Sunday, January 8, 2012

Retro Post: Culture Change

As various hate groups try to link the Penn State and Syracuse University scandals with the evils of homosexuality, it has become clear that they are right in a sense, just not in the way they think. There is a connection between homosexuality and the sex scandals, and it extends beyond to STD prevention, abortion prevention, teen pregnancies, and sexual education. What is abundantly clear is that this country needs a culture change in the worst way.

The taboo nature of sex and all things sexual has allowed misinformation and fear to run rampant. Part of the reason that it takes so long for molestation and abuse victims to come forward is because society tells them it’s not an okay thing to talk about. Part of the reason the United States is one of the worst countries in terms of overall reproductive health (including STD rates, teen pregnancy rates, and abortion rates) is because programs like abstinence-only/superior sex education are pushed in over 80% of our public schools. It shows, with emphasis, how stuck in the stone age we really are.

The taboo nature of sex has worked to fight an insidious two-front battle. It pushes abuse victims into hiding and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered individuals into the closet fostering an epidemic of poor mental, social, and emotional health in this country AND it makes society wholly incapable of dealing with these things when they are pushed into the limelight because real information has been made so sparse.

Given what science has come to discover about gender alone, that it is more fluid than we thought, that brain chemistry and genetics and anatomy are not always in sync, that anatomical males can have female brain chemistry and cells and vice versa, it is absolutely stunning how strictly we adhere to our preconceived categorizations of such things. But therein lies the problem, the information is so buried under our cultural prudishness that people don’t know enough to question the status quo. Transgendered individuals are freaks, homosexuality is wrong, and marriage has a very ironclad definition.

And what’s even worse is that the solution remains equally buried. We can combat the bullying of LGBT individuals with legislation, but that merely assigns a negative value to actions, it doesn’t address the root of the problem, people growing up in a culture of ignorance and misinformation. We can try to introduce birth control to teenagers to stop the spread of STDs and teen pregnancies, but that does nothing for the teens that are too afraid of their parents’ wrath to have condoms on hand to use, or mothers and fathers too stupid to allow their teenage daughters on birth control. We can pass age of consent laws, but an eighteen year old virgin with little sexual education is no better equipped to handle sex than a fifteen year old of the same status.

I can’t bring myself to believe that there is no solution. I can’t bring myself to believe that an aversion to sex is so deeply ingrained in who we are as Americans that we will never be able to escape from its clutches. Perhaps all we need is time, after all we’re talking about a culture change. That does not typically happen with any haste. I think we’re seeing it already as LGBT rights not only move into the realm of ‘mainstream issue,’ but continue to build support and lose detractors by the day. But we’re not there yet…we’re not even close. I hope that my kids will see us move at least a little further.

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