An informal poll of the younger generation yields surprising results

Man plugging his nose from odorAlthough some children right up through their teenage years are outliers, for the most part their political views and statements tend to be what they hear at home.  During the Bush era, the neighborhood kids ran around chanting “Bush is evil.”  In 2008, elementary school children proudly announced “I’m going to vote for Obama because he’s black.”

So what to make of this:

My  teenager asked me out of the blue, “Is Obama a really bad president, Mom?”

I said to him, “You know I think he is, so why are you asking?”

His reply stunned me.  “Do you remember, Mom,  how back when Obama was first elected, all my friends said they were going to vote for him?  Now, all the kids are going around saying ‘Obama sucks.’”

I’m tempted to say that, if you’ve lost the high school age people in Marin, you’ve lost America.

Why Romeo and Juliet? Why not Much Ado About Nothing?

Romeo and Juliet:  two impulsive teens.

Romeo and Juliet: two impulsive teens.

My two favorite Shakespeare plays are Julius Caesar and Much Ado About Nothing.  I’m also quite partial to Richard III.  My least favorite Shakespeare play is Romeo and Juliet.

Sure, I know that R&J has some of the most exquisite prose and poetry in the English language.  Indeed, I think that’s part of the problem.

Shakespeare’s writing disguises that Romeo and Juliet are two of the worst nincompoops ever to be created from an artist’s imagination.  They are everything that is bad about teenagers:  fickle (“Rosamund?  Who the heck is Rosamund?”), overwrought, manic-depressive, impulsive, and woefully short-sighted.  Their failings bring death and destruction in their wake, and in this regard they are aided and abetted by the equally foolish nincompoops who surround them.  West Side Story recognized these failings, and tried to clean up Tony and Maria a little bit, by having him be less fickle, and having only one of them die at the end, slightly lessening the pile of bodies.

The only sensible analysis I’ve ever heard about Romeo and Juliet came from a professor at Berkeley who suggested to the class that Shakespeare didn’t intend to write an ageless romance.  Instead, in a time when all classes of families arranged marriages for their children, his goal was to support this adult-controlled system by showing that, if youngsters are left to their own devices, their adolescent failings lead to disastrous choices for everyone involved.

Of course, that’s not how high school English teachers approach Romeo and Juliet.  Instead, they focus obsessively on everybody’s feelings.  Unlike Shakespeare, who thought that over-reliance on feelings brings tragedy in its wake, the modern way to teach R&J is to have classrooms full of 14, 15, and 16 year olds compare their feelings to R’s & J’s, and then to wallow in precisely the type of irrational thinking that Shakespeare thought was so dangerous.  It’s as if the schools are intentionally creating emotional, adolescent, loose-cannon nincompoops.

For Gawd’s sake, people!  Can’t you see that, if everyone ends up suffering meaningless deaths, they’ve probably pursued a foolish, not a wise, course of conduct?  None of the dead in R&J sacrifice themselves to save another or to save their country.  All die because of rage, revenge, impulse control, and woefully poor lines of communication.

Wouldn’t it be much more useful for students to read Much Ado About Nothing?  To the extent the play has a moral lesson, it has an obvious and useful one for the cesspool of gossip that is a modern high school:  gossip can ruin young women.  This is as true now as it was then.  In a day and age of social media, terrible stories keep popping up in newspapers about teenage girls who commit suicide after pictures of them misbehaving (usually because they were drunk) hit their schools’ social media and cause them to become reviled outcasts.  Poor Hero almost suffered that fate.  It’s good to have a play that focuses on moral purity, dangerous rumors, and rescuing sullied reputations.

And of course, nothing surpasses the delightful interplay between Beatrice and Benedick.  Whether on paper, e-reader, TV, or movie screen, most every romantic comedy written since Much Ado About Nothing relies on this Shakespearean formula of witty and wary lovers who use their words to both repel and attract.  Indeed, the two of them produced one of my favorite Shakespearean insults:

BEATRICE: I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick; Nobody marks you.

BENEDICK: What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?

Honestly, could anything be more pithy and cutting, yet surprisingly polite, than Benedick’s comeback to Beatrice’s insult?

If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend Joseph Papp’s 1973 version of Much Ado About Nothing, which is set in small town America at the end of the 19th century.  The acting is delightful and the setting is perfect.  High school English classes would be so much happier if students could laugh at and learn from Much Ado About Nothing, instead of spending their time wallowing in the pathetic teen culture that is Romeo and Juliet.

