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Respect and Respectability May 16, 2008

Posted by The Truth in Im Allgemeinen.

So there’s been talk about abstinence education in Singapore lately. Can we link STDs with more teens having sex? Absolutely. But is preaching abstinence really the way?

Sex happens. Sex is, also, a way of expressing love and closeness. But, isn’t sex a private, personal choice? If it is, then how can these writers say that abstinence is the way to respect yourself and to express human dignity? Perhaps in the case of the sex addict, yes, but for teens who made a choice and are sexually active?

I know people who have sex regularly. I also know people who abstain from sex, because they believe it’s something for marraige. Both of them have made a choice. And the people who have sex regularly aren’t really people who’d sleep with others for money, or people who sleep with just about anyone. Respecting yourself is about saying no when you don’t want to, but why do Singaporeans just believe that much teen sex is something born out of peer pressure? Teenage sex with peer pressure or coercion amounts to rape. Similarly, respecting yourself is saying yes when it’s time.

Abstinence is, thus, only self-respect when you are not doing it because you don’t want to. If you wanted to have sex all along, or if you are in a committed happy relationship, or are married, then why not? If we wanted to preach abstinence, we should make chastity belts available in Toys R’ Us! Abstaining because you have a chastity belt doesn’t amount to self-respect, as well.

And, finally, whose concept of self-respect are we talking about here? Is it personal self-respect, or that of society? Let’s see. First, you have A, who’s surrounded by friends having lots of sex, and with legs which open wider than the soccer goalpost on the school field. A’s in a committed relationship, and had sex for the first time, because she loved him. A and her boyfriend use condoms regularly. And then we have B, who’s been taught abstinence. Shes always been curious about sex, and she has a boyfriend too, but she’s always been told that sex is something for whores and people who don’t respect themselves. So, B bends to social pressure and abstains, because she doesn’t want to be a whore in the eyes of her peers.

Who respects herself? Is self-respect only making sure that you remain respectable in the eyes of society? We assume that teens don’t know what sex is about, and parents are amazed at how much about sex teens know. I believe it’s not so much about teaching teens how to worm their way out of a sticky situation, but learning what true self-respect is. The safer sex paradigma comes in here. It gives teens the facts they need to make an educated decision. But it’s not like we’re teaching safer sex to 10-year-olds; we’re teaching them at 14 to 16.

The less you know, the better? That would fit in with a generally human, but especially Asian mentality of doing things the familiar way. If something is not known, then stay away from it. It could give you a nasty venereal disease.  Is this the hallmark of a mature society, the mature society that Singapore prides itself on being? Being mature is about making your own choices, not having them told to you in a school textbook!



1. Sprachen Sie Singlisch? - May 18, 2008

So there’s been talk about abstinence education in Singapore lately. Can we link STDs with more teens having sex? Absolutely. But is preaching abstinence really the way?

I emphatically agree with the implicit no to this rhetorical question, but its justification is a non sequitur. The main trust of the argumentation revolves around the normalization of premarital sex. This is a moral position which should not be forced upon the population in a similar way that tabooing of premarital sex as alternative moral position should not be forced upon them either.

Instead, our sex ed program should highlight the risks of various sexual activity, e.g. hetro, homo, multiple partners, with condom, with birth control etc, with regards to STD. One should be entitled to make decision in good conscious with all available information at ones disposal.

If one decides to abstain from premarital sex for religious reason, he/she is free to do so but with the knowledge that using a condom while being sexual active(hetro, single partner) entitles a slight increase in risk.

The government should not impose morality on its citizens, especially in multicultural Singapore, but it should provide the necessary information for its citizens to make informed decisions.

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