Parenthood Planned

Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) In Opposition to the Pence Amendment

copyright © 2011 Betsy L. Angert.  Empathy And Education; BeThink or

While I have no desire to share my physical age, for I think each Soul, should they chose to be, is timeless, for the purposes of this treatise on Planned Parenthood, I will.  The reason, I think this topic is more than a meaningful one.  In truth, Planned Parenthood has long been extremely significant in my life.   No. I was never pregnant.  I planned or at least Planned Parenthood taught me to. I share the one and only tale that caused me to question my judgment and myself.  On one occasion I had unprotected sex.  The results?  Well, you decide.  I offer my story.

Since birth I was gently guided through lessons on human sexuality and reproduction.  Long before I was born, my Mom filled every bathroom in our home with adult and written for children books on the subject.  In casual conversations, Mommy would chat about the subjects and ask of what she trusted my sisters and I read while on the toilet or in the tub.  We all spent a lot of time in the restroom.  None of the silliness, sex jokes, leery looks, or nervous laughter, occurred in our home.  I always believed we were too well informed to think such nonsense just or jest

By the time I was five, my Mom trusted I understand the biology. She never bothered to probe further.  Mommy was correct. There was no longer a need.  I learned my lessons well.  

During my youth, in 1962 Allen Ginsberg published Eros magazine.  Only four copies of this artsy hardbound book were made available.  The journals were glorious.  Full glossy color photographs and, even as a child, I actually, loved the essays.  

At the age of twelve, the subject discussed turned to contraception.  My Mom and Dad found a fine booklet on reproduction to share with me.  The National Organization for Women published the informative pamphlet.  I remember it well. The copy was printed on newsprint.  Photographs, diagrams and articles, all appeared in black and white.  Mommy and Daddy said, when I was ready, let them know.  They, as I, hoped to ensure that if or when I chose to have a child, it would be my choice.

The time came, not to have a baby, but to explore physical intimacy.  I was sixteen at the time, the year 1970!  Confidently, I believed I was the only virgin left on the planet.  At least I knew a close friend of mine; a “good Catholic girl” had experienced her rite of passage.  Thus, when Jimmy offered, I considered the proposition.  

Intelligent and aware as I was, I said I would have to be on the pill first. Prevention was my priority.  After all, to say I am a practical person would be an understatement.  For all of my life, I looked before I leapt.

To this day, I know not why I was too embarrassed to broach the subject with my parents.  However, I did not.  One afternoon, in my family’s Wisconsin kitchen, my girlfriend Donna and I decided to seek information from the underground Switchboard.  [Fascinating to me in retrospect, all those years ago I was sure that Donna lost her virginity when we were in eighth grade.  She was not the friend who I knew with certainty had done the deed with a boyfriend.  Years later, when Donna first thought to dive deeply; she came to me for advice.  However, I digress.]

The community Switchboard referred me to Planned Parenthood.  I telephone to make my appointment and t was assured that when I arrived, I would need to confirm I had my parents’ approval.   Yikes.  I have never lied in my life, which in my family, to withhold information is to lie.  Therefore, I knew I would have to tell my parents of my plans.

I was not scheduled to see a doctor, nurse, or attend a three-hour introductory seminar for another month.  This gave me time to build my courage.  I did.  As I might have imagined, the conversation was painless.  My parents are truly phenomenal.  The chat was not quick or dirty.  That is not the way for my Mom, Dad, or me.  Depth, details, possibilities, all one needs to ponder is our manner.

Shockingly, as days turned to weeks, a typically beyond patient me, a person who can and usually does put off immediate gratification for years, gave into the urge.  It was only days before my appointment.  I still wonder.  Did I really think that Planned Parenthood would find any sperm and cleanse my body?  I shake my head as I scribe this thought.  I remained forever baffled.  To add to my angst, I waited to reveal my anathema [truth] to my parents.

Haunted by guilt I never did such, acted carelessly or withheld information ever again.  All that side, I wish to share, that from the time I was sixteen, until I was fifty three, I was a patient of the extremely conservative clinics known as Planned Parenthood.  I used their services in Wisconsin, California, and Florida. At that time I left, I had given up my lifelong status as one of those well-hidden professional persons without health insurance, I acquired coverage and Planned Parenthood did not have an arrangement with my provider. For me, that was, and remains, a great sadness, for I had already learned through others experience that the quality of care and attention I had always received at Planned Parenthood was exceptional.

