Monday, December 29, 2008

Study: Premarital abstinence pledges are ineffective.

Think Progress riffing on a Washington Post article, courtesy of Eschaton:

"The new analysis of data from a large federal survey found that more than half of youths became sexually active before marriage regardless of whether they had taken a 'virginity pledge,' but that the percentage who took precautions against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases was 10 points lower for pledgers than for non-pledgers."

More here.

Right. This is, of course, totally obvious to anybody who doesn't filter their thinking through a fundamentalist funnel--kids who have half-hearted plans to avoid sex until marriage are woefully unprepared when the heat of the premarital moment finally arrives; same with kids who get their sex education via the "abstinence only" route. That is, "abstinence only" sex ed, and its bizarre accompanying cultural trappings such as abstinence pledges and purity balls, are so much irrational wishful thinking: via the mass media, which figured out long ago that sex sells, we now live in a highly sexualized culture, and we're never going back to the Victorian era, no matter how much we wag our fingers at hormone driven teenagers.

Meanwhile, these ill fated attempts to roll back the clock are quite literally endangering the lives of an entire generation. It's crazy.

Atrios over at Eschaton believes this abstinence bullshit is about punishing "bad girls" for having sex, and I think that's definitely a part of the overall dynamic. But, having grown up Southern Baptist and knowing how these fundamentalists think, I can safely assert that these abstinence advocates actually believe their own bullshit. They really do think that comprehensive sex ed is understood by teens to be a go-ahead signal from authorities, that is, teachers, to have premarital sex; they don't understand that most teachers have absolutely no credibility with teens on the issue of sex, and that the overall culture carries much more weight. In short, fundamentalists are utterly deluded on this, and they're taking the nation with them down the nutty hole.

My bet is that this latest study debunking the value of "abstinence based" sex ed will, like other studies before it, be completely ignored by school districts everywhere. Drag.