Squaring the Culture

"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

07/08/2009 (11:12 am)

Brit Government Condom Program Doubles Teen Pregnancy

In the “Urban Yuppie Myth Gets Mugged by Reality” category (a cousin to the “things an 8th grader could tell you that we have to waste research dollars proving” category,) the UK Daily Mail reported a British Department of Health survey showing that a program aimed at reducing teen pregnancy by handing out condoms and teaching safe sex resulted in doubling the rate of teen pregnancy among the girls in the program.

A multi-million pound initiative to reduce teenage pregnancies more than doubled the number of girls conceiving.

The Government-backed scheme tried to persuade teenage girls not to get pregnant by handing out condoms and teaching them about sex.

But research funded by the Department of Health shows that young women who attended the programme, at a cost of £2,500 each, were ‘significantly’ more likely to become pregnant than those on other youth programmes who were not given contraception and sex advice.

A total of 16 per cent of those on the Young People’s Development Programme conceived compared with just 6 per cent in other programmes.

This speaks directly to the incredible myth believed by a large number of Americans, that somehow teaching our already-media-sex-saturated kids about sex and giving them condoms is a means to reduce both teen pregnancy and sexually-transmitted disease, but that encouraging them to refrain from sex will have no effect. A recent survey of research reporting on comprehensive sex ed and abstinence programs in America reported that abstinence programs actually work better than comprehensive sex ed.

The British launched their program in 2004 based on reports from a program in New York that, in retrospect, may have cooked the books in order to seem more effective:

The failed YPDP, launched in 2004, was based on a similar scheme in New York claimed to have significantly reduced teenage pregnancies.

However, attempts to replicate the work elsewhere in the U.S. did not lead to a fall in teenage pregnancies, casting doubt on the project as a whole.

So, the British program spent £6m on 2,371 teenage girls over a three-year period, and following the New York program’s lead, managed to double their pregnancy rate. The program also aimed at reducing the girls’ cannabis usage and drinking, but apparently had no effect on these.

The report, commissioned by the UK’s Department of Health and published in the British Medical Journal, claimed that the program failed because it gathered at-risk girls into a peer group, which produced pressure on the girls to conform to a self-destructive life pattern. If this assessment is correct, it appears possible than any program that pulled these girls together might have failed for a similar reason, unless that program also empowered the girls somehow to resist peer pressure. However, it is clear that gathering them for the purpose of saying “be safe, and use condoms,” does not solve the problem. This seems like a no-brainer: it’s hard to imagine a teenager in our media culture who does not already know too much about both sex and condoms, and the few who fit that description are probably those least in need of the knowledge.

What teenagers lack is a clear message from the culture saying “It’s virtuous to say ‘No.'” Lacking such a clear message, kids who feel peer pressure to engage in sex in order to fit in have no grounds from which to resist. Widespread abstinence programs give them those grounds by spelling out the consequences of too-early sexual involvement and providing an unambiguous message from adults. Contrary to the urban myth, children do listen to adults, and mark both their convictions and their behavior; they rebel, but they expect parents to resist their rebellion, and they despise those who don’t.

fourabortionsThe saddest item in the story was the sidebar photo, which I’ve clipped and included, reporting a young lady by name and announcing: “No regrets. L… L… had four abortions by the age of 16.” The loosening of sexual mores is normal and healthy for teenagers, don’t you know?

American Boomer parents are afraid to be “hypocrites” by instructing their kids to abstain from sex until they’re in a position to handle it responsibly (e.g., the sexually active couple will be able and willing to care for the kid if they get pregnant) because so many of them acted irresponsibly. This is craven madness. “I made a mistake, so it’s appropriate for you to make the same mistake.” This makes sense? Boomer parents need to grow balls and tell their kids the truth: that premature, casual sex puts them at significant risk of debilitating diseases and pregnancy, that having a kid out of wedlock will make their lives much harder and the kid will suffer as well, that abortion is a risky surgery that endangers future fertility and produces powerful, negative feelings from which it will take them years to recover (not to mention that it’s grossly immoral), and that they are not ready to have sex until they are able to take care of the children that sex is designed to produce.

