The Washington Post reports a new study
showing that teenagers who are brainwashed or cudgeled into taking anti-sex pledges end up having sex just as much as propaganda-free teenagers. Sexless-pledged kids excel in other areas, though, such as acquisition of sexually-transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies. Once again we see clear and unambiguous evidence that the only things the religious right can offer society are lies, threats, and reality denial.
The US is more diseased with religious anti-sex ideology than most other advanced nations. We have millions upon millions of psychotic self-loathing hypocrites who believe with all their black, shriveled hearts that no human being should ever be allowed to enjoy anything, especially sex. The Catholics have long shrieked to the world that all forms of sexual activity are intrinsically evil... even reproductive sex, though necessary for survival, should be performed only with joyless, mechanical decorum, and only after the proper sanctions are given by licensed eunuchs with white collars. Evangelicals vary in their anti-sex perversions, but mostly come down on the side of discouraging all forms of pleasure. Islam is just as perverse, instructing men that they can sate their visceral desires only after they die, and that women exist on Earth solely to serve men as punching bags or disposable toys.
Sexuality is a fundamental aspect of human nature, and sexuality expressed healthily is one of the core components of a well-adjusted, happy life. Humans have no estrus season, no time when women are "in heat"... we're sexually receptive at potentially any time. Humans have a physiology devoted to sexual experience, including hairless skin over most of our tactilely sensitive bodies, visually obvious secondary sexual characteristics in both men and women, hidden fertility periods to encourage more or less continuous sexual activity between partners, and at least one bodily organ - the clitoris - that appears to exist solely to provide pleasure to those lucky enough to possess one. The human species is a sexually-charged species. We compete for status and wealth so we can be attractive. We constantly and automatically size each other up as potential sexual partners or mates. Sex is a definitive, glaring, neon-strobing part of who and what we are.
Enter religion. At different points in the misty past there were apparently thuggish men who figured out they could gather more personal power and privilege by claiming allegiance with fictional gods, and by extending such claims to include sexual power over other people. Just like the bull bison who keeps all the cows to himself, early religious leaders decided that the best way to stay in charge was to control everyone else's sexuality. Clearly, if one can force someone else to follow arbitrary sexual strictures, other forms of forced obedience are a cakewalk. Marriage became not just a group recognition of natural human pair-bonding instincts, it became a holy ritual covered in pomp and mysticism, controlled by pious and merciless boss-men who had no qualms about defining women as property. Themselves little tin gods, the fathers of religion found a can't-lose formula: threaten the servile masses with horrific post-death punishment, promise wonderful post-death rewards for obedience, and construct an outlandish, byzantine and totally fictional metaphysics around the proposition that it is immoral to feel good. With that recipe you can get gullible people to do anything... including denial of their own humanity.
Which is what the religious right would have us do today. Fundamentalists hate the idea of people being free to pursue their own desires. They don't want teenagers to explore their sexuality because that would allow them to also explore their freedom as human beings... and that might loosen their demon-god's death grip on the human psyche. Sex is the enemy, just like freedom is the enemy.
The religious right can't tolerate the libertine pursuit of happiness. Such a healthy and life-affirming social environment would be like Clorox to their diseased ideology, so they fight for puerile filth like abstinence-only education, even after it is shown again and again to be worse than useless. The fundamentalist mindset doesn't care about harm, or health, or agonizing death so long as their vicious, anti-human agenda is served. They don't want teenagers - or anyone - to be happy. They want us miserable and ashamed. They want us obedient.
What should we do with teenage sexuality? Tell teenagers to enjoy themselves, that's what. Give them the most informative and factual sex education possible. Include in that education not simply the anatomy of the uterus and the full contraceptive product line, not only the bestiary of STD threats, but also an introduction to the wild and colorful range of healthy human sexual expression. Tell them it's okay to enjoy themselves, to explore their software and hardware. Make sure they understand that sexuality is powerful, and with great power comes great responsibility. Tell them sexuality can be recreational and it can be profound, it entangles all our emotional hotwires, and it should be enjoyed responsibly and with care to other people's feelings. Teach them how to avoid abusive relationships and how to recognize sexual predators. Teach them to stop being victims and start living their own lives.
Today there are many more options for sexual education than the sterile propaganda shoved down teenagers' throats in school, or the absurdly depicted pageantry of most porn. As one example the author and sex-lecturer Violet Blue
hosts a highly informative blog and podcast that features news, interviews, and highly detailed, sex-positive discussions of the full spectrum of human sexuality. Her podcast, Open Source Sex
, is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise suffocating culture of denialism.
Stop teaching kids that sex is dirty, shameful and fearsome. We've all suffered long enough under that kind of twisted monotheistic perversity. The infantile approach of the sex-haters is immoral and destructive. We need to stop listening to childish puritans about sex. We need to grow up.