Thursday, April 27, 2006

Not everyone can wear yellow...

A bitch remembers attending church as a child and observing a fascinating ritual. My mother would greet another woman with faux affection, exchange pleasantries and then move away. After achieving a certain distance she would turn to me and whisper…"My goodness, that blouse was unflattering on her. Not everyone can wear yellow.”

Years later, my ass thought of that shit and how amazing it was that my mother could see in fashion what she was blind to in life.

This bitch suffered a sleepless night. Yesterday, this bitch had a moment and the dregs of it are weighing on my mind.

Allow me to purge some of this drama, please...

As most of you know, a bitch is a mentor. Last night, a bitch was hanging out with one of them. It was clear from the beginning of the evening that this was going to be a ‘please just let me talk because no one ever does’ kind of night.

Suffice it to say that the topic was sex, the young woman was confused and she is the fourth generation of her women in her family to be confused. A bitch is trying to mentor her through the mine field that is teenagedness so that she will not continue the family tradition of teen motherhood.

This mentee...MT for the purpose of this rant…is in her young teens. Her grandmother was born to a 14 year old mother, her grandmother then had her first child before the age of 15 and her mother had her first child at 14.

A bitch has learned, through my years of volunteering with teen mothers, that giving birth to a child does not automatically educate the mother on all things related to getting pregnant and parenting. Public schools do not fill the void left by uninformed parents and the rumor-based speculation found on the street is beyond dangerous. Sadly, many young adults must learn about sex the hard way…and it often takes several ‘lessons’ to complete that learning.

Anyhoo, MT expressed to me that the sum total of her sex education delivered by her mother involved just not getting pregnant...just don't come up pregnant...just don't. She knew about the pill and the shot, but nothing about protecting against the multitude of sexually transmitted diseases ravaging St. Louis. Her mother told her not to get pregnant, but then added that if she did want to get pregnant she should do it in the 10th or 11th grade because then she may still graduate from high school.

Yeah...good times.

MT also related that she had a friend who got 'that shot' and then had sex with a partner who later tested positive for Syphilis. MT felt that the shot also protected her friend from all disease.

A bitch was freaking out by this time…totally overwhelmed with this onslaught of information, but aware enough to be grateful that this conversation was happening. Later, my mind would wander to the women who don’t have someone to talk to…someone who knows the facts or where to get the facts. Shit, someone who knows what they don't know.


So, after a brief overview of basic sex education…which included abstinence and the rest of the stuff behind door number 2…we settled in for a nice visit. The evening ended with MT expressing that she was glad she could talk to me and this bitch making plans for a visit to the educational library at Planned Parenthood.

Not everyone can wear yellow. Wanting to wear yellow...adoring the color yellow...doesn't mean shit if you look like you've got The Plague when sporting the color yellow.

Not every mother knows the facts. Not every father has the answers. Not every mother or father who is missing those facts and answers is a bad parent…and not every mother or father gives a shit.

Society pays a heavy burden for this debate. Sexually transmitted diseases are a public health crisis in St. Louis and many cities. Comprehensive education and the facts are not aphrodisiacs…and a bitch shudders to think of the what is being lost while we debate whether folks should be saved.

This bitch didn’t sleep at all last night because my ass was worrying about all these people trying to wear yellow who don't need to be.

Abstinence only education that falls back on the assumption that all parents are able to bring their chil'ren up to speed is going to leave some folks looking looking gorgeous and others looking like shit.

And a bitch thought we weren't going to leave any chil'ren behind....


A White Bear said...

Yikes. There's such a great divide between the experiences of kids who get good, reliable (sometimes irritatingly constant) sex ed info and those who get none at all. A friend of mine used to do statistical analysis of the results of sex surveys of jr. high and high school kids in downtown Cleveland. Some of them knew more about sex than most grown ups, and others seemed not really sure what the difference between boys and girls is. More or less sex ed? No, but more equal distribution would be a start.

Please tell me there are thousands and thousands of people like you finding these girls and giving them an ear and advice!

Lisa said...

No, only those that "deserve" not to be left behind. Grrr; I really detest the current regime in power.

Hammer said...

Awesome post ABB.

The thing that really get's me is the abstinence-only education. I'm so sick of dumbasses hiding the REAL truth about shit so they can make sure people aren't empowered. Ugh.

The same shit goes down with religion...using taboos to protect ideas...You can't discuss religion....that's can't discuss sex...that's can't discuss cutting a bitch....that's taboo...fuck more protecting things with taboos.


Thank you for taking the time to make STL a better place!


BarefootCajun said...

If you haven't already, check out the link to the Glamour article that BitchPHD posted the other day. It talks about just this subject and the fact that, thanks to the religious right, even government published pamphlets give wrong information now. It's sickening.

Anonymous said...

I used to work in social services. Those type of sleepless nights are the very reason I got the hell out. Its just too damned scary AND depressing.

Anonymous said...

The Blame the Victim mentality that claims that everybody should take responsibility for their own choices while withholding information that would inform those choices is pervasive precisely because it is so central to the rationalization of selfishness that is the heart and soul of modern conservatism. Thus, poor people are poor because they're too lazy and shiftless to work (not because the plant closed and moved to China to drive up the value of the company's stock) and teenage pregnancy is epidemic among the poor because they can't keep it in their pants (not because they are being denied even rudimentary sex education and health care services.)

It is also self-reinforcing because it is so chock-full of self-fullfilling prophesies. When the bogus solutions offered for these problems (and abstinence-only education is a prize-winning example of this) result in even more teen pregnancies, the conservative response will undoubtably be "See, I told you it was no use trying to help those people. They can't control themselves."

About the only means of addressing the problems created by systemic poverty (itself exacerbated by conservative economic programs) that conservatives do support is the criminal justice system, because incarcerating the poor fits in perfectly with the Blame the Victim worldview.

The question remains: How does one go about breaking down this self-defeating cycle? The appeal of Blaming the Victim is so strong, especially when the alternative means accepting a share of the responsibility for such massive and depressing problems. Wouldn't most people prefer to feel good about themselves?

Unknown said...

Ok, I know that others have said this, but DAMN, you have a way with an analogy that just rocks.

Anonymous said...

A close friend of mine who grew up in Kentucky used to be a paramedic there. He told me that a couple of times the paramedics were called out to homes for "emergencies". The emergencies turned out to be cases where girls were having their first period and the caregiver (mom or grandmother) did not want to tell the girls about menstruation (because they were too embarrassed I guess). So my friend and his fellow paramedics had to tell the girls what menstruation was.
So, this idea that certain people have that parents will talk to their children about sex (so schools don't have to)...some parents do and other parents, obviously, do not.

Anonymous said...

Shark-fu, I have on thing to mention to you: Scarleteen.

It's my favorite resourse for comprehensive sex-ed for teens (and adults too!)

Anonymous said...

I had a 20 year old student with a 7 year old.

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