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Mar 5, 2009
One of the common themes that you’ll find in abstinence-only sex education curricula (besides factual errors, conservative ideology and demonization of condoms) is the constant shaming or judgmental statements towards young women who don’t uphold certain visual standards of chaste and purity.
Young women are taught to not show skin or flirt, lest they invite dirty lustful thoughts in the boys, who are rendered helpless beasts when tempted by the girls of ill-repute. Not only does such “education” insult the intelligence of young people, but it reinforces harmful gender stereotypes.
Let’s take a tour through the states to look at some of the most egregious examples:
In South Carolina, Heritage Community Services (currently receives a CBAE grant of $600,000 per year from 2006-2011) teaches girls that conservative attire is necessary, or those poor boys will virtually attack you. Here is an excerpt from their classroom curriculum:
“Males and females are aroused at different levels of intimacy. Males are more sight oriented, whereas females are more touch oriented. This is why girls need to be careful with what they wear, because males are looking! The girl might be thinking fashion, while the boy is thinking sex. For this reason, girls have a responsibility to wear modest clothing that doesn’t invite lustful thoughts.”
Yes indeed, girls. It is your duty to the country. More from HCS’s website:
“a good minimum guideline is to declare everything covered by a bathing suit as off limits. Everyone needs to know his or her boundaries before getting in a risky situation. Once someone is excited physically, it can be difficult to stop.”
“be careful about how you dress (are you sending the wrong message?)”
“Dress modestly. Sometimes the way you dress can send unintended messages to others, especially men because they are sexually aroused by what they see”
The theme being expressed, with our tax dollars’ subsidization, is not only that girls have a responsibility to dress like puritans or whatever it is that these groups are advocating, but that if they don’t, young men are uncontrollable dolts who will, presumably, “force” sex upon them. LifeGuard Youth Development in Missouri (has received $3 million in CBAE grants) reinforces this insult:
"Guys can be compared to a microwave. They see something enticing and like 30 seconds later, they are ready to go! Because we know they are using only one side of their brain at a time (logic and not emotion) and their testosterone causes their sex drive to always be “ON”, generally they may not connect feelings with the act of having sex. Girls can be compared to a slow cooker. Usually, for a girl to be turned on, a whole lot of time, attention, words, affection, and touch needs to be slowly added before she is aroused. These actions engage her emotions and for her, sex does equal a personal relationship."
Yes, this is the “science” that our government subsidizes.
But a quick glance around at other abstinence-only programs shows that not all girls are “slow cookers”. Oh no, some of them are pure trouble. You know, those girls who show skin and flirt, tempting your poor son into a sex-crazed madness.
"Sometimes girls flirt to get attention. They may want to feel they are attractive to guys. Looking for this attention may be cover for underlying insecurities, and having this attention lets them think they are at least good at one thing."
Yes, that makes sense. Because flirting with the opposite sex is certainly not normal, biological behavior. There has to be something psychologically wrong with these deviants, this being the “only thing they are good at”, obviously. Colorado’s Friends First (receiving a $414,800 AFLA grant each year from 2007-2011) agrees, saying these troublesome girls who flirt must lack “parental communication and boundary settings” in their own home.
These programs gleefully promote and teach others to point fingers at girls in their school that have “gone all the way”. “Slut-shaming” is par for the course, as Missouri’s LifeGuard Youth Development lets everyone know what to call these young women:
“Being able to have sex does not make you any different from a rat in a warehouse. They have sex too. Is that what you want to compare yourself to?”
(i.e., hint, hint, “slutty” girls are rats, spread the word!)
“Nobody wants to marry someone who has been the loving, meaningful relationship of 17 other guys.”
The worst combination of these themes of “slutty girls” and “uncontrollable sex beast guys” came from Ohio’s ATM Education website (receiving $600,000 CBAE grant each year from 2006-2011). Before we shamed them into changing their site, you could enter the “Party Room”, where you learn the story of Rochelle, Jason, Monica and Tanner. Each person tells their perspective about what happens during and after a party one night.
Rochelle tells how she drove her drunken friend Jason home after the party, and then is raped by him. Jason denies that the rape happened, saying their sex was consensual. Monica and Tanner observe that Jason was being a drunken idiot the entire night, with Monica (Jason’s ex) adding her opinion that Rochelle has a reputation for “putting out” and being a “slut”.
The site then asks the question: “Based on all accounts, whose story sounds the least credible?”
Guess who the “correct” answer was? Rochelle.
Why? Because she had a supposed reputation as a “slut”. Therefore she is not to be believed.
Jason, on the other hand, is given a pass, because he was drunk, “vulnerable”, and with a “hot” girl in a car.
Boys will be boys, right? They can’t help it if they get tempted by one of “those” girls.
Fortunately, ATM Education was shamed into changing the language on their site, but if you look at the language of these abstinence-only until marriage programs all over the country, it’s not difficult to believe that one of these programs would make such statements.
Currently, the Obama administration is finalizing the details on their 2010 fiscal budget, and they will have to make a decision: (A) continue to fund these abstinence-only sex education programs that have already wasted $1.5 billion in tax dollars and endangered the sexual health of countless youth over the past decade? Or (B) zero out funding for these ab-only programs, instead bringing real, age-appropriate comprehensive sex education to our schools that gives youth all of the information they need to stay safe and avoid pregnancy.
We’re going to send $94 million more to these ab-only programs in the 2009 Omnibus Bill that is about to be passed, so let’s not make the same mistake in the 2010 budget. For the sake of our youth’s sexual health for an entire generation, it is time to end abstinence-only funding.