This post is about three things Crushing Krisis has habitually avoided for a number of years – snap reactions to current events, personal opinions on politics, and sex.
Maybe this September CK will be about getting out of my comfort zone?
Today’s morning Metro declares “Bloggers face calls for Palin restraint” – which, hilariously, could refer to bloggers backing off of any number of major Palin-related embarrassments that arose over the weekend – have you heard the one about how she fired the local officials that didn’t support her bid for Mayor? – but clearly pertains to the unplanned announcement of the unplanned pregnancy of her seventeen-year-old daughter Bristol.
I do feel a certain amount of restraint is due on this matter. Obama himself yesterday reminded the press that family is off limits. It wouldn’t be fair to make Bristol the focus of partisan crossfire, nor is her pregnancy a reason to assail the personal family values of her mother.
What we should not be restraining ourselves on is how Bristol’s pregnancy pertains to actual campaign issues, and to the poor political judgment of her mother Sarah Palin and her partner John McCain.
Make no mistake – Sarah Palin is a woman, but she does not support women. She does not support their right to choose, and furthermore she is a figurehead in a party that largely supports abstinence-only sexual education – something that Pennsylvania’s typically beloved governor Ed Rendell just accepted funding for on the state level.
Let’s me be very clear: abstinence-only sex ed does not work.
I could state this as a matter of personal opinion. I could even state it based on data that supports the assertion.
However, allow me to state it based on the fact that I was a peer educator for four very defining years of my life – high school.
In those four years I believed, practiced, and taught that abstinence was the best possible decision for a high school student when it came to sex. However, I also believed and taught that abstinence is not the only option, just like pregnancy doesn’t only result from missionary position vaginal intercourse.
Teenagers don’t come pre-equipped with this information. Someone needs to communicate it to them, or else they wind up as misinformed adults who think the withdrawal method is a valid way to protect themselves from pregnancy and disease, or who think they can’t get pregnant if they have sex just before or during or after their period, or who don’t realize that mutual masturbation or trading oral sex can deliver sperm just as effectively as intercourse, or who can’t recite that the four bodily fluids that transmit HIV are blood, semen, vaginal fluid, and breast milk.
That’s why teens need sex education, and why the best sex education is often supported by peer education. Peers are not afraid to talk about condoms, whether it’s how to put them on or how they feel. They are are not afraid to disclose facts that parents don’t know or are afraid to admit: that sex is about a lot more than intercourse, and that teens can abstain from any or all of it while still developing and affirming their sexual identity.
Many teens are put in the position where their abstinence is no longer an option, let alone their best or only option. That situation is different for each teen, and it’s not the place of the mainstream media or political bloggers to contemplate what that situation was for Bristol Palin.
However, if all teens – Bristol included – received education on contraceptives that was supported by their peers and parents, they could be better protected from pregnancy, and from the risk of disease.
And, let me ask you, how would this be playing out differently if the headlines blared, “Bristol Palin: HIV Positive”?
That’s just as likely a result not only of her actions, but of the ignorance of her mother and the Republican party. Birth control is not just about birth. Pharmaceutical birth control is about regulating the body, and physical barrier protection is about just that – protecting yourself.
Sarah Palin does not care about any of that, and by extension, neither does the Republican party.
This dissonance is an example of the ultimate failure of the GOP – how they barely practice what they preach, and even in practice the preaching tends to fail. And it’s a single issue indicative of all the reasons McCain and Palin are the wrong choice to lead our nation.
Forget Bristol. Forget, even, that Palin is pro-life, as that is an issue equal parts personal and political.
Remember that Palin supports creationism being co-taught with evolution.
Remember that Sarah Palin does not feel that crimes motivated by discrimination against sexual orientation should be classified as hate crimes, because in her opinion “all heinous crime is based on hate.”
Remember that in Sarah Palin’s opinion the message written on my door last month – the cat shit shoved into my home – was motivated by normal hate. And so was the deaths of Matthew Sheppard and Larry King. Not hate based on bias, on fear, on lack of acceptance. Not hate that requires specific regulation and punishment to dissuade others from acting on it. Just regular, run-of-the-mill hate that wasn’t meant to threaten me based upon my identity, real or assumed.
Sarah Palin doesn’t care about women, teenagers, or our planet. And she doesn’t care about me.
A vote for John McCain is a vote that endorses all of those positions – the policies of a party that’s no longer just assaulting logic, but outright denying it.
Bristol Palin is just one small example – teach abstinence, knowing that isn’t effective but claiming that it’s more moral, and when the teaching (and the associated morals) fail convert that failure into success by endorsing the family values that will raise and love that unplanned baby, and support that unwed mother.
Nevermind that not every young mother in the nation has a determined state governor for a mom. Nevermind that for every potential baby there is also potential for another life marked by HIV. Nevermind the implicit failure of abstinence-based education in the very home of the potential Vice President who supports it.
And that is why we cannot and will not restrain ourselves.
(A big thank you to Five Thirty Eight for planting this kernel, and for many of the links.)