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The Article

Just when you thought liberal punditry couldn’t get any wackier, Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen reveals yet a new level of insanity and calls for kids to be taught that sex is pleasurable.

I’m not kidding.

On the last page of the March 16th edition of Newsweek, the most ridiculous farce of a “news” magazine that ever existed, Quindlen says, “Even some of the comprehensive sex-ed curricula are incomplete. With their emphasis on HPV, STDs and problem pregnancies, they seem to ignore one critical point: pleasure. It’s the equlivalent of talking about salmonella and forgetting to mention that food tastes good.”

(Well, what would you expect from a magazine whose cover blatantly calls for muzzling Rush Limbaugh? Oh, I forgot, Newsweek didn’t call for Rush to be silenced – they got a “conservative” to do it for them – David Frum, who is the most well-known, bona-fide conservative that you-never-heard-of – that is, before he attacked Rush, and despite the fact that he is a flaming liberal on many of the social issues. But I digress.)

Back to Quindlen. Hmmm…..when was the last time anyone needed to be told that “food tastes good” or that sex is “pleasurable” – especially teens? My goodness, Anna. Where have you been? In today’s sex-saturated world about the only thing teens seem to understand about sex – whether they’ve had it or not – is that it can be great fun. Have you listened to pop music lately? Watched MTV – or any TV for that matter? Seen a Victoria’s Secret window display? Been online? Do you not know that the media culture pushes the “fun” part about sex and forces our teens to think about it every time they turn around?

In addition to wanting educators to emphasize the pleasure of sex in the classroom, Quindlen actually does want a few elements of graphic “comprehensive sex education” programs deleted. But don’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet. Rather, brace yourself for more absurdity. Ms Quindlen doesn’t complain, say, about curricula that calls for kids to put condoms on bananas. Rather, what she doesn’t appreciate are the depictions of the results of sexually transmitted diseases – specifically, the medical photographs of lesions caused by STD’s. She arrogantly refers to them as the “eww factor”. (I’m not making this stuff up, folks.) She also calls such inclusion of the dangers of STD’s as “junk virginity pedagogy.” In short, Quindlen wants America to teach her children less about the harms of sex outside of marriage, and more about the upside. What genius!

(Please excuse me if I sound indignant and a bit harsh. But I believe it is evil – yes, evil – to advocate tempting our kids to engage in dangerous behavior and hide information about the potential lifelong suffering that might result from that behavior, such as contracting herpes or gonnorhea. I also take great offense at the term “junk virginity pedagogy.” Since when is it wrong to teach kids that they should remain virgins? We are truly now living in a world where what is “right has been declared wrong, and what is wrong has been declared right.”)

My husband is so stunned by what Ms Quindlen wrote that he thinks she might have said it only as a publicity stunt. He shook his head and added, “That’s got to be it. And it’s irresponsible. She’s just trying to draw attention to herself by saying something outrageously stupid without regard to the possible consequences if teachers were to take her seriously. It’s akin to teaching kids that, ‘There’s a chance that alcohol might impair your judgment, but boy, it sure makes you feel good.’ Wow. That would be an effective anti-drinking campaign.”

He might be right, but I actually think she wants more teens to have sex.

Quindlen’s column also takes great pains to slam and ridicule abstinence-based sex education programs – even though the mounting evidence is that these programs are actually working.

A recent report by the The Institute for Research and Evaluation, for example, shows the effectiveness of abstinence-based programs versus the “comprehensive sex ed” that Quindlen supports (sans real photographs of the harms of STD’s, that is.) The entire report is available at the website of the Abstinence Clearinghouse.

In summary, here are the promising results of how teaching kids about abstinence – including how to deal with peer-pressure, and giving them information on the many physical and emotional harms that often accompany a promiscuous lifestyle – actually works:

“Scientific evaluation is relatively new to abstinence education, and the number of good studies is limited. However, a pattern of evidence is emerging that indicates well-designed abstinence programs can be effective:

* Three recent peer-reviewed studies of school-based abstinence education found significant reductions in sexual activity across all program participants. Two of the programs, Heritage Keepers and Reasons of the Heart, reduced the number of teens who became sexually active by about one-half, 12 months after the program. A third abstinence program, Making a Difference, produced significant reductions in teen sexual activity 24 months after the program.

* In Emerging Answers 2007 one study of school-based abstinence education found a significant delay in the onset of teen sexual intercourse across all participants 12 months after the program.

* Several studies have also found that abstinence education did not decrease condom use for teens who later became sexually active.”

And how effective are Ms Quindlen’s preferred “comprehensive sex education” programs? The Institute for Research and Evaluation report says:

“The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy published a landmark summary of 115 evaluation studies covering 20 years of research on sex education called Emerging Answers 2007. Their report states that two-thirds of the CSE programs they reviewed ‘had positive behavioral effects.’ However, we found that:

* No school-based CSE programs had increased the number of teens who used condoms consistently for more than 3 months.

* No school-based CSE programs resulted in a decrease in teen pregnancy or STD rates for any period of time.

* Only one school-based CSE program delayed the onset of teen sexual intercourse for 12 months across the entire program group10 and only three programs increased frequency of condom use (but not consistent use) for the same time period.

* No school-based CSE programs increased both teen abstinence and condom use for the full program group for more than 3 months.”

Yet, Ms Quindlen wants more education about the pleasure and less about the consequences of teen sex. Her piece just might go down in history as the most irresponsible commentary on sex-education our nation has ever seen.

Rebecca Hagelin
Latest posts by Rebecca Hagelin (see all)

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