Friday, April 6, 2012

The Culture Blogs: Sex Education, isn't it about time?

As I finished my last blog I said that I was going to blog about Abortion.  Let's just say that was the seed of a larger idea.  This is one of many trees that have grown from that seed.  I'll get to Abortion itself eventually, but we need a foundation by which to have that conversation.  This series is dedicated to building a better foundation for people understanding sex itself.

President Obama said during his last campaign a loaded statement about his daughers: "If they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby."  This is the kind of fodder that political newscasters rail folks for and here you can see it developed into a meme.  So I went to CNN for a more complete version of what was said.  He followed this statement with: "I don't want them punished with a STD at the age of 16."  Which clearly made this conversation about Sex Education.  But for the sake of our discussion I'd like bring up a single point of the wide array of subjects underneath Sexual Education:  Birth Control.

Politically, Sexual Education is a wedge issue.  In my experience these are issues politicians talk about a lot, and put into place poor standards for how to fix them.  Danielle Deaver's experience is an example of this.  And I'll be honest I don't blame them.  We as American's don't take the time to really learn about most issues in our society.  We tend to hear a few comments that we agree with or disagree with and base our decision on what we want on that.  Because let's face it, most of us don't really want the facts.  The facts can mess with our idea of morality, and too many of us are too shallow in our ideologies to really deal with them (notice I didn't remove myself from that generalization).

My wife a few years ago was in a Human Sexuality class where she was asked to ask a Pharmacist: What is the most effective form of birth control?  The purpose of the question was to see how pharmacists might react to that question.  Well when she went to the pharmacy she wasn't wearing her wedding ring (cause she was going to go exercise after the visit) and she was wearing a Carebears hoodie which made her look like a 19 year old.  And when she approached the pharmacy the pharmacy assistant asked if they could help her.  She asked her question and it caused the assistant take a step back away from her and the counter.  (I can't help, but wonder why?  Maybe it had something to do with her unadorned left hand.)  The assistant then went back to get the Pharmacist and spoke in a low voice to the pharmacist.  The Pharmacist came up, looked at my wife's left hand, and then asked my wife how he could help her.  She asked her question.  Afterwards he began asking her questions that she felt were inappropriate such as: "Why don't you want to have children?"  "How old are you?"& "Does your partner approve of this?"  Because she is awesome, she managed to put up with it long enough for the pharmacist to give her the information.  In her class she was the only person who had a bad experience, but she's not alone in this kind of treatment.  Karen, on prochoice America's Youtube channel shares about her own pharmacy refusal story here.   They are two of thousands who I'm certain have been given the same treatment.  This frightens me.  Not because of their questions, but about the kind of power a Pharmacist (who is a medical professional and therefore required by law to be impartial) has.  Because if either one of them came in as a rape victim and asked for the morning after pill, there is a high likelihood that either the Pharmacist would have refused or they would have walked out because of the emotional stress the Pharmacist would be putting them through.  Neither one of those answers are acceptable.

Birth Control takes various different forms from pills, to condoms, to even implants to prevent pregnancy.  It isn't something folks use just because they don't want a baby, it is used for far more purposes than that.  The morning after pill is crucial for victims of rape, because I cannot see anything more traumatic than giving birth to the child of your rapist.  Even if she puts the child up for adoption she will always wonder about that child and that could get in the way of her healing.  The morning after pill prevents a impregnation in several ways (all of which can be found at goaskalice.com).  Two of which are: Stopping the woman's overies from releasing eggs (ovulation), and making the uterine lining inhospitable to a fertilized egg.  Now contrary to popular belief this is not abortion because there will not be a pregnancy at all if the zygote or blastocyst doesn't attach to either the fallopian tube (which you don't want to happen under any circumstances) or the uterine wall.  This saves a rape victim from having to deal with birthing a possible child from her attacker.

Ever heard of Polycytic Ovary Syndrome?  This is one of the most common female endocrine disorders  which can cause anovulation, irregular menstration, amenorrhea, and polycystic ovaries.  And one of the things they prescribe to help with it is Birth Control Pills.

And lets face it, what if a woman does want to use birth control so that she can have sexual intercourse?  Does this make her a slut?  No.  Basing this on a moral judgment is unfair because all of us have different moral backgrounds.  We don't have a right to judge a woman who has chosen to be responsible about when she has children.  The funny thing about the responsible woman is she has been made a rarity, because receiving an education to be responsible is difficult.  In my experience the same folks who would judge the woman for her actions, are the same who will not give their children an adequate sexual education.  Instead many of them speak of sex as dirty, sinful, and ugly.  Because we don't support sexual education, we unwittingly support the entertainment media that sells kids sexual glamorization.

If we want a nation where birth control is used responsibly we have to give our citizens the right to learn about it.  If parents won't open their mouths, then we need it in our schools and we need professionals who are qualified to teach it without an inflection of their own moral system.  I was in college before I had adequate education concerning sex to help my understanding.  Is it just me, or does that strike you as too late?

I'm deliberately avoiding current controversies to institute deeper thought, because I know as well as you do sometimes we think on an emotional basis as opposed to a logical one.  I hope that this has expanded your understanding concerning birth control.  And I welcome your opinions.  Feel free to add to these thoughts in a way that doesn't tear down what anyone else thinks or believes.  I'm Jayrod Garrett, the First OG and here's a departing question for you:

Do you want your children to be punished by children or
Recognize them for the gift that they really are?
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