The latest episode of “Taboo” aired last night on National Geographic Channel. It explored the issue of “Teen Sex.”
One segment introduced viewers to the Kreung people of Cambodia, who build “love huts” for their teen-aged daughters to have pre-marital sex with as many teen-aged boys as they like.
Another featured 15-year-old Australian tart Cassie Osborne and her teen-aged girlfriends, wearing barely-there dresses, practicing their sexual flirtation, looking forward to becoming some young bloke’s boy toy.
And yet another took a look at Purity Balls here in the United States, in which teen-aged girls pledge to remain pure and abstain from sexual relations until they are married.
“Taboo’s” producers were uncritical of the Kreung’s love huts. “Some argue that this gives the girls a sense of empowerment,” they noted.
They uttered nary a discouraging word about come-hither Cassie and her Aussie BFFs, apparently considering their race to lose their virginity an expression of girl power.
But they ridiculed Purity Balls, which were conceived by evangelical Christians, which encourage teen-aged girls to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.
“Some argue that pressuring a girl to participate in a Purity Ball puts her in a position,” according to “Taboo’s” producers, “where a man is always in control of her sexuality, first her father, and then her husband.”
Moreover, said Helen Fisher, a Rutgers University biological anthropologist, “There’s a great deal of data that young girls who swear off sex tend to have sex anyway. They simply just delay it for one, two or three years. Then they impulsively go out and have sex without having gotten any sex education.”
Indeed, said “Taboo’s” disembodied narrator, echoing Fisher, “Recent studies suggest that teens who pledge to stay virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who make no such pledge.”
Of course, “Taboo” provided no references for the “data” Fisher mentioned; no citations of the “studies” to which it alluded.
That’s because data and studies questioning the efficacy of purity pledges, of abstinence-only programs almost always have been ginned up by agenda-driven researchers biased in favor of sex education.
The proof of that bias is that neither Fisher, nor “Taboo” acknowledged the most impartial, most authoritative study of abstinence-only programs, which was released in 2010 in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
The researchers – whom, it should be noted, were not evangelical Christians – followed sixth and seventh graders in two groups, one of which concentrated on abstinence, the other on contraception and “safe sex.”
Two years later, the researchers checked back with the kids. Half those learning safe sex were sexually active, while only a third of those encouraged to practice abstinence were engaged in sex.
Interestingly, the abstinence teachers were values-neutral. They never mentioned religion, morality or marriage. Had they done so, I believe the kids who remained pure after being taught abstinence would have been three-quarters or more, rather than the actual two-thirds.
Indeed, most of our teens are living down to society’s low expectations of them.
But it’s not impossible for the under-aged to control their hormones. It’s not inevitable they are going to be sexually active. And it’s not unreasonable to expect them to abstain from sex until, at the very least, they reach adulthood.