By Tessa Oman
The topic of sexuality is one that is seldom discussed openly. From contraception, to sexual education, students on this campus have many questions.
Why is our culture so closed minded compared to others?
This young woman wants to know why America is so afraid of sex. We plaster women on billboards and use sex to sell anything from workout equipment to fast food, and yet the topic of sex is terrifying. The documentary “Let’s Talk About Sex” on YouTube is the perfect resource to answer this question. The documentary discusses the difference in sexual education in America and that of Europe. We see that in places where teens are taught that sex is a natural, healthy part of life, they engage in safer sex and have healthier views on sex.
In a particularly concerning part of the documentary, an interviewer asks American teens and European teens what they would think if a guy had a condom in his wallet. The young woman from Europe responded with, “if they don’t you’re like ‘ok bye, see ya” (31:10); women in America, however, had more negative responses, saying things like: “I would probably, not necessarily lose respect for him but I would have a completely different view of him,” “I would run” and “I wouldn’t think he was the best guy.” This speaks to the way that we label sex in America as a bad thing. As a society we put sex in the same category as drugs. We’ve turned it into some taboo monster that mist be tamed, which leads to the next question.
How is a holistic, comprehensive approach to sexual education beneficial? Is there research that shows this?
I spoke with Lynne Fouquette a psychologist and professor at Skagit Valley College to help me answer these questions. In regards to our sexual education in the United States, it is beyond lacking. In regards to the rather pathetic sexual education in this country, Ms. Fouquette said “we say ‘don’t do it and I’m not going to tell you anything about it.’ It’s like handing a revolver to a four-year-old and saying ‘don’t play with this.’” When asked how a “holistic, comprehensive approach” would affect people, Fouquette replied, “there’s a ton of research that shows that it’s beneficial in a couple of ways. One is that they [people who receive comprehensive Sex Ed] delay the age of first intercourse and when they do have intercourse they are more likely to use condoms… Now here’s the big finding, kids who have abstinence only [teaching] have sex at the same age if not earlier and when they do have sex they don’t use condoms because they’re not told how.” This tells us that exposure to sexual education does not affect the age at which kids will start having sex but rather affects the overall safety and maturity with which they approach sex. In the YouTube documentary, Let’s Talk About Sex, an interview is done with a boy from the Netherlands who had this to say about a lack of open, comprehensive sexual education in other parts of the world: “If people weren’t so free and open to talk about stuff here and open to do stuff here I think the number of STD’s and the number of teenage pregnancies would increase incredibly” (29:10).
Another commonly questioned topic is women’s contraception. A student on campus asked:
What are the facts and figures associated with different forms of birth control and higher rates of pregnancy while using the specific type of birth control?
The effectiveness of any form of birth control largely depends on the ability of the user to use it correctly. According to plannedparenthood.org, with perfect use the IUD, Vasectomy, Sterilization and the Birth Control Implant are 99% effective. Breastfeeding as a form of Birth Control ranks in second place at 98% effective. Next, the Birth Control shot, pill, patch and vaginal ring are between 91% and 94% effective. Condoms are 85% effective and lastly, most other forms of birth control, such as spermicide, are around 70% effective.
The last question is one I developed for Ms. Fouquette while interviewing students for this article. What would you say to people who have “no questions.”
“They don’t know what they don’t know.”