An excellent forum at the Watcher’s Council regarding the decision to let 15 year olds buy Plan B over the counter

As the mother of the Obama government’s Plan B (aka “Morning After Pill”) demographic, I have strong feelings about the move to let 15 year olds just go to the store and buy the stuff.  The Watcher’s Council has a forum up on that subject and, as always, Council members say the most interesting things — and that’s true whether or not I agree with their conclusions.  You can read it all here, but I’m going to reprint my contribution below:

As the parent of minors, I think it’s appalling. The Left will always justify this kind of rule-making or legislation by pointing to those teenage girls who have dreadful home lives, and are at risk of being physically hurt if they confess to a pregnancy. Yes, those are real situations, but I’ve never seen any evidence that they are anything but a small minority. In the real world, parents whose daughters come home pregnant are not going to be happy, and they may yell at their daughter, but they don’t abuse her. They rally around her. In other words, they are family and they are there for her. (In this regard, I think the movie Juno was pretty accurate.)

The facts on the ground mean that the state’s motive in making birth control and abortifacients available to ever younger girls isn’t because it’s trying to protect a small minority of at-risk girls. Rather, it’s trying to break down the family unit. Sex is a great way to force that schism because, next to hunger, sex is the most powerful motivator. By promising children sex, and lots of it — without any messy consequences such as disease or pregnancy — the state ensures that children look to the state as the bountiful provider. The message is a simple one: We’ll make you happy; your parents will make you sad.

Of course, no one is looking at the very real consequences of the state’s handing out sex like an addictive drug. The state pours toxic hormone soups in adolescent bodies; treats those young bodies with powerful antibiotics; alienates young minds and emotions from those who are most likely to love them; and sends the message that human sex, rather than creating powerful, life-long emotional bonds, has no more meaning than (and about as much charm as) bovine, canine, or feline sex. No wonder the girls who graduate from the hook-up culture in college don’t feel liberated but, instead, just feel used and emotionally frozen. They have been used — not just by the men who get the girls, but by an all-powerful state that has as its goal the end of individuals’ control over their own bodies.

Lastly, there’s also something profoundly wrong about a government that, even as it criminalizes adult men and women who have sex with children, does everything it can to encourage children to have sex. I don’t have a good word to describe that. Revolting? Hypocritical? Sleazy? Obscene? Immoral? I think all apply.

Coincidentally, I just opened an email from a friend alerting me to an article that Melanie Phillips, a brilliant British conservative, wrote about the reason that Big Brother has it in for families. Please read it. It’s very important, and provides a counter-narrative to the state’s claim that parents are a child’s natural enemies, rather than their most loving supporters (in most cases).

Maybe the teens aren’t worth hiring?

Don Quixote and I dined at McDonald’s today.  Usually, the employees are Hispanic.  Their English is fractured, but the service is competent and friendly.  Today, we had a young Caucasian boy, who looked to be around 17 or 18.  He did not look as if he had a disability.  (I recognize that not all disabilities are obvious to the beholder, but certainly some leave their mark on a person’s face or in his movements.)  Instead, he just radiated incompetence.  We’d seen him at this McDonald’s before, so he didn’t have the excuse of being a brand new hire.  He was just a numbskull.

I thought of him today when I saw that this is the worst summer for teens since WWII when it comes to jobs:

For the third year in a row, American teenagers hoping to land summer jobs will face the worst teen hiring slump since World War II.

The unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds is 24.9 percent nationally, and in some major cities the rate is much higher.  In Washington, DC, the teen unemployment rate is 51.7 percent.

I believe that a large share of the blame for this dismal economic scene lies with a president who sucked money out of the private sector, which functions efficiently, and parked it with the government, which does not. I do wonder, though, whether we can also blame forty to fifty years of Leftist education of the type that resulted in young people who have no logic, cannot count change without a calculator, don’t know the meaning of the word “polite,” and have a nonexistent work ethic.  Even when they’re sweet-natured and honest, a lot of these kids just aren’t worth hiring.

Which agenda really serves women’s rights?

Republican voters, struggling to decide which candidate will best handle the myriad problems facing America under the Obama regime — problems that include a stagnant economy, a collapsing Europe, a boiling Middle East, etc. — were treated to a New Hampshire debate that focused on . . . birth control.  A post-debate NYT op-ed establishes why this was such a driving topic for the moderators — the Left is going to make this election about abortion.  Because Obama is rapidly losing any semblance of support on issues that matter for the future of this country, the Left is hoping to agitate women with visions of Bible-wielding sex police storming into people’s houses, arresting them for owning condoms:

But the message from Iowa was crystal clear: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman Jr., Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry all stand ready to restrict a woman’s right to make her own childbearing decisions and deny essential health care to millions of women.

