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  1. Yolanda C.
    Yolanda C. August 28, 2009 at 12:44 pm |

    What. The. Hell.

    Well, so much for the “fierce advocate” fighting for LGBT rights. Apparently no parent in the United States has ever raised a queer child. And who needs to talk about queer sex, or female sexual agency? No, we just need Dad to be the Boss over HIS little girl’s body.

    Who are the jokers running DHHS these days? I feel like a hell-raising letter campaign is in order here.

  2. kat
    kat August 28, 2009 at 12:56 pm | I saw this commercial on tv about an hour ago for the first time. Don’t tell me about the parts??? WTF?! This is disgusting. It’s exactly like the sex education my mom got shouted at from her mother in the 60’s: KEEP YOUR LEGS CROSSED!! And that was it. Keep your legs crossed so you don’t get a reputation.

    And I’m sorry, I can’t even construct a coherent sentence about that website. I’m so disappointed.

  3. oldlady
    oldlady August 28, 2009 at 1:17 pm |

    This is shameful for the Obama administration, a continuation of Bush’s abstinence policies–Derek the Abstinenece Clown, only this time he’s dressed up like Father Knows Best. Yolanda is right: A hell-raising letter campaign is exactly what is in order.

    The website for DHHS is

    Let them know how you feel.

  4. Claire
    Claire August 28, 2009 at 1:24 pm |

    Serious failburger.

    If you want to help alleviate the immediate problem, volunteer yourself to other parents you know to have “the talk” with their children for them. (… Probably least-weird for women to do this, and men who work in education or medicine. Other men, you know… gauge the expected reaction of the parent to whom you’re offering. I don’t want anyone to get a black eye on my account.) I know some fairly liberal-minded people who STILL can’t handle this, and because I can, I wind up in this position all the time. It’s not bad.

    And, of course, direct upset emails and phone calls at DHHS, the White House, and Congress more generally, so that all kids, even those whose parents don’t want you telling them how to dodge the herp, can benefit.

  5. The Flash
    The Flash August 28, 2009 at 1:25 pm |

    I actually think it’s great– kids should be getting some messages at home beyond “sex is dirty and not a fit topic of conversation among parents and children.” and the statistical data bears out a lot of what the website says. This isn’t abstinence-only education, it’s just abstinence-is-an-option-and-sometimes-a-smart-one education. It’s advocacy instead of information control. That’s okay, and the right way to advocate for a particular world view, rather than stripping public education budgets.

    There’s a difference between encouraging people to take their own sexuality into their hands, (have confidence in themselves, not be ashamed of what they’re doing, have non-hetero sexualities) and saying that there’s something *wrong* with waiting until marraige, or even saying that parents shouldn’t encourage their kids to follow what is essentially a harmless ethos of linking sex and love and wanting to keep sex as a valued facet of an exclusive and lifelong relationship. It’s not like waiting until marriage is what screws people up. It’s jealousy over the people who don’t wait until marriage that screws people. Anyway, the government, as a public health entity, has a vested interest in discouraging promiscuity while encouraging condom use.

  6. The Flash
    The Flash August 28, 2009 at 1:30 pm |

    … and the website gives information about birth control, it doesn’t cast a woman’s virginity as some sacred thing worth protecting… it’s not particularly sexist. It might be a little heterosexist, but it’s not even that, exactly. It doesn’t even slut-shame. It just throws out some questionable statistics, and advocates for a particular position that’s not invalid.

  7. Kyra
    Kyra August 28, 2009 at 1:50 pm |

    First of all, let’s be clear on one important point. In general, children – and adults – do better in homes headed by a married mother and father.

    WRONG, assholes. Studies find no significant differences between children raised by gay parents. (Several studies summarized there.)

    I’ll leave aside the cruelty of telling gay teens to wait for a marriage they’re not allowed to have, because my opinion on that is not fit to print.

    Re the married people having better health and being happier, are they only counting men? I have heard many statistics saying that marriage tends to make men happier/healthier and women less happy and healthy.

