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Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Sex Ed is Harmful to Girls

How Our Current Approach to Sex Ed is Harmful to Girls | Julie Kay & Ashley Jackson

"Our research shows that the more girls buy into stereotypes about how they are supposed to behave in relationships— most notably not to express or act on ...their own feelings and focus on others’—and about treating their own bodies as objects, the lower their self-esteem and the more depressed they are." Deborah L. Tolman, Professor of Human Sexuality Studies

"The gender stereotypes that abstinence-only [sex ed] curriculum contain are particularly harmful to young women. Abstinence-only curricula often portray girls as naturally chaste and boys as constantly struggling to control their rampant sexuality and raging hormones. Often these stereotypes undermine female sexual decision-making as well as female achievement by invoking age-old myths. For example, one curriculum ...teaches that “women gauge their happiness and judge their success by their relationships” while “men’s happiness and success" hinge on their accomplishments.”

[Another] curriculum warns: females need to be careful with what they wear, because males are looking! The girl might be thinking fashion, while the boy is thinking sex. For this reason girls have an added responsibility to wear modest clothing that doesn’t invite lustful thoughts.

...These sexist stereotypes so prevalent in abstinence-
only education are particularly harmful for young women during adolescence. This “hidden curriculum” on gender—teaching men and women “proper” gender roles as a necessary, but unacknowledged, part of teaching abstinence-only—portrays women as socially and sexually submissive and strips them of ownership of their own ambitions and desires. For young women, there is already a strong stigma attached to female sexual agency. Research shows that many young women feel that they lack power to make autonomous sexual decisions, a lack that often leads to risky, unhealthy, and unwanted sexual experiences."

"Sex, Lies, and Stereotypes: How Abstinence-Only Programs Harm Women and Girls", Julie F. Kay and Ashley Jackson.

You can download this whole document at www.legalmomentum.org.

Cartoon: Mike Peters

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