The Republican field is united in its determination to overturn Roe v. Wade; to appoint Supreme Court justices supportive of that goal; and to end government payments to Planned Parenthood for family planning services, cancer screening and other vital health services provided to low-income women. The candidates also want to reinstate the global gag rule that barred family planning groups abroad receiving federal money from even talking about abortion.

The op-ed goes on for several more fevered paragraphs, all urging women to rise up and say “Keep the Republicans out of my uterus.” The liberal women on my “real me” Facebook page are responding with appropriate panic.

There is no doubt but that the Republican candidates, even formerly pro-Choice Mitt Romney, are now or have become disenchanted with the Leftist obsession with abortion and “reproductive rights.”  I too have come disenchanted with a culture that is obsessed with infant death and, worse, that celebrates random, rampant and dangerous youth sexuality.  Here are a few random thoughts on the subject:

Contrary to the New York Times‘ fears, I’m not worried that the egg will be totally unscrambled, with the world reverting to a repressive era characterized by back alley abortions.  Too many things have changed in the past few decades.  Unwed motherhood and birth control are an integral part of our culture now.  Without the easy option of abortion, women and men may be more zealous about birth control.  And if a pregnancy happens, the likelihood of coat hangers or social death are certainly smaller.

Also, if Roe v. Wade, a singularly badly thought-out decision, is reversed, all that will happen is that the abortion debate will revert to the state level.  The big urban states will keep abortion; the smaller rural/Southern states will not.  Then, there will be a few years as people get to examine these experiments in progress and see what works best for women and children.

In my role as a parent, I wouldn’t mind at all having a more repressive culture.  Yesterday, a teenager I know said, “Our principal just discovered that twelve-year olds are sexually active, and now she’s bringing people into the school to teach them how to do it right.”  Since I was driving a carpool at the time, I was so shocked, I almost ran a red light when I heard this one. I immediately launched into my tried and true lecture that, just because kids have the physical maturity to do something doesn’t mean they should do something, although with data about pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, depression, self-loathing, and the failure to connect well in adult relationships.

I know, though, that I’m fighting a rear guard action.  These kids are inundated by sexually charged movies, TV shows, songs (especially songs, lately), plus, as this boy said, detailed instructions from their schools.  Hollywood is setting the agenda, and it’s one that lacks any sense of decency or morality.  I think it would be a good thing if rampant sexuality became more difficult.

I’m also willing to bet that, if one could get all the liberal mamas and papas in my world to figure out that unfettered everything is putting their kids at risk, simply because it means that sex is always “in the air,” they too might agree that putting the brakes on things is a good idea — especially if they could be brought to understand that putting the brakes on things is not the same thing as reverting to a 1620′s ethos.

Specifically regarding chemical birth control, whether it means giving girls the pill or unfettered access to the morning after pill, I’m really opposed to that.  The pill isn’t just a contraceptive.  It is an incredibly potent chemical cocktail that manipulates a woman’s, or more disturbingly, a growing girl’s body.  All women know that from the moment you take your first pill, you not only stop getting pregnant, you gain weight, you have mood swings, you go for baby-faced men, your skin breaks out, you risk blood clots (a friend of mine almost died that way), and sex becomes less enjoyable.  Also, if you’re unlucky, it makes you vomit.

What’s ironic is that the same liberals who spend a fortune on organic milk and grass-fed beef, or who refuse to vaccinate their kids because of the risk, embrace the idea of exposing their still-maturing daughters to this stuff.  Irony is probably the wrong word.  Our culture is so insane we’ve moved into a post-ironic era were nothing should surprise us anymore.

So I’ll end this post with a question:  As between the Democrats who push relentless for unfettered abortion and birth control access for tweens and teens, and the Republicans, who would like to make abortion a state matter and stop having the federal government fund it, which party do you think better serves women’s needs?

A tour de force post taking us from Google interviews, to self-esteem, to dancing men *UPDATED*

I have been brooding about an article I read the other day, one that describes the brave new world of job interviews.  According to the Wall Street Journal, many companies, having recognized that traditional interview techniques aren’t necessarily a good way to determine whether someone is right for the job, have moved on to brain teasers, intermingled with questions that the really stupid jobs counselor at your high school might once have asked:

Jim’s first interviewer is late and sweaty: He’s biked to work. He starts with some polite questions about Jim’s work history. Jim eagerly explains his short career. The interviewer doesn’t look at him. He’s tapping away at his laptop, taking notes. “The next question I’m going to ask,” he says, “is a little unusual.”

