Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sex Ed, Orthodox Union Style

With Congress' attempts to defund Planned Parenthood (the bill just passed muster in the House), which not only provides abortion but a whole host of other services, such as sex education and contraceptives, young poor women might have to search elsewhere for guidance. Well, look no further young high school student who is contemplating sex -- the Orthodox Union has a website to help you navigate the confusing and murky terrain of sexual relations.

The site is divided into four sections: Your Mind, Your Life, Your Soul and Your Bod. (I guess the OU is trying to appeal to the cool kids by dumping the "y" in body because these teens are so busy with their texting and hate extraneous syllables.) Clicking on any of those icons will bring you to a list of related articles. At the top of all four sections is one called, "What is Abstinence?" The other pieces are intended to support the abstinence claims. There is a story from a young woman named "Sara" who regrets having sex with her boyfriend; Suicide -- sex can make you want to kill yourself (who hasn't had post-coitus suicidal thoughts?); And an informational piece about condoms. Guess what kids? They don't work and birth control can kill you eventually (if you don't commit suicide first). I mean, if condoms are so lethal and ineffective, why do we hand out them out to teens? Wait, we don't and certainly not in Texas. Finally, the OU informs us -- there is no such thing as a condom for the heart. How poetic. And untrue. My heart is rather well protected by skin and bone. It seems impermeable to me but what do I know? I'm not a doctor.

Another article penned by "Rita" lists the reasons you should abstain from all physical contact until you're married. Let's consider some of the author's claims. First, men only want to sleep with and marry virgins. Perhaps this was true when a woman toted a dowry of ten goats into the marriage tent. Nowadays however, my male friends have admitted to being freaked out-- not turned on-- if they learn a potential date/girl is a virgin. Also, this reason makes it all about what he wants -- he prefers a virgin therefore you should remain one. Well I'd like him to be rich and have a ripped body, but it's not all about my wish list, now is it? The one statement I actually agree with in there is "If I was willing to settle for sex without commitment, I'd get a hotter guy." That matches my philosophy. When I hook up and there is no potential for a future, the guy better be hot since I'm not interested in his conversation or his volunteer work at the soup kitchen. I'm totally superficial in these situations.

"Abstinence -- it's not just for single people," is perhaps my favorite article of the bunch, just for the title alone. Not only are single people supposed to be sad and pathetic but we're also supposed to be abstinent, too! Oh goody. But as the post points out, we're not the only ones going joy free. Married folks have to abstain for two weeks out of every month. It's just like they're single during that time, too -- except they still get to file a joint tax return.

Now to be fair, it's important to warn kids about the risk of STDs. It is true that condoms sometimes break and that they don't prevent all diseases but they do a pretty darn good job. Also, time and again studies have demonstrated that abstinence only education simply doesn't work. Enumerating the reasons you shouldn't have sex isn't as helpful as telling them how to be safe in all situations -- whether they're planning to abstain or not.

One more positive note -- the OU does come down against rape, calling it a violent crime and citing the verses in Deuteronomy to bolster its case. Of course, they didn't mention the differences between getting raped in the city vs. the country. Girls, you better scream loud if you want to qualify for that federally funded abortion because only "forcible" rapes will be covered. (As if there is any other kind.)

As much as I mock this site (and believe me, I've only scraped the tip of the iceberg), it is still more than what I was offered in high school, which was nothing. In the sixth grade, we learned about menstruation and there endeth the lesson. I think that our teachers and administrators figured we all knew about sex already -- though television usage and magazines were frequently condemned, I think they all secretly hoped we were tuning in so they could avoid uncomfortable conversations. Well, have no fear Mrs. Fleischer -- I learned all I needed to know from Beverly Hills 90210. Scary thought, right?


Ezra said...

Thanks Dvora! This brings back many found memories of MTA, NCSY and my Modern Orthodox years. Now I have the song "I'm Shomer Negiah So Leave Me Alone" in my head.

Dvora Meyers said...

That song is amazing. I one time sang it for Fiona Apple. True story. If it appears in some form on her next album, you know where she got it from.

Craftitute said...

So I've poked around that website. Its... interesting to say the least. The whole attack on Planned Parenthood and Title X is terrifying, especially when you consider what sort of sexual education I got in high school only a few years ago.

That being said, I will say that out of all the more conservative "don't have sex or god will smite you" websites this one at least seems to be rational. For example: http://www.ou.org/index.php/abstinence/story/beforesex/ seems like a good checklist for teens. It is going to know why you are making such a decision.

Craftitute said...

errr, good to know. Not going to know