What We Missed

Having one of the lowest youth pregnancy rates, Broadsheet examines why the Dutch could teach a thing or two to the U.S. about teen sex.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/heyitsmartine/ Martine

    The Dutch teen sex article had a particularly interesting (and annoying) point. Clark-Flory lays out the findings and says what pretty much boils down to this: Dutch parents don’t demonize and moralize sex, specifically teen sex. As a result, possible side-effects of sex that are usually seen as objectively undesirable (e.g. STDs and unintended pregnancy) are lower in numbers than in countries where they just try to (unsuccessfully) shame young people out of having sex.

    But then she just has to throw this in there: “What’s more, it also appears that having sex outside of the context of monogamous romantic relationships isn’t as common among Dutch adolescents, especially older ones, as among their American counterparts.”

    That’s part of our problem, folks! Viewing sex outside of monogamous romantic relationships as a negative to be avoided is moralizing sex in the very way that the article says the Dutch don’t. Sure, more partners could mean more chances for contracting STDs (though not necessarily, it all depends on number of partners which isn’t necessarily correlated to the self-reported seriousness of the relationship). Unintended pregnancy is no more likely in a non-romantic, non-monogamous relationship as long as the participants are using protection. In fact, monogamists might even be having more sex on a regular basis than the nons simply because of access, which could even mean more of a chance of unintended pregnancy!

    If she was just stating this as a fact rather than a positive attribute, she should have perhaps started a new paragraph from the one talking about the positive effect on the STD/unintended pregnancy rates. If she was indeed stating it as another positive attribute, she needs to examine her judgments on other people’s sexual autonomy.

    I’ve had sexual experiences that are monogamous and romantic, and others that are decidedly not. In fact, I’ve been on both sides with my current partner, even. I can say from experience that one isn’t any better than the other for people who are educated about possible risks and making their decisions without any coercion from others.