    “Just tell me to wait,” et cetera: I have no words. As someone who spent most of my teenage years ashamed of my virginity because I associated it with appearing to accept the abhorrent moralizing of the save-it-for-marriage crowd and only went without sex because I was a gawky wallflower who boys never looked twice at, I can say with a great deal of certainty that they are completely and utterly full of shit, to say nothing of willfully and disastrously incompetent.

    Finally, can you get more utterly classless than to tout the benefits of marriage while you stand in opposition to a class of people being allowed to get married?


  8. Cara
    Cara August 28, 2009 at 2:17 pm |

    “Mom, Dad, you don’t have to tell me about my genitals or how they work! Just tell me to wait! Because when I’m done waiting, I’ll suddenly get over the shame you instilled in me by being too embarrassed to say ‘vulva’ or ‘penis,” and magically figure it out all by myself! After all, they hand you a packet of the sex education materials they didn’t give us access to in school when you apply for your marriage license, right?”

  9. Hot Tramp
    Hot Tramp August 28, 2009 at 2:21 pm |

    This is why it’s hilarious when conservatives claim that Obama’s administration is radically reshaping America into a liberal hell. In so many ways, it’s really just more of the same.

  10. emandink
    emandink August 28, 2009 at 2:33 pm |

    Wow. Way to reinforce the idea that parents should be ashamed about talking about sex with their kids, too, thus assuring that we’re raising yet another generation that is ashamed of their bodies and their sexuality.

    It’s only as embarassing as you want to teach your kids it should be.

  11. Tracey
    Tracey August 28, 2009 at 5:55 pm |

    VAGINA VAGINA CLITORIS PENIS PROSTRATE. I understand how it may be hard for parents to talk to their kids about sex, but reinforcing the idea that sexuality and anatomy is something to be ashamed of has got to stop somewhere. Not to mention the whole promote abstinence and marriage thing is getting beyond ludicrous and Obama is no exception. Ads like this and the new government site devoted to promoting early marriage is even more proof that state-sanctioned marriage serves the primary purpose of upholding the state, placating many of the people, and producing little workers for the capitalist machine.
    Not to mention they give no information on developing sexual agency and talking with people to help them develop the confidence and sense of self-worth and respect to use protection and make decisions right for them. That said, the father was a really good mime, but I don’t know much about the art form so maybe that’s just my opinion.

  12. Tracey
    Tracey August 28, 2009 at 6:04 pm |
    While the site does have good info and I don’t want to discredit that, it is also admittedly a program designed to convince 18-30 year-olds to marry and marry pretty young too. There was a news special on it and I could not believe what I was seeing or hearing. Never mind the fact that as partners age they are less likely to get divorced, no, we need people to marry and preferably by the age of 25. While the increases in avg. age (I think it’s 26 for women and 28 for men) are being touted as problematic, as the avg. age nears thirty it might very well mean a drop in divorce rates over the next twenty years or so.
    I defiantly think it’s great the government is trying to promote healthy marriages among those who do choose to get married and that part of the campaign I absolutely and whole-heartily support (despite my oppositions to state-sanctioned marriage), but trying to encourage people, esp. 18-30yo, to marry who show no interest in doing so, or at least doing so in that age range, is problematic I believe.

  13. DHS advises parents to tell their kids to “wait” « Amy Adele Hasinoff

    […] Feministe and […]

  14. factcheckme
    factcheckme August 28, 2009 at 7:00 pm |

    i saw this commercial for the first time yesterday, but it was on mute so i didnt get the full affect. i was raised by a nurse and she (my mom) waited until she noticed that my armpits had started to stink, and then got out a roll of butcher paper, laid it out on the counter and literally drew me a picture of the internal and external female organs, and listed all the changes that happen in the margins. i dont remember where i first heard about intercourse although im pretty sure it wasnt from a mime. and i mustve missed the part about waiting for marriage.

    the more educated women (and men) are, the longer they wait for marriage. is obama (or anyone) going to make young girls and women “choose” between having sex and getting an education, too? great idea. get horny, find a husband, have some sex, and start doing housework and having babies and forget that you ever wanted to go to school, not that you’d even have the time at that point. i hope obama isnt telling his girls anything of the sort. i am pretty sure hes not.

