"...With sexual debate stuck in such demonizing reductionism of traditional vs. secular, conservative vs. liberal, purity vs. perversion, abstinence vs. condoms, good vs. evil, no wonder we can't budge beyond nostalgia-fed moral panics to sane responses to modern challenges. A politically potent, multibillion-dollar industry of chastity crusaders seeks to save our national Gomorrah by corralling sex back into the procreative marital bedroom. But with virtually all of us doing some version of the dirty deed before, outside, between, or after marriage, America must expand the sexual conversation beyond purity balls or rainbow parties.
"The Today Show pitted the feminist author of The Purity Myth: How America's Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women against international abstinence advocate Lakita Garth, who promotes her success to staying a virgin until married at 36. Jessica Valenti argues that a women's worth is more than her hymen, and most fall between girls gone wild or chaste virgin; most of us figure out how to achieve a full life while expressing our sexuality, married or not."
Ms. Garth--and all of the rest of the proponents of abstinence--do not seem to understand: abstinence is not a choice, it is a denial. It is a denial of our human condition, and a denial of the human-maturation process. As Maggie McNeill wrote, "And how many of the prominent women parroting drivel about 'choice' ever own up to the fact that a woman's right to choose the REASON she has sex with a man [or a woman--RJG] is at least as important as birth control or abortion?"
Abstinence requires a sublimation of the libido, which--as any psychiatrist or psychologist can tell you--can be a very dangerous act for the human mind, especially the immature adolescent mind, which has no experience dealing with the consequences of repression. If there is anything like a "culture of rape" in our society, about which I have very strong doubts, then that culture originates with this sublimation of the libido, and the demand for abstinence by religious organizations is its primary source. To quote once again from Ms. Riscol's book: "To reach humanity's highest ideals, permission trumps repression. With rights come responsibilities. My son may mess up as I have and will have to deal with consequences with respect and dignity. And I'll work for a world that uses all of its modern resources to ameliorate harm. As Mahatma Gandhi said, 'Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.'"
And until we grant everyone--regardless of race, creed, color, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation--a true "freedom of choice," then all of our highly prized "freedoms" are no more than mere words.
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