Indeed, Planned Parenthood did not solely address my reproductive needs. From blood pressure to breast cancer screenings, from pelvic examinations to heart health, there was not an issue related to my overall wellbeing that the staff at Planned Parenthood did not serve. I believe these Practitioners were the greatest “general” caregivers, I could have ever had.

As I shared, only once, before Planned Parenthood did I have unprotected sex.  I never had a problem on the pill. I was monitored closely for decades, more so than since.  An abortion was never a consideration. I never needed nay wanted one.  The agency required that I study, beyond what I learned at home, the workings of body.  Physicians and other Practitioners were exceedingly cautious.  All taught me much.  

Yes, it is true. Thirty-seven years with Planned Parenthood and never once did a Doctor, Nurse, or Staffer suggest an abortion. Why would they? With their guidance and protection none was needed.

Sex and the Super Bowl

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.

Citizens in the United States are complicated, complex, and mostly they act in ways that are contrary to what they profess to believe in.  No matter a person’s race, religion, or creed, people point to what they think right.  Then, especially on Super Bowl Sunday they engage in all, that were someone else to do the same, they would say, that is wrong.  

Indeed, on the Monday through Saturday, before the final event the sanctity of sex, only after marriage, is subject to interpretation.  Voyeurism is at times defined as an involuntary response.  Adultery is but a betrayal advocated as merely a reason for divorce.  The deed doers surmise the divine, will understand.  Humans are flawed.  They are frail when faced with animal lust.  When stimulated, an uncontrollable desire for sex seethes from every pore.  Even the threat of a police sweep cannot assuage the palpable passion.

While people may profess puritanical principles, those our forefathers inscribed on parchment, today, as the Super Bowl looms large in our collective consciousness, the American public concludes, they cannot adhere to such strict ethical standards.  

Admittedly, these beliefs have shaped our laws and sustained a stable society.  Americans, we, the people, wish to maintain the moral codes.  People say they are proud and proper, except when they are not.  The pious and non-believers, each, trust that they practice as they preach, or at least on Sundays.  Super Bowl Sunday may the only day on which all bets are off, or on.

Some do not seek corporal satisfactions.  Instead, in anticipation of the game, citizens count the possible ways they might come by extra cash.  Some bet on which team will win, what songs might be sung, or whether the game will go into overtime.  Super Bowl gambling pools are as American as apple pie.  

The masses gamble on the fact that society will not judge them as they might judge others who do as they will do.  ESPN Writer, Jeff Merron, may have said it best as he mused, Sex goes to the Super Bowl.  Forthrightly, Mister Merron spoke of what few will.

Some people say the Super Bowl is all about money.  Others say it’s all about power.  For many, it’s all about advertising.  A few die-hards insist football’s the important thing.

But most of us know that it’s really (like everything else) about sex.  There are the parties leading up to the game.  The groupies.  The cheerleaders.  A few hot commercials during the broadcast.  Halftime quickies, for some big spenders in the corporate boxes.

We could go deeper (pardon the pun), into the realm of academic theory . . . Enough of that.  Let’s get to the Super Bowl sex lore.

In the beginning, ancestral wisdom was welcome.  Quotes from our forbearers, the colonist trusted, would not lead us astray.  Words of acumen avowed that then, we were a country united in faith.  The new world was young when, on June 21, 1776, John Adams, a future President, penned a letter to his cousin Zabdiel Adams.  In the epistle, he proclaimed, “[I]t is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand.  The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.”  

Ample evidence establishes the essential value of religion in this nation.  Yet, as we aged, some would say we have forgotten our ways.  It is written, in the Daily Resource for Entrepreneurs, the canon that best describes America today.  Sex Sells More  [Now] Than Ever.

Yet, the Protestant ethic of earlier generations remains strong.  Many believe America is a Christian nation.  Others argue it is not.  That debate aside, perhaps the people in this country may acknowledge that the country is as its citizens are conflicted.  Residents of this great land are ready to act in ways they claim are repugnant.

Hence, while sex sells it does so behind the scenes.  Sales are hidden from view, just as the women who might stimulate a sexual thought are.  Super Bowl spectators in 2004 might recall the first time and what seems to be the last occasion, a female performer appeared on the field for halftime festivities.  

On that infamous day, a bit of bare breast was exposed broadly.  What was difficult to see from the bleachers, and only visible for but a second live, and in person, was the source of much sexual stimulation for those with an imagination.  Fines were slapped on broadcasters, later rescinded, and then, to ensure that all of America understood the seriousness of the situation, the case, in November 2008, was taken to the Supreme Court of the United States for “appropriate” review.  

