them on the bedside table.

Somehow I got the idea that because these orange things had the same *shape* as an erect penis, they therefore must be condoms. I was both a little grossed out (ew! parental sex!), and also *completely* confused as to how you wore them. Did they insert in some way? No wonder guys supposedly didn't want to use them.

I don't think I ever really got this straight until I (a) needed a condom for my own use, and (b) went to some underground dance parties where earplugs were common, and saw the same orange thingies again. So yeah, the condom-on-banana thing would have been nice.
posted by nat at 8:28 AM on April 17, 2015 [10 favorites]


Abstinence-only ed is such a terrible disservice to society. If conservatives really wanted to do something to reduce the number of abortions and risky behaviors they'd be much better served by putting effort into proper sex-ed than in the abstinence-only nonsense.

Well, of course they would, but they don't care about babies, only fetuses, and it's never about helping, it's about control and punishment.
posted by The Whelk at 8:31 AM on April 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


They put condoms on dildos in my friend's sex ed class in the Netherlands. One of the teachers, who had five kids, couldn't figure out how to put the condom on the dildo, so they asked him if that's why he had five kids.

I wish my sex ed class was like that. We had abstinence only and I thought the lot was a waste of my time, so I went years without knowing anything about the basics.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 8:38 AM on April 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


I lost it at "LGBYT" which I can only assume is some kind of sandwich.

Or the lesbian and gay community's best yogurt!
posted by jonp72 at 10:19 AM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Every single time I hear about sex ed, I burn a patchouli offering to the wise UU elders that put together About Your Sexuality. When other kids were (and still are, jfc what century are we in?) being taught that abstinence is the only proper lifestyle and that even thinking too hard about your own genitals or those of other would cause parthenogenesis of a syphilitic monster-baby, I got an honest and graphic talk about sex.

When I was in college, I was part of our LGBTQA organization, and one of the things we did was organize panels of assorted queer college students to go out and do Q&A sessions about what it was like to be X identity for different crowds of people. We did the vast majority of these for collegiate classes about related topics--sociology, feminism, women's studies, once a master's social work course. One of the few non-class panels we were invited to do was for one of these Unitarian sex ed groups, which had a group of about ten twelve to fourteen year old kids.

So we came in, introduced ourselves, and then sat there and answered any questions they came up with for either all of us or for individual panelists. For example my co-panelist T would get asked what it was like to transition, I got asked about how my parents responded to me identifying as asexual, another panelist answered bisexuality-specific questions. No parents present, although their youth supervisor was there (and grinning at us the whole time). It was amazing and wonderful, and I wish that was provided to all kids. I would have loved an opportunity like that when I was a teenager.
posted by sciatrix at 10:20 AM on April 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


Because there's a difference between having your mom there/ mocking and having your mom talk about how many lovers she's had and whether her relationship with your dad involves a lot of sexual pleasure.

Ted: "Dude, your Mom's hot!"

Bill: "Shut up, Ted!"
posted by jonp72 at 10:22 AM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Btw panjandrum's experience has been updated for a new generation (though the pics still have a 70s feel). The curriculum is called Our Whole Lives, and it was developed jointly by the UCC and UUA. Mr. Tuesday has taught the K-1 and 4th-5th grade levels at our UU church. So parents, if you want positive and age-appropriate sexuality education for your kids, call your local UU or UCC church and ask if they offer it. There are also levels for middle school and high school. I'm afraid it's still pretty earnest but it is a wonderful resource that goes way beyond plumbing and into feelings and sexual decision-making and consent and sexism etc.
posted by tuesdayschild at 10:46 AM on April 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


Just read the piece in The Stranger from the first comment. Sounds like this kid has great parents!
posted by dnash at 11:50 AM on April 17, 2015


with some added bits about enthusiastic consent. And maybe stuff about "here's some ways to navigate sex conversations when you have to". Was there anything about that?

Yeah, totally had portions about mutual respect and communication with actual/potential partners. It's just that those are not necessarily the things that stick with a junior high boy. Fortunately, those are kind of baked into the UU experience.

But for anyone wondering, do at least follow tuesdaychild's recommendation to at least check out some OWL curriculum. The Grades 7-9 portion roughly corresponds to the AYS education I had. Sex ed is never not going to be kinda of awkward and goofy (if for no other reason than it involves tweens, who are intrinsically goofy and awkward), but you can do a lot worse than a program that has portions like this:
Lovemaking is placed in a moral context when negative and erroneous media messages are combatted with honest discussions of sexual behavior. Participants are encouraged to take away the message that lovemaking is a positive and life-enhancing experience when it is consensual, non-exploitative, mutually pleasurable, safe, developmentally appropriate, based on mutual expectations and caring, and respectful.
posted by Panjandrum at 12:17 PM on April 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


we were required to place an emphasis on abstinence
It's all in how you parse it. You place the emphasis precisely once: "I am presenting to you abstinence, which means you don't engage in sex. I'd like to also emphasize that the school district requires me to present it, but it works about as well as not abstaining from seat belts, now moving on...."