  15. factcheckme
    factcheckme August 28, 2009 at 7:12 pm |

    i saw this commercial for the first time yesterday, but it was on mute so i didnt get the full affect. i was raised by a nurse and she (my mom) waited until she noticed that my armpits had started to stink, and then got out a roll of butcher paper, laid it out on the counter and literally drew me a picture of the internal and external female organs, and listed all the changes that happen in the margins. i dont remember where i first heard about intercourse although im pretty sure it wasnt from a mime. and i mustve missed the part about waiting for marriage.

    the more educated women (and men) are, the longer they wait for marriage. is obama (or anyone) going to make young girls and women “choose” between having sex and getting an education, too? great idea. get horny, find a husband, have some sex, and start doing housework and having babies and forget that you ever wanted to go to school, not that you’d even have the time at that point. i hope obama isnt telling his girls anything of the sort. i am pretty sure hes not.

  16. Gembird
    Gembird August 28, 2009 at 7:39 pm |

    You don’t need to tell me about the parts. You just need to tell me to wait. Then then on my wedding night I’ll have the worst sex ever because I was too ashamed to even masturbate and I don’t know WHAT my clitoris is, let alone WHERE it is. But hey, at least I’ll be married right? Time to start popping out those babies.

    Stuff like this makes me so angry. I can’t even give a good example of how to do it right, because the sex education here in England is too little, wayyy too late- during our sex ed aged 16 three girls in my class had pregnancy scares- and parents just won’t talk to kids. It’s the same problems everywhere I suppose, except that over here ‘the man’ has realised that young people are going to have sex and they concentrate on making sure we all know about condoms.

    I mean come on, the adverts I see are cheesy and kinda funny ones about avoiding gonorrhea, but at least they acknowledge sexual activity in some way rather than just “NO DON’T EVEN TALK ABOUT IT OR YOUR KIDS WILL BE WHORES”. That ad was creepy, and the worst thing is that a whole lot of people are going to find even that sort of broadcast shocking and too much for the chilluns.

  17. Icewyche
    Icewyche August 28, 2009 at 9:16 pm |

    @ Tracey: Actually, it’s “prostate”, not “prostrate”. Old pet peeve – I used to work in a vitamin store and would always get guys in looking for help with their “prostrate”, and I’d think, “You need help lying on your front?” ;-)

    Come on, Obama administration. You can do better than this. Hasn’t anybody figured out yet that the “don’t talk about it” approach DOESN’T WORK?

  18. Constintina
    Constintina August 29, 2009 at 12:15 am |

    Oh NO.

    What Cara said, exactly.

    When I was four or five I had a babysitter who told me the basics about how baby-making heterosex worked. I will always be grateful to her for this. I wish my parents had been more comfortable discussing the subject, but at least I had that accurate, unshameful info at a young age so it was normal and unmysterious, albeit hilarious to my young mind ( I remember drawing little sex comics which my parents, to their credit, found funny. They didn’t punish or shame me for them.)

  19. LeftieLeftist
    LeftieLeftist August 29, 2009 at 2:43 am |

    Okay another disappointment from the Obama administration. Not that he isn’t lots better than the preceding one but the “center” in US has been moved so far to the right that its scary that this administration is considered far-left in many circles. So far, on social issues he has hardly been any better than the last one and it is ridiculous pending money on creating and disseminating these ads. Also, I don’t really think Obama is particularly enlightened about these issues himself. As far as his daughters go, there major hope is Michele only.

