Donate Now
  New Poll  
my profile | directory login | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Did Abstinence-Only Ideology Create a Bully Generation?

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: Did Abstinence-Only Ideology Create a Bully Generation?
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'd love to get a talk going here about this piece (which I think is very, very astute, even though I think there are a handful of likely reasons for the rise in bullying, not just one): http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/01/03/did-abstinence-only-ideology-create-bully-generation

Read the whole thing, for sure, but here are the particularly choice bit:

quote:
When bullying occurs it's not in isolation from the culture in which it occurs. The idea that bullying is a one-off instance of rule breaking is a misconception. It is, instead, the systematic enforcement of rules, particularly gender rules. And, yes, that includes same-sex bullying--in some ways an even better example of gender-rule enforcing than opposite-sex bullying. The list of children, with which we are now sadly familiar, who have killed themselves as the result of slut-shaming and trans- and homo-phobia is bleak and long. There are serious penalties being paid for not following gender rules.

There are three primary ways that abstinence-only programs, with their emphasis on purity, marriage, and heterosexuality, create hostile environments that perpetuate the growth of rule-enforcing bullies, one slut-shaming, homophobic class at a time:

1. They rely on offensive, sexist stereotypes about men and women, boys and girls, as a foundational teaching tool and pass it off as "biology." They portray "real" boys as unable to control themselves, unemotional (particularly about sex), not interested in female desire or sexual satisfaction, not ultimately responsible for their own sexual feelings (which are portrayed as dependent on how girls chose to tempt them) and definitely heterosexual. Girls, on the other hand, are shown as controlling monitors of aggressive male sexuality. In classic Madonna/whore manner, girls, despite being chaste objects of male desire and not "naturally" interested in having sex, are portrayed as temptresses that need to control what they wear and the messages they send. Also heterosexual, they are definitely not capable of managing their own reproductive lives.


2. They marginalize and stigmatize LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) youth by teaching that sex between a woman and a man (obviously within traditional heterosexual marriage) is the only safe, healthy, "normal" behavior. Even if you want to teach your kids abstinence, you don't have to do it this way. Any other form of sexual activity is a perversion to be avoided. There is a Federal Definition of what constitutes abstinence-only program content (on which we've spent $1.5 billion dollars since 1982) and it requires that students be told that heterosexual marriage is the "expected standard." In addition, these programs regularly represent LGBTQ relationships as a form of disease and provide misleading information about HIV and other STIs. Despite the fact that abstinence-only materials were required to provide "medically accurate" information after a 2004 study revealed the persistence of these misrepresentations, the same materials continued to be used. The messages sent by these curricula not only reinforce a discriminatory environment, but cultivate it. What kind of school environment is produced when teachers are forced to provide materials supporting the idea that non-hetero kids are deviant as a matter of federally-mandated policy? No wonder LGBTQ students are five times more likely to miss school because they feel unsafe after being bullied due to their sexual orientation.


3. Lastly, abstinence-only programs teach kids to slut-shame and -blame, and send a victim-blaming message. The flip side of this equation for boys is that they aren't in control of themselves and can't be blamed if a girl "encourages" them. We sometimes call that as "boys being boys" and it's how we laughingly wave away a slippery slope of assaultive behaviour. The Legal Matters study concluded that abstinence materials consistently defined women as "socially and sexually submissive" and concluded that "Many girls fear that if they broach the topic of safe sex with their partners, they will be thought of as promiscuous and be rejected and ostracized as a result."

When adults in authority teach stereotypes and hyper-gendered rules as fact, how are children expected to feel and behave? I could not find any longitudinal, granular research studying this relationship, but why would it surprise anyone that bullying would increase greatly in these settings?



--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
justinbieberfan
Activist
Member # 54253

Icon 1 posted      Profile for justinbieberfan     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I agree, abstinence-only education is bringing up a generation of bullying and intolerance.

Abstinence-only courses promote intolerance of LGBTQ people (even to the point of bullying the hell out of them)! They teach people that LGBTQs are the scum of the earth and that it is in our best interest to wipe them out altogether!

Abstinence-only courses promote sexism and violating women and girls' rights by using gender-based stereotypes to offend them. They also stifle students when it comes to free, unbiased information.

Abstinence-only courses stereotype boys and girls our age and turn them into intolerant, ignorant youth without a care in the world but offending, stereotyping, and arousing our people's anger.

Abstinence-only courses ostracize, reject, and lash out against the informed, those who actually had the brains to put useful information (like that at Scarleteen) to good use.

