Virginity or death!

I usually don't agree with much of what The Nation's Katha Pollitt writes, but this article was quite simply jaw dropping.

Imagine a vaccine that would protect women from a serious gynecological cancer. Wouldn't that be great? Well, both Merck and GlaxoSmithKline recently announced that they have conducted successful trials of vaccines that protect against the human papilloma virus. HPV is not only an incredibly widespread sexually transmitted infection but is responsible for at least 70 percent of cases of cervical cancer, which is diagnosed in 10,000 American women a year and kills 4,000. Wonderful, you are probably thinking, all we need to do is vaccinate girls (and boys too for good measure) before they become sexually active, around puberty, and HPV--and, in thirty or forty years, seven in ten cases of cervical cancer--goes poof. Not so fast: We're living in God's country now. The Christian right doesn't like the sound of this vaccine at all. "Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful," Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council told the British magazine New Scientist, "because they may see it as a license to engage in premarital sex."

You can read the rest at http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20050530&s=pollitt

Continued in the extended entry...

The moralistic minority's assault on sexual common sense and public health, isn't about sex, or morality, or protecting women, or valuing life, or even about traditional values, but about control, plain and simple. Control over their daughter's bodies, control over all women's bodies, control over other people's sex lives.

Condoms, birth control, HPV vaccines, and other ways to take the negative consequences away from sexual activity threaten this narrative of control. This is why common sense ideas are constantly opposed by the right. Programs to actually reduce abortion are opposed while they chip away at Roe. (While there are some good, sincere, people out there who disagree with most of this site on the abortion issue, my theory is that there are some people who just want Roe overturned so that they no longer have to be nice to young pregnant girls. Back to the old "kick 'em out" and "ship 'em off".)

It is only in a narrative of control that it makes sense. What else winds these threads together? The moralistic minority has people who denounce homosexuality, but sodomize their wives. It includes bishops who denounce "sexual immorality", then shelter child molesting priests. It has advocates of "family values" who are on marriage number 2,3,4... To these people, sex means power and is a way to control people.

This is not to say that being sexually conservative means that you are anti-sex or that you believe in controlling other's sex lives. Quite the contrary. Many promenent liberals have very dull sex lives. Jimmy Carter only committed adultery "in his heart". Nancy Pelosi has been married to the same man for over 40 years and has 5 kids. Very blue Massachusetts has the lowest divorce rate in the nation. In fact, if you look at these facts in light of the control narrative, this too makes perfect sense, because people who do not see sex as a means of control would probably have more stable relationships.

What this means is that attacking the moralistic minority as "anti-sex" or "prudes" or anything else that strictly refers to the sexual realm is missing the point. Without addressing the underlying control narrative, this is ineffective at best and probably counter-productive.

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Comments

2 Comments

All about control
But of course!  When you understand their motives, their seemingly contradictory actions suddenly make perfect sense.

I don't believe for a second that those who lead these anti-abortion battles give a damn about babies, pre-born or born.  They care about returning the fear of pregnancy and, as your diary so accurately describes, fear of any negative consequence back into the sexual equation.

Best to keep the little ladies chaste until they marry, preferably young, and then keep them busy with their "God given" boat-load of kids so they can no longer influence business or politics, etc.

Katha Pollitt gets it.  You obviously get it.  So when will the Democratic Party get it?

by bellarose 2005-05-14 03:31PM | 0 recs
Re: All about control
Abortion doesn't quite fall along these lines.

Access to contraception, accurate sex education, and gay rights are certainly cut and dry issues where opposition to these clearly falls under the control narrative. With abortion, however, there are people who are pro-freedom and pro-woman, but still have serious ethical problems with it.

A good example of this would be Harry Reid. Reid gets notoriously mixed ratings from most groups both sides of the abortion issue. If you break it down, Reid's voting record is generally pro-reproductive freedom - unless abortion is involved. Reid believes abortion is wrong and draws the line there. Otherwise, his record is pretty good. My own position is fairly similar to Reid's.

by wayward 2005-05-25 06:37PM | 0 recs

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