Mathematica Report, Part 3: Sleazy Sources and Self-Sufficiency
While I was taking down my notes, I happened to notice a passing reference that one of the "tenth grade program[s referenced in the study] also featured slide show materials from the Medical Institute for Sexual Health (MISH), which provided information on STDs and instructed students that abstinence is the only sure way to avoid contracting them." (34, as noted previously, all page numbers reflect the pages in the PDF, not the report pagination, for easier reference).
That institute name caught my eye, and got mental alarm bells ringing way in the back of my head. For some reason or other, the juxtaposition of "Medical" and "Institute" (hm, I tried to type "Mental" there; Freudian slip?) makes it seem as though they're desperately pushing for credibility in nomenclature. So who are these crazy MISHed up folks?
Well, according to their own website, MISH "founded to confront the global epidemics of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs)." Interestingly enough, though, the Google search result page says:
In case you can't read that, it says "A nonprofit scientific, educational organization to confront the global epidemics of nonmarital pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease..." I decided to include a screenshot, because I'm assuming they track statistics and do vanity searches every so often, and I suspect that once they figure out that their Google search result text drops the dime on them, it won't remain as it appears now for very long. (And check out their Executive and Board of Directors while you're there.)
So let's break that down a bit. According to MISH, there is a "global epidemic of nonmarital pregnancy." Do you smell something a bit patriarchal there? I do, I see a couple of male doctors trying to dictate that if women have children, they should do so only within legal marriage...
A little further poking turns up even more evidence of the same:
The healthiest sexual activity is intentional, mutually agreeable, and mutually pleasurable in the context of a respectful, lifelong, mutually monogamous relationship. The healthiest sexual activity occurs between adults who are mature physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially, and spiritually. They are financially self-sufficient and...And hold on a minute. We just hit paydirt. Financially self-sufficient.
They claim to be interested in promoting optimal sexual health, but their definition of optimally sexually healthy does not include anyone on an economically unsound footing, among other things.
...prepared to handle the results of sexual activity. ... For adolescents: delay of sexual debut, ideally until committing to a life-long mutually monogamous relationship such as marriage
For adults: abstinence outside of a life-long mutually monogamous relationship such as marriage
(Personally, for myself, I don't quite understand how you're supposed to have a pleasurable and mutually-satisfactory sexual relationship if you're also expected to have only one sexual partner in your lifetime and commit to that partner before beginning sexual experimentation. To use the same analogy as some other bloggers, that's a little bit like getting your driver's license without ever having been behind the wheel of a car, and then having your first real driving experience be on a ten-lane superhighway.)
According to SIECUS, MISH's study on abstinence-only education
cites mostly unpublished, non-peer reviewed studies to argue that abstinence-only education has a positive impact on teens’ sexual behavior. This contradicts overwhelming evidence from peer-reviewed evaluations of sexuality education programs that show that age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education programs that include information about contraception as well as promote abstinence are the most effective form of sexuality education for young people.
A report by the Guttmacher Institute says that the President of MISH wrote a
monograph on condoms and STDs, billed as "the most comprehensive scientific review of the science on condom effectiveness to date," MISH provides an analysis of the workshop report that, while factually correct, nonetheless asserts that condoms do not make sex "safe enough" to warrant their promotion for STD prevention [shouldn't that be up to the interested sexually-active parties to decide? -- ?!]. According to MISH, because condoms are "not foolproof" and marriage is "generally safe" from STD infection [except for all those people who get STDs from their spouses, but we won't mention them -- ?!], the government should be only promoting marriage and abstinence outside of marriage for STD prevention.In other words, these are the same people who persistently keep their heads in the sand about the realities of human sexual behaviour, and insist that other people should submit to their control based on their unenforceable and impractical codes of conduct. They're also the same people who are looking to remove the "C" from the "ABC" HIV-prevention model, thereby condemning untold numbers of people to death.
Have I mentioned yet that this stuff falls neatly within the literal definition of evil?
Not only that, but let's look at some of the people this model excludes:
- gays and lesbians, who cannot legally marry in many jurisdictions, unless they marry someone of the opposite sex;
- many disabled people, who cannot find or retain work, and are therefore not "financially self-sufficient";
- poor people in general;
I suspect too that part of the heavy emphasis on the "no fucking until you can afford it" message is because of the subtle (or not so subtle) anticontraception mentality of the writers and promoters of abstinence-only curricula. What they mean by "wait until you are financially self-sufficient before having sex" is "wait until you are financially self-sufficient before having children," which is not at all the same thing.* However, they would like you to believe, and to act, as though it is.
* Incidentally, there is some evidence that in some cases, early childbirth has little impact on later educational and financial attainment, although I'm having trouble locating the source at the moment. I'm not at all against the idea that one should have enough money to raise kids before having them, but it isn't up to me to enforce that idea on everyone, nor to attempt to deny people the opportunity to have children if they wish based on the contents of their literal or metaphorical bank accounts...