Fact: Pregnant teens didn’t exist before the 1990s.

Posted in New Zealand, sex, sex ed on September 20th, 2011 by steph – 6 Comments

Naturally, with such a salacious topic as sex education being the scandal du jour, everyone has a very important and very, very correct opinion on the issue. It is about sex, after all. And to all those people who have taken this oppourtunity to shout about how modern sex ed is causing more teen pregnancies than it prevents, and how back in the day teens weren’t just getting knocked up willy-nilly,  so obviously modern sex ed is responsible for teen pregnancy, I’ve got two words for you: Magdalene Laundries. Or how about Bethany Homes, for that NZ flavour? Yeah, that’s right, we did actually have “fallen women” and “unwed mothers”; but maybe the reason you don’t think we did (aside from the fact you were probably not alive then…) is that we packed the dirty hussies off so respectable people didn’t have to see them or know about them.

So continue on with this revisionist history bullshit (BTW, did you know that we’ve always treated indigenous people in this coutntry really super well, for reals?), and go back to your sad little fantasies of the good old days with black and white TV and pies cooling on windowsills, back before the country was awash with young sluts. Really, please tell me more about how things were in a time back before you were born and where the reality of the situation was hidden from many people. I’m sure you are 100% correct and know all the facts about how things were back then.


The idea that comprehensive sex education is responsible for a rise in teen pregnancies is laughable, and the claim that ‘back in the day’ young girls didn’t get knocked up and now they’re doing it like it’s going out of fashion is just ignorant: statistics show that back in the day, teen girls did get knocked up at a pretty decent rate , and that now the rate of teen pregnancies is much lower than it was back in those glory days when teenage girls apparently didn’t get pregnant .

In the early 1970s, 70 out of every 1,000 teenagers had a child in any year. By the mid-1980s the figure had fallen to 30 per 1,000. Subsequently, it varied between 30 and 35 per 1,000 until 1997. There has been a general downward trend in the last five years, and in 2002 the fertility rate for teenagers was at a historical low of 25.6 per 1,000.

So that’s two strikes against the theory that the way people did it back then meant fewer pregnancies than the way we do things now (comprehensive sex ed). The fact that our teenage pregnancy rate is high when compared to other OECD countries isn’t the point: we aren’t making cross-country comparisons, but comparisons across time. And a comparison across time leaves the ways of the glory days of yore not really looking so shiny and fabulous. People trying to claim that we should revert back to how things were back then (don’t talk about it, and if you do get up the duff we might pack you off to “stay with an aunt” for a few months) because that was much more effective than the way we do things now are dreaming. Well, I guess part of the appeal is the shaming of young women for being sexually active, and in that case the good old days a probably a great model for that kind of attitude, and in that case maybe we should mimic how things used to be. Going back to the old ways isn’t going to make anything better because the new ways aren’t a problem. People may argue that having parent units in schools and not ostracising young mums is just promoting and encouraging girls to get pregnant at young age, but look at how things used to be compared to now: back then we hid and shamed, and the rate of teen pregnancy was higher than now when we are generally more open, and at least grudgingly accept things. That seems like basically the exact opposite to what is being claimed, really. I think the word ‘encouraging’ means that you’re getting people to do it more, and the idea that these days we promote teen pregnancy isn’t borne out in statistics showing a falling rate. But anywho, logic and statistics are for heathens anyway, so whatever.


Oh, and if you want a nice picture of how young girls in New Zealand never ever used to get pregnant back in the days before modern sex ed, maybe check out Piece of My Heart. Nope, no pregnant teenage girls being hidden away and used as slave labour before their babies were snatched away from them or anything like that. Ah, the good old days.


Posted in consent, sex on September 15th, 2010 by steph – Comments Off on Consent

I’m pretty much in love with this post over at Blue Milk disputing the idea that asking for consent is a total mood-killer. What resonated for me was this part here

I don’t know why the idea has persisted that asking for consent is necessarily a clinical business – what is stilted about – more? do you want to? do you like? Because “mood-killer”? Are you kidding me? That moment when they close the space between you both and ask you to put your cards on the table – is this on or not, can I do this with you – is one of the most heart-flippingly exciting moments in all of existence. Eat those moments up because they are the episodes of your life that you will daydream about when you’re ninety years old. That anticipation – that moment when your asking is simultaneously both aggressive and submissive – it is what fuels a billion films and books.

All I can say to that is hells yeah. Consent, and asking; these things are fucking sexy. Anyone who busts out the consent form point of argument could do with reading this post, and thinking about the heart-pounding excitement and anticipation of asking if something is ok, or asking if something feels good, or asking if a certain thing is ok. Putting yourself out there is part of the experience. And even though getting turned down, or maybe having things go differently to what you had imagined might not be the most fun thing ever, Blue Milk once again has said it best:

Granted it is not pleasant when you’re turned down, and for the record, it isn’t easy turning someone down, either. Something is usually lost; the end of a good conversation at the very least, and sometimes even a friendship. But it is a gamble you take because you can’t bear another moment of not knowing; it is the gamble you take because when someone says ‘yes’ to you it is about the hottest feeling you’ll ever know.

I Went to a Seminar, and it was Great

Posted in sex, sex ed on by steph – Comments Off on I Went to a Seminar, and it was Great

A friend of mine who is doing postgrad work in Bioethics invited me to a seminar on Monday: “Children’s Rights, Well-Being, and Sexual Health”, presented by Samantha Brennan.  And it was great! As someone who is interested in this kind of topic on a casual, reading-for-my-own-interest way and not someone who is involved in the philosophy/ethics/bioethics field, it was very thought-provoking. There is audio of the seminar here (near the bottom of the page). The direction of the seminar was based around earlier work on the goods of childhood and reframing childhood not as a time where you are working on the potential that children may have in adulthood but childhood as a valuable time in it’s own right. The seminar outlined two different discourses of childhood sexuality: the ‘sexless and romantic’ vs ‘knowing’ dichotomy, and the ‘out-of-control’ vs ‘developing’ dichotomy. It was very interesting, and I recommed listening to the audio if possible (it goes for about 45 minutes) – there were lots of interesting little ideas, like the idea that we consider teenage romantic relationship breakups to be less serious and legitimate, and the discrepancies between various laws about sexual behaviour and sexual services (one example given by Samantha, from back in Canada where she is based, is that the age of consent is 16 but the age at which you can go into a sex shop and buy a sex toy is 18 – someone could be legally able to consent to certain sexual activities, but unable to go to a skills/teaching workshop at a sex shop which discusses those certain sexual activities). More of Samantha Brennan’s work can be found through the links on her tumblr –  here, and at Good Reads, PhilPapers, etc.