You are much less likely to die from sex than you are from a whole host of other behaviours or circumstances, some of which the same folks would not warn you about with anything close to the same urgency or intensity. I just don’t see driver’s ed teachers telling you that if you get in a car at all, you need to be “prepared to die,” even though more people die in car accidents than those who die as a result of having any kind of sex. (I also don’t imagine they say that wearing a seatbelt when you are in a car is playing “Russian roulette.”) I don’t see them telling that to a class about enlisting in the military. I don’t see them saying that to nearly everyone eating things in the lunchroom every day which could put them at risk for the most common cause of death. “Time for lunch, everyone! Prepare to die!”
Corinna, Heather. I Guess You Just Have to Be Prepared to Die. Scarleteen.com, 31 October 2009.
Trigger warning for sex-negative and slut-shaming attitudes. Some bitter snarking also (contains reference to misogynistic violence).
So I wrote a little, recently, about sex education locally.
Now, I remember what happened in sex ed when I was fourteen. This took place in a government school, a secular school; but that’s not very helpful, because in Singapore, Focus on the Family is recognised as a secular charity.
There I was, fourteen, coming out, taking my first steps into feminist political theory. And having to listen to crap like this:
Listen to enough students talk about their sexual attitudes and activities and you’ll begin to pick up on something pretty strange and scary: knowledge and information make surprisingly little difference. Most would admit that premarital sex pushes you into a zone of great risk. But this isn’t merely a question of a few traps and pitfalls that you avoid by “taking precautions”. The damage is much more than just physical. It’s emotional. It’s social. It’s spiritual.
I back away from people who talk like that. I’m not backing away from people of faith, mind you. Nothing wrong with faith. A lot wrong with thinking you can push your faith-based beliefs on other people. (And, on a slightly OT note, those speakers started a diatribe against queer sexuality as well. — No, I tell a lie. That’s not OT. That’s very relevant. It shows how sex-negative education goes hand in hand with discriminating against queer and non-mainstream sexualities. This writer is not amused by your efforts.)
Kind of like this guy in today’s Straits Times forum:
After reading the special report on sexuality education on Saturday (“Sex education: Too little, too late, and too vague?”), I am concerned as a parent of two children in primary school.
To what extent is “safe sex” truly safe in preventing unwanted pregnancy and sexual diseases? Even if it is relatively “safe” in the physical and temporary sense, how safe is it in the long run, when there are possible negative moral, emotional, psychological, social and spiritual consequences?
Unless a school can convince and assure me that the sexuality programme is truly safe in terms of its values, attitudes, principles, behaviour, skills and methods, I cannot afford to take a gamble on my children’s safety and future. I can’t allow them to learn how to practise “safe sex” before or outside marriage.
Good luck with that, Mr David Chan.
Again in the Straits Times forum: one Ms Frances Ong Hock Lin writes:
As a parent of three boys aged five to 21 years, I understand and approve of St Patrick’s School’s fight to have a segment of the Health Promotion Board’s compulsory sexuality education programme modified (‘St Patrick’s objects to condom video’; Aug 21). By taking a stand on the condom video, the school is sending a powerful message to its students not to treat a woman as merely an object to satisfy a man’s carnal desire. She is a person with needs, to be treated with consideration, care and respect.
Which is all very well, but, hey. I bet women’s needs don’t extend to sexual desire.
Frigid bitches. After all, they are the guardians of honour. That’s why we stone them to death if they don’t bleed on the wedding sheets. *nods sagely*
And, since young girls are disproportionately affected by sexually-transmitted infection, we’re doing them a favour by not teaching them how to protect themselves! Really!
Yes, I’m bitter. I am unhappy that, for religious and political reasons, children and adolescents who are very much in need of essential, life-saving information have such facts withheld from them. It’s silly, despicable, and loathsome.
There’s no such thing as safe sex, yes. There’ll never be.
(It’s a little like crossing the road, isn’t it? You could get run over by a car. It’s a little like eating. You could choke. As Heather Corinna writes, with no little sarcasm, I Guess You Just Have to Be Prepared to Die! I strongly recommend her essay, which is the source of this blogpost’s epigraph. It is awesome and kick-ass.)
But there is such a thing as safer sex, and to lie? To — as some scriptures put it so eloquently — to bear false witness? To sacrifice the health and wellbeing of children, my God, just so that you can feel better about yourself? I think I know which I find more — what did you call it? Emotionally, socially, and spiritually damaging.
The author of this post is a sex-positive teenager who’s seen her fair share of scare-tactics-heavy sex ed lessons.