Of all the damaging things George Bush did, let’s not forget his “War on Sex” and his “War on Abortion.” During the last eight years, anti-abortion, anti-birth control/contraception, anti-homosexual, and anti-sex education advocates have had free reign to implement their policies with full support of government funds, agencies and personnel. Through directives, cutting-of-funds, non-enforcement, and the appointment of religiously influenced celibacy advocates, teen-agers, especially, have been exposed to misinformation and care regarding their blossoming desires to understand their sexual identity, appetite, health and curiosity.
It was encouraging when President Obama, during his first week in office, started to turn back the regressive, inaccurate and oppressive Bush abortion policies. Open, honest, and frank discussions designed to understand sexual attitudes and activities is important for all of us. No honest public discussions have been possible the last eight years due to the skewed policies of faith-based governmental intrusion and misinformation. Actually, these types of discussions gained the public spotlight only about 70 years ago during World War II (1941-45). In those years, through military necessity, a dramatic shift of Americans to cities and then to international fronts, forced a change in sexual mores and attitudes.
According to a May 2008 study by the Guttmacher Institute, “More than half (55%) of 15–19-year-olds have engaged in heterosexual oral sex, 50% have engaged in vaginal sex and 11% have had anal sex. “There is a widespread belief that teens engage in nonvaginal forms of sex, especially oral sex, as a way to be sexually active while still claiming that technically, they are virgins,” says study author Laura Lindberg. This shows a rise in teen activity when contrasted with a 2005 study which showed fewer teenagers had engaged in oral sex, with females and males reporting similar levels of experience. The report also showed that the proportion increases with age to about 70 percent of all 18- and 19-year-olds.
These studies represent, over the last 10 years, a significant change in teen sexual behavior. As some respondents pointed out, “Oral sex is just like kissing, it’s not the real thing, like intercourse, you know.” Others replied, “Going down is not intimate. It’s no big thing.
Researchers point to diverse influences which have promoted these attitudes among today’s teens. The most powerful influence has been the emphasis which President Bush, religious groups and the right-wing political establishment have placed on abstinence while attempting to define abortion as murder. Other reasons are the fear of pregnancy and disease coupled with God’s retribution. Assisting God is Focus on the Family, The Family Research Council and the Pope.
Unfortunately, George Bush has been in bed with Bill Clinton when it comes to confusing teens about sex. Remember when our 42nd President, declared, “I never had sexual relations with that woman,” referring to his encounters with young intern, Monica Lewinsky. (To coin an old phrase, “Politics makes strange bedfellows.”) America’s collective eyebrow jumped. Jaws dropped. This brought into question what actually constituted a sex act. From the lips of a President, no less! Impressionable teens decided that “having sex” could be defined very narrowly. Of course Bush narrowly defined waterboarding as not torture. Oral sex was not really having sex. Republicans attempted to elevate Clinton’s private behavior to the level of a criminal offense. They took one peek beneath Monica’s dress and found articles of impeachment. Democrats, to their disgrace, checked out waterboarding and decided it was better not to get their feet wet and could find no reason to even start impeachment proceedings.
Our two past Presidents have created an environment where oral sex is seen as a safe and acceptable alternative to the “dangers and damnation” of intercourse and, further, that it is not really having sex. But, the same survey also showed that some attitudes have not changed. Teen females still want sex, believing it will bring them a desired intimacy. Teen males, most of whom have never needed a reason to want sex, have discovered that they now have “government approved” arguments which could help fill their growing sexual appetites. Boys, who have always used the “if you loved me” approach to induce girls into having sex, now have a new way to advance sexual compliance from girls, who, because of oral sex, can no longer use loss of virginity or fear of pregnancy as an excuse. This has heightened boys’ attempts at control and dominance which they play off against teenaged girls’ self-worth. Sexual servitude is now fully entrenched.
Bush fervently pushed faith-based sex education programs aimed at teens with help from the “Bible as a Sex Manual” crowd. We taxpayers are still funding programs managed by born-again facilitators who manipulate teens into pledging that they will not have sex - the old-fashioned way - until they are married. Emphasis is placed on the biblical view of a woman being a man’s property and that a wife’s proper role is being dutifully submissive to her husband. Ignored is understanding sexual drives, mutual respect and the true importance of caring when coupled with sex.
There is meager mention of clinical information, no facts about sexually transmitted diseases or birth control, just plenty of scary, ugly abortion pictures coupled with searing photos of what sexually transmitted disease can do to you. Too many teen girls experience real guilt and depression after intercourse when this “Jesus Can Save My Virginity” therapy fails. (To digress, in these programs, lesbians and gay men draw the harshest barrage of hate and ridicule with shamefully untruthful conclusions linked to lurid testimonials of “How I escaped the g/l lifestyle.” Anyone surprised?)
We owe our youth the best education, including sex education. Using only the Bible or faith-based abstinence, has proven to be inadequate. Perhaps with the new administration, America’s teens will have a real chance to understand their bodies, their natures, and their responsibilities.