Abstinance and Bristol

I read on Facebook that Bristol Palin was getting $20,000 to talk about why people (students specifically) should abstain from pre-marital sex. Further research made it apparent that not all of the money will go to Bristol, but may also be used to fund other members of the panel on which Bristol will be speaking.

I don’t know enough about Bristol or her beliefs to really criticize her as person. But I know enough to criticize her being a spokesperson for abstinence. She has a son. Imagine being that son and finding out your mother spoke often about how teen pregnancy is a mistake. Wouldn’t you feel like a mistake? Okay Mistake is a strong word. Let’s say undesirable potential side-effect of having sex. That makes it better, right?

Unplanned pregnancies happen all the time. Ideally, the parents love them anyway. I’m sure Bristol loves Tripp and wouldn’t change her failure to abstain for anything. But, will Tripp be able to understand how his mother preaches how teen pregnancy is an avoidable undesirable side-effect of sex, but he’s the most loved thing in her life? Basically it comes down to one point. People who have a positive experience from something should not be a spokesperson against it. Since all children are supposed to be a positive experience, this should eliminate all unmarried mothers from advocating abstinence.

Other people can make the point that these young mothers might have had more success in terms of careers and education. Let other people use teen mothers as bad examples. The young mothers themselves should only claim to love their children and not comment on the mistakes that brought them into being. No child should ever learn that their mother would rather have had a different life.

Teaching abstinence is fine, if it’s taught as one of the options available to prevent pregnancy as well as STDs. No one wants to say it’s okay for their teenagers to engage in activities that might lead to bringing them into the world of parenthood before they are ready. It’s very easy to simply say, just tell the kids not to do it. Do these people realize they’re talking to children? I don’t know about you, but if I tell my children not to do anything, all I am doing is telling them there is something to do. If I say, “Don’t take the cookies from the cookie jar;” they hear, “There are cookies in the cookie jar.” If I say you can watch any DVD except these; those become the most interesting ones. Children, with the natural curiosity which led to humans dominating the biosphere, explore. We can’t prevent them from learning that sex exists. Once they do, curiosity will kick in. All we can do is educate them so they know what the dangers are and all the possible ways to avoid them.

I have no problems with this statement: Abstinence is the only 100% guaranteed method to avoid pregnancy. I think that statement should be taught to all children. I also think they should be taught what to do when nature takes its course and they fail to abstain. Condoms are a necessity in non-marital sex at any age. Pregnancy is only one of the ramifications of sex. There are STDs that can disable or kill. In addition to condoms, sexually active people need regular visits to a doctor to get checked to see what might have gotten around the latex, and things may. Since condoms are about useless if not used properly, proper application should be demonstrated. Banana’s work fine, there is no need for a more accurate demonstrative model.

Religious folks who think condom use is a sin, should accept that since they’re already sinning by having pre-marital sex, it does not increase the sin to use a condom. It is the lesser evil between blocking pregnancy and spreading disease. Assume anyone, chaste or not, can have an STD. STDs are not spread exclusively by sex, only primarily, but can be spread by other means. Virgins have died from AIDS.

Yes, teen pregnancy is usually a bad thing for both the mother and father. Teen mothers usually lose any chance at higher education, but they also lose the chance at a normal married life since teen fathers rarely wed the mothers of their children and women with kids as a pre-existing condition tend to have problems finding mates. This means that most teen mothers become single mothers. Teen fathers still are obligated to child support, but 30% of a fast-food wage isn’t much. Since they have to provide child support, Teen fathers often have trouble paying for the education or training they’d need to make more money.

Bristol on the other hand is an exception. She would not be a name anyone knew if she hadn’t popped out Tripp when she was a teenager and unwed. Sure, she’s the daughter of a prominent pop-culture (or political culture) figure. But, Sarah has five children. Most people cannot name any of the others? I don’t see Track, Willow, or Piper being asked to participate in Dancing with the Stars and Trig is still a tot, but he’s not likely either unless his mom actually becomes president someday. Due to her failure to abstain, Bristol is a celebrity, albeit a B-list celebrity at best. She should be the poster woman for being a responsible teen parent, not for abstinence. Tripp should never have to learn to understand how he’s not an undesirable side-effect like the would-be children of the pregnancies that Bristol’s abstinence platform is trying to prevent.

Bristol as a spokesperson for abstinence is like a lottery winner giving a speech against gambling from the deck of his yacht.

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