Abstinence-only courses take the truth about birth control, relationship dynamics, and sexual dynamics when it comes to gender and twist them into UNTRUE, sexist, ignorant, and offensive statements that they think that we, the informed, must take as the truth.

AND I HAVE HAD ENOUGH!!!!! It escapes me how the U.S. government got away with spending money on spreading lies for all this time, yet people accept said lies as truth.

[ 01-05-2012, 05:06 PM: Message edited by: justinbieberfan ]

--------------------
~Prince of Equestria~

Posts: 65 | From: West Virginia | Registered: Jan 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Saffron Raymie
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 49582

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Saffron Raymie     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Totally agree with you on the gender sterotyping about sexual and relationship dynamics. The girls as the emotionally needy and vulnerable ones and boys as sexually unhealthy/abusive stuff is extremely dangerous for the world, Well done for noticing and expressing that - more than I did and I was a little older than you (14-16). I just embraced the genderqueer life, hehe.

To people in the U.K - there is a protest against the proposed gender role obsessed 'Abstinence Only Just for Girls' bill on the 20th Jan outside paliament on the 20th of January. More details here: http://www.facebook.com/events/195189847230161/

[ 01-05-2012, 05:27 PM: Message edited by: Seashy Rae ]

--------------------
'Obtain the virgin's consent before you marry her' - Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)

Posts: 1285 | From: England | Registered: Oct 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Jacob at Scarleteen
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 66249

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Jacob at Scarleteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'll be at the protest I think... there maybe a scarleteen banner in the works!
Posts: 694 | From: Leeds UK | Registered: May 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I have ZERO problem with a banner that makes clear Scarleteen as an org opposes the Dorries' bill, and would be delighted if you had one!

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Saffron Raymie
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 49582

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Saffron Raymie     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
That sounds amazing! I'm up for helping make one!

--------------------
'Obtain the virgin's consent before you marry her' - Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)

Posts: 1285 | From: England | Registered: Oct 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
bump on a log
Activist
Member # 60751

Icon 1 posted      Profile for bump on a log     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Interesting theory. I had what I suppose was an abstinence-only sex education in middle school in the US, though it was light on the gender-roles stuff. I was far too socially disconnected back then to have a clue about...well, anything, but looking back, I find this article makes sense. Middle school, that's another thing. It's a rough age, as everybody knows; an age when the gender policing tends to be strongest. Throw in the stereotypes taught in an abstinence-only class and things don't look good.

It's important to remember, mind you -- not that I think anyone here doubts it -- that thirteen-year-old children are not passive recipients of whatever the adult world chooses to teach them. They are not six or eight, they're thirteen. From about twelve onward I was capable of spotting and being violently irritated by adult fallacies. They fed us a line in my eighth-grade health class about abstinence letting you avoid a broken heart and I saw straight away that it was nonsense. What you're told about gender roles and relationships when you are thirteen is going to have a very strong influence, of course, but the influence may not show up straightforwardly or immediately. And sometimes there is just a plain values disconnect between the curriculum and the kids. We watched a video in eighth-grade health class about a teenaged couple having to get married because the girl had fallen pregnant. About half the kids in that class came from upper-working-class backgrounds and many were second-generation Latin American immigrants. The other half were white and middle-class and in our milieu getting married, or even keeping the baby, if you fell pregnant as a teenager was just not something you did and we knew that already, of course. The video might as well have been in Hungarian for all the impact it had on us.

When I started reading the article I was sceptical about the purported rise in bullying -- I thought, nah, it's just that people are more on the lookout for it these days. But between 2001 and 2008? That puts a different complexion on it. Attitudes do not change that much in seven years, nor can every school district in the country have instituted a new and tougher anti-bullying policy during that period. Something is certainly up. I was twelve during the spring and thirteen during the fall of 2001, by the way, and bullying was nasty enough then. If it's more than doubled now...gives you the shivers.

Read some of the quotes in the link included in the article. " 'WARNING! Going on this ride could change your life forever, result in poverty, heartache, disease, and even DEATH.' It goes on to say that many 'will board this ride and come out losers.' " Oh boy, that takes me back. They showed us the weirdest video in eighth grade, a carnival ride with sinister laughing clowns. It was supposed to represent sex somehow. I would love to see it again. I'm sure it would be hilarious.

