2008-11-08

Sex, red and blue

I'm done with punditry for a bit, but allow me this last jab: if you thought our current gang of thieves could be trusted to disperse a $trillion, hope the crack was tasty.

Jessica Palmer at Bioephemera has a little post on red sex vs. blue sex.
She quotes Margaret Talbot writing in New Yorker:
Social liberals in the country's "blue states" tend to support sex education and are not particularly troubled by the idea that many teen-agers have sex before marriage, but would regard a teen-age daughter's pregnancy as devastating news. And the social conservatives in "red states" generally advocate abstinence-only education and denounce sex before marriage, but are relatively unruffled if a teen-ager becomes pregnant, as long as she doesn't choose to have an abortion.
If only the twain could meet. Pregnant girls should not be ostracized, and rational sex education should be the norm (irrational sex education is on every channel and form of media). Stupid caves. I have no illusions about teenage sex -- pleaze -- but if there is an innate reason for the imbalance in those two mirror-image attitudes, I do prefer the red sex attitude.

4 comments:

D Keane said...

I doubt the two opinions share a similar or complementary source: I think "blue" hostility to teenage pregnancy has to do with (when it's one's own daughter) concerns about future education/work chances (and perhaps some elitist interest in not looking like one of the families on Springer), or (when it's other people's daughters) concerns about broader social economic costs. "Red" attitudes to pregnancy are often rooted in beliefs that God takes an active role in the world, and in the celebration (at least in major cases like the Palins) of life over abortion. Margaret Mead wrote that, in contrast to Samoa, American adolescents weren't given a period of sanctioned sexual experimentation. By my reckoning, it's only a bit of a strech to suggest that the possibility of being "Born Again" that is so key to many "red" Christians creates just that sanction. "Blue" Americans don't get that do-over, as whatever sex we have says something true and eternal about who we are, or so our ideas of sexual identity have it.
(I will now go an perform acts of penitence for using "Big Sort" blue and red language.)

D Keane said...

And "penitence" for using so many "scare quotes." Also, when I referred to the Palins as "major," I meant to say public.

sexyretard said...

I'm in a red part of a blue state. As a Christian, I know that people are flawed and do not suppose that they will always act correctly (and know full well that I do not always act right). As such, a pregnancy is not "news"--that a young lady is a sinner is a redundant statement (just like saying that an old lady is a sinner or a young man is a sinner is redundant to the born again types associated with, but not limited to, red state America). I am never surprised at a pregnant teen nor do I think one iota less of her for being pregnant. If anything, I admire the pregnant teen for keeping the baby. I wish the girl would have abstained before marriage, but hell, I wish I had, too.

I suggest that the blue approach to pregnancy and the blow it is to one's future is based on the idea that society is improving and can be perfected, or at least greatly improved. A pregnancy comes along and the vision of future happiness is dashed.

The Christian is under no such illusions. For one, we believe that the earth's future is, well, fucked. While our particular lives may go well or poorly here on earth, there is no sense that the road is going to be a comfortable one. As such, pregnancy represents a challenge to an already challenging life, and the utopian vision of tomorrow does not exist, with our without children.

douchashov said...

Sorry it's taken me so long to respond. Been thinking a lot about these comments, and the sex and pregnancy issue in the context of the Prop 4 parental notification loss in California.

I admit I don't know much about Samoa or how ritualized sexual experimentation is (or more likely, was), but absent ritual it seems to me that in the case of "blue" sex, there is a fine line between expecting and sanctioning teenage sexual experimentation. Absent social structures that mandate marriage in the case of pregnancy, the push for sex education and contraception allows children to follow their sexual urges without consequences that would force them to become adults. And isn't this a key element in the development of adultesence?

The mainstream attitude is that pregnancy for a teen is an absolute bad, hence the social stigma. Teen pregnancy can only mean an unhappy future, hence the need for pregnant teens to be able to obtain an abortion without their parents' consent. A parent who thinks it would be best for their child not to obtain an abortion is guilty of child abuse, and the only way the child will get ahead is if they are able to come to their senses and have an abortion. Is this an extreme view? It's the only way I can understand the erosion of parental rights inherent in the ban on parental notification requirements.