While it may seem that the action, gyrating genitals, bouncing “t and a” are in or barred from the Bowl, what really rotates the pelvis is found on the streets of whatever city hosts the event.  This year, the exploits are held in Tampa Bay, Florida.

Throughout the week before the main event, people prepare for climatic celebrations.  Excitement is high, as are the prospects for an erection.  The Road to Super Bowl XLIII is flanked by 43 strip clubs.  In “The Big Guava,” as the city is sometimes called ,  there is Lip Stixx, Centerfolds and the Bliss Cabaret.  Down the street a visitors, or a resident can enter Diamond Dolls and Bare Assets.  The Wild Gentlemen’s Club is quite the haunt.  Indeed, there are 43 erotic dance emporiums in the Tampa metropolitan area.

(O)ne for each Super Bowl.  And the week of Super Bowl XLIII is to Tampa’s naughty nightlife what Black Friday is to America’s shopping malls.

All the exotic dancing joints have earned Tampa a bawdy reputation _ the lads’ magazine, Maxim, even put it on its top 10 list of best U.S. party cities a couple years ago, based mostly on the two score and more night spots to see naked or nearly naked women.

Bare bottom babes, oh my.  What might the forefathers think or say.  Surely, John Adams, often regarded as the most influential of the founding fathers, would offer his words of woe.  “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  He may then adjoin “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with passions unbridled by morality and religion.”  Each might explain why the police force in Tampa Bay proposed as they did.  

Tampa Bay spokeswoman Andrea Davis said officers will not patrol the clubs.  Law enforcement will not look for dancers who get too close to patrons.  Ms Davis affirmed in 2001, when the city last hosted the games, no reports were filed.  She  then offered; officers are obliged to investigate if someone complains, few customers are likely to protest when a performer leans in and snuggles in those special ways.

Participants at The Adult Entertainment Expo, 2008, might best explain why in a nation so pious, the police will hear few if any objections to the pleasure found in the wondrous world of titillation.  What is hidden behind walls, is not thought to be a thorny issue.

(T)world’s largest sex industry trade show, attracts as many as 30,000 visitors and more than 400 registered exhibitors every year, including a growing number of small-business owners, organizers say.

“There’s an extremely supportive environment out there  . . .” says Suki Dunham, the 39-year-old co-owner of OhMiBod, a Greenland, N.H.-based vibrator company she and her husband launched in 2006.  Dunham, a former marketer at Apple, used [the 2008] event to unveil a new line of Naughtinanos, an iPhone-compatible device that vibrates in sync with a caller’s voice.


Officers will have their hands full with what is in full view, as could be expected in a country where citizens claim to honor a code of ethical standards and then gravitate to the will of their genitals.  Even still, Tampa Bay locals, and lawmakers, true Americans, tired of the city’s sleazy reputation wish to maintain a modicum of decorum.  

However, no matter how hard “The Big Guava” residents work to clean up the street, regardless of the reprimands, there seems to be no way to control the flow of dollars in the sex trade or the lack of sense that is all too rampant in this “ethical” nation.  The second President understood that the government was powerless.  He had hoped the people might self-regulate.  “Religion & virtue are the only foundations, not only of republicanism and of all free government, but of social felicity under all governments and in all the combinations of human society.”

President Adams asserted; “Statesmen, my dear sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone, which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand.”

Perchance that explains why in a nation as virtuous as the United States, the sex toy market, in the United States, which, “excludes the pornography industry, accounts for up to $2 billion in total adult industry sales every year.”

Toys, thankfully, are the treasures that allow for the appearance of civility  Americans do not worry of what remains hidden from view.  What hinders the image of a healthy righteous America, is what comes out from the clubs and onto the streets, the week the Super Bowl is in town.

Prostitution is the problem, or a commercial that promotes a vegetarian diet.  

Law officers have come to expect that they cannot control for human vices, even in a country so safe from sin and saintly as the United States is.  

In this country, we claim to be guided by G-d.  Devout citizens describe the homeland as Fisher Ames, of the Federalist Party did in an oration on the Sublime Virtues of General George Washington.  In 1800, the political leader stated, “Our liberty depends on our education, our laws, and habits . . . it is founded on morals and religion, whose authority reigns in the heart, and on the influence all these produce on public opinion before that opinion governs rulers.”