My own school district had basic plumbing education for the girls in 5th grade and then some very general sex ed in 8th grade, which was taught by the school nurse, a matronly woman with a British accent who had been a nurse for the Brits during WWII. I remember her saying, "sex is the most wonderful, wonderful, thing a man and woman can share! It's just wonderful!" Ignoring non-het relationships, she was pretty much spot on, but she never actually went into the details of why. Then we got shown the Disney film, VD Attach Plan, which was supposed to scare us, but I thought was hilarious.

In high school (1980's), everyone had one quarter of their freshman and senior year in a health program taught by one of the school nurses a tiny woman and we referred to the senior class as "Sex with Mrs. Sanders" and loved to giggle over the fact that everyone had Sex with Mrs. Sanders. In this class, we got the diagrams of the reproductive organs (Bullwinkle and Rocky) and for the first time, the program acknowledged anal sex, although it was not even presented neutrally and only in the context of gay sex, and that was in response to a student question. The curriculum also included STDs as well as some assertiveness training.

So flash forward a couple of three decades and my 8 year old son asked me about how babies were made. Pro-tip: answer the question with a question to find out if you're giving them the information they need. He wanted a general "how does it all work", so I drew Bullwinkle and Rocky (with more anatomy so he could actually figure out there everything was), explained the plumbing, sperm and egg, etc. etc. and fielded any other questions.

Last night, he wanted to know what 'gay' meant and the context was something that he heard on the school bus, so he got the pejorative as well as the positive definition and then the clinical words, 'heterosexual', 'homosexual' and then the context that it's not so simple as one or the other and that there's a continuum ("what's a continuum?" A full range. Mrs. Plinth chimes in, "like a rainbow - from red to purple." "Mom, you mean violet.") and put bisexual in the middle and did my best to describe everything neutrally and very human.

I'm glad this has been happening because he lives in a town that has a very large queer population and has several friends who have two moms and there are two moms who live two doors down. From his point of view, this is all natural and is just the way that things are.

So now at 8, he has more knowledge than an 8th grader in my school district did and more knowledge of human sexuality than a senior in my high school did.
posted by plinth at 12:20 PM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't agree with some of the scathing, dismissive remarks above, but I will note that (per the very first link in the fpp) Alice Dreger's book is called Galileo's Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science. That doesn't mean this incident was a PR stunt per se. I could just mean that, yup, she's got a rebel heart and takes glee in this sort of thing and always has. But this is the closing paragraph of the article on The Stranger:
Alice Dreger is author of the new book Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science (named one of the “best books of the month” in nonfiction by Amazon). The principal from her son’s high school has called to officially inform her she will now be subject to special monitoring at her son’s school, allegedly for saying “fuck” in front of “children” after class ended.
So I would say she is certainly capitalizing on this as a PR opportunity, regardless of how and why it actually occurred. Since I am also a woman and well aware of how much more shit women get for doing the same things men do (like taking a stand and not backing down), I find myself more interested in viewing this through the lens of "so, THIS is what works to get some traction in the world for a woman. Huh."

When I worked at a big company, the highest ranking female executive in my department commented out loud in front of people "Look at Michele, sitting all up front" at some departmental meeting. This was literally noteworthy to her. It is apparently so forbidden for women to be literally or figuratively up front that a woman who was a mover and shaker whose husband followed her to her new job in a new city was, I guess, shocked by me sitting in the front.

So I kind of am disappointed to see the badmouthing of this woman on the blue, especially given that one of the comments doing so admits up front that it has absolutely nothing to do with the subject of this fpp. I am reminded also of a comment I saw an actress make about "women eat their own" -- ie that other women are often our biggest enemies and we often just destroy each other gratuitously. (I don't actually know the genders of the people making these comments, I am just saying I am really taken aback that it is happening in a space where so many people talk so passionately about trying to promote women's rights, etc.)
posted by Michele in California at 1:18 PM on April 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


Seriously, go reread the tail end of the last thread. Either it's made up, or the kid is just repeating stuff they don't understand.