  20. Meg
    Meg August 29, 2009 at 3:08 am |

    I learned about the parts in kindergarten (yes, boy parts too — it was a co-ed class). I’m not sure whether this is because I’m Canadian or because it was private school, but either way, I didn’t run out and get knocked up when I was thirteen. It didn’t scar me for life. I’m actually still a virgin at 20, even though I never once had the “abstinence talk” and had solid comprehensive sex ed more years than not. More importantly, I know that Mountain Dew is not a reliable spermicide, that peeing after sex doesn’t flush out sperm, and that I really could catch herpes from someone who doesn’t have any visible sores. If you don’t teach your kids about the parts, and their school doesn’t teach your kids about the parts, then chances are that it will be other kids teaching your kids about the parts. Good luck with that, abstinence-only people.

  21. Ozymandias
    Ozymandias August 29, 2009 at 11:04 am |

    UGH. NO.

    My sex ed came from fanfic, mostly. Which teaches pretty good sexual ethics, as things go: “Women have sex drives too. Being gay, bi or asexual is totally awesome. Sex is fun. Kinky sex is even more fun. Sex with people you love is the best. If it’s not enthusiastic, it’s not consent. Remember to use protection.”

    But I’m a nerd with a really good bullshit detector, which are traits not shared by the majority of humanity. So unless you really want your daughter to get her sex ed from people writing stories about Harry Potter, TALK ABOUT THE PARTS.

  22. Jadey
    Jadey August 29, 2009 at 11:56 am |

    When I was four or five I had a babysitter who told me the basics about how baby-making heterosex worked.

    That’s a huge risk for a babysitter to take, actually. Some parents would be liable to fly off the handle and accuse a person of sexual abuse over something like that. It’s clearly *not* sexual abuse, but any caregiver for a young child is vulnerable to accusations like that (especially the more distantly their relationship to the child), and some parents really would see it that way.

    I have to confess that I don’t remember when I learned about “the parts”! My parents weren’t shy about it, but they also didn’t make a big production out of it either. I feel like I gleaned a little bit from a lot of different sources, but even into my twenties I am still being educated about sex. In my second year of university, a professor of mine asked our class, “What does consensual sex look like?” and it was a huge perspective-shift for me (it was a sociology of deviance class, ftr).

    Sex education goes so far beyond just “the parts” that to boil it down even further, as this commercial suggests, is horrifying. Parents absolutely need to be comfortable and informed when talking about sex, and what they need are resources to help them with that, not shaming.

    Hell, nowadays I’m the one giving the sex talk to my recently-divorced mother, especially after meeting a woman demographically identical to my mum who became HIV+ when she began dating after her divorce. No one ever taught her (just like no one ever taught my mum) how to (and why to) insist on using condoms. PSAs don’t cut it — people need to be taught and talked to directly.

  23. FundamentallyFlawed
    FundamentallyFlawed August 29, 2009 at 4:04 pm |

    Oh, look, they DID remember the gay kids! Excuse me while I punch things.

    Conveniently enough, the “Contact us” page of the site offers only a snail-mail address and a phone number. I’m sure this is because the administration just hasn’t discovered e-mail yet, not because they’re eager to make it as cumbersome as possible to tell them how full of shit they are.

    (It was mentioned above, but here’s the online form they’ve hidden in the tiny print:

  24. FundamentallyFlawed
    FundamentallyFlawed August 29, 2009 at 4:40 pm |

    Aaaand the web-feedback form

    1) does not include a space to leave one’s name or contact information,

    2) limits comments to 150 words, but doesn’t tell you this until you’ve already tried to “send,” and

    3) doesn’t work (“gateway timeout”).

    Seriously, fuck them.

  25. Azalea
    Azalea August 30, 2009 at 11:20 am |

    Abstinence like condoms only work when it is applied each and every single time. I don’t have a problem with teaching abstinence, I think if a kid wants to wait they should be told its OK to wait. That if your kid wants to that they should be told what the boundaries and potential outcomes of sex could be. Boundaries being the age limitations and potential outcomes being pregnancy and/or STDs and wat to do to help prevent those from happening.