You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and thrown into a blender. Your mass is reduced so that your density is the same as usual. The blades start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?

The interviewer looks up from his laptop, grinning like a maniac with a new toy.

“I would take the change in my pocket and throw it into the blender motor to jam it,” Jim says.

The interviewer’s tapping resumes. “The inside of a blender is sealed,” he counters, with the air of someone who’s heard it all before. “If you could throw pocket change into the mechanism, then your smoothie would leak into it.”

“Right… um… I would take off my belt and shirt, then. I’d tear the shirt into strips to make a rope, with the belt, too, maybe. Then I’d tie my shoes to the end of the rope and use it like a lasso.”

Furious key clicks.

“I don’t mean a lasso,” Jim plows on. “What are those things Argentinian cowboys throw? It’s like a weight at the end of a rope.”

No answer. Jim now realizes that his idea is lame, but he feels compelled to complete it. “I’d throw the weights over the top of the blender jar. Then I’d climb out.”

“The ‘weights’ are just your shoes,” the interviewer says. “How would they support your body’s weight? You weigh more than your shoes do.”

[snip]

How are companies coping with this new environment? In September 2009, the Labor Department reported that job seekers outnumbered job openings by 6 to 1. These unemployment numbers have spread riddles, loaded questions and multiple-interview marathons across the corporate food chain, into mature and less cutting-edge industries. Each year Glassdoor.com compiles a list of “oddball” interview questions (puzzles, riddles and the like) reported by members. In the most recent list, only about a quarter of such questions came from tech firms. The rest were from mainstream corporations, from Aflac to Volkswagen.

“If you could be any superhero, who would it be?”

“What color best represents your personality?”

“What animal are you?”

These questions, posted by job candidates on Glassdoor.com, aren’t from some wacky Silicon Valley start-up—they’re asked of applicants at AT&T, Johnson & Johnson and Bank of America, respectively.

Before I go any further, I have to interject here that I was at the cutting edge of this trend.  A long, long time ago, when I was a young lawyer at a big firm, a young man came for an interview.  But this wasn’t any young man.  His former fraternity brother was one of my colleagues and was part of my social group at the firm.  We thought it would be a great joke to give this young man (I’ll call him “Tom”), the job interview from Hell.  That’s what you do to former fraternity brothers, right?

After much persuasion, the firm allowed us to co-opt an empty conference room and convene a “special panel” to ask Tom some follow-up interview questions.  His former fraternity brother was literally hidden behind a potted palm.

When Tom walked in and saw a row of men and women, all strangers to him, but all young, he suspected a gag, but as there was no way for him to know for sure, and as this was a law firm in San Francisco (read:  potentially wacky), he had to play along.  We started firing off questions:

If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

Are you a linear or a circular thinker?

What kind of superhero are you?

What kind of animal are you?

And no, I’m not simply copying my questions from the list of questions asked at AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, and BofA (per the above Wall Street Journal article).  Back in the 1980s, we still understood that those questions were jokes.

Tom bravely fielded the questions, and we let him in on the joke at the end. What’s sad is that today’s young interviewees walk into and out of that room knowing that it’s no joke.

I haven’t been brooding about that article simply because it brought up an old (and fairly amusing) memory.  I was actually thinking about what would happen if I had to face an interview like that today.  I’ve been looking for permanent work in desultory fashion, which means I want to start working again, but I’m thankfully not desperate for work.  I’m also a very secure person.  (I’m neurotic too, and I can tell you that being simultaneously secure and neurotic is one cool party trick.)

So what would I do if a prospective employer asked me really stupid, irritating question?  My instinct is that I would have nothing to do with it:

“Sorry, but I don’t play games.  I meet all the written qualifications for this job.  I’m also very intelligent, utterly reliable, completely honest, and a very pleasant person with whom to work.  Asking me questions about blenders or trees or superheroes will not give you any greater insight into my ability to do well in this job.  Sometimes, you just need to gamble.  Hire me for a six week trial period, and let’s see how it goes.”

I’m not the only seasoned worker who feels this way.  One of my friends went on a series of job interviews last year.  She complained to me about the stupid faux-psychological questions fired at her.  “Bookworm,” she said to me, “I just don’t have the patience for that stuff.  I told them that I can do the job, my resume proves I can do the job, and they either like me or they don’t.”

