Monday, October 16, 2006

Flaws In The Inevitability Of Sex Argument To Counter Abstinence Only Rhetoric

Pandagon: Plus orgasms increase worker productivity

... I see feminists making this argument often, but I also see it undermined a lot by what I'd call the "inevitability of sex" argument, which I'm guilty of making, too. It's usually in retaliation to the abstinence argument that wingers are so fond of, which is that women don't need reproductive freedom because we can shut our legs and that works 100% of the time. We then counter that abstinence might sound good in theory, but in reality it's not going to work and people are going to have sex.
The main topic of this post is a response to This Alternet article but this portion of the post brought back memories of my first interaction with feminists.

My hometown had a Planned Parenthood clinic and after being raped by my boyfriend (twice) I made an appointment there because I didn't know where else to turn. I was terrified of pregnancy and was generally terrified and full of shame when I snuck to the appointment I'd made. It felt like my world would shatter the rest of the way if anybody who knew me or my family saw me near this clinic.

The clinic staff didn't have a clue that I was a rape victim whose only sexual experience was 2 rapes (and lots of earlier attempts though I didn't label them as such until years later). They only asked if I was sexually active or not. Because of the possibility of pregnancy I had to say yes. There was no third option.

Rape crisis lines were beginning to crop up around the country but I'd never heard about any such thing and I doubt those at the clinic had any training on how to identify rape victims. So they made the assumption that my negative response to being sexually active was a societal matter.

I'd been brainwashed and they attempted to replace my sex-negative training with sex-positive thinking. Unfortunately for all of us, they were in effect trying to get me to have a more positive opinion of my rape experiences. Once it was confirmed that I wasn't pregnant, they gave me birth control and sent me on my way, assured that I'd finally be able to enjoy sex.

They didn't have a clue that they had heaped shame onto shame. Not only did I have the trauma of my rape, I felt bad for not liking it. I was basically told to go forth and enjoy myself sexually and to come back when I needed a refill on my birth control.

That advice was no more helpful than the minister who said I should repent for having premarital sex and abstain until marriage.

Since then most PP's understand their clients may be rape and/or sexual abuse victims, but many of the messages that are still being broadcast to dispel fundamentalist beliefs can send the same sort of message that I received all those years ago.

Something is wrong with you if you don't enjoy sex or shy away from it.

The intent of that message may be to say that the person has unresolved issues, but the wording can make it feel like a personal attack, like being told that you are a defective human being.

The message that nobody can avoid having sex unfortunately reinforces what boys and men can say when trying to steamroll over a girl or woman's boundaries. "Hey, it might as well be me." Some boys and men will even justify not stopping because "the feminists" say good girls don't have to wait for marriage.

Ignoring my beliefs about when I would choose not to have sex was no more respectful than those who ignore beliefs that don't match a church's teachings. Many people in both groups truly care about others and would never intentionally hurt others.

All I can do is try to keep myself among that number.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   0 comments links to this post


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