I must warn you: this is a frank conversation. I get that every day I hear about pregnancy and STD’s and have straight talk with staff, clients, and volunteers. That being said, my filter on this topic may be different from your own. But I think it is important for us to deal with this topic openly if we want young people to listen to us and be real with us. Only then can we really have a chance to speak the truth in love to them.
I am not going to talk about the show this week but the website MTV constantly refers to during the show: http://www.itsyoursexlife.org/. They promote this site with the sentence: Teenage Pregnancy is 100% preventable. Yes, they make that strong of a claim. But when you go to the site, you get lots of information that at a glance seems good. Yes, you should talk about sex and the potential risks with your partner before even engaging in activity. But then the whole website is filled with information about condom use, getting tested, etc. The site is done in partnership with various organizations including the CDC and Planned Parenthood. i found one teeny tiny sentence that said this: “not having vaginal sex is the best form of preventing pregnancy”. (Um, last I checked that is the only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy). Also, I couldn’t help but notice they added “vaginal” which I think implies: other forms of sex are completely fine. They make it seem like while abstinence is the better choice, condom use is a close second place option. They really stress that proper use each and every time with a condom is almost 100% protection. But that is just not true. Here is their exact claim:
For those who are sexually active, the only protection against BOTH pregnancy and STD’s, including HIV, are condoms. Not only does the consistent and correct use of condoms offer protection against pregnancy, it can also reduce the risk for many other STD’s including HIV.
My problem with this line to a teenager is the implied full proof blanket condoms provide against pregnancy. Truth: even when used correctly each and every time, a condom is not 100% effective on pregnancy. From our experience at Hope Clinic, less than 20% of our clients use a condom each and every time. And then it says it “can reduce the risk for many STD’s”. Yes, this is true, but do they ever say that it still has nearly a 17% failure rate on STD’s? No.
And here is a ‘medical’ fact they don’t bring up at all that directly impacts the ’emotional side effects’: the normal hormone that is released in a woman after sex that cause her to want to ‘connect’ and ‘attach’ does not exist in men, so it is different for them. Most women have no idea why he doesn’t feel the same things after sex that she does. This leads to my biggest concern with the website.
Nowhere does it talk about the emotional and spiritual issues tied to sex. Nowhere does it discuss how to even discuss that part with your partner. It has reduced sex to just sex; an act that has only physical consequences (like STD’s and pregnancy). I guess out of the entire site, that is my biggest concern. As we deal with clients every day that may or may not be pregnant or have an STD…all of them have been affected emotionally by their choices. And many of them are dealing with the spiritual/moral issues as well.
I am not trying to bash MTV or even the facts on this website. I am actually grateful for them bringing the topic to light and they are trying to appeal to a wide audience. I am just saying, as a woman, as a coach, as a young adult small group leader, as the CEO of Hope Clinic, I can tell you sex is not just sex. If we convince young people the only life changing effects of sex are unplanned pregnancies and STD’s, we are ignoring the inner workings of our humanity. And until we talk about all parts of the issue we leave our young people defenseless and disillusioned.