One of the consolations of aging is that insecurity lessens.  Watching my two children navigate their middle school and high school experiences is a good reminder that youth and insecurity are a matched set.  Considering their age, my children aren’t grossly insecure (a nice combination of a good community and, I flatter myself, adequate parenting), but they’re still constantly worried about the usual things that plague young people:  “Are these clothes right?”  “Do I look stupid?”  “Will anyone notice this zit?”  “If I hang with so-and-so will it help or hurt my social standing?”  As to that last one, I’m pleased to report that my children are sufficiently decent people that they do not reject potential friends merely because the friends don’t rank high on the “popular meter.”

I was infinitely more insecure than my children.  Immigrant parents, urban schools, a child-free neighborhood (I was the only kid on my block), thick glasses, and a diminutive stature all left me seriously questioning my place in the grand scheme of things.  Time, though, has a great leveling effect.  Over the years, I’ve come to terms with who I am.  I know my virtues and my failings.  I embrace the former and am reconciled to the latter.  As Popeye so aptly said, “I yam what I yam.”

It took me a few decades to get to this level of self-knowledge and security.  There are some life experiences, though, that accelerate a person’s knowing, and coming to terms with, himself.  I’ve often commented to my sister that military guys dance.  That’s not as stupid an observation as it first seems.  I love getting out on a floor and dancing.  I’ve got no training, it’s questionable whether I have moves, but I don’t care.  Dancing feels wonderful.  Sadly, middle class guys, for the most part, don’t dance.  Back when they were 13, they figured out that dancing wasn’t cool and the decades have done nothing to shake their unswerving belief that dancing makes them look less than manly.

So why do military guys dance?  (Scroll down for the last three pictures at the link.)  I’ll offer you four theories about why military guys dance.  Theories one and two are mine, theories three and four come from a friend who is actually in the military, so he’s probably more correct than I am.

Theory Number One, harks back to my post thesis, which gives it pride of place here:  Military guys don’t need to worry about whether they “un-man” themselves when they hit the dance floor.  By their willingness to put themselves on the front  line, they’ve proven everything they need to prove. They zoomed up to the top of the secure self-image mountain, without having to spend decades in insecurity purgatory.  They can dance, and they don’t care if you laugh.

Theory Number Two is the boredom factor.  Has their ever been a time in the military when the operative rule hasn’t been “hurry up and wait”?  When there’s nothing else to do, when they’re are no computer games to play, no TV shows to watch, no malls to troll, you dance.

Theory Number Three is that, living as they do in women free environments, military guys know how to make the best of their time in women’s company.  This means they’re more willing than civilians to go where the women go — and that’s the dance floor.

And Theory Number Four is, simply, the joy of being alive.  Neither urbanites nor suburbanites live on the thin edge.  Our biggest adrenalin rush is often slipping past a Highway Patrol guy when we’re going — gasp! — five miles over the speed limit.  For the men on the front line, though, joie de vivre is a very real thing, and it probably does make you feel like dancing.

UPDATE:  I’d love to see how the dancing Marines would have handled this interview.

Earning the Mom medal

Every time I return from a Navy League or Navy event, I lament the fact that we in the civilian world do not get to wear our honors and accomplishments on our hats, shoulders, chests or sleeves.  The fact that there is no official boasting mechanism in my suburban Mom life, though, doesn’t mean I can’t simply be like the cock, and crow on my own little dunghill.  Without further ado, I hereby give myself a good Mom award.

Honestly, I’ve really earned it.  Yesterday, my teenage daughter told her friends, “You can say anything in front of my Mom.  She’s never embarrassing and she gives really good advice.”  If I could have that engraved on a medal, I would.

Lest you think I earned that accolade because I’m the type of Mom who coos, “Of course you can have sex, do drugs and spend all my money, darling,” you’d be far off the mark.  In fact, I’m extremely opinionated, in a very socially conservative way.  Perhaps it’s my willingness to be a straight shooter, to shy away from innuendo, metaphor and deep agendas, that makes the children feel comfortable with me.

I find amusing the fact that my kids and their friends so obviously enjoy my company.  Thirty-five years after the fact, I’m finally popular in Middle School and High School.  I’m slow, but I get there!

The man I want my daughter to date *UPDATED*

This is an entirely  hypothetical scenario, because my daughter is only 12, and I’m not planning on her dating for at least another fifteen or twenty years, if not more.  However, the sad fact is that, contrary to my entirely reasonable wishes, the dating scene is going to start in three or four years — and that’s just the stuff I’ll know about and can control.  Thanks to the parent grapevine, I’m completely aware that the more precocious kids at my daughter’s middle school (meaning 12 through 14 year olds) are already getting into trouble with sex.

