I am utterly burned out on politics, but I will never ever be burned out on feminism and feminist issues, so here is my take on the Bristol Palin debate. The gist of this was originally written as a response to an ill-thought-out comment on a friend's note on Facebook, and now has grown to Rational-ready proportions. I have Sarah Palin to thank for me blogging here again, and I think that the only other thing for which I hope to thank her is a Republican loss this November.
Palin is anti sex-ed, which is ironic considering that her 17 year old daughter is now expecting. With an anti sex-ed mother, there are any number of reasons why Bristol got pregnant: her boyfriend could have told her that she "couldn't" get pregnant the first time or if he pulled out, she didn't know her options when it comes to birth control, or any other unfortunate yet all-too-common circumstance that often occurs when you are kept ignorant about your own body and biology. I feel sorry for her more than anything, as well as for the boy with whom she had sex; Palin's anti sex-ed crusade probably left them ignorant and shamed about their sexuality, and how else to cure ignorance than by experimenting to find out for yourself? Human curiosity is unquenchable.
It is doubly ironic that the new representative to the whole world of the American "family values" party, whose socially conservative members often advocate strict and authoritarian parenting, cannot even ensure that her own daughter makes age-appropriate decisions. There are rumors that Palin was going to force her daughter to have a shotgun wedding. Speculation aside, the situation just proves what sex-ed advocates have been saying, and studies have been showing, all along: keep teens ignorant and shamed about their bodies and sexuality, and they are more likely and not less likely to have children while they themselves are still children. More specifically, girls from strict, tight-lipped-about-sex, authoritarian households are more likely to have sex at a younger age and in a context that felt uncomfortable to them, like a drunken hook-up, as well as to feel bad about it and conceive as a result. Well-informed, body-positive girls are more likely to wait to have sex and to do so in a context in which they feel comfortable, and usually in the absence of alcoholic intoxication.
The facts are why I made the decision to call myself pro comprehensive sex-ed. Informing teens about condoms and other BC methods doesn't make them have sex, it simply aids those who would have sex in having a safer and healthier experience. Our Republican VP nominee's daughter couldn't "just say no;" how can Palin expect the rest of America's teenagers to?
Some might claim that Palin is "standing up for her beliefs no matter what". That is only relevant on the topic of abortion. She is not allowing her teen daughter an abortion, and that is definitely in line with her beliefs. I am not touching abortion, only sex-ed. It will be interesting to see if
[update] I don't know where I was going with that. I really don't. That was all.