Or better yet, they tell their kids what one woman I knew told her daughters: “Sex will kill you. No, I don’t mean AIDS; I mean if I find out you’ve been having sex outside of marriage, I will kill you.” Now, that’s parenting.

06/08/2009 (9:21 am)

The Sexual Revolution Cracks the Melting Pot

A Pew Hispanic Center survey of children with Hispanic parents in the US reveals that third-generation Hispanic children are not as prosperous as their parents in all areas, displaying lower birth weights, more serious health problems, and a greater propensity toward anti-social and self-destructive behaviors than their parents. The deterioration seems to be tied to the growing number of Hispanic children raised in single-parent homes — a trend they developed since arriving in the US.

From the Washington Times editorial discussing the results:

“The children of Latino immigrants experience better outcomes than do Latino children in the third or higher generations” the study found, the reverse of how the Melting Pot process is supposed to work. Hispanic children of U.S.-born parents have lower birth weights, more health problems during childhood, and higher rates of smoking, alcohol and illegal drug consumption. They also engage in more violent or delinquent behavior as adolescents.

The historical pattern in America has been that succeeding generations of immigrants fare better than their parents; their health, income, and social stability improve as they assimilate into American culture. We Americans are proud of this heritage, and ought to be.

However, the latest wave of immigrants is breaking the mold, and it appears that it’s due to something they acquire after they arrive. The divorce rate of foreign-born Hispanics is lower than that of white non-Hispanics, but that seems to change as they assimilate. Sixty-nine percent of 1st generation Hispanic children live with two parents, and 72% of 2nd generation Hispanic children live with two parents. By the time the families have lived in the US long enough that the 3rd generation is born — Hispanics who were themselves born in the US start to have children — only 52% live with two parents, while 38% live with a single mother. Thus, not only are the 3rd generation Hispanics suffering health and social adjustment effects from broken homes, but they seem to have acquired the habit of divorce from their American neighbors.

From Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health of 2002:

Marriage trends among Hispanics have been studied less often than trends among others. High overall marriage rates among Hispanic women (especially in the context of their low socioeconomic status) set them apart from other ethnicities, as does their greater propensity to marry even when marriage markets are tight (i.e., when the number of potential partners is low relative to the number of unmarried women). At the same time, however, trends toward greater social and economic assimilation among Hispanic immigrants have fueled increases in divorce, as many have adopted mainstream American cultural patterns.1

Thanks to the persistent efforts of Progressive entertainers, educators, jurists and politicians, America has developed one of the most sexually permissive cultures in the history of the world; and that permissiveness is now poisoning immigrants who come here searching for a better life. Welcome to the Progressive United States of America. Perhaps we should dismantle the Statue of Liberty and replace her with a very large NC-17 warning label.

(1) Bean, Berg, and Van Hook, “Socioeconomic and Cultural Incorporation and Family Behavior Among Mexican Americans,” Presented: Washington, DC, American Sociological Association Annual Meetings, August 1995.

05/20/2009 (2:11 pm)

Abstinence Ed Outperforms Comprehensive Sex Ed

In a survey of more than 100 studies covering the past 20 years of research in the social sciences, the Institute for Research and Evaluation concluded that “…when measured by the same standards of effectiveness, comprehensive sex education programs in America’s classrooms do not show more evidence of success than abstinence education programs.” Quite the contrary, in fact: when the criteria applied to the programs include measurements of changed behavior lasting more than a year following teens’ program participation, practically none of the comprehensive sex education (CSE) programs produced any measurable change, whereas at least three of the abstinence programs sustained significant reduction in teen sexual activity more than a year after the teens finished the program.

Significant findings from the comprehensive survey of the literature included the following:

  • No school-based CSE programs had been shown to increase the number of teens who used condoms consistently for more than 3 months.
  • No school-based CSE programs demonstrated a decrease in teen pregnancy or STD rates for any subgroup for any period of time.
  • No school-based CSE programs demonstrated that they had increased both teen abstinence and condom use (by the sexually active) for the target population for any time period.