The school is trying its best.  When Valentine’s Day became too sexualized, the school simply canceled it.  Students are not allowed any Valentine’s Day observations on campus.  I don’t know how effective that cancellation has been, and I don’t know whether it happened before or after the two 8th grade girls were caught in the bathroom at a dance orally servicing a long line of boys, but I still appreciate that the school is trying.

You really can’t blame the children.  They live in a hyper-sexualized culture.  At home, I’m preaching self-respect and abstinence (and backing that up with classic movies in which the women were strong, charming and virginal), but at their schools, they’re discussing Lady GaGa (whose costumes are so revealing they’ve sparked rumors she’s a hermaphrodite); obscenity laden rap songs (which the 11 year olds know by heart); the fact that Miley Cyrus has become a “slut;” and the sexual escapades of John Edwards.  No matter what I do, my kids are exposed to a sexual morality I find disturbing and demeaning.  Fortunately my kids are still young enough to be disgusted by these various behaviors, but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re being steered into thinking sex is simply a commodity, with anything short of actual intercourse falling into the “innocuous” category.

All of which explains why I’m so taken with Tim Tebow.  Here you have a young man who is handsome, charismatic, and an extraordinary athlete — and he’s also proud about saving himself for marriage.  Despite the manifest temptations that being a star athlete must present, he’s open about his virginity.  The jaded press may giggle in shock and embarrassment but I, as a mom, am deeply impressed:

What’s so important about Tebow is that people cannot claim that he’s a virgin simply because he’s too pathetic to get a girl.  Instead, this moral dynamo is a virgin because he’s taken a principled stand that is inextricably intertwined with respect for himself, for the women he dates (and I assume he does date), and for the woman he will eventually marry.  I can’t think of a better lesson for young people.  And that’s why I want my daughter to date a man like Tebow:  someone who has principles every mother can love, and who, in a culture obsessed with sex, is proud of those principles.

Incidentally, despite the fact that 99% of the families in my ultra liberal community would draw back in revulsion at the thought of their child dating an evangelical Christian, I can guarantee you that 100% of them would be dancing on air if they knew that their daughter’s date, because of a deep commitment to and reverence for women and the sanctity of marriage, wasn’t trying to get his hands in their daughter’s pants.

I’m also very appreciative of the fact that Tebow’s sudden prominence outside of football circles (I, for example, wouldn’t have heard of him but for the Superbowl kerfuffle) coincides with a solid study showing that abstinence education is the best way to prevent kids from having sexual intercourse.  You and I have always understood that if you give kids step by step instructions, complete with condoms and cucumbers, in how to have sex, they might be inclined to have sex.  For the educated class, however, it took a vast study, complete with a large control group exposed to those condoms and cucumbers, to establish what we knew intuitively:  if you emphasize that our bodies are precious, that modern science cannot protect people from diseases and unplanned pregnancies, and that there is a deep measure of self-respect and respect for others that goes with abstinence, you will have healthier, safer children.

UPDATE:  And here comes the perfect example of the media’s constant desire to turn our children into sex objects.  These are twisted people who seek to validate their unsavory approach to life by co-opting our children.  People like Tim Tebow are vital to counteracting this cultural rot.

My take on the youth sex culture in America *UPDATED*

Soccer Dad, who has a wonderful blog here, sent me a nice email agreeing with the points I made in my Biology will have its way post. He added an anecdote about Planned Parenthood: “The archdiocese of Baltimore announced that it would pay for counseling for women who had undergone abortions. Planned Parenthood objected. It was then that I realized that Planned Parenthood stood for a lot more than just freedom of choice. It stood for allowing women to be just as irresponsible as men could be. (I think that was a general point of yours.)”

First, he’s right that this Planned Parenthood story fits in perfectly with the point I was trying to make. Second, he sent me off on a rant about Planned Parenthood, abortion and the culture of teen sexuality that I thought was worth reprinting here:

I grew up very pro-Choice and still part ways with deep conservatives in that I’m unwilling to ban abortion entirely. What I’d like to do is change the culture. Hillary says “keep abortion safe, legal and rare,” but she doesn’t mean that last one, because she is unwilling to attack a sexual culture that inevitably means abortions will always be in demand.

Maybe I’m being incredibly stupid, but I do believe that if our culture stopped teaching high school, college and even middle school girls that not only does sex have no consequences but that it’s a necessary adjunct to the socialization, they’d stop having sex so much. If we went a step further, and said that self-respect, love, friendship and mature self-control all militate against jumping into bed, we’d have even less sex. In that social context, teaching matter-of-fact biology classes, akin to the ones I had when I was 14, which cover human reproduction and methods of contraception as part of that package, would not be incitements into bed. There wouldn’t be exciting and amusing demonstrations of candy-flavored multi-colored condoms being rolled over cucumbers. In my world, sex shows would stop coming to colleges, and Valentine’s Day would be about love and affection, and not about the Vagina Monologues.

