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← Just Say Yes…To Sexist Stereotyping?

Cartomancer's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by Cartomancer

One problem with discussions of this topic, it seems to me, is quite what people understand by the term "abstinence".

I find it somewhat unhelpful to define "abstaining" from something as simply "not doing it". Abstinence, surely, is not doing something in the specific case that you actually could do it and want to do it.

It would sound incredibly peculiar to say that I abstain from mountain climbing, speaking Spanish or having sex. I have no interest at all in mountain climbing, I can't speak Spanish, and although I want sex I am too repulsive to get any. I don't do any of these things, but I don't abstain from them either.

Which, I think, is an important distinction to make in terms of sex education. What we should be aiming for is to teach people the facts and help them to develop healthy decision-making and critical faculties when it comes to deciding whether, when and how to tackle the sex thing. Young people shouldn't "abstain" from sex, they should have the confidence and understanding of the situation to decide that it's not something they feel comfortable doing until the time is right. Choosing not to have sex because it might be risky is not "abstaining" from sex, it's not actually wanting that sex in the first place. Yeah, people get horny, but that's not the sole contributor to their decision-making.

So yes, I do think "abstinence" is not a helpful word in this context. Particularly given the unfortunate connotations the word has with such creepy religious practises as fasting, monastic asceticism and the lauding of poverty and punishment.

Fri, 18 May 2012 01:01:30 UTC | #942121