    What I DO have a problem with is the insinuation that sex can only occur between a man and a woman, that only heterosexual families are real families and that people who do wait until they are married are somehow these horrible sex depraved miserable beings. Life is about choices whether someone chooses to wait or chooses to hit the ground running they shouldn’t be slut or virgin shamed.And no one should be shamed or made to feel as though their seual orientation is somehow invalid or not “real.”

  26. nicole
    nicole August 30, 2009 at 11:33 am |

    ^ In response to FF: “ifgay.html” made me cringe, big-time. :(

    Having grown up with a mother who never even told me about menstruation, I can safely say I’m another product of this sex-talk-shaming stuff that parents feel. I had to do so much research on my own — on anatomy, sexuality, intimacy, physiology, and care products (tampons, midol, condoms, etc). A lot of that research was done online.

    So it surprises me that the government website is not geared toward parents AND preteens/teens…the internet was a useful tool for me in finding this information and was not beyond my reach. The site is written as if that is the case — maybe to make parents feel more comfortable about their inadequacy about educating their children.

    Also, the mime thing creeps me out. You don’t have to show them what it looks like — you don’t have to act it out! No pelvic thrusting in the air, here!! You just have to give them reliable resources and be open to their questions. It shouldn’t be as hard as 4Parents paints it to be. It’s as if the commercial is reinforcing the idea that the sex talk is totally brutal, so that the parent and child make a pact to avoid it!

  27. Firediva4411
    Firediva4411 August 30, 2009 at 8:42 pm |

    Disgusting! But it really should surprise no one who is on this site. The institution of marriage has been a key element in the patriarchy’s suppression of women for at least 20 centuries. I was married for 26 years to a very progressive man, and it still took constant effort to neutralize the “me Tarzan – you Jane” cultural contamination. I finally turned to other women when I discovered that it was far easier to develop and maintain an equal partnership that way.

    Personally, one woman’s opinion, but I cannot see why any woman would ever WANT to be married. I really don’t know why I ever did, though I never planned for it to be a lifetime thing. (and obviously it wasn’t). A young woman of, say 25, who says “Until death do us part” in August 2009 has (assuming increasing life expectancy), the possibility of being with the guy for 70 years! The Goddess hasn’t yet made the man (or for that matter, the woman!) that I myself would want to share my life with for that long! Look around, sisters…one out of every two marriages is ending in divorce. Marriage as a demonstration of commitment? That’s a joke.

    The only advantages to the institution of marriage are those legal and financial incentives that are offered by-guess who-the government! Why do they offer them? Because heterosexual marriage is necessary to maintain the patriarchy and the patriarchy is necessary to maintain power, especially power over things feminine. That’s also why the patriarchy opposes gay and lesbian marriage…gay and lesbian marriages by their very nature do not reinforce the patriarchy…in fact they tend to prove that long-term relationships can thrive without the male-female tension that exists in every heterosexual marriage I’ve ever seen, even the ‘perfect’ ones.

    Marriage might have been a viable institution when no one ever traveled more than 25 miles from their little village or farm, and 40 was a ripe old age. We’re driving on the Interstate using a relationship model designed for oxcart paths. It needs overhaul in both a legal and cultural sense, but I doubt I’ll live to see it.

    You sisters who are married (or wish you could be) and enjoy your relationships by now have probably “hit the roof”, but know that I respect your choice. I am all for a woman’s right to choose, and if spending a whole lifetime with a single individual works for you, go for it!. I just oppose any effort by government and/or our culture to push what I consider a tool of patriarchal oppression as being the preferred option over the several others that exist.

  28. Noble Savage » Blog Archive » Yes, you do need to talk about “the parts”

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  29. Breakup Girl » When a man and a woman love each other very much…

    […] …they give their kids lameass, doofy-dad, tax-dollar-funded sex talks. The best the Obama HHS can apparently do, via Feministe: […]

  30. Interesting posts, weekend of 8/30 « Feminists with Female Sexual Dysfunction

    […] “You don’t have to tell me about ‘the parts’… just tell me to wait” – WTF is this shit??? Wtf sex education? […]

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