Family First’s new gateway drug

Last September there was a rash of “sex education in schools is bad” journalism over at the Herald.  At the time, I couldn’t get too exercised about trying to paint teenagers learning about their bodies, pleasure and consent as morally wrong, it seemed like a sideshow.

But just last week, Family First paid for a Dr Miriam Grossman to rock up – complete with an all new flag for Aotearoa – to give us her views on sex education.

On Close Up, after explaining that oral sex causes throat cancer (I’d like to see how that “study” was carried out), she came up with the immortal line 

“The sexual urge is healthy and wonderful.  It’s when teens act on that urge that it’s not healthy.”

Family First immediately called for funding cuts to Rainbow Youth and Family Planning because of their work in sexual and reproductive health education.  In the same press release, Family First reminds us, in detail, of their earlier press releases covered in the Herald articles last year.

So Dr Miriam Grossman, the woman who sparked this all off?  She says in the good old days:

We understood that men and women are profoundly different, and weren’t afraid to say so. It was clear that liaisons outside a committed relationship could be hazardous. A sexually transmitted infection was a serious matter. Traditional marriage and parenthood were valued milestones. Self-restraint built character, and character was something to strive for.

She’s produced literature championed at the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute site Sense and Sexuality.  There we learn that a hook-up usually leads to regret, that mutual masturbation may cause HIV, and that the rectum is an exit, not an entrance.

I’m finding Grossman sex very confusing.  Aren’t mouths “entrances”?  And vaginas “exits,” at least some of the time?  Guess not.  It seems anything other than intercourse in a heterosexual marriage might lead to sexually transmitted infections.  All you sexually urgent teenagers, just wait for your heterosexual marriage, please, the intercourse will be worth it.

This isn’t the first time Dr Grossman has been part of a campaign to seeking funding cuts for sexual and reproductive health care providers.  In the US, the “dangers” of sexuality education in getting us all sexed up were successfully mobilised to cut funding to Planned Parenthood.  One of their strategies was to focus attention on Planned Parenthood’s website and publications out of context to suggest they create sex addicts:

 This would all be funny – oh hell, masturbation as a gateway drug?  It is funny – but it would be even funnier if we didn’t know that abstinence based education doesn’t work – and actually, talking about sex openly with young people, teaching about pleasure and risk and consent, does work to both reduce stis and unwanted pregnancies.  There’s some indications that a strengths based approach might reduce sexual violence too.
It would be funny if it wasn’t so hate-inducing – of our beautiful bodies, however we like our exits and entrances; of sex, which is about as much fun as you can have with someone else for many of us; of exploring pleasure and fun consensually with someone else in a myriad ways; of women being active in our desires; and of anyone exploring desire in any way that isn’t strictly heterosexual.

So next time I hear these rumblings from Family First or anyone else, I won’t be treating them as a sideshow.  Family Planning and Rainbow Youth are clearly in the sights of sexual and moral conservatives in Aotearoa, aided and abetted by sexual and moral conservatives in the US.  I’ll be defending my rights to my gateway drug and all the other ways I want to consensually express myself sexually, and I want all young people to have those very same rights – how about you?

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