Sex Ed in Bed
Sex: Shhh! It's a secret
By Jallen Rix, Ed.D. (c).

I’ve been on a rant lately about how we let fear dominate our attitudes and actions regarding sexuality. In this column I’m setting my sights on our government and how they use fear (among other things) to keep information (not just sexual) from us. In fact, to generate hysteria they don’t just use fear, but they use and exploit the very age group that they profess to be protecting — “the children.”

Yes, every capitalist knows that one of this society’s biggest sources of revenue comes from children. Who else has their hands on the billfolds of parents, but kids. Couple that with everyone running around desperately attempting to retain their youth, and you have a country where the “innocence of the young” is God incarnate. This becomes a trump card. Even the comedian, Kathy Griffin jokes that whenever she wants to do fundraising for a charitable organization, she just says, “Oh! It’s for the children,” because she knows that will get people to turn out their wallets. So anytime our society takes another genuine step in its evolution and encounters something new, like the internet, there always is someone swaying public opinion in their direction, who says, “It’s not good for the children.” We all feel obligated to jump on the band wagon, or at the very least, we’re afraid not to. After all, who’s going to align themselves against the children? What makes this manipulative is that the message is made as a blanket statement instead of posing it as a question.

It’s very important to ask the question, “Is something good for children, or for anyone for that matter?” Of course you should not barrage a child with constant information s/he can’t understand. That’s just plain cruel and a waste of time. But that’s the extreme scenario everyone leaps to when we’re afraid of “damaging children with information about sex.” When’s the last time you heard anyone say, “Wow! My whole life has been screwed up because my parents gave me too much information?” Compare that to how many people say, “Wow! I’ve had a difficult time with sexuality because my parents didn’t talk to me about sex?”

But not only is asking the question important; finding the answer is too. Fortunately, sexologist, Dr. Janice Epp competently does that for us. She points out that if a child asked a parent about what the moon is, and the parent explained astrophysics, the child is not scared for life because s/he was told more information than is comprehendible for that age. Of course not, the brain doesn’t work that way. The child simply absorbs the information that can be understood, harmlessly discards the rest and goes back to playing on the monkey bars. If Driver’s Ed. was taught like Abstinence-only Education, then it would be saying you can’t have any information about driving a car (much less looking under the hood) until we give you a driver’s license. How silly is that?

Yet, that is the very argument that our government uses to withhold information, sexual and otherwise from the public. Starting with President Reagan there have been five different Surgeon Generals who have left their positions (or were fired) because they believed that sexuality information needed to be more in the hands of the public and the White House wouldn’t listen. Now with the war, and government phone-taping, the White House seems to have stooped lower than ever before. I admit, I get some of my news from the Daily Show, mainly because they are sometimes the only ones speaking to the ludicrous injustice of it all. One thought that John Stewart has brought out is that the government is now collecting and withholding so much information that it’s impossible for them to prioritize what data is really important. The other idea that Stewart has verbalized is that our government, in the guise of national security, asks the country to trust its closed-door decisions while violating our privacy any time it wants, when it really should have nothing to hide from us while its protecting our right to privacy.

It’s said that knowledge is power and knowledge defuses fear. By their own fear-based rhetoric they treat the public like children because they believe the truth hurts us. We can no longer let them insult our intelligence or the intelligence of generations to come. The days of fear-based power are numbered. At least when it comes to sexuality I will not let them blame “the children” as an excuse for with-holding information we all need to have.

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