how prudishness becomes a pathology

January 26, 2010

This isn’t so much a story as it is a cry for help. For some reason, a woman who volunteered at an elementary school library in SoCal either heard about a child finding the definition for oral sex in a dictionary, or her kid just happened to come across it, and demanded that the district pull all the dictionaries, to protect and kids of course. And can you guess what the district did? They obliged. And just to add another bizarre twist to this tale of censorship gone ridiculously, pathologically awry, the district is actually forming a committee to decide if they’re willing to allow the dictionaries back in the library. Yes, it seems that the dictionary is just too hot for school. Rumors say that it might even contain definitions for the words “erotica,” “pornography,” and “sexy…”

Did you need any more proof that we’re living in an age of over-parenting, so much so that there’s a backlash against helicopter parents who smother their children to to point of absurdity? The really bizarre twist when it comes to overbearing moms and dads is that they seem to worry about everything except giving their kids an honest discussion about sex. In fact, by the time sex is even mentioned, it’s a safe bet that their kids already had their first sexual experiences. And considering the prudish, abstinence only stance of many sex ed and health classes, they’re more likely not to use contraception, which puts them at greater risk of pregnancy as well as sexually transmitted diseases. Why? Well, in the quest to scare kids from having sex, they prudes who oversee these classes tell them that contraception doesn’t work and the same parents who will hire a college coach to make sure that little Michael or Emma get into the right college don’t seem to be worried about this problem in the least, trying to avoid having an important discussion as much as possible.

This might seem like a strange notion to the self-appointed guardians for morality everywhere, but as long as there are humans with hormones flowing through their bodies, there will be sex. Not only that, but people who have sexually active relationships tend to be healthier, live longer, have higher self-esteem and less stress. If we constantly baby our younger generations and pretend that if we censor everything sexual there wouldn’t be any STDs or teen pregnancies, the only people we’re fooling are ourselves. Here’s the thing about kids. They grow up and become adults who go on to have their own kids. Isn’t that the cycle of life? So to do everything in your power to help your children get into a good college and find a career but simply gloss over something as crucial as sex ed or put it off until it’s too late, seems like an awfully big gap in the list of parental priorities. And if you’re trying to pull the freaking dictionary off the shelves for containing a medically appropriate sexual term, you’re on your way into the kind of denialism that should be a warning to all of us.

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  • Jen

    I like the characterization of this type of behavior as denialism. It never occurred to me to think about it in those terms, but it’s very accurate.

  • RaggMopp

    gfish, where do you come up with this stuff? In defence of the administration, it’s all about the school board. The Principle’s only really important priority is to keep the Superintendent smiling, and the Superintendent’s only really important job is to keep the School Board smiling. So if this school board is pretty much typical, meaning they comprise the intellectual depth of a saucer of milk, then this is what you will often get. The Principle has one recourse: Avoid controversy at any cost. Let them form a committee. At least his ass is covered. He would never have got to be Principle if he were insane, like you and me. And that’s what we love about the vaunted American concept of local control of the public schools.

    On the meat of your comments, I have only one thing to add: When my wife, a brilliant woman with few silly hang-ups asked me what I would tell my boys (4 and 6) if they asked about Santa Claus, I replied. “In deference to what I know to be your predisposition in the matter, I will promise to only answer the specific question as asked. But, I will not lie to my own children, for any reason.” I was pretty sure she was considering braining me with the rolling pin she was holding; I know she was mad as a wet hen. Apparently, being a sensible, grown woman, she managed to accomodate herself to this repugnant fact of life, and the subject never came up again. It never became a problem, these kids were pretty alert. They figured it out by themselves, or perhaps with help from their friends.

    Which is precisely your point. Parents, you haven’t got the wherewithall to keep it from the kids. Get over it. Just try to make sure they get some sound information along with the whispered wisdom of their peers.

    Curiously, back in the day, we had Civics, Government and two years of History. And we had Biology wherein the teacher spoke to evolution, and Health wherein the teacher spoke to sex and reproduction, and STD’s and pregnancy in human beings. And that was in Texas. Of course, it was in 1956; before the fundamentilist lunatics and anti-communist propaganda (with Godism as its chief tool) took over the public school curriculum.