Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Harnessing the basic instinct

In The 40-Year-Old Virgin, a teenage girl wants to try sex but her mom disapproves. The mom's stance is that she's too young and maybe they should start going back to church. Steve Carell's title character offers to take the daughter to a sex education class, where he secretly hopes to learn something himself. After an explicit lecture on sexual maneuvers, the teen decides she's too grossed out to get busy for now.

Taking the mystery out of sex is a far better deterrent against irresponsible sex than abstinence. I learned about the mechanics of sex at an early age through books and pamphlets, and it struck me as something not to take lightly. The specter of venereal disease, in particular, ensured that I'd never engage before I was responsible enough.

Michael Douglas' recent statement that HPV caused his throat cancer is another stark reminder of that. Though there's been debate over the accuracy of his admission, it is indeed a plausible scenario. So even if it turns out Douglas is simply a victim of other throat-thrashing hard living, the awareness brought by his remarks should remain in the public consciousness.

The HPV vaccine has been the catalyst of debate for a while, with conservatives objecting to its use among schoolchildren. It's not hard to see the link between this stance and the "it'll just give them ideas" opposition to sex education. As statistics show, though, abstinence education is not particularly effective — whereas sex education fosters safe sex and, interestingly enough, abstinence. Similarly, the HPV vaccine could prevent plenty of infections in the future — assuming fear-mongering forces don't stop its application.

When it comes to sex, education is always the way to go. Even if that education isn't always the sexiest of images.

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