Perhaps, that is the paradigm.  In the United States, morals and religion do not reign on the heart; however, these do produce public opinion.  Until the opinion that governs the spirit is identical the one that governs rulers, Super Bowl Sunday will be as Mondays through Saturdays are normally, seconds, minutes, hours, day, months, and years of American hypocrisy.

References, religion, and realities . . .

Sex in America. Sexual Behavior and Selected Health Measures Study

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

Sex is in the city and in the country.  Americans are aroused and sizzling.  They are hot and ready to trot.  Numerous are running rampant.  Others await Mister or Miss Right; these persons are tenuously evaluating the situation.  Some saunter into the sex scene.  A few wait on the sidelines.  Many find more than one partner that pleases them.  Nonetheless . . .

Ninety-six percent of American adults have had sex.  According to an article in the Chicago Sun-Times, Sex study finds men far more likely to play the field.  Women are doing the deed as well; however, these recent finding suggest feminine wiles are used sparingly.

(Twenty-nine) 29 percent of American men report having [fifteen] 15 or more female sexual partners in a lifetime, while only [nine] 9 percent of women report having sex with [fifteen] 15 or more men.

The median number of lifetime female sexual partners for men was seven; the median number of male partners for women was four.

We might contrast this information with an earlier, 2004 analysis, and realize numbers do not tell the whole story.

For the first time since the government began the National Survey of Family Growth in 1973, more girls (47 percent) say they have had sex than boys (46 percent).

We cannot be certain why younger women are doing the deed more than they once were.  Nor can we establish that the results from one study represent the sexual exploits of all men, women, adolescent boys, and girls.

Age matters, as does the era.  Exposure to the elements is a consideration; Sexually Transmitted Diseases, may alter the dialogue and influence the doings.  Trends may elicit a changing moral standard.  Perhaps, among adolescents, the feminine factor differs; possibly, it does not.  Young men now may be as they were, decades ago, or they might be as we all are, similar; yet unique.  The possibilities are endless.  People are people, fascinating, and never truly predictable.

We must trust that everyone has his or her tales to tell.  However, few do, at least not to those asking about the numbers of sexual partners.  It is for this reason that this recently released study may be a slightly more accurate.

Six thousand, two hundred, and thirty-seven [6,237] adults, ages 20 to 59 disclosed their deliverance secretly.  Heterosexual men and women shared their stories with a curious computer.  Face-to-face interviews were not conducted.  Scientists feared people might be less forthcoming when discussing their escapades with another human being.  Many people prefer not to kiss and tell.  Individuals believe they have an image to protect, his and hers.

Appearances are important.  However, often we learn that nothing is as it seems.  When we met, Michael was tall, nice looking, a scholar.  He was a Professor.  He taught Economics at two local Universities, a private college, and a State school.  He was, and I believe is to this day, politically Conservative,  Michael is articulate, astute, and to me amazing.  I was and am a woman mesmerized by brains.  Brawn never was interesting or appealing to me.  Show me gray matter that gyrates and I am stimulated.

Michael inspired me to think, to dream, and to wonder.  I was captivated by the capacity of this man?s mind and that energy extended to his body.  We became friends and soon after lovers.

We were in our twenties at the time.  One night as we were “getting to know each other” Michael shared a story I never forgot.  When he was a sophomore in college, he and a male friend entered into a competition.  They were competing for “love.”  The two young gents decided they wanted to know who could “sleep with” more women during the course of a given semester.

Michael, being the high achiever he was, and may still be, was passionately intent.  He knew his objective, and had no doubt, success would be his.  Michael was certain he could and would stand erect.  He was up to the task.  This wondrous chap would lift skirts up or pull pants down.  He would do whatever was necessary to take the prize.  He had pride and a reputation to secure.  This man was or would become a super-stud.

Michael began his pursuit.  All was going well.  He found women a plenty.  He came; they went.  Then, long before the term ended, Michael tired of the “game.”  The rivalry began to wear on him.  This marvelous man, an academic, and obviously, or so I thought, not a player said, “I reached one hundred and forty-one and thought,  ‘What am I doing?’  Michael decided he could not or had no desire to stay in the race.  The chase no longer brought him to climax.  Doing the bump and grind without reason, upon reflection seemed ridiculous to him.  Nevertheless, he did it for quite some time.

As Michael shared the details of his adventure with me that evening I thought, Wow!  These numbers are astounding, even staggering.  I could not imagine ever reaching such a peak.  Yet, as time went on, I engaged in what brought little excitement and what passes for much.  A bodily orgasm did not fulfill any fantasies; nor did it create a meaningful connection.