By contrast to these results, school-based abstinence education programs produced the following results:

  • Three recent peer-reviewed studies of school-based abstinence education found significant reductions in sexual activity for the target population of program participants. Two of the programs, Heritage Keepers and Reasons of the Heart, reduced the number of teens who became sexually active by about one-half, 12 months after the program. A third abstinence program, Making a Difference, produced significant reductions in teen sexual activity 24 months after the program.
  • In Emerging Answers 2007 one study of school-based abstinence education found a significant delay in the onset of teen sexual intercourse for the target population of middle school students, 18 months after the program.
  • Several studies have also found that abstinence education did not decrease condom use for teens who later became sexually active.

The last finding is crucial because the usual argument raised against abstinence education is that it leaves kids ignorant of responsible condom use. That’s always seemed ridiculous to me. I would guess that if you surveyed 1,000 middle school kids, you wouldn’t find a single one that didn’t know what a condom was, or how and when to use it; and if you did find such a kid, it would be one of those least likely to actually need the knowledge for the next decade. Hell, I knew how to use condoms at that age, and that was 1966!

The survey disputes commonly-reported findings suggesting that abstinence education produces no effect, while comprehensive sex education does produce positive effects.

From the IRE press release:

Since the purported advantage of CSE is that these programs can increase both abstinence and condom use (among the sexually active), IRE examined whether there were programs that succeeded at both. While 44% of the CSE studies showed improvement in abstinence, there weren’t any school-based CSE programs that demonstrated increases in both abstinence and condom use for the target population (two had subgroup effects), thus showing no real advantage over abstinence programs.

IRE then analyzed these school-based programs according to what it considered to be more meaningful standards of effectiveness: 1) Did the program increase teen abstinence or consistent condom use? 2) Did this behavior change occur for the target population and not just for a subgroup of students? 3) Did the effect last at least one year, that is, from one school year to the next? Applying these criteria, IRE found that a higher percent of school-based abstinence programs were effective than CSE programs: 36% vs. 25%.

This review contradicts recent claims made in Time, Newsweek, and a Congressional letter circulated by Rep. Paul Hodes (D-New Hampshire) that abstinence education has failed while comprehensive sex education has been successful. Dr. Weed expressed surprise that the lack of evidence of CSE success in schools had not been reported: “Research evidence does not support the widespread distribution of comprehensive sex education in the schools or the elimination of abstinence education as a viable prevention strategy.”

The survey suffers from the relatively small number of studies analyzing abstinence education programs; however, the studies that were available were peer-reviewed and published in scholarly journals. A survey by the Heritage Foundation of at least 10 studies showing positive results from abstinence education can be found here.

Personally, I found the emphasis on condom use disappointing. Condoms are notoriously weak at preventing pregnancy among the young (their effectiveness increases with the age of the participants), and they don’t do much at all to prevent the spread of disease. Perhaps I should not be surprised — researchers frequently sport agendas, just like anybody else — but I found it disturbing how many of the studies purporting to measure the effectiveness of sex education programs did not even bother to examine the rates of pregnancy or incidence of sexually-transmitted disease; they simply assumed that condom use would take care of all that. Studies of abstinence education made a similar assumption — those who abstain would not get pregnant or contract an STD — but they’ve got a somewhat better case for that assumption.

It appears to me that the American press and social progressives generally cannot be trusted on any topic that involves the choice to engage in sexual contact whenever and however the individual chooses. On all topics touching this arena, the press, staffed as it is almost entirely by social progressives, routinely reports fiction to mask the astoundingly dire consequences of sexual licentiousness. Folks who rely on the press believe that gays are just straights with a binary switch turned the other way, homosexuality is caused by genes, abortion is a harmless procedure with no serious side-effects, there’s no way to stop kids from engaging in rampant sexuality, there are no serious health consequences from early sexual activity, condoms actually help prevent the spread of STDs, and sex ed classes train kids to engage in sex responsibly. All of the above are urban myths, the new fantasy world of the American libertine culture. Not one of those statements stands after reviewing the relevant research, of which there is plenty. And yet, incredibly, the folks who have bought all these myths, actually believe they’re supported by sound research.

