Friday, September 12, 2008

Abstinence at MTV music awards

This article came through my Google keywords, originally from a pro-life website:

Jordin Sparks, last year's American Idol winner, has high standards and at this year's MTV video music awards (VMA), she fearlessly made them public...

The host of the VMAs, Russell Brand, a British comedian ... took shots at the Jonas Brothers, a group of three brothers who are well known in the entertainment industry for wearing chastity rings and for being vocal advocates of premarital chastity.

"I'd take it a little more seriously if they'd wear it on their genitals," said Brand about the boys' promise rings. Brand then joked that the brothers' decision not to have sex before marriage was "a little bit ungrateful because they could have sex with any woman they want. That is like Superman deciding not to fly and go everywhere on a bus."

A few minutes later, however, Sparks shot back from the podium: "I just have one thing to say about promise rings. It's not bad to wear a promise ring, because not everybody - guy or girl - wants to be a slut."


Sparks comment at the VMA's was met with an audible cheer from the crowd and elicited a sheepish apology from the show's host.

"I didn't mean to take it lightly," Brand said about purity rings. "I don't want to piss off teenage fans."

However, Brand could not resist a parting shot, observing that, while he supported chastity rings, "a bit of sex, it never hurt anybody."

The editorializing makes it not a strict news story, so it has to be taken with a grain of salt. Assuming that the facts about who said what are correct, though, I think it's interesting that the host made the second remark about abstinence. If the article is accurate, it comes off as a little defensive.

Before I comment, I want to be clear that taxpayer-funded public policy and individuals' personal choices are separate issues. Public policy has to be evidence-based and so far the evidence for abstinence education and virginity pledges is simply not there. Even if there were evidence, it is unprecedented and contrary to conservative political thought for the federal government to promote a specific curriculum.

Individual choices to deny themselves are often applauded, even by people making different choices: so many times I've heard people sincerely say to a vegan or marathoner, "Wow, I could never do that." Even if they don't personally see the value of veganism or marathoning, per se, many people want to eat less meat or get more exercise. And just as an interpersonal issue, it's nice to tell someone that you value their choices.

Sexual abstinence seems like it should be similar. Even people who don't believe in premarital abstinence have been in situations requiring sexual restraint --- being in any committed relationship or avoiding a relationship with an inappropriate partner --- so disparaging remarks like this really puzzle me.

You can admire marathoners while opposing federal grants to marathon-training programs. Though, completely seriously, marathon-training programs could be more effective in delaying adolescent sexual initiation than abstinence, or perhaps any classroom curriculum.

Where are all the church-sponsored adolescent running groups?


Michael Scott Cuthbert said...

No church-supported running groups that I know of, but lots of basketball leagues and volleyball tourneys at churches when I was growing up. The gym was one of the most important buildings in the San Diego kilochurches (most were too small to be megachurches) -- there was an emphasis on have fun physically to keep your mind off sex.

I do remember one funny aspect of the pro-abstinence announcements we got in my H.S. In a list of things to do with your partner instead of sex, play sports, and bake cookies were there, but also, "take a slow, night walk along the beach." I remember thinking, man if that's not a prelude to sex, I don't know what is. (well, besides getting drunk together).

Naomi said...

marathon-training programs could be more effective in delaying adolescent sexual initiation than abstinence, or perhaps any classroom curriculum.

Out of idle curiosity, why do you say that? Because a lower percentage of body fat will lead to a later onset of puberty, or what?