Thursday, November 05, 2009

Slate: Dystopian Sex Nightmare
In China America

Slate has a great piece about how "millions of Chinese citizens don't know how to have sex without getting pregnant." (Thanks, M) The story reads like a sex educator's dystopian nightmare, where China's billion people are running around fornicating with no inkling that penis-goes-in-vagina, that condoms-go-on-penis, or that semen-makes-babies-inside-woman.*

The article highlights stupid questions kids ask (Can kissing get my girlfriend pregnant? Is oral sex going to kill me? Why didn't he call?) as though being Chinese predisposes teenagers to confusion about sex. Newsflash: confused teenagers everywhere ask those questions. Just look at Go Ask Alice!

China's women famously have approximately 13 million abortions each year--and that's just the number of abortions performed in registered clinics. 10 million doses of "abortion inducing" drugs are sold each year and many speculate that millions more abortions happen in "unregistered" clinics. Acupuncture abortion, coming to an American woo-corner near you?

The article gets really interesting when it transitions to a description of what is actually taught in schools in China:
Today in Beijing, schools offer sex ed in junior high, but there's no standard for what should be taught or how, and teachers have little incentive to emphasize the subject. After all, safe sex isn't going to show up on the national university entrance exam that students spend years cramming for.

Broadly speaking, students learn about reproductive anatomy. They learn they're not supposed to have sex, and that if they do, they must take precautions. And that's that—no guidance about which precautions.

"There's nothing from the schools about relationships. Nothing about pregnancy," said Lily Liu, who heads the China operations of Marie Stopes International, an NGO that runs reproductive health clinics. Condoms? Liu laughed. "No condoms, of course," she said.

Junior high schoolers [are] learning "how to be a man and how to be a woman" in sex ed classes. Would a girl who's taught to be soft and quiet be able to demand that her boyfriend use a condom? Would a girl who insists on using birth control be perceived as a "proper" woman? (emphasis mine)

Sound familiar? It should. I'm no expert on China so maybe things are really different there, but this sex educator sees a reflection of the American dystopian sex nightmare--a generation of young people denied information and resources that can prevent negative consequences of sex. That, my friends, is the true goal of "abstinence" education.

The Texas Freedom Network did a groundbreaking piece of research last year about abstinence curricula used in Texas public schools called "Just Say Don't Know." Can't stand to read it? Don't blame you. But watch the videos. The statements offered by the "coach" are taken, verbatim, from well-known abstinence curricula. The dialogue in the video below comes straight out of Pam Stenzel's "Sex Still Has a Price Tag."

But even in China, as in Texas, is the light at the end of the tunnel (though I don't use bananas):
As a student at one of China's best universities, Liu enjoys many advantages. One is that she attended a sex ed workshop during freshman orientation, where she practiced putting a condom on a banana.
*the article doesn't address what I assume is total radio silence on the fact that some people are gay.


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