I realized early on, I am a one-man woman.  I cannot, more precisely I will not do more.  For me, the remorse, the regret, and the confusion I feel within is overwhelming.  I am willing to absorb the shock that comes from filling a bed in an attempt to gratify my heart.  I enjoy my own company and believe no one can complete me.  With myself, I am whole.  Empty sex does not satisfy me.  I am not able to tell myself I “love” or “like” someone I barely know.

Sex for sex’s sake was not a challenge.  Very early on, I discovered as Michael had, it bored me.  Unlike Michael, I realized this long before faces became a blur.  I never felt the urge to surge.  In fact, I feared the prospect.

Perhaps, other Americans do too.  The numbers presented demonstrate Americans are not doing as Michael had done.

Sixteen percent of adults first had sex before age 15, while 15 percent abstained from sex until at least age 21.

Seventeen percent of men and 10 percent of women reported having two or more sexual partners in the past year.

Twenty-five percent of women and 17 percent of men reporting having no more than one partner of the other sex in their lifetime.

Adults who were married or had more than a high school education were less likely to use street drugs than others.

Yet, as I observe others, I wonder.  One lovely I know has her bed filled on most weekend nights.  Rarely is she with the same man.  His door swings open daily, or almost. Another, a man has a woman occupying his chaise lounge on Mondays and Tuesdays.  A beauty graces his boudoir on Fridays and Saturdays.  Wednesday and Thursday are reserved for a raven-haired lass.  Sunday is a day of rest.

I met many.  Numerous women count men as they count the shoes in their closets.  I have yet to calculate the number of males in my drawers.  I do acknowledge there are less than there might have been and more than I am proud of.  Men, I am told carve notches in their bedposts.

I do not think most are intending as Michael and his schoolmate were.  I trust that most people male and female are looking for love in all the right and wrong places.

Many believe the intense muscle tightening in the genitals, the exchange of corporal fluids protecting mucous membranes is the ultimate in bonding experiences.

Men frequently think if a woman is willing to spread her legs for him, her heart is open to the very special person he is.  Women wistfully wonder; is he the one.  If he calls continuously, it must be because he loves me.  Some realize sex, semen joining with the gush of juices may make babies; however, these do not always give birth to the blissful music of love.

The findings of this report certainly intrigued me..  I went looking for greater enlightenment, the spark that might move me.  I discovered the original stud-yreport, Drug Use and Sexual Behaviors Reported by Adults: United States, 1999-2002.  The findings were released on June 22, 2007.  Interestingly enough, when I read the text I was struck by a nuance barely touched on in the news articles.


Drug-related and sex-related behaviors are of great public health importance.  Use of illicit drugs has been shown to influence sexual behavior and present risk factors for disease (1).

Risky sexual behaviors can result in sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies.  This report is intended to provide overall prevalence estimates of drug use and sexual behaviors in adults from a nationally representative sample of the U.S. civilian non-institutionalized population.

As I read this I smiled.  It seems much of the survey was omitted in the news reports.  There was a blurb.

Twenty-six percent of men and 17 percent of women have tried cocaine or other street drugs (not including marijuana) at some time in their life.  Seven percent of men and 4 percent of women had done so within the past 12 months.

However, I think the intent of the study may have been missed in the many calculations presented to the public en masse.

Shyly, I admit, I met Michael in a restaurant bar.  He and I were not there to imbibe.  We were each meeting friends that worked in the establishment.  Nonetheless, I understand numerous people look for that significant someone  while drowning their sorrows with intoxicating beverages.  Drugs too I am told, add to the high.  The survey attempted to make allowances for this.  The researchers admit, the numbers may be as deceiving as people knowingly or unintentionally are when under the influence.

Limitations of self-reported data include recall problems and intentional misreporting of behaviors.

For me, my presence in a pub was then and is now an oddity.  In my entire life, I have not had a drink of alcohol.  That scene was not I.  In my younger years, I realized that meeting men or even friendly females in that forum would not benefit me.  Yet, even in my insolated world men intent on opening my thighs think the way to me “heart” is through wining and dining me.

A few years ago, I engaged in what seemed an endless discussion.  All that know me, acknowledge I am extremely approachable, honest, willing to share all my stories.  There are no skeletons in my closet.  Indeed, I have no wardrobes with doors or locks on them.  Nonetheless, a man courting me insisted there was.