[ 01-07-2012, 10:02 AM: Message edited by: bump on a log ]

Posts: 170 | From: UK | Registered: Mar 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
(So, bump on a log, you're saying we should also perhaps be on the lookout for an increase in sexual attraction to clowns? [Razz] )

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
bump on a log
Activist
Member # 60751

Icon 1 posted      Profile for bump on a log     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Exactly. Let me try and get funding to conduct a study on that one. I'm sure the results would be most illuminating. [Big Grin]

Seriously, though, it makes you wonder: why play around with that sort of thing when there is clearly a better tack to take? In health class showed us a movie with graphic photos of the mouth cancers you can get from chewing tobacco, and another one in which we saw the dissection of a cadaver who in life had been a heavy smoker, and the grey and black lung tissue. I've never forgotten either. Surely if They, whoever They are, were really, really serious about stopping the spread of STDs among teenagers, they could show videos showing the symptoms of some of the more unpleasant ones. So why don't they? Search me. Maybe they do and I never heard about it.

(I should point out that I don't exactly think that's the world's greatest sex-ed idea. Just, if they want abstinence at any price, then hitting people over the head with a cosh of genuinely alarming images might do the trick, so you wonder it hasn't occurred to somebody yet.)

[ 01-09-2012, 01:39 PM: Message edited by: bump on a log ]

Posts: 170 | From: UK | Registered: Mar 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Redskies
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Redskies     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ha. A big chunk of my "sex ed" WAS gross pictures of really bad symptons of STIs on people's genitals. A woman came in and showed the class that for about 40 mins. So, people have thought of it. I agree it's a good way to get a message across about STIs, but it's a rubbish form of sex education! Nothing about teaching us how to put on condoms, or how to negotiate putting on condoms, and no mention of the word "consent". And LGBTQ? Don't make me laugh. Back in the days of Section 28, when it was still illegal for schools to "promote homosexuality" - so they didn't dare to even mention it.

I think the scary STI pictures actually added to a culture of STIs being something to shame people for, something to insult people with, and the mindset "you get diseases from dirty sluts".

--------------------
The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
bump on a log
Activist
Member # 60751

Icon 1 posted      Profile for bump on a log     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ah, well that's my question answered then. Thanks. And I wholly agree about the STI-shaming thing.

Oh, and look what I found on this very site: http://www.scarleteen.com/blog/heather_corinna/2009/10/31/i_guess_you_just_have_to_be_prepared_to_die

Posts: 170 | From: UK | Registered: Mar 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think the thing to understand is that for a lot of these initiatives "moral" education is the goal, not health education.

In other words, the agenda is political and often religious, and there really isn't a real investment in reducing STI rates (made clear with the attitudes taught about people with STIs: I mean, these are the same sort of folks who were on boards back in the day with HIV as a "punishment" or some sort of natural consequence for being gay). The investment is about wanting adherence to a certain set of personal values.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
bump on a log
Activist
Member # 60751

Icon 1 posted      Profile for bump on a log     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yeah, I guess that's what I was groping towards with my question. I'm a mongrel but my attitudes towards religion and secularism are Western European, so my immediate reaction is "Can't they see the family-values thing will just bounce right off your average schoolkid?", and I've got to remember that I'm looking through the wrong specs there, because it appears that it does have a big impact in a lot of cases.
Posts: 170 | From: UK | Registered: Mar 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yeah, I think the follow up question is, "Do they really care?"

And my sense is pretty much no, not outside caring about simply broadcasting the messaging they feel is morally correct to broadcast.

I think it might also help to recognize that most of these initiatives also aren't led by people with education backgrounds. In other words, thinking about how people learn, etc. isn't something they're usually leading with.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
bump on a log
Activist
Member # 60751

Icon 1 posted      Profile for bump on a log     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Originally posted by Heather:
I think it might also help to recognize that most of these initiatives also aren't led by people with education backgrounds. In other words, thinking about how people learn, etc. isn't something they're usually leading with.

You're JOKING.

I've been earning a crust by teaching kids of late and a lot of the time I feel like a befuddled sheepdog. It's not just a skill even, it's a set of very different skills. Like, I can deal with ten-year-olds reasonably well, but I'm hopeless with six-year-olds, because that's a very different kind of job. It boggles the mind a bit to think that a group of organisations with the conviction and clout that some of them do have would overlook the actual imparting-of-information-in-a-classroom part of the deal, and how difficult and complicated that is.

Posts: 170 | From: UK | Registered: Mar 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

  New Poll   Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Get the Whole Story! Go Home to SCARLETEEN: Sex Ed for the Real World | Privacy Statement

Copyright 1998, 2014 Heather Corinna/Scarleteen
Scarleteen.com: Providing comprehensive sex education online to teens and young adults worldwide since 1998

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.

Powered by UBB.classic™ 6.7.3