I used to support Planned Parenthood when I believed that it was simply about helping adult woman make responsible choices about their sex lives. I’ve become very hostile to it now that I realize that it’s mission is to preserve the non-stop sex culture that rains down on our children.

As the mother of a 10 year old who is bombarded with nude pictures of Disney Stars, and Britney breakdowns, and Madonna kissing other women at awards shows, I loath the sex saturated culture we have become. I really wasn’t that aware of it before, because I came of age before it hit big time, and I didn’t have children in the right demographic until recently. Now that I see it, it disgusts me — and, as the parent of innocent, loving young children, it frightens me.

Soccer Dad was kind enough to send me the 199s article about Planned Parenthood, which I’m including here, below the fold: [Read more...]

Biology will have its way *UPDATE*

One of the things the feminists insist upon is absolute equality, whether that means depriving men of the opportunity to participate in college sports simply because there aren’t enough women to create parity, something that’s now being done in the sciences as well; or allowing women to engage in sexual activity as if they were men. I’ve commented on that last point before in the context of the new type of rape claim, which has women getting themselves completely incapacitated through drugs or alcohol, falling into bed with a stranger and then later, when regret hits, crying rape (Laer calls this “gray rape”).

The fact is that, no matter what the feminists insist should be reality, when it comes to sex, women operate at a handicap level men don’t: historically, they were the ones who got pregnant. In modern times, we’ve been able to control that outcome, whether through birth control or abortions — both of which can be inconvenient, unpleasant or downright dangerous. Even removing or diminishing the inevitability of pregnancy, though, doesn’t do away with the hits nature imposes against women who step out too often sexually. It is women who suffer disproportionately from sexually transmitted diseases. As the African experience shows, when it comes to heterosexual sex, women are more vulnerable to HIV. Even without that scourge, women suffer more from sexually transmitted diseases: for men, chlamydia is a nothing; for women, it can create infertility, lead to greater vulnerability to HIV and, in pregnant women, put the child at risk. Likewise, for men, HPV (human papillomavirus) is an unsavory inconvenience; for women, it can be the trigger for cervical cancer.

Given the risks sex has for women — pregnancy, dangerous or emotionally devastating abortions, death in childbirth (a rather old-fashioned risk, but still a risk), HIV, infertility, and cancer — monogamous sex within a stable marriage is a great societal gift to women. I’m not talking, of course, about a situation in which the woman is expected to be monogamous, while her partner gets to do an Eliot Spitzer. That’s a dreadful situation, and Isak Dineson (Karen Blixen), whose husband infected her with syphilis, is the perfect example of the horrors of a one-sided demand for monogamy. Rather, I’m talking about the idealized relationship that sees a man and a woman meet, fall in love, get married and only then begin to have sex — with each other, and with no one else. It’s even okay if they meet, fall in love, have sex with each other only, get married, and continue to have sex with each other only. In our sex saturated society, where there’s always the promise of a new bedmate, this may sound a little dull, but it has its great compensations, for men and women both. Sexually variety is lessoned (which is, I think, a great hit to the men), but safety, affection, stability, and ease of access are all greatly increased. Even if it’s not always achievable, it should certainly be our goal.

The flip side of this idealized and increasingly arcane view of sexual relations is the new morality that tells girls that, if boys can sleep around, girls should be able to do so too. In the guise of equality, we’ve told our innocent young girls, girls who know only the world we offer them, that it’s just fine for them to “hook up” with a strange guy, have sex with multiple people, and basically to treat their health bodies as drive-throughs for men. Boys, of course, being nobody’s fools, willingly participate in this emotionally sterile culture.

If you’re curious about this degraded culture — one that is now the norm for American teenage girls and young women, and of course for the boys with whom they have sex — there are three excellent books on the subject. The first is Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture, which describes the raunch culture in which our young girls (and boys) are encouraged to live; the second is Carol Platt Liebau’s book Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Damages Girls, the title of which is self-explanatory; and the third is Tom Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons: A Novel, a novel describing a young college woman’s experiences in this nihilistic sexual jungle.

The problem for all the feminists, and the men who recognize a good thing when they see it (no strings sex), is that nature will bite back. And so today, we read that 1 in 4 teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease, with chlamydia and HPV topping the list. These diseases disproportionately affect African-American teens.

