Monday, January 24, 2011

Pretty Condoms In a Row

Extremely cold weather the last few days. My car's outside temp reading dipped below the zero degree mark the last two mornings. I was curious to see if it would actually display a negative number but it did. In fact, this morning it displayed a negative number for the majority of my route. When it finally warmed up to zero then topped out at 3 degrees I was tempted to open my window and let in this warm air.

Yesterday the papers were very late getting to the warehouse so I did most of my route in the light. A new perspective for many of the neighborhoods and homes of my customers. Also, I witnessed a very pretty sunrise while noticing a just-off full moon on the other side of the sky. The sun and moon in the sky together is an interesting sight.

Finally, not many deer out these last few days. Funny, when the weather gets extreme, the animals know enough to stay in shelters but the humans still go out!

A new friend of mine who frequently submits letters to the Phila Inquirer, recently sent one regarding an Inquirer editorial supporting a contest in conjunction with the distribution of condoms in our city schools. (I believe the contest was to create a new wrapper for the condoms in hopes of increasing interest, hence increasing condom use.) My friend's letter expressed displeasure that rather than promoting abstinence and self-control, the Inquirer was supportive of a school program that more or less condoned teen age sex. In response to his email detailing his letter and asking for feedback, pro and con, I sent the following response.

Dear ...,

You may recall that this was the topic that began our correspondence, and, dare I say, friendship. I had submitted a letter to the Inquirer about teen pregnancy to which you responded. If you further recall, we disagree somewhat on the subject.

As I may have said to you before, I believe that humanity is evolving, physically, emotionally, spiritually.

As I see it, this evolution as it relates to sex has developed in the following manner. (This would be my personal viewpoint, I didn't read it anywhere).

A. The Beginning to the discovery of a link between sex and children

My understanding is that man spent many eons in ignorance of the relationship between sex and conception/children. One could argue that this was a good thing as the species needed to breed to increase its chances to survive. The base workings of this time are still present today; in men, a stronger sex drive (create a blood line), and in women, the desire for family and the nurturing aspect of raising children.

B. The Time when that link was understood by women (only)

I assume that at this point, women understood the relationship between sex and children. I would bet that research into most of the civilizations of the past would reveal lore passed along from mother to daughter as to how to keep from getting pregnant. Of course, since men wrote much of the history that we read, this information may be hard to find but I am sure that women figured it out long before men. How long that time lasted I will leave to greater minds than my own.

C. The Time when men (in charge) finally figure it out

Whether there was a Benedict Arnold among women along this topic or just that finally men started thinking with their big heads, sometime in history the link became apparent to the men in leadership positions. Unfortunately, since men are more about power and control, all the institutions of the day were adjusted to include this new knowledge. Whether by religious or government control, men incorporated this new knowledge in their need to be in charge. Sometimes sex was good such as when procreation of those like oneself was involved, sometimes bad. To defend men, there were decisions to limit sex that were actually good for society, such as no sex between family members or with farmyard animals, but in general, it is more about control. This is best reflected in the fact that so much of the birth control methods are for women, a gender with such a complicated reproductive system when compared to men.

D. The Time when contraception becomes widely known

Finally, through science and despite the control mechanisms (still ongoing) from religion, everyday contraception is available to most people in societies like our own. (There are still leaders that don't allow birth control in their country because they are still stuck in level C above). While we still struggle to define when sex is appropriate and for whom, we at least understand the link between sex and pregnancy and have the resources to engage in one while preventing the other. But the evolution of our emotional understanding of sex is still to come.

E. The time when our understanding of the mechanism of sex is matched by the evolution of our emotions concerning sex

This time is yet to come. Birth pangs of this time are evident in the fact that our young people use sex for all sorts of emotional gratification rather than for its true uses; responsible pleasure and/or procreation. But I believe that eventually, sex will be treated as I have indicated. Young people may still have sex, but not because their peers do, or because they are bored or because they have not progressed beyond the base instincts that I detail in section A. Of course, as is true for all generations of young people, they will at times engage in foolish acts, including sex. The good news is that birth control will not be about controlling the actions of certain populations but about preventing pregnancy for people either too young to be parents or not desiring to be parents.

I think that in the end, we still confuse birth control with preventing sex. It is about preventing pregnancy. Take out the emotional baggage and it seems pretty clear that we want all people, children as well as adults, to understand that sex leads to pregnancy and so if one believes that sex is an expression of love, then true love includes some form of birth control in that expression.

Or, to put it another way, if you believe that sex among young people is irresponsible, fine, continue to give them solid, rational, practical reasons why they should not participate. But isn't it as irresponsible to withhold the process of birth prevention to those same people? Does it help to stand above them and say - see, I told you so when they get pregnant for lack of knowledge of prevention?

As always my best regards,


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