Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ignorance Leads to Unsexy Consequences

Easy or prudish? Those are the two categories that any American is bound to be placed, should they live in Europe. Sad as it may be, when I was working in France, it wasn't a rare occurrence to be told statements like "American girls are afraid of sex, they are like nuns!" and "Rumor has it, Americans will have oral sex before having vaginal intercourse...French women won't do that!" all in the same week.

While neither "easy" nor "prudish" is a desired title, stereotypes don't exist in a vacuum and this image of Americans represents a lot about our culture. With the abstinence-only programs in curriculum's across the nation, students are educated about sexuality in terms of waiting, but are left in the dark when hormones inevitably kick in and tempt them to join the 95% Americans who have sex before marriage (
feministing.com/Guttmacher Institute.) Sure, these programs may create a more passionate, uncontrollable, "heat of the moment" feeling when youth first start experimenting with sexuality, but it's not giving them the information necessary to make decisions about their health.

That unpreparedness is starting to show. In fact,
the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just announced that America is "among the highest rates of STDs of any developed country in the world," linking a lack of comprehensive sex education as a main reason for our poor ranking.

Abstinence-only programs are
not working. Out of any age group, it is young adults that are most affected: each year, almost 19 million newly sexually transmitted infections are found in 15-24 year olds!

Wrap your brain around these figures (brought to you by Reuters and the CDC):

* 1.2 million cases of chlamydia were reported in 2008, up from 1.1 million in 2007.

* Nearly 337,000 cases of gonorrhea were reported.

* Adolescent girls 15 to 19 years had the most chlamydia and gonorrhea cases of any age group at 409,531.

* Blacks, who represent 12 percent of the U.S. population, accounted for about 71 percent of reported gonorrhea cases and almost half of all chlamydia and syphilis cases in 2008.

* Black women 15 to 19 had the highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea.

* 13,500 syphilis cases were reported in 2008, an almost 18 percent increase from 2007.

* 63 percent of syphilis cases were among men who have sex with men.

* Syphilis rates among women increased 36 percent from 2007 to 2008.

Fired Up? Now go educate yourself! Speak to someone about your options and proper condom use! If you're part of a campus FMLA, take it to the next step by working with your regional campus organizer to arrange for a speaker to educate your campus! Take control of your sexual education to avoid becoming a statistic or culture stereotype!

photo credit: Alex_Morrice at photoshop.com

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