I’m willing to bet that, in the next few days, there will be articles about how this is Bush’s fault because he’s cut back on sex education. The fact that it’s African-American girls who bear the brunt of this epidemic means people will cite the usual culprits of racism and poverty, with the crackpots invariably claiming a Jewish plot. People will write that we need to improve birth control, that we need to improve sex education, that we need to improve screening for diseases, that we need to cut down on racism, that we need to spend government funds to fight poverty amongst African-Americans, and that we need to take the embarrassment factor out of sex so that teens will learn about birth control, disease prevention and disease treatment. (This last idea will, of course, be the most stupid, because it is the nature of ones teen years to live in an agony of embarrassment about everything. You can’t remove embarrassment, since it is the dominant underlying teen condition.)

The one thing no one will suggest, whether they’re coming from the MSM, the government, the liberal blogosphere, Hollywood, or anywhere else that has a loud voice across America, is that we start changing the culture, both among white and black teenagers. No one will suggest that movies and TV shows begin to do what was done in before the sexual revolution, which is to send out to teenagers the message that sex is for marriage and adults. Nothing in any medium will start to say that girls and boys should treat their bodies as something precious; that the sexual urge, although strong, can be controlled; and that there should be room in male/female relationships for love, affection and respect, all of which get pushed aside in the headlong rush for the bedroom. All that will happen is a shrill demand for more money to facilitate more teen sex — more sex education classes; more condoms that won’t get used; more clever advertisements about STDs, advertisements that teens will assiduously ignore; and ever more strident demands from the feminists and their opportunistic male fellow travelers that girls should approach sex in the same cavalier way that boys have been encouraged to view it.

UPDATE: Ed Morrissey notes that the study was small — only 863 girls — and urges an expanded study to see if the numbers still hold. I agree with him. However, I think my points will hold up even if subsequent studies show that only 1/5 or 1/6 teenage girls suffers from STDs.

I also want to note in this update that I am not advocating a sharia like crackdown on young women and sexuality. I think that is an equally appalling way to go, premised as it is on a male fear of female sexuality and a profound lack of respect for women. They’re protected, not for their own good, but because Islam preaches that they are simultaneously dangerous and worthless. I envision a new social paradigm that says women are valuable and that we should be encouraging them to treat themselves in that way — and to be treated that way. They’re not just bodies for pleasure, but they are complex human beings made up of mind, body and soul, all of which should be treated with dignity.

UPDATE II: In England, what happens when you try to teach children morality along side sex ed and to remind them of religion in a religious school (not teach them, just remind them), is that you get hauled before Parliament as a fanatic (emphasis mine):

A Roman Catholic bishop will be forced to explain himself to MPs today over fears that he is imposing religious “fundamentalism” on children.

Patrick O’Donoghue, the Bishop of Lancaster, will be questioned over his ban on what he calls “values-free” sex education in Catholic schools in his diocese and his order to put up crucifixes in every classroom.

His summons to appear before the House of Commons select committee on children, schools and families follows a 66-page document he produced last year which angered some MPs because of its strict line on sexual morality.

In the document, called Fit for Mission?, Bishop O’Donoghue wrote: “The secular view on sex outside marriage, artificial contraception, sexually transmitted disease, including HIV and Aids, and abortion, may not be presented as neutral information.”

He said “so-called” safe sex was based on the “deluded theory that the condom can provide adequate protection against Aids”.

And he added: “Schools and colleges must not supuseful-port [sic] charities or groups that promote or fund anti-life policies, such as Red Nose Day and Amnesty International, which now advocates abortion.”

Although sex education is mandatory in all secondary schools, Bishop O’Donoghue insisted that in every lesson – even science classes – it must be taught solely in the context of “the sacrament of marriage”.

The bishop has been criticised by Barry Sheerman, the chairman of the schools select committee.

“A lot of taxpayers’ money is going into church schools and I think we should tease out what is happening here,” said Mr Sheerman, the Labour MP for Huddersfield.

“A group of bishops appear to be taking a much firmer line and I think it would be to call representatives in front of the committee to find out what is going on.

“It seems to me that faith education works all right as long as people are not that serious about their faith.

“But as soon as there is a more doctrinaire attitude questions have to be asked.

“It does become worrying when you get a new push from more fundamentalist bishops. This is taxpayers’ money after all.”

The bishop said yesterday that his document had been in response to pressure from parents.

“Many parents go to great lengths to bring up their children properly and they feel that schools are not cooperating with them as well as they should,” he added.

He said Whitehall’s sex education policies had failed and 30 years of “throwing condoms at children” had simply resulted in increasing levels of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.