DHS advises parents to tell their kids to “wait”

The new administration seems to be still pushing abstinence over education. A new series of TV PSA’s depicts kids (75% girls, of course) telling parents: “tell me you want me toΒ  wait to have sex.” Wait until when? Until they’re married, of course. Because, as the campaign slogan explains: “success comes to kids who wait to have sex.” Why? Because people who wait “have a better chance at success, whether that means getting an education, having a career, or just being happy.”

Since 95% of people do have non-marital sex, and research consistently demonstrates that abstinence programs are “ineffective, unethical, and poor public health,” why promote such an impossible and counter-productive goal? Are these PSA’s just a politically viable facade for a hidden comprehensive sex education agenda?

Not quite. Though the campaign promotes abstinence until marriage, it does have some information for those 95% of people who won’t get there. Under the section “Dealing with Risky Behaviors and Other Challenges” the birth control information chart cites only the “typical use” failure rate (15% for condoms) and not the “consistent and correct use” failure rate (2%). Why not launch a PSA campaign to make “typical” use more “correct and consistent”? And really, why bother with this section at all–how many teens would ask for help getting condoms or birth control after a parent makes it clear that the only thing they approve of is “waiting”?

The site devotes a few sentences to parents of queer kids (or, um kids who might be, err,experiencing difficulties with gender identity or sexual orientation“), who should keep in mind, “Accepting your son or daughter can help lead to strong, life-affirming relationships