I used to be the research assistant for Kristin Luker, a sociologist who has literally "written the book" on topics ranging from contraception to abortion to teenage pregnancy to sex education. She had very young twins (a boy and a girl), and they just picked up stuff all the time, because of their mother's job. One time, she drove them past an anatomically incorrect statue of a gorilla. The boy called it "King Kong," but then his twin sister insisted that, because the statue's genitalia was actually more smooth like a vulva, it should really be called "Queen Kong." I think they were 4 at the time.

The fact that the 13-year-old son of a sex researcher knows a lot about sex and isn't just parroting it from his mother doesn't surprise me at all.
posted by jonp72 at 2:45 PM on April 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


The kid is in high school, he's probably older than 13, as my 12 year old is graduating from middle school this year.

Secondly, I've talked before that my degrees are in bioethics. My focus was on feminism, and not sex research, but I'm comfortable talking about sex and the ethical implications and potential consequences therein. There is nothing about this story that rings false to me as a mother, as an involved parent, or as a bioethicist.

My son's grade had gender separated sex Ed classes this year, and they were much like this reported experience, except dumbed down even more. There was even a speaker that suggested girls in skimpy summer dresses were responsible for their own rapes because boys can't control their urges. He didn't use those exact words, but it was absolutely implied.

That said, I can't change the curriculum. Trust me, I've tried, but I can't get any community support behind an initiative to teach healthy responsible sex to budding humans.
posted by dejah420 at 5:38 PM on April 17, 2015


I kind of am disappointed to see the badmouthing of this woman on the blue, especially given that one of the comments doing so admits up front that it has absolutely nothing to do with the subject of this fpp.

I'm kind of disappointed to see her referenced in a link here, personally! And I find your reading of my criticism of her to be really weird. She is not "getting shit" from me for being a woman, or really, at all, honestly, unless you think that pointing out someone's problematic history and ideas should be out of bounds somehow. As an intersectional feminist? I think it's a lot more important to call out someone's bad behaviour that negatively affects marginalised groups than it is to give them a pass for being a woman. This is a person whose latest book spends a great deal of time defending the work of a right-wing eugenicist who's promoted the idea of sex-selective abortions on the basis of sexuality . The specific thing she's defending is the idea that trans women are really either effeminate gay men or perverts who get off on the idea of being a woman (a controversial and disputed psychological theory that is not supported by the most recent evidence-based review of the literature, which shows a strongly biological basis for gender identity). If someone posted something here that was "hey look, Ann Coulter did an awesome thing!" or "Margaret Thatcher liked kittens!" I'd still point out that they were terrible people with awful ideas.
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 7:10 PM on April 17, 2015 [5 favorites]


Pseudonymous Cognomen, I read the link about Dreger's so-called "opposition to New York no longer requiring SRS as a condition of changing gender markers" and it seems to me she's calling it out as good, but not going far enough - her position is that people should be able to change their official genders multiple times in their lifetime, without a doctor's sign-off, and without having to live for two years in the intended gender.
Is this a bad thing in your opinion? Do you think a doctor's note (or other conditions) should be required?
posted by bashos_frog at 7:38 PM on April 17, 2015


it seems to me she's calling it out as good, but not going far enough

"As a historian – even as a trans-sympathetic historian – I’ve got to say this makes me a little crazy."

Those are her words, re the change of birth certificates (which is a necessary thing for trans people to get ID that matches their gender). Arguing in favour of some sort of platonically ideal society where gender isn't subject to official recognition and where non-binary and genderqueer identities are recognised broadly looks good, on its face, but in the current environment and with society as it is it's kind of like saying "I don't really agree with this, why aren't they doing this thing that is currently totally impractical instead?" Further it's a regressive argument in that it's based entirely on the idea of gender as a social construct. Gender roles and presentation are social constructs; gender identity is to some degree an innate thing with a biological/neurological basis (see link in my last reply). Taken as a whole with her other writings and opinions on the subject it's very hard to not see it as being fundamentally invalidating of trans people's gender identities with its whole hand-waving "but what if the map really is the territory?" argument.
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 8:11 PM on April 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I did a quick check on this lady, but I did not find out that she was, or was alleged to be, a TERF. I would not have wanted to suggest that is acceptable.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:38 PM on April 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm not really happy to see Dreger showing up in a post, but am largely oblivious to her work so assume good faith in the post itself. It's just, being a TERF, and putting yourself in the corner of well-known, embarrassingly debunked transphobic crackpots like Blanchard and Bailey, kind of probably makes you a terrible bioethicist even if you have good points elsewhere.
posted by byanyothername at 8:47 PM on April 17, 2015


I am not expecting anyone to "be given a pass for being a woman." But you started your fairly long comment with:
Totally unrelated to the subject,

And then you go on with another fairly long comment to explain to me how you have moral rectitude but are not "giving her shit." You could have made your point a lot more briefly as an FYI and stated up front your personal bias as someone personally unfond of the woman.