Adam was adamant, I must sip a cocktail or two.  He said an alcoholic beverage would quench my thirst, or his?  I think access was his quest.  This longtime bachelor was certain much was concealed.  However, verbally, intellectually, emotionally nothing was.  Adam repeatedly assured me alcohol would open doors; perchance it was my privates that he thought too closed.  Sex, combined with drugs are just not what rocks me to roll in the hay.  Perhaps, this too is a subject for research.

Drugs too are my dread.  For many being alone is the fear.  Depression often sets in when people are forlorn.  In the minds of many, sex is release.  The pressure passes with ejaculation.

For others, intercourse creates greater unrest.  It is not sleep deprivation they fear, it is intimacy.

Those that marry may have more sex, or at least more satisfying intercourse, and less partners.  However, that cannot be assumed.

Widows and widowers cannot be characterized as clinging or free to be foot loose and fancy.  They are as are we all, uniquely engaged or disengaged for reasons that are physical, physiological, and physiological related to our peers, our personal history, our  individual perceptions, and perhaps numerous other factors.

Chronological age and Auto Immune Deficiency (AIDS) are aspects that influence our decisions to dive deeply, just as the Age of Aquarius did.  Baby Boomers, some of which were surveyed in this recent study might believe that they suffer from obsolagnium.  Therefore, they are less active.

You may not find it [obsolagnium] in an ordinary dictionary.  But if you are over 50, you may well be familiar with the concept, because it means waning sexual desire resulting from age.

In fact, it is rarely age per se that accounts for declines in libido among those in the second half-century of life.  Rather, it can be any of a dozen or more factors more common in older people that account for the changes.  Many of these factors are subject to modification that can restore, if not the sexual energy of youth, at least the desire to seek, and the ability to enjoy sex.

Nor is it just hormones.  Addressing only the distaff half of the population, the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, in its newest work, Our Bodies, Ourselves: Menopause, points out: Our sexual desire and satisfaction may be influenced by our life circumstances, including the quality of our sexual relationships, our emotional and physical health, and our values and thoughts about sexuality, as well as by the aging process and the shifting hormone levels that occur during the menopause transition.

The same, of course, is true of men.  Difficult life circumstances can do much to dampen anyone’s libido.  Stress at work or home, looming bankruptcy, impending divorce, serious illness, depression, a history of sexual abuse and a host of medications are among the many things that can put a big crimp in your desire for sex at any age.

While this recently released report tenderly touches on the dynamics of our sex drive, while the statistics titillate and tantalize the public, there is so much missing from this survey.

People ponder and read the results wondering, Is it normal to forego fondling?  Are we weird if we want or do not want a partner, a playmate, or perhaps something is wrong with society if men stray more than women.  Any and all of these queries are valid; yet without answer.

This survey implicitly states Sex alone is not a significant indicator of what is.  Statistics may measure the size and scope of an issue while not satisfying  the soul.

The study of intercourse while under the influence of drugs or alcohol may elicit information that is more revealing.  Nevertheless, after assessing all the data, I think we must come to the same conclusion.  For the most part, sex is in the city and it occurs throughout the country.  Many citizens in America are hot and trotting.  Might you be a person off to the races.  Do you seek lovemaking or sex for conquest.  Is the act an indulgence when in a drug induced stupor, or is a real connection your quest.  Do the numbers make you more or less of a cad or are they an occurrence in your evolution?

There is much to think about.  I will ponder as I rest.  I wish you pleasant dreams.

Sex, the Sources . . .

Sex Education; Abstinence or Advancing Knowledge?

copyright © 2006 Betsy L. Angert

The sight of a New York Times article peaked my interest.  It aroused my curiosity.  This piece stimulated my psyche.  Reading “Muzzling Sex Education on Anything but Abstinence,” by Samuel G. Freedman was an experience.  Reflecting on this essay was the climax of my day.  I found the information in this expose fascinating.  Were it not so sad, this scenario would be almost humorous.  It says much of today’s mores.

Apparently, in the early part of this year, a Bill, the Healthy Teens Act, was working its way through the New York State Legislature.  In April, the proposed plan passed in the Assembly by a vote of 126 to 15.  In May, The Senate’s Health Committee approved the same measure; the tally was 15 to 2.  The initiative was doing well, just as expected.  It had bipartisan support.  A Republican representative sponsored the Bill in the Senate.  Moderate groups such as the League of Women Voter’s and the Young Women’s Catholic Association [YWCA] of Greater New York endorsed the measure.