There may be no way to stop all teen sex, but we certainly prevented a lot of it by constructing a culture in which it was taken for granted that well-behaved kids waited until they were ready to marry. The fact that the 1960s culture did not engage in anything within several orders of magnitude of the current level of teen sexuality is proved by the incredibly low numbers of teen pregnancies and of venereal diseases in the 1960s culture, when compared to modern statistics.

Make no mistake; it makes a difference if you tell your kids consistently that they’re not ready for sex, and that they should refrain until they are. It’s not an instant cure-all, and it’s not the only thing you have to do, but doing it makes a difference.

02/25/2009 (11:02 am)

Another Total Shocker: Degrading Sexual Music Increases Teen Sexuality

Another notch in the category, “Things an 8th grader could tell you that we have to waste research dollars proving.” And no, I’m not opposed to the research; I’m disgusted at the rationalizing and dissembling by social progressives as they dismantle civil society that makes this sort of research so necessary.

Dr. Brian Primack of Pitt’s outstanding medical school discussed his findings yesterday from research soon to be published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, demonstrating a strong correlation between hours per day listening to music containing “sexually degrading” lyrics and early teen sexual behavior, and thus also with sexually-transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy. An abstract of preparatory research by the same authors may be seen here.

Dr. Brian A. Primack of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine says the study demonstrates that, among this sample of young adolescents, high exposure to lyrics describing degrading sex in popular music was independently associated with higher levels of sexual behavior. In fact, exposure to lyrics describing degrading sex was one of the strongest associations with sexual activity…

The study, scheduled to be published in the April issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, says those with the most exposure to the lyrics describing degrading sex were more than twice as likely to have had sexual intercourse, compared to those with the least exposure.

This seems to agree with a RAND study published in Pediatrics back in 2006, that reported similar findings.

The immediate question that springs to mind is, “What do they mean by ‘sexually degrading’ lyrics?” The abstract and articles do not contain that information; however, I was able to find an NPR interview with one of the RAND researchers from 2006, and he defined “sexually degrading” lyrics as lyrics “…that portray women as sexual objects, men as having voracious sexual appetites, and sex itself as inconsequential.” They differentiated those from lyrics about loving all night and forever, and so forth.

kool_g_rap_front_view1The researchers seem to believe that their research illustrates a “cultural message” mechanism, wherein young people take their behavior cues concerning how to treat their budding sexuality from the messages that are available in the surrounding culture. If they frequently hear “Screwing casually is what adults do” when they’re discovering their own sexuality, then they screw casually.

Duuuuuhhh… ya think?

It would be a bit more difficult to construct the research that proves that exposure to lyrics portraying non-marital sex as wonderful, uplifting, eternal, and universal encourages teenagers to engage in sexual relations outside of committed relationships, because such messages are so common that it would be virtually impossible to find subjects not affected by them. However, it’s already been demonstrated that teens who watch more sexy TV are more likely to engage in early sexual activity, and more likely to get pregnant, than those who watch less. And frankly, I don’t have the slightest doubt that the decades-long drumbeat of approval for casual, non-committed sex in the popular media is the motive force behind the epidemic of venereal diseases and teen pregnancy our nation is suffering. And if you feel like responding “But, teen pregnancy is down,” be sure to include your answer to “Down from where?” It may be down from 2001. It’s not down from 1960, that’s for sure.

Allow me to repeat a favorite theme of mine when this topic comes up: condoms don’t help. If you wonder what’s my basis for saying this, here’s where I discuss it in detail. The short version is, birth control is not disease control, condoms fail remarkably frequently and especially among the young, and if you increase condom use by a factor of 3 while you’re increasing sexual activity by a factor of 10, both pregnancy and disease accelerate. “Condoms” is an excuse generated by the same social malefactors that tell us that random teen sexuality is “normal and healthy.” The despair and infertility of a generation is on their heads. They should be driven from polite society.

The NPR interview after the RAND study contained some interesting material illustrating why we cannot allow the music industry to police itself. Listen to this observation from Danyel Smith, Editor-in-Chief of Vibe Magazine, when asked whether rapp was getting a falsely negative image:

A lot of rappers, and more than I would like to see, especially male rappers, are saying things about women that I would not want my niece to hear until she was well into her 20s, and then only if she was forced to. But what I am saying is, while I don’t like it, everything is not for me to like. I just don’t want to shut these guys down. I want them to have their ugly moment. I think this is is an angry, ugly spurt in rap music, I think this is unfortunate, but I think it needs to happen.

Earlier in the interview, Smith offered her opinion that the burst of abusive sex talk in rap music was a reaction to years of the black community having their sexuality stifled by society. I have to wonder which years she meant; I don’t recall any racist memes that insisted that blacks were not sexual at all, or insisting that they ought not to be. Quite the contrary, in fact. I think she’s just repeating urban myths — the one that says if you tell yourself “No” to sex too much, eventually you’ll explode, and the one that says that when you fall into angry and abusive speech patterns, that “gets it off your chest” and then you’ll stop and be all better.

I have no respect for either claim; they’re both sheer nonsense. There’s all the difference in the world between repression and self-control, and learning self-control reinforces itself — it gets stronger the longer you practice it. Choosing to behave in a sexually responsible manner, even to the point of abstaining from sex until you’re married, does not hurt anyone, nor does it cause any sort of explosive behavior. (Abstaining out of neurotic fear is another story.)

Furthermore, the habit of speaking in angry and abusive patterns also reinforces itself. Sometimes it’s necessary, for a moment, to resort to candor where you’ve been practicing restraint, but that’s a completely different matter. Opening the gates to permit a flood of sexually degrading language has not “gotten it off our chests,” it has filled our ears with filth, to which we’re gradually becoming numb and taking it in stride.

Is there a parental responsibility here? Of course. However, having raised four kids myself, I can assure you that parents’ ability to limit the cultural images their kids consume is limited, especially in this age of electronic gadgetry. One could, I suppose, deprive them of music, video, computer, TV, and movies, and lock them away from their friends, and then they’d never hear any of it. As soon as one permits them to step outside the house — even to go to school, or to their friends’ houses — they have access to an array of choices over which parents have no control aside from what they’ve taught them. Even a simple cell phone creates the opportunity for musical exchange, as does any computer worth owning. This level of liberty occurs in our culture long before kids have acquired the ability to make adult consumer choices, and there’s no proper way for a parent to control it, especially in a culture where other parents don’t.

I’m a strong advocate of free speech, but there are clear limits. The “crying ‘fire’ in a crowded theater” proverb applies here; if this sort of talk provably leads young people to behave in a self-destructive manner, then there exists no Constitutional protection for this sort of speech, and it should be banned. In an environment where national and international media cross borders in milliseconds, this is one of those arenas, a subset of “keeping the peace,” where a legitimate role exists for government. I would have little objection to a national ban on sexually degrading lyrics, and none at all to state and local bans.

Don’t “give them their ugly moment.” Shut them down, hard. Shut them down, now.

11/03/2008 (4:33 pm)

Shocker: Teen Pregnancy Tied to Racy TV

From the “how much money did they spend proving what an 8th grader could tell you” department, the Rand Corporation announced the results of research today demonstrating that teenagers who regularly watched racy TV shows like “Sex and the City” were twice as likely to get pregnant or cause a pregnancy in the following 3 years than teenagers who do not regularly watch such programming.

The new study is the first to link those viewing habits with teen pregnancy, said lead author Anita Chandra, a Rand Corp. behavioral scientist. Teens who watched the raciest shows were twice as likely to become pregnant over the next three years as those who watched few such programs.

Previous research by some of the same scientists had already found that watching lots of sex on TV can influence teens to have sex at earlier ages.

Shows that only highlight the positive aspects of sexual behavior without the risks can lead teens to have unprotected sex “before they’re ready to make responsible and informed decisions,” Miss Chandra said.

