The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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The fallacy of abstinence

No. 6: You would think that a country that emphasizes freedom would be a little less puritan about sex (pun intended). But then again, with all this political talk about “the family,” gay marriage and the sanctity of the fetus, it’s no surprise that the government wants to get into our pants.

There is a significant historical context in which all of this misinformation about abstinence, human sexuality and masturbation originated. In male-dominant cultures, ownership of land was passed down to the first-born son. The only way to guarantee the first-born son (who was going to inherit everything) was actually the first-born son was to make sure that your wife did not have sex before marriage. This makes sense in the context of a sexist, male chauvinistic society, back when a man, unsatisfied with his wife, could argue that she was not a virgin when they married and have her stoned to death (Deuteronomy 22:13-21). So maybe for economic reasons, there was some legitimacy for maintaining one’s virginity.

But why is there such interest in virginity now? There has been a lot of talk about a culture war that has been going on between the conservatives and the “secular progressives.” If there is one thing that all Abrahamic religions have in common, it is the utter obsession with the family and sex (not to mention male genitalia). Considering a large portion of the GOP consists of born-again Christians, it’s no surprise that the big wedge issue of 2004 was gay marriage. Thus we get to the B.S. that is abstinence programs.

In the last 10 years, the government has spent $1 billion on abstinence programs. Approximately 35 percent of public schools in this country require that abstinence be the only option taught to teenagers. With so much invested in abstinence programs, it must be working, right? Actually, no. Many studies show that abstinence programs are largely ineffective. In fact, teenagers who pledge abstinence are six times more likely to have oral sex and four times more likely to have anal sex. Also, those who pledge abstinence are less likely to use contraceptives when they do become sexually active, not to mention that they are also less likely to seek medical testing. Abstinence programs leave out important education about condoms and contraceptives, not to mention that whole masturbation thing, which is pretty much the only alternative to not having sex (you know, because God is watching you). Studies show that masturbation relieves menstrual cramps, helps treat insomnia and stimulates the immune system.

Many abstinence programs (over 80 percent according to a government study) have inaccurate and misinformation. According to sexresepect.com, “The anxiety of getting pregnant or catching a sexual transmitted disease can lead to depression. Some 400,000 teens annually have abortions, a source of depression, even suicide,” which brings me to the fallacy of the day: slippery slope argument. This fallacy is committed when someone argues that if one event occurs, other harmful events will occur when there is nothing to suggest that one causes the other. This is popular when people talk about legalizing marijuana, which will apparently make everyone a drug addict. Apparently teaching teenagers about safe sex will cause teen pregnancy and abortions and suicide! Won’t somebody please think of the children?

I’m not saying abstinence is bad. If you want to make a promise to yourself or your partner, I don’t think anybody would argue with that. You are free to pursue any form of psychological torture you would like and try to resist the millions of years of evolutionary history (but that of course assumes you believe in this thing called “science”). But we must make sure to have real reasons, reasons that we understand and that we find for ourselves, not things that have been spoon-fed to us, so we can make educated and well-informed decisions. Our sexuality is not something that should be disregarded. It is an important facet about our existence, not to be taken as a nuisance, but something to be understood, much like our personality and our hobbies. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Ken Ueda is a senior math, physics and philosophy major. He can be reached for contact at [email protected].

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