- "Mom and Dad, you need to talk to me about sex."
- "I may not seem like I'm listening but I am."
But as the commercial continues, the tone starts to change a little and I'm starting to wonder where this is going.
- "If you talk to me about sex, I'm more likely to wait."
Ah, there it is:
- Voice-over: "Tell your kids you want them to wait ’til they’re married to have sex."
- Final screen, faint printing at bottom: "Paid for by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services."
Nonetheless, I was, and am, indignant that my tax money is going to tell me what I need to tell my son about sex, that I must necessarily believe sex should be saved for marriage. Because I don't. And not just because I had sex as a teenager. This is something I have actually thought through quite carefully.
Speaking in the most general of terms for the sake of brevity, the idea of saving sex until marriage is both outdated and sexist. Historically, women have been held to this standard much more rigorously than men; it is a way of controlling one's property--both the women themselves and the guarantee that the children who will inherit your property are actually carrying on your bloodline. Add to this the fact that women were routinely married off in their early teens and that the average age of puberty is thought to have been later than it currently is. Back then, it was quite possible for a girl to be married off before hormones had kicked in; now, kids are frequently looking at a decade or more between when they enter puberty and get married.
Allow me to play the gay card here too. The simple statement that people should wait until after they're married to have sex is inherently heterosexist. Given that gay marriage is not legal in the US, outside of Massachusetts, the message is that the gay kid should never expect to have sex or conversely that any sex they do have is bad. Yeah, I'm just not on board with that.
Now, I'm not advocating promiscuous, irresponsible, unsafe sex, and this is something my son will hear. For me, sex is something that ideally occurs in a stable, loving relationship and is the logical next step in expressing the love between two people who respect each other. On the other hand, I don't believe that sex occurring outside of that sort of relationship is the end of the world, causing irreparable damage to one's psyche.
I am sure that there are plenty of parents who will continue to tell their children to wait until marriage, whether because they truly believe it or because it is the easier conversation to have. That is their right--I disagree and would even be willing to discuss this, but I respect that parents must choose their own position. But I'm indignant that the government thinks it can choose my position for me.