Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bristol Palin as an Abstinence-Only Speaker? *facepalm*

It has been confirmed that Bristol Palin (daughter of failed Alaskan governor, failed vice-presidential candidate, and failed reality TV star) will be the keynote speaker at St. Louis, Missouri's Washington University's Sexual Responsibility Week (aka "Sex Week") conference. In 2008, the keynote speaker was Dr. Drew Pinsky, radio host, TV personality, and an actual licensed physician and surgeon. My question is: how can Washington University go from someone who knows what the hell he's talking about to someone who has no credentials in the medical industry, and is, in fact, the perfect example of how you should NOT behave?

First of all, I would like to note that I'm not discriminating against every teenager that has ever gotten pregnant. As having been in that position, myself, in my teen years, I know how difficult it is. The difference is that I: a) educated myself on the details of responsible and healthy comprehensive sex education, something that my school was severely lacking in (which was blatantly evidenced by the numerous pregnant teens throughout the school grounds, many of which ended up dropping out of high school), and b) got an abortion as soon as I possibly could. The high school in which I attended most of my formative years taught abstinence-only in their health classes, misinforming the student body with inaccurate information regarding contraception, barely, if at all, discussing induced miscarriages, and exaggerating the consequences of sexual activity. The consequences of all this clearly showed through the numerous cases of pregnancies throughout the school. Granted, a lot of these kids had problems outside of school, which did not help their situations. That means that it's more difficult for them to speak with their parents about the realities of unprotected sex that the school was not able to provide for them.

What makes me utterly baffled is that Bristol Palin, poster-child of the failure of abstinence-only programs, will be speaking to college students about abstinence. What would make more sense is if she's going to discuss why it's ineffective, but my best bet lies on the notion that she will be speaking the very opposite.

Study after study shows that abstinence-only education is ineffective and, what's worse, misinforms students about contraceptives and fails to talk openly about abortion. (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/tgr/06/5/gr060504.pdf) And yet, according to the Washington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/26/bristol-palin-sex-week-washington-university_n_814153.html), Palin will be receiving approximately  $20,000 for her utterly useless speech on why she thinks the "abstinence only" method is in some way practical or realistic.
According to a Guttmacher.org article:
Research is beginning to suggest how difficult abstinence can be to use consistently over time. For example, a recent study presented at the 2003 annual meeting of the American Psychological Society (APS) found that over 60% of college students who had pledged virginity during their middle or high school years had broken their vow to remain abstinent until marriage.
 Also, many people who make the abstinence pledge consider themselves "abstinent" if they avoid solely vaginal intercourse. Everything else is in the gray area, like oral sex, masturbating a partner, anal sex, etc. What they are misunderstanding is the fact that one can still contract an STI through these practices. Finding loopholes in your abstinence pledge is not being responsible with your sexuality, your health, or the health of those that you are involved with.
Encouraging this tripe by paying the woman who is a clear example of why the abstinence-only method is ineffective to talk about abstinence-only is bullshit. It needs to stop. Yes, I will admit, I giggled when I first heard that Bristol Palin would be talking about abstinence, but after the initial facepalm at the irony, I began fuming about the situation. Not just her being paid twenty grand to speak about something that is just as retarded as promoting the use of a Coca-Cola Douche to prevent pregnancy (http://www.momversation.com/articles/9-most-bizarre-birth-control-methods), but the federally funded abstinence-only education nationwide. It all makes me ill.