It’s Sex, You All!

One of the more contentious aspects of modern public education is the question of whether or not we should teach public schoolchildren “sex education,” which is a euphemism for teaching kids how to have sex with condoms and other contraceptives. Some people want sex ed taught to young American men and women, while others want an “abstinence-only” approach. (It never seems to occur to either group to just leave the teaching to the parents, where it properly belongs.)

Many people insist that American youngsters are “going to have sex anyway,” so we might as well show them how to do it “safely.” There is a curiously defeatist strain shot throughout much of American childrearing: we seem to believe that our children and young adults are simply going to barrel into sex, head-on and unstoppable, like Norse berserkers running screaming and naked into battle, and that adults are utterly powerless to influence this behavior in any way, capable only of throwing some IUDs and Durex into the mix and crossing our fingers.

Anyway, a pornography site recently decided to do something about the scourge of “abstinence-only” education in the great state of Utah:

After Utah lawmakers rejected a bill that would have provided an alternative to its abstinence-based approach to sexual education in schools on Monday, a surprising organization stepped in to fill the educational gap: a porn site.

On Wednesday, the porn site xHamster altered its website so that when users with Utah-based IP addresses log on, they are asked if they’d like to be redirected to xHamster’s series of nonpornographic sex-ed videos. In a (NSFW) blog post, xHamster says it decided to proactively offer Utahns the educational videos both because of the legislature’s recent rejection of the comprehensive sex-ed bill and because “over the past few years, politicians in the state have … waged war on porn.” Indeed, last year the state legislature unanimously passed a resolution declaring porn a “public health crisis,” even though there’s no solid evidence that porn is harmful.

“Utahns consume the most porn per capita of any state, but have some of the lowest levels of sexual education,” xHamster states in its blog post. “We’re here to change that.” The notion that Utah has the highest per-capita porn consumption in the nation comes from a 2009 analysis of credit cards used to pay for online porn, which means it doesn’t necessarily reflect the habits of people who watch porn for free. Still, if Utah lawmakers really think porn is a public health crisis, you’d think they’d want to provide an alternative for teens looking for information about sex.

This is an interesting stunt, chiefly because it seems so incredibly pointless: does anyone really believe that a consumer of xHamster’s expansive multimedia library is really going to be interested in a “series of nonpornographic sex-ed videos?” Perhaps the implication is that the beneficiaries of these videos will mostly be the Utah schoolchildren who were denied “sexual education” within Utah’s public schools. But if that’s the case, isn’t xHamster implicitly endorsing the consumption of pornography by minors? And isn’t that a little perverted?

In any case, two things immediately spring to mind here. The first is this: if Utahns do indeed “have some of the lowest levels of sexual education” within the United States, what is the practical result? Is the state a festering wasteland of single motherhood and sexually transmitted diseases?

Well: Utah appears to have the lowest unwed birth rate in the country, as well as the fourth-lowest rate of STD transmission. If a lack of “sexual education” is supposed to aggravate these phenomena, how does one explain these numbers? Shouldn’t Utah be awash in illegitimate births and gonorrhea? (On the flip side, Washington, D.C.—which mandates comprehensive sex ed in its public schools—consistently ranks among the highest districts in the country for both STDs and out-of-wedlock births. What gives?)

Secondly, and more broadly, it is always worth questioning long-held and popularly-accepted maxims. In this case the maxim is: “Abstinence-only education does not work,” namely because “kids are just going to have sex anyway.” Is this true?

There is actually compelling evidence to suggest that it is not true—that youth and young adults are not mystically fated to just bang each other non compos mentis. Consider the data compiled by Alfred Kinsey, Julia Ericksen and others: they point to the conclusion that, at the beginning of the twentieth century, nearly 95% of unmarried 19-year-old white women were virgins. In the early 1900s, in other words, many, many more women were waiting quite a bit longer to have sex, and the sex they did have was taking place within marriage. It is safe to say that close to 100% of these women received absolutely nothing in the way of “comprehensive sex education.” So why weren’t they screwing their brains out back then? After all, “abstinence doesn’t work!”

Perhaps the proper response is this: we should not be prepared to accept uncritically the shibboleths of the sexual revolution, chief among them its assumptions regarding the inevitably of human sexual behavior. Human beings are perfectly capable of exercising sexual forbearance; we’re not braindead automatons mindlessly humping anything with a pulse. The founders of and heirs to the sexual revolution, of course, are monomaniacal fanatics about sex—they are as militantly committed to the proposition of freewheeling sexual licentiousness as is any religious zealot to his dogma—and they are instinctively hostile towards the idea that people are able to practice any kind of reasonable chastity or self-restraint, much less that they should. It is not an easy task to convince a militant to give up his militancy to any degree.

Just the same, there is a case to be made for dialing back the destructive excesses of the sexual revolution—and that case is quite wonderfully illustrated by the unsettling irony of a nasty pornographic smut site’s attempting to lecture people about safe sex. If it’s come to this absurdity, then surely we have done something terribly wrong.


