Friday, September 5, 2008

The Binding of Bristol

Spuds, instead of reading War and Peace, watched The Fifteen Most Shocking Political Sex Scandals. I asked him if all of the disgraced politicians were of the male gender and was not surprised that they were. Except the occasional school teacher with the precocious teenage boy, women don’t get a lot of press for destroying their careers by engaging in sexual shenanigans. I asked Spuds and the other teenagers I was transporting why they thought this was and there was no hesitation with the response that “boys are hornier than girls.” I don’t think that’s true although I was always pretty certain most people believe that. My beloved graced me with a bit of research and located a good article “Is there a Gender Difference in the Strength of Sex Drive?” In addressing the perception issue, the researchers were surprised when respondents indicated that the answer to the sex drive question was obvious but equal numbers thought the obvious answer was “men” as thought it was “women” or “no difference.” The article wrangles with biological vs. cultural determinants and how difficult a thing this is to assess, and concluded with a big question mark.

I don’t think anyone would argue that for most people the desire for sex is strong and this biological phenomenon is complicated by the emotional needs that are met by feeling sexually desirable. Beautiful women and powerful men are sexy. Culturally, female sexual desirability is enhanced by coyness, counterparted by brazen male conquest. The mere design of male vs. female operating equipment reflects the difference in sexual temperament but not the level of desire.

Powerful men and sexy women get in themselves into big trouble. So do drooling losers and dowdy girls. Sexual desire, regardless of whether felt more intensely by boys or girls, is hard to resist. Hard to resist and sometimes leads to babies, which are very cute, even Down’s syndrome ones who are fifth in the birth order but there are too many babies for our planet to sustain. The Chinese, in the boldest proactive environmental measure in the history of mankind, instituted a one child policy in 1979 which means that there are about 700 million people fewer on the planet than there would have been but does that really mean that it’s o.k to have five? The Chinese are fucked up about women and lots of other things but the quality of life there is better than it has ever been and the reduced birthrate contributes to the reduction in human suffering. This being America, the institution of a mandatory one child policy, and the revolting business of enforcing it, isn’t in the cards but for fuck sakes, do you really want Sarah Palin teaching your kids abstinence?

The great hook for organized religion has always been that abstinence doesn’t work. Fundamentalist clergy of all persuasions teach that sex, full knowing that most of us cannot resist it, is wrong and bad and dirty, unless it is the married hetero baby makin’ kind. But, when we feel bad and wrong and dirty the church can soothe us and cleanse us and provide the only true path to forgiveness for our base and filthy libidos. If we get knocked up, there’s the next generation of little sinners. Religious institutions compete for congregants and work the sex thing as a sort of pyramid scheme, valuing congregational survival over the survival of the planet. Organized religion has a huge investment in keeping adherents terrified and ashamed of their natural instincts.

I have no solution to the stranglehold organized religion plays in our nearly 80% self identified as Christian country where 1 in 3 girls will become pregnant before her 20th birthday. Religion in general has less sway in Europe and the French went as far as to ban the headscarf in public schools. Perhaps some Muslims were able to leave their faith at home but I bet many more fled to private religious schools, and suspect this isolation fuels anger and fanaticism. The Chinese confiscate bibles at the airport. I am not in favor of any of these tactics but nevertheless I am saddened by what we teach our kids about sex and hope for a practical solution to the staggering birthrate.

Some of the reasons to encourage abstinence are good ones. Having sex before you’re ready to have sex, even without the looming possibility of unwanted pregnancy and disease, can be a devastating emotional experience and scar for life. If we talked openly and honestly to kids about sex and taught them not to be afraid of or ashamed of their sex drive perhaps the emotional caution aspect of abstinence education would at least have greater credibility. But no matter what, kids are going to fuck and if they aren’t encouraged to use contraception they’re going to have babies. I hang with some fine kids, many of them are the same age as young Bristol. All of them would be crappy parents.

It costs about $5000.00 per year for a child to attend public school and if there were fewer children we could do a better job of educating the ones we have. Fundamentalists of all persuasions would go bonkers but India was quite successful in reducing the birth rate by offering radios to men undergoing vasectomies. Safe contraceptive injections that require administration only several times a year now exist for both men and women. If we had the courage to challenge organized religion for ignoring the overpopulation crisis we could take a step nearly as bold as the Chinese one child policy but without brutal consequences. Why not provide incentives (IPODS? College tuition? Forever 21 gift certificates?) for women and men alike (we got DNA testing) of child bearing age who do not bear children?

I doubt if my JAP version of the one-child policy will be legislated in the near future. As a working woman I cannot chastise Sarah Palin for her lax supervision of Bristol. I do fault her for expecting a sixteen year old girl to keep her legs crossed for Jesus. If Bristol had been advised about contraception and went out and got knocked up anyway I wouldn’t blame the parents. But to expect a sixteen year old child to refrain from sex out of pure self control, when a president of the United States had his dick sucked by a woman who was not his wife in the Oval Office, is friggin’ stupid. Despite all our prayer and good intentions and fear of hell, sexual desire is bigger than most of us. Sarah Palin is opposed to teaching kids about contraception and is proud of her seventeen year old daughter but she should be ashamed of herself. Seventeen year old girls should be hanging out at the mall and studying for their SATS and mooning around in their bedrooms, and not manacled by marriage and changing diapers and sterilizing bottles. And a baby deserves better than a seventeen year old mom. Men, with their power hunger and big dicks have condemned woman to this fate since the beginning of time. It breaks my heart to see a woman buy into this stupid bullshit and particularly to sacrifice her own daughter.


FionnchĂș said...

And as one line in the endlessly quotable "Laura Warholic" novel that I reviewed this week opines, you need a license to fish but not to procreate. I advocate mandatory reversible sterilization for all, classes that would at least be as expensive as driver's ed and as in-depth, and world domination by secular sensible people, by the by.

Chris Berry said...

Yes, Yes.... if you want to drive, you need a sex there's a motivation. Besides, where are you going to get knocked up if you are 16 if you can't drive...on the back of the snow machine?!

Chris Berry said...

Cari said...

Here Here!!!! I saw a documentary about abstinance only schools...the kids still had no real idea how pregnancy occured, nor how to prevent it. They all just wore their chastity promise rings (which should have been worn round their genitals rather than fingers) and thought God would take care of everything after marriage. Palin scares me, too. Great blog, dear auntie!

FionnchĂș said...

"The management of fertility is one of the most important functions of adulthood." Germaine Greer, "Sex and Destiny," 1984.