One of the things that goes on is that women who are trying to have a real career get held to a different standard than men. It is often okay for a guy to have an affair or a temper or a few politically incorrect points of view. People will note it but not necessarily feel that totally invalidates all of the man's work. A woman does the same thing and it is all anyone talks about. You cannot be perfect enough. And it is very often other women who cannot let it go and harp on it endlessly. I don't get that. I just don't.
posted by Michele in California at 11:22 AM on April 18, 2015


That isn't "an affair or a temper" or other personal-life stuff, though, they are views that are highly relevant to her field.
posted by kagredon at 11:27 AM on April 18, 2015 [4 favorites]


"I'm going to collect the babies that you don't want. We recycle them."

Soylent Pink? I am so sorry...
posted by ostranenie at 12:51 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


One of the things that goes on is that women who are trying to have a real career get held to a different standard than men. It is often okay for a guy to have an affair or a temper or a few politically incorrect points of view. People will note it but not necessarily feel that totally invalidates all of the man's work. A woman does the same thing and it is all anyone talks about. You cannot be perfect enough. And it is very often other women who cannot let it go and harp on it endlessly. I don't get that. I just don't.

Okay, no, you are acting like she should get a pass because she's a woman. I said nothing whatever about her character. All of my comments focused on her professional views, which are relevant. If someone posted something positive about Ray Blanchard, Kenneth Zucker, or J Michael Bailey, I'd make similar comments about their professional views. (For that matter if someone posted something positive about Andrew Sullivan I'd point out that he thinks black people are inherently genetically inferior and is a big fan of The Bell Curve.) Again, your response is really weird.
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 2:23 PM on April 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yea this seems like pretty much the platonic ideal of "you cant criticize a woman doing ostensibly feminists things in one arena or you're a bad regressive person", which is like, something it's really hard to call out without sounding like an asshole... Which I think gets taken advantage of in a fairly manipulative way from time to time on here.

Without getting too far afield in to "what this site does badly" and getting told to go to MeTa(I do NOT want to make or read that thread) this is something that gets frustrating in a hell of a lot of spaces.

The good someone does, or the things they say you agreed with can't really cancel out the fucked up things they say or do. It's ok to cheer on someone for doing something good, and it's ok to criticize the bad shit they do. These things can coexist. And someone can criticize those bad things without being an awful person or pushing down on the heads of women or whatever.

Yea, I'm someone who doesn't really like her. I was unsurprised when I saw she had said things like that. I also think what she's done here is pretty cool and will get shared around a lot and is generally positive. I think it's germaine when someone like this gets brought up to "hey, just fyi, she also said this fucked up shit" though and I don't think that's "holding women to a higher standard". There's plenty of people mefi goes "oh yea, you might want to refer to this persons track record" when they're brought up. And that's a gross fucking club it's really hard to look good responding to(and that's intentional, imo) to bring in to a situation where someone really has said some messed up stuff, and holds some pretty regressive beliefs.
posted by emptythought at 2:57 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


If someone posted something here that was "hey look, Ann Coulter did an awesome thing!" or "Margaret Thatcher liked kittens!" I'd still point out that they were terrible people with awful ideas.
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 7:10 PM on April 17 [4 favorites +] [!]

All of my comments focused on her professional views, which are relevant. If someone posted something positive about Ray Blanchard, Kenneth Zucker, or J Michael Bailey, I'd make similar comments about their professional views.
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 2:23 PM on April 18 [1 favorite +] [!]


The female examples you give you characterize as terrible people with awful ideas. The male examples you give you characterize as deserving criticism of their professional views.

This is exactly the difference I am talking about in how men and women are treated fundamentally differently, even by their critics.

But I also would like to not see this go to MeTa. So, I think I will step away from this discussion for now.
posted by Michele in California at 3:17 PM on April 18, 2015


The male examples you give you characterize as deserving criticism of their professional views.

No, they're still terrible people with awful ideas. If you advance ideas that actively harm people, then those ideas are awful and you're a terrible person. Full stop. J Michael Bailey, for instance, thinks that parents should be allowed to abort potentially gay children. There's no way I wouldn't characterise that as a horrid idea, and anyone who advocates it as being an objectively bad person.
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 3:39 PM on April 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just remember to use identical phrasing or you'll get caught in that tiresome gotcha, i guess.
posted by emptythought at 7:38 PM on April 19, 2015


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