This Sex Education Bill was written with compromise in mind.  The consensus a cooperative sponsorship would appease many concerns, and discussion of a controversial issue could be concluded.  However, this was not the case.

The measure never became law.  It did not reach the floor for a vote.  The expected final passage never came to fruition.  Instead, the initiative never moved after being sent to the Senate Finance Committee, ultimately, the Legislative session concluded and hopes were dashed.

the demise of the bill, though, makes plenty of sense when understood in a national context.  This piece of legislation provided just one more front in a much larger political, cultural and scientific battle between proponents of sex education that teaches abstinence only, led by the Bush administration, and those who want classes to deal with contraception also.

As the Healthy Teens Act was faltering, similar bills were being denied floor votes in Illinois and Minnesota, states that, like New York, are far from strongholds of the religious right.  While about two-thirds of states require public schools to teach about H.I.V. and sexually transmitted diseases, fewer than half mandate sex education, and most stress abstinence, according to a survey by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group.

Thus, we have it.  The Christian Coalition rules America.  Its reign has been long and arduous for those that think more freely.  This organization has controlled America’s purse strings and dictated philosophical position since Ronald Reagan took office.  Ronny called them the “silent majority”; however, under his tutelage this organization gained fame, fortune, and force.  Since the early 1980s, the Christian community has gathered greater strength and more political prowess.  Now they are the dominant force.  They cannot be reckoned with.  There is no reasoning with this dogmatic assemblage.  They have God on their side, or so they believe.  What they do have are dollars.

“An ideological push and a billion bucks creates a wave,” said William Smith, the vice president of public policy for the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, a sexual-health advocacy organization.

What Mr. Smith referred to is a trend toward federal financing of abstinence-only education that began in the early 1980’s but gathered money and momentum as part of the welfare-reform law passed in 1996.  That statute provided $250 million over five years to courses that had the “exclusive purpose” of promoting abstinence.  The pace of federal spending on abstinence-only education grew to $80 million annually by the last budget of the Clinton administration, and to $170 million by 2005, according to a report by Representative Henry A. Waxman, a California Democrat.

Abstinence and sex education are interesting subjects for me personally, for I was not raised conventionally, while the vast majority of my friends were.  Prior to my birth, and possibly, probable before the birth of my elder sisters, my Mom filled the bathrooms with magazine racks.  My family was well known for spending hours on the bowl.  In each of the lavatories were books, strategically placed.  The topics of these were no less significant than their position.  The titles related to sex and reproduction.

In my younger years, constipation was my constant companion.  Perhaps that is too much information, or more than you wished to know.  However, that too may be relevant to this story.  At the ages of 1 to 5 years, I had no interest in sex or reproduction; however, I did want something to pass the time with something other than my own thoughts as I sat on the pot.  

At this point, I need to share my truth.  I toilet trained myself at eight months.  I began reading in school seven months later.  Therefore, for me, time in the bathroom could be used wisely; it could be devoted to learning.  My Mom understood this and took advantage of an opportunity to teach.  She did not wait to have “the talk.”  Nor did she anxiously await my queries.  My Mom never bothered to anticipate those crucial questions.  She acknowledged that children are curious.  Early on, they investigate; they begin with their bodies.

My mother thought this a healthy exploration and she did not wish to leave me wanting.  She made information readily available.  Biology books geared to children were easily accessible in the restroom.  Adult references were also within reach.  Hardbound joke-books addressing issues of the body were nearby.  As was the now famous Eros series by Allan Ginsberg.  Discussions of sex and reproductions could be found in these impressive periodicals as well.

Periodically, my Mom would ask me of my understanding of the human body and its reproductive organs.  By the age of five, she was satisfied; I understood.  Later, as friends began asking quizzical questions, or telling “dirty jokes,” I found these silly.  They knew nothing, postulated much, and accepted theories of the uniformed, immature mind.  I never engaged in these musings.

At the age of eleven, my parents decided that there was reason to fear the life of suburbia.  While an academic education may be better in these elite communities, the opportunity for learning may be limited in such a culture.  The conclusion was, we would move to the city for two years.  I would attend middle school in an area that might expose me to sex, drugs, and violence.  While that might be thought scary, risky, or ridiculous to some, my parents thought, during the middle years peers mattered more.

