Surviving abstinence only education

I love Planned Parenthood, they provide the education and access to birth control that adolescents and young adults are by the education system, giving the tools to make the best choice for them sexually and to make that decision a well informed one. They do an important job in correcting “sex” education. They provide the tools that enable young men and women to PLAN their pregnancy and ENJOY their own sexuality. I know soo terrible right.

The undisputed fact is that young women are sexualized in our culture, bombarded with a myriad of mixed messages about the expectations placed on them. It’s that damn virgin/whore complex. It is a conundrum that teaches young girls to equate lust with shame. Not sex with healthy relationships, or freedom; and worse still it teaches young women that to equate sex and pleasure is dirty, because if you like it then you must be a whore. What a terrible message to send! Seriously it pisses me off.

Abstinence only education perpetuates this message. I tells (heterosexual, because homosexuality is not to be spoken of in public education) boys that non-virgins are a gross worthless pair of shoes that someone else worn, because who want to put their feet in dirty shoes (this was the actual lesson taught by my high school sex education instructor). That girls are icky if they like sex. Now at the time I not only tolerated the comparison of my body to a dirty sneaker– I internalized it so completely I was terrified to kiss my first boyfriend because I would be “dirtying my shoe”. And trust me I really wanted to kiss him (he was an intelligent ginger named Christopher Robbins, I was smitten) but my terror of being “easy” made me reject the notion of passion so vehemently I broke up with him and didn’t date again until I was 18. It screwed me up.

Abstinence only education taught me I was only of worth if I was a virgin. That having pre-marital sex would make me “easy” and undiscriminating. When in reality engaging in pleasurable activities with some one you care or have passion with is no where close to being “easy”, it isn’t doing it with anyone– just people you like. You don’t have sex once and then just go boinking half the frickin’ town, but that is not what abstinence only education wants you to realize about sexuality. No it tells you that if you have per-marital you will dissolve into instant and dramatic water-works, fall into a black hole of depression, do drugs, fail a few classes, and destroy your relationships with friends and families because no one would respect you. it says that your condom will fail, and you will become pregnant or get an unspecified STD. But ONLY if you have a vagina.

If boys are “easy” apparently nothing happens; their world doesn’t end. In fact, it isn’t even discussed.

I walked away thinking if I wanted to be successful and happy I must never have sex for the rest of my life. Oh my gawd what was wrong with me. I really believed that I wasn’t not to trust my feelings or urges.

Everything was wrong.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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