"Interrupted By a Magazine Rack," by Gina Diorio,
CWA-NJ Conservatives with Attitude!, 20 January 2010
Wanting a change of scenery, this morning I decided to head to a local library to do some work. I picked an out-of-the-way desk and started to settle in for what I hoped would be several hours of uninterrupted concentration.
I soon realized I’d inadvertently chosen a seat right next to the “Young Adult Magazine” rack, and clearly stacked on the bottom two shelves of the rack were copies of the “Sex, Etc.” newsletter.
Being familiar with the Sex, Etc. project (which is self-described as “Sex Education by Teens for Teens – and which, incidentally, is a project of taxpayer-funded Rutgers University) and having blogged about it before, I knew I’d have to see what the newsletter is telling our kids.
So much for uninterrupted concentration.
I walked over and picked up a random issue – Winter 2004 – and began to browse.
The cover article, “Thinking Twice about Having Sex,” was written by a 17-year-old staff writer. Her advice? After discussing several wrong reasons teens have sex, she counsels, “it’s important to remember that you don’t have to please anyone but yourself.”
Hmm. So much for any standards of personal conduct – be they socially constructed or religiously based. If all we have to do is please ourselves, then “&$*@& the torpedoes, full speed ahead” – we’ve become our own god.
Apparently, when it comes to sex, that’s the point.
Ok, moving on.
Flipping through the newsletter, I came to an article on “Condom Shopping”, also written by a 17-year-old staff writer. This piece I only scanned as far as the section on buying flavored condoms. Sheesh, TMI.
Seeing that this newsletter was a few years old – although it’s still readily available to YOUR kids as they walk into the library (hmm, didn’t think about that, did you?), I thought I’d see if there were a more recent issue.
Returning to the rack, I realized I’d been wrong: it wasn’t the bottom two shelves that were stacked with the newsletter. It was the bottom three.
I shuffled through the stacks a bit and landed on the Winter 2006 edition.
Another condom article headlined the front page. This one on debunking condom myths.
Myth #2: “Condoms don’t really protect you from STDs.”
FALSE: Condoms DO protect from the spread of HIV, gonorrhea, Chlamydia, syphilis, trichomoniasis and any other STDs that are spread through the exchange of fluids. An Advocates for Youth publication on condom effectiveness reports that in a study done on couples in which one partner is HIV-positive and the other is HIV-negative, the virus was not transmitted during vaginal or anal sex when condoms were used correctly and consistently.
Condoms do not, however, protect users completely from STDs like herpes and HPV because they can be spread through skin-to-skin contact….
Sound advice from the 18-year-old author?
The truth – as provided by the Medical Institute for Sexual Health and reviewed by Jennifer A. Shuford, MD, MPH (who I imagine is a bit more qualified to give advice than an 18-year old) – is:
By far the most extensive research on condom effectiveness has been done for HIV. A number of authors have performed meta-analyses (summaries) of other studies. These meta-analyses show that with 100% consistent condom use, condoms reduce the risk of HIV transmission by about 85%. Condom effectiveness against transmission of bacterial diseases like gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis is significantly lower than for HIV.
Conclusive evidence is lacking for condom effectiveness against transmission of several other specific STIs, such as HPV and trichomoniasis, which each affect over 5 million people annually. Finally effectiveness is seriously limited for the many STIs which are transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, since condoms do not cover all the areas of the body which may be the source of transmission.
Yeah, better watch out for those “myths” used to debunk the “myth”.
On a positive note, the Sex , Etc. newsletter did print a letter from a reader who spoke of her “moment” of unprotected sex leading to HPV (which, by the way, is the leading cause of cervical cancer).
But what’s the solution? Well, if we’re to believe the Winter 2004 article, “all you have to do is please yourself.” (Not sure how this relates, but hey, we can’t actually tell a girl she made a wrong choice in having sex, now can we?) Oh, but the editors did direct readers to the National HPV and Cervical Cancer prevention Resource Center.
I hurriedly skimmed the “If Only Harry Potter Were Gay” article but decided I’d had enough.
Enough to be alarmed again (though far from surprised) that this is what our kids are reading – yes, unless you’re careful, this is what your kids are reading. This “advice” is the counsel they’re getting. (And don’t be fooled. If you’re “not sure” if they’re reading it, chances are they are – or something very similar.)
Friends, adults have become cowards, refusing to challenge our kids to standards of modesty, purity, restraint, and respect – apparently believing them incapable of such traits.
I, for one, think better than that of our kids. I, for one, think they can make good choices if we’ll only have the guts to tell them the truth and expect more of them than succumbing to the urges of today at the expense of their emotional, physical, and psychological health tomorrow. And I, for one, think one of the greatest ways to empower kids is not to teach them to “do what feels good” but to inspire and encourage them to do what’s ultimately good for them.
If this blog post has bothered you in any way, good.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to return to my uninterrupted concentration….