Pubdate: Tue, 04 Jun 2002
Source: Union, The (CA)
Copyright: 2002 Nevada County Publishing Company
Author: Lorraine Warner


Regarding the May 11 column by Mary Collier:

Your goal is to prevent adolescent sexual intercourse. I applaud your 
efforts to teach adolescent girls how to withstand the messages of our 
sex-saturated popular culture. I also would applaud any efforts you might 
make to influence the toning down of that sex-saturated culture - to use 
your energy to protest the excesses of corporate advertising, driven by 
profit over morality, in the sponsorship of sex-saturated television 

I disagree, however, with your characterization of others working with 
equal sincerity to empower young women to prevent adolescent pregnancy and 
STDs. You imply a lack of sincerity on the part of those who try to empower 
young women who may not adhere to abstinence, and assume they support 
succumbing to "the lures of sexual activism ..." Your assumptions and 
argument are disingenuous. Before you assume you hear a "condescending" or 
"cynical" tone of voice in others, listen to your own voice. Your analogy 
"we'll provide you with unfiltered cigarettes without the consent of your 
parents" is a condescending misrepresentation. The ones who are providing 
adolescent girls with the metaphorical "unfiltered cigarettes" are most 
often their adolescent peers.

It would be wonderful if abstinence education would solve the problem, if 
teaching adolescents the hazards of sexual activity, cigarette smoking and 
drug-taking would actually keep them out of trouble. We all know that it 
may help, but it certainly hasn't eliminated the behaviors. Abstinence is 
only one of the tools we can teach young women to use as they build their 
lives. Taking pot-shots at others who are also sincerely addressing the 
same problems doesn't help any young women make the best choice for 
themselves, and is really only hurting your own credibility.

Lorraine Warner

Grass Valley
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