Sexual Morality is defined as morality with respect to sexual relations. Sexual morals in our current society dictate that sex is only morally acceptable within the confines of marriage and only in ways that do not cut off the possibility of procreation. These morals rest on themes of social utility and personal excellence. The overarching theme being that the well-being of a society depends on a stable family life, and sex outside of marriage destabilizes the family. These sexual morals have developed in such a way that they permeate every aspect of our lives as Americans. These predominant morals are especially evident in the sexual development of our countries youth.
The idea that the only procreative sex between married persons is acceptable makes the open discussion of sex with young people a cultural taboo. The documentary, Let’s Talk Sex explores the effects that America’s attitude toward sex have on the sexuality of its teenagers. It does this by comparing America’s method of educating its children about sex with the ways that European countries go about educating their children in sexuality. America believes that the best method of sexual education is to shield its youth from any discussion of sex and to preach abstinence while Europe believes that in depth sexual education is the most effective method. The film makes the argument that the ineffectiveness of Americas methods can be seen in the fact that every day in America 10,00 teenagers catch a sexually transmitted disease, 2,400 young girls get pregnant and 55 young people are infected with HIV.
The documentary shines a light on the fact that American sexual morality is proving to be a dangerous thing for American youth. America’s sexual morals have led to America’s teens having the highest rates of pregnancy and contraction of infectious diseases in the developed world. This is an important issue to include in our understanding of the politics of sex because it is illustrative of the ways in which dominant social theories can put entire sections of the population at risk.
Both Let’s Talk Sex and the reading Purity and Pollution: Sex as a Moral Discoursefrom our Introductions unit explore the ways in which moral discourse has risked the greater health of our teenagers. It has done this by deciding what is moral and what is not on their behalf and by leaving them to educate themselves about sex. In her article, Fischer says, “In many school districts parents have protested against sex education that gives students birth-control information as part of the curriculum. The opinion of these protesting parents is that exposing students to this knowledge will lead them down the path to premature sexual relationships and unwanted pregnancies.” By depriving young people of vital information, adults have created the very outcomes that they hoped to avoid.
Before watching this documentary, I was unaware of the vast differences in the ways that America handles the sex education of their youth and the ways that other countries educate their youth about sex. I was under the impression that “abstinence is the only safe sex” was a universal idea. The idea of sitting down with an adult or authority figure to have an honest discussion about real ways to protect oneself from sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies is foreign. Now that I know of other countries where sex is openly discussed with youth, I feel deprived. At this point in my life I’m aware of all of the ways to protect myself from the outcomes of unsafe sex practices but I certainly did not learn them from a concerned adult. I had to watch my sister get pregnant at sixteen to deduce that having sex without a condom would get you pregnant. Members of my class in high-school had to contract sexually transmitted infections for me to even know that STI’s were a thing.
It is my honest belief that that America is setting its young people up for failure by choosing not to disclose valuable information about safe sex practices. The most baffling part about the choice to preach abstinence as opposed to educating youth is that the adults hiding the information were young at some point. They know very well what goes on with humans of a certain age. They know that young people have sex with each other and that abstinence is not a prevalent idea among American youth. They know because they were once sexually curious and uneducated youngsters doing what sexually curious and uneducated youngsters do: having sex despite encouragement to remain abstinent. America is not blind to the fact that abstinence only teachings are ineffective. It is not a secret that teens are having a lot of sex these days. The number of teen pregnancies alone is a testament to that fact. Why would a country continue to knowingly leave generation after generation of its young people unequipped to properly handle the sexual situations that they regularly find themselves in? My only guess is that they haven’t figured out how to keep tax payers happy and educate youth at the same time.