Abstinence In Pop Culture

1668 Words 7 Pages
Since the 1990s, The United States has immensely transformed. Twenty years ago, Tickle-Me-Elmo just hit the shelves, Twister was the #1 movie in the country, and all of the kids were dancing to The Macarena. The century was turning, it was a time when the only thing staying constant was change. This is the decade that gave the world irreplaceable treasures such as the Spice Girls and the Motorola Razr, but pop culture wasn’t the only material altered during this time period. Inside health classrooms across the country, a phenomenon was blooming, one that would shape American culture forever. Abstinence-Only curriculums, which pride themselves in keeping human sexuality shrouded in mystery, gained rapid momentum in this time period and is still …show more content…
Since she attended a private Catholic High School, she did not learn about human sexuality with great, if not any, detail. At the time, Leyba did not understand how to use, let alone obtain, birth control and she was not even aware that she could become pregnant from her first time having sex. At her school, they strictly taught abstinence only and also strongly encouraged all of the female students to take purity pledges, which are vows that young girls can make to publicly state that they’ll remain virgins until marriage. In short, the main idea behind the tradition is to preserve the virginity of teenagers until they have been wed. However, research shows that among teens that have taken purity pledges, 88% break the pledge and once those who break the pledge begin to have sex, they have more partners in a shorter period of time and are less likely to use contraception than their non-pledging peers ("Comprehensive Sex Education"). Learning this left Beth feeling betrayed and confused as to why schools are allowed to mislead students so extensively. According to Leyba, the main point made about human sexuality in her school 's health class was that a girl 's virginity is a gift that she will give to her husband after marriage, therefore anything else will send her life into “a never ending spiral of sins” (Leyba 1). The education her school …show more content…
No adult should teach a child that they should cover or hide their bodies in disgrace. For preteens and young adults, living in one 's own skin is already hard enough, the added disrespect is not at all necessary or helpful. Abstinence only curriculums often promote sexism and can leave young people, especially girls, with the impressions that doing something that is natural somehow degrades them, lessens their worth, or makes them dirty. This is detrimental to not only the way women view themselves but also to the way that men perceive female sexuality. Materials often shown in Abstinence Only classrooms compare women who are not virgins to chewed gum, stickless tape, worn out running shoes, used toothbrushes, crumpled pieces of paper and a number of other degrading and dehumanizing objects (Oliver). The idea that having more than one sexual partner in a lifetime is somehow unusual and grotesque is ridiculous considering that average number of sexual partners one has in their life is six (Oliver). Instead of teaching teenagers how to shame each other and themselves, it would be a much better use of time to teach them to respect other choice and give them enough information to make their own choices. Social justice activist Beth Leyba wrote in her

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