  1. Robert Riley

    I believe that “sex ed” classes have become the forum – at least in Ontario, Canada and certain other jurisdictions that I am familiar with – within which to introduce so-called LGBTQQLFKLSDJFOIUEOIUWER$$@#$ issues and now issues of “gender” and a rapidly creeping expansion to “equality,” feminism and “social justice” causes and theory. Rather than so much learn about their “changing bodies” – as used to be more the main focus of sex ed – boys are now being indoctrinated with the “rape culture” meme, treated as if they are inherent rapists requiring plenty of “no means no” lectures, while girls are also taught about the “rape culture” and how they will be victims of the rapist boys if they don’t chant “my body my choice” and learn to dial 9-1-1 under the “zero tolerance” approach to both sexual and domestic violence. Girls also very quickly learn that they can play the victim, and call 9-1-1, with absolutely no risk or consequences to themselves … even if they make it all up … because, you know, you can’t even suggest that a woman making up domestic or sexual violence claims should be held responsible for her actions, lest that scare away “real victims” of these forms of violence.

    And, as far as boys saying no, and it meaning no, or boys having a choice about their body … well, everyone gets a good chuckle, don’t they, out of men going to jail and the idea that “he better not drop the soap in the shower!” Comedy gold that is. And for even bigger laughs, kick him in the balls first.

  2. Beth

    Thank you, Mr. Payne, for an excellent and entertaining article. And thanks to Mr. Riley for an excellent and entertaining comment!

  3. Adriana Ansaldi

    Totally agree, we should challenge the ideas of the sexual revolution, now we can see the results. You see, it is an easy fix for all the social problems that nowadays exist. Totally abstinence probably it would be hard to achieve in the short term but at least, wait until you are in your twenties and you are in a serious relationship, that would make a huge difference. That was the way I was raised in Italy and It worked, of course being Catholic we had the bar very high but still we had that bar. We had that sense of responsibility and men also new that. Feminists took the responsibility off men with all these non-sense of_”it is my body, I do what I want”-, are we stupid? A baby doesn’t have a father? Did we self-pregnant ourselves? Yes, we are long due in so many things, at least in the Western. I am a post feminist, as I call it a “womanist”. I am not against women who want to be a professional, have a career or never marry, because simple we cannot put all women in the same bag, but women have to understand that we have not replacement in the motherhood department, it just nature. It is the way it is, you still need a woman to carry a baby and that it is the more extraordinary thing, life. There isn’t any job in the world, no CEO position, no profession, no 9 to 5 pm job that can top that. That should be the more reasonable approach instead of teach our kids how to have sex, humans don’t need a class to have sex, we do it naturally that is because it isn’t in the Bible, God didn’t bother to explain something that it was in our nature so well printed. But God wrote a lot about keeping a partner for life _”what God put together, men shouldn’t divided”_ He did that because He knew that marriage isn’t natural especially in the men brain, but He wants us to live in the best way and more efficient way possible. That is a class that we should give to youngers in HS, how to work together with the other, how men and women can get along, how to communicate, etc.
    There is another point that is interesting to discuss, does this feminist ideal of independence and freedom, does work for all the women in different economic level? Or only for Middle and High class? Because since I remember women in my family (they were not feminists) worked because they needed, they didn’t have a choice, and it wasn’t because they wanted to buy nice shoes for themselves, they worked to put bread on the table, and they raised their kids, and they have a lot of help sometimes, so really we should compare pears with pears, there are very different situations and conditions that they are irreconcilables one with others. I think we bought a “nice story” about our grandmothers having a bunch of children and working and being worn out and dying at 50. I am not saying that it didn’t happen but they were another factors, social factors that we should study deeply. We should slow down and look for our best interest because the strokes and heart attacks are, nowadays, as common in women as in men.
    Good article, I am a person of hope but in order to those changes to happen we need to counter a very powerful agenda, and still we cannot stop praying. Maybe we are the revolution now.

    • Robert Burger

      To prove that abstinence is a realistic goal for teenagers in today’s world, your article cites a study showing that 95% of unmarried white women in 1900 were virgins. Methodologically speaking, this ignores several compelling facts. First and foremost, reliable means of contraception were not available in 1900. That would have been a staggeringly high disincentive for unmarried females to have sex. Once that disincentive was removed, the world began to change. Secondly, the age at which people marry has risen for a variety of reasons, which also substantially weakens the applicability of your argument. People are older now when they marry and thus have a longer time period in which they must avoid sex to be virgins at the time they marry.

      This study is no proof that abstinence works in 2017 versus 1900. Lies, damned lies, and statistics.

      • Daniel Payne

        Hi Robert,

        I think your argument falls apart due to three major reasons:

        1) You are right that the age at which people marry has risen since the early 20th century. But the average age of first sexual encounter has dropped, to seventeen years old. If waiting longer for marriage were one of the reasons people are having sex outside of it, you’d expect—ceteris parabis—the average age of first sexual intercourse to rise, not fall. Something else must explain it.

        2) I would imagine you’re right that lack of access to “reliable” contraception played some part in the lower extramarital sex rate in the early 1900s. Nonetheless, that doesn’t explain the vastly lower rates of extramarital sexual activity back then. Consider: it is my understanding that today, among low-income populations, it is common for individuals to engage in sexual activity even if they can’t afford or simply don’t have access to contraception. If lack of contraception was indeed a deterrent to sexual activity, you’d expect these underprivileged populations to have the low levels of sexual activity similar to those at the end of the 19th century. So, again, something else must explain the rise.

        3) Perhaps most importantly, you seem to have missed the most critical point regarding the sexual revolution: according to the sexual revolutionaries themselves, these factors shouldn’t matter. Lack of access to contraception, average age of marriage—if you take the current sexual ethic at its words, these factors should have *no* bearing on the sexual activity of youngsters. The adage “abstinence doesn’t work” is never qualified in any such way; it’s simply taken as an ironclad fact.

        Clearly it is false, however; abstinence does work, based on my own evidence and now the insufficiency of your own objections.

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