My Sexual Miseducation
On September 5, 2012, 2:00 PM by Rosie Spinks
When it comes to women and sex, it’s time for everyone to stop blushing and for old white men to stop talking.
If you happen to be a sex positive individual—one that believes that all safe expressions of sexuality should be celebrated, not shunned, and that people of all genders and sexual orientations should be able to approach sex on an equal playing field—then the past few weeks have been jarring, to say the least.
First, Mitt Romney threw moderation to the wind by choosing one of the most ideologically conservative Congressmen as his vice presidential running mate. You name it, Paul Ryan is vehemently opposed to it: abortion, even in cases of rape or incest; Planned Parenthood and free contraception for women; the right for same sex couples to get married; and the idea that the legal definition of hate crimes should include those committed against homosexual individuals.
Next, the radicals, occupiers, and liberals of the world grappled with what to make of WikiLeaks messiah Julian Assange, a man holed up in London’s Ecuadorian embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces multiple counts of rape and sexual assault. Some of his defenders employed euphemisms, insisting the allegations he faces shouldn’t be described as rape, but as “bad sexual etiquette.” Others have suggested that the contributions Assange has made in terms of government accountability and transparency entirely outweigh his minor sexual misstep (re: penetrating a woman while she was asleep without bothering to use a condom).
Then, there was Todd Akin’s now infamous statement that “if it’s a legitimate rape,” pregnancy is very rare. His words, of course, carried with them the insinuation that some rapes are fake, illegitimate, or—as some of Assange’s defenders might say—“honey traps.” Immediately, progressive Internet outlets and media personalities lambasted Akin for his comments, and many wondered how a man with a wife and children (that he presumably participated in creating) could be so ill-informed about the rights, biology and anatomy of females.
And throughout this week’s Democratic National Convention, female speakers like Lilly Ledbetter, Sandra Fluke (of Rush Limbaugh ‘slut’ fame), and Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards are set to advocate the importance of free access to contraception, sexual education and women’s rights—all topics that one would like to consider readily understood by non-cave dwellers living in the 21st century. Sadly, they are not.
While the ignorance, embedded misogyny and antiquated set of ideas underpinning Akin’s remarks shocked many, they didn’t shock me. That is because for six years of my young adult life I was educated with a similar set of values. In other words, I went to Catholic school.
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