All through my junior high school experience, I was open to those expected elements.  I recall attending a slumber party shortly after school began.  The boys crashed the gathering.  Through the rumor mill, I had heard that one young man established, he and I were “going steady.”  I was not flattered.  I thought it foolishness.  I also discovered he expected that on that night I would “put-out.”  I did not even know this person of the male gender.  Nor, did I intend to get to know him; at least, not in the way he demanded I must.  When physically rejected, he threatened to break-up with me.  I thought that was fine, actually better than fine.  I never thought we were “going together” in the first place.  I had no interest in pursuing a sexual entanglement with a man I was not familiar with.  

For me, the lessons I learned in the bathroom and through discussions with my Mom and Dad were more meaningful than having someone physically touch me.  I had been touched more deeply by the wisdom of words and images, those furnished by my parents.  They helped me to understand that sex would not satisfy a need for love.  Naturally, it would stimulate the body; however, that differs from the stimulation a mind, spirit, or soul might need.

The constant, continual, caring, and informative dialogues with my parents came naturally.  There was no pretense or posturing; punitive pronouncements were not offered.  I believe these conversations created a sense of comfort and confidence that, at the time, I did not know I had.  Upon reflection, I think the reason I did not engage in the drug scene that surrounded me; nor did I participate in the violence was because I felt no need to escape, find the love I did not feel, or prove myself powerful.  My parents did not cause me to feel less than.

I am and was aware of the fact that many of my friends did not have an open relationship with their parents.  They craved love and attention.  They wanted to feel safe and secure in their homes; however, mostly they did not.  My acquaintances were desirous of dialogue.  They wished to have parents that they could talk to about anything.  Few did.  In most families, the pattern was established; parents were authority figures.  The relationship was not friendly.  Asking for answers was a futile endeavor, especially if the subject was sex.  Thus, my friends sought soothing elsewhere.  Often, they found it in sex.

While my parents presented me with literature on contraception and assured me that when I was ready, I could come to them and we would discuss the options.  The parents of my fellow classmates did not speak of sex; nor did they offer information.  The topic was off limits, or boundaries were set.  Some acquaintances found themselves pregnant; others married early just to get away from their families.  Situations were sad, and for many the sorrow increased as they aged.  

Early decisions to engage were not informed; they were emotional.  Those that were taught to abstain indulged more frequently and freely.  Those given restrictions, rebelled.  The stories are numerous.

I, on the other hand, waited until I thought the time and person was right.  I discussed the decision with my parents.  I obtained contraception with my parents’ permission.  Sex for me, was not an escape.  I had no reason to run.

Yet, my reality is feared.  The “right” believes sex education is the enemy.  [My parents did enroll me in a district that provided sex education.  For me, this instruction came late; my earlier instruction was solid.]  Opponents of the Bill most notably the New York State Catholic Conference stated, in a formal memorandum, this initiative presents a “failed philosophy of sex education.”

The conference raised the specter of classes being “turned into preparatory courses on casual sexual intercourse, with encouragement to use birth control.”

As journalist Freedman offered, this . . .

contention hardly qualified as a new line of debate.  What is different now is the broader dispute, inextricably bound up with national partisan politics, about whether abstinence-only programs work.  This dispute is the ambient radiation around the Healthy Teens Act and its failure.

As abstinence-only programs have become more common, rates of teenage pregnancy and out-of-wedlock childbirth in the United States have indeed dropped – by one-third for girls, ages 15 to 19 in the years from 1991 through 2003.  In New York State, rates not only of teen pregnancy and birth but also of most sexually transmitted diseases have been declining.

While these statistics give rise to hope for such programs, I think what is hidden safely from view is vital.

Two prominent researchers in adolescent sexuality, Peter Bearman of Columbia, and Hannah Brueckner of Yale, found a more complex picture. While teenagers who took virginity pledges as part of abstinence-only programs started sexual activity later and had fewer partners than did other peers, they were just as likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases, the scholars concluded.  These young people also tended not to use contraceptives if they became sexually active, and engaged in oral and anal intercourse in the belief such that activity did not violate the virginity pledge.

It seems obvious to me, though my opinion is only my own.  Restrictions among my peers may have been more punitive and thus led to greater rebellion.  However, limitations offer little learning.  Those lacking a full understanding will seek further fulfillment.  A confined or controlled mind will benefit no one.  The body will become its conduit.  It will explore, seeking the knowledge it does not have.

The New York State Senate leaders may have decided to let the Healthy Teens Act lie.  However, sadly, those without sex education are likely to choose a “good [and unprotected] lay.”