The study was released Monday in the November issue of Pediatrics. It involved 2,003 12- to 17-year-old girls and boys nationwide questioned by telephone about their TV viewing habits in 2001.

No objection to research, but somebody please tell me, why was this study necessary? Isn’t the connection obvious to the casual observer?

Expect the social progressives to produce bogus research indicating that TV is a minor factor. Expect it to reach the front pages of major newspapers immediately. Expect leftists to continue to ignore the destructive effects of increasingly blatant and casual sexuality.

In the meantime, make sure you inoculate your kids against casual attitudes toward sex. They won’t pick up your attitudes by osmosis; you have to teach them.

06/26/2008 (9:45 am)

Waxman Gets Pwnd

…and it couldn’ta happened to a nicer guy.

Starting in April, Rep Henry Waxman (D, CA 30th district) initiated hearings in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which he chairs, to evaluate the usefulness of federal funds spent on sex education programs that feature an attempt to tell kids to abstain from sex until they’re married. Fierce advocate of scientific inquiry and a concern for unvarnished truth that he is, Waxman stacked the panel with professionals who all have some stake in preserving traditional sex education that advocates condom use for safety.

Citizenlink.org produced a nifty little video (two and a half minutes long) that absolutely pwnd Waxman’s committee. Check it out.

Simply put, the majority of “experts” on the panel admitted that their advocacy would not be influenced by facts. Your tax dollars at work.

This is not the first time Waxman has gotten caught attempting to skew the public debate dishonestly. His last attempt was a minority report prepared entirely by Waxman’s staff, but touted inaccurately by the press as a Congressional Report, claiming that there was no support for the claim that abstinence education works. Fortunately, a true Congressional report exposed the fraud; unfortunately, the press didn’t really cover the rebuttal, so folks who rely entirely on news reports have been completely misinformed yet again.

The comment I made a couple of days ago, about how the hatred of Evangelicals may be mostly due to a broad-based desire among Americans to practice sexual incontinence, gets support from the sheer insanity I hear on any subject dealing with sex publicly. It does not take a scientific survey for us to know that more sex will lead to more pregnancy. This is knowledge that’s been available among humans for the entire length of recorded history. The primary variable determining whether you’ll get pregnant is “Did you have sex?” This is not controversial — or, it wouldn’t be if people weren’t trying to rationalize away sexual misconduct.

In sheer contradiction to the Facts of Life, however, we find advocates of “sane” sex education attempting to make the completely laughable claim that it’s not more sex, it’s abstinence education, that’s to blame for the rise in teen pregnancy — a rise that’s, just coincidentally, occurred in perfect synchronization with the rise in teen sexual activity. (I found a typical example at a blog called Cafe’ Philos. Too funny.) Also coincident with the abandonment of the abstinence ethic in America is the meteoric rise in venereal diseases, the rise in teen depression, and the rise in poverty — single women with children are the largest group of welfare recipients in America.

Waxman’s biased panel of “experts” is just one instance of a culture-wide pattern of frantic, fevered rationalization for the grotesquely irresponsible position we’ve taken about sex. More of us need to spend more time propounding the truth on the matter — despite how irritating it will make us seem to our neighbors. And, if we do it the way Stuart Sheppard does, above, we might even get a few laughs from it.

06/10/2008 (7:45 am)

Sexual Insanity Comes Home to New York

The New York Health Department released a study yesterday that found that 1 out of 4 New Yorkers has genital herpes. Of course, the rate for the rest of the nation is not much better; 1 out of 5 Americans has the disease. The study showed differing proportions by gender (women have it more than men), race (blacks more than whites), and sexual orientation (guess.)

