Friday, November 20, 2009

From Ideology Comes Sloppy Logic

I've heard about You're Teaching My Child What? for quite a while now and mostly dismissed it as yet another anti sex-ed book.

So, when I spotted this book review, I decided to spend a few minutes reading it to see if there was any reason to think that the book was anything worthwhile.

It isn't.

Although the author is an MD, it's pretty clear that the book is written to reinforce most of the complaints that the anti-sex-ed crowd loves to throw about.

Society has now gone from two STDs, syphilis and gonorrhea, to more than two dozen, some incurable and even fatal. Chlamydia is a common bacterial STD that can cause sterility, but can have no symptoms and is readily transferred back and forth between males and females unnoticed. The protection advocated by sex ed groups is a misnomer; condoms are little protection against many of these STDs. On the other hand, as the good doctor notes, all STDs are 100 percent avoidable, through abstinence, and then monogamy.

Uh huh. We all know just how well that policy works in reality.

Of course, when they turn their attention to sexual minorities, the argument degenerates into the usual "oooh - look how creepy this is".

...keep in mind that most of the “experts” spewing forth information on these websites are not physicians or psychologists or psychiatrists or educators, but are activists, and many are so gender confused because of their own behaviors and sex changes they don’t know who they are. Some are “peer educators,” and the rest would have been described as sexual deviants just 50 short years ago, as they dabble in every kind of unnatural behavior, then describe it, and share it with teens, encouraging imitation.

Oh yes, people who are GLBT are just soooo strange aren't they? Not so much in reality. But this has been part of the anti-gay arsenal for decades - an attempt to erase the person by lumping them into the category of "alien" and "bizarre".

Chapter Seven in the book, devoted to “Genderland” is a real eye opener. Blaming society’s culture for what they described as an assigned bipolar male and female gender system, the transformers described here make a serious departure from reality as they try to address the gender identity issues they have created. On some teen websites there are quizzes to help one determine one’s gender. (Gender is no longer biological fact, you see, but how one identifies oneself, e.g., female at birth now male or transgender, or intersex but identify as male.) This goes far beyond even the homosexual/heterosexual/transgender labels we’ve come to know, and is accompanied by new language; “ze” to replace “he” and “she”, and “hir” an alternative for “his” and “her.”

Let me point out a couple of things here - puberty - and therefore teen years - are when cross-gender identities become real issues for those who have them. There is little more horrifying than to see your body turn into something that you weren't meant to be.

Second, the language of "ze", "hir" etc. is not a commonly used construct in the transgender world. Those are terms that have emerged out of the world of gender and queer theory studies, and are not commonly used - even within the communities that would benefit from them in principle. Again, this is little more than more of an attempt to signal to the reader how unimaginably bizarre the world of cross-gender identities must be.

It’s hard enough, says Doctor Grossman, when teens and pre-teens feel mixed up about many issues, but the question “Who am I?” needs to be answered before the challenges of adulthood present themselves. Teens are not miniature adults. Theirs is a world of emotional intensity, with strong drives and hormone overloads. Documented in the book are expert findings showing adolescents have a lesser ability to reason. One neuropsychologist explained: “adolescents are more prone to react with ‘gut instinct’ when they process emotions but as they mature into early adulthood they are about to temper their instinctive ‘gut reaction’ response with rational reasoned responses.” Hard science reveals that it’s not a lack of information, but a lack of judgement that gets teens into trouble.

I'll agree that lack of judgment frequently does get teens into trouble. However, lack of information - especially about matters related to gender and sexual identity is asking for even more trouble. It's the teen years when sexual awareness and identity develop, and to blithely tell them to "wait until you're 20" is beyond daft, it's unrealistic. For those who struggle with gender identity issues, there are good reasons to make the information - along with access to appropriate therapists - available. Teens aren't stupid, and contrary to the popular fear-filled mythology of the religious right wing, hiding sexuality related subjects from them doesn't stop them from exploring. It never has, and likely never will.

Dr. Grossman makes clear in the book, which is very well documented, that the real goals of the sex education lobby are not to prevent pregnancy or disease, but to indoctrinate the young. It is this politicization of sex that will morally bankrupt our nation. The sex-obsessed want to spread their unnatural behaviors as they curry favor for dangerous and unhealthy sexual activity by relying on emotions and pleasures. They craft a false perception of the realities of free and open sex, desensitizing our youth to subject matter that used to be avoided in conversation among polite company.

And these sex transformers want to start earlier and earlier, with your child. Anatomically correct verbiage is to be used in kindergarden, and feelings expressed. Third graders are to have an exaggerated version of the birds and the bees talk. And teens, who are scared into avoiding tobacco and alcohol, are to be made to understand the pleasures of all types of illicit sex.

Oh yes, sex education is all about a political agenda. That's right up there with the alleged "Gay Agenda" (which I've never seen a copy of, but every homophobe out there is absolutely convinced it's real). This is another strawman argument, and by the sounds of this review, the entire book is essentially built on the same kind of silly, sloppy and hysterical reasoning.

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