One of the most striking characteristics of the Sexual Revolution has been the stubborn refusal of its victims to admit that they’re victims. For some reason, people are willing to suffer all sorts of diseases, relationship mayhem, poverty, and depression associated with the license to screw whomever, whenever, for whatever reason, rather than associate the pain with the behavior and change the behavior. This is insane. The nation relaxed its sexual mores in the 1960s, and since then we’ve generated an epidemic of venereal diseases, most of them unheard of before we started swapping partners so frequently. Worse than that, we’ve practically spawned an entirely new class of poor people, single women with children. The alarming rise in teenage depression and suicide is also related to the rise in sexual behavior among kids, and the majority of suicidal behavior among gays is related to broken relationships as well.

But, hey, sex is required for survival, and only disgusting religious prudes who can’t get any, raise objections to a libertine society. Right?

The article reporting the special New York epidemic introduced it along with America’s favorite Urban Myth:

Now might be the time for New Yorkers to take advantage of the free condom campaign the city promotes. A new study by the city’s Health Department found more than a quarter of adult residents are infected with the herpes virus.

The Urban Myth is that condom use can help prevent the spread of genital herpes. Birth control is not disease control. It’s a fact that the rise in the incidence of genital herpes — now possibly the most common venereal disease in America, or at best a close second behind HPV, human papilloma virus — has occurred during a period when condom use has been at its greatest. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2001 reported that condom use protects men somewhat, but does not protect women at all against the spread of herpes simplex virus II (I suppose this explains why more women than men are suffering from genital herpes).(1) According to an NIH survey of research the same year, there is not enough evidence to confirm that condoms prevent the spread of any STDs other than HIV.(2) Our culture’s emphasis on condoms as a means of keeping sex safe is an exercise in wishful thinking, not a sober strategy. It was accepted so readily because so many people are so eager to dismiss any restriction on their sexual appetites that they’ll grasp at whatever lame excuse comes down the pike. This is insane behavior.

Condoms help where body fluids are the transmission mechanism; herpes is spread by skin contact, not by fluids. Plus, the virus is smaller than many of the holes in the latex, so it can pass through on occasion. Of course, the kicker is that condoms only work when people use them, and sexual urges are perhaps the strongest antidote to self-discipline known to humankind. Condom use has tripled among sexually active teenagers — lots of publicity helps — but folks, if you increase the use of condoms by a factor of 3 while you’re increasing the incidence of sexual contact by a factor of 10, the spread of diseases accelerates. Again, this behavior is insane.

The solution is not, and never will be, more condoms. The solution has to be fewer sexual partners; the spread of disease is geometrically proportional to the number of sexual partners we have on average. Reduce the average number of sexual partners to one per person, and venereal disease will be completely eradicated in a single generation. 100% effectiveness may be too much to ask for here, but there was no epidemic of venereal diseases before 1960, so we know — we don’t think, we don’t hope, we know with 100% certainty — that cultural disapproval of sexual permissiveness prevents the sort of epidemic that our current level of permissiveness has produced.

Defending sexual license is simply, utterly insane. Did I say that before?

(1) A. Wald, A.G. M. Langendberg, K.Link, et al., “Effect of Condoms on Reducing the Transmission of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 from Men to Women,” Journal of the American Medical Association 285 (2001): 3100-3106.
(2) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Workshop Summary: Scientific Evidence of Condom Effectiveness for Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention, July 20, 2001.

Sex and the City TV Guide cover from http://www.tvguide.com. Cartoon from http://www.condom.co.nz. Rated NC-17, be forewarned.

Allow me to add a personal note here, for those of you who wonder whether I live what I preach. I am a recovering sex addict. My behavior during the time I was unmarried was far from exemplary. My behavior during my first marriage wasn’t so good, either, although I never had physical, sexual contact outside the marriage (as though flirting and internet contact weren’t bad enough). My position on sexual mores is the result of a lot of very personal, very painful experience. I was fooled, when I was young, into thinking success in sexual conquests would solve my other emotional angst. I was wrong. I see scores of teenagers at the high schools where I teach who are being fooled in the same manner. I spent a large percentage of my life destroying myself and my family with sex. Today, I’m watching my country destroy itself with sex. If drawing attention to it makes me a hypocrite, then I’ll be one, but there’s no way I’m going to stop saying what I’m saying. America’s sexual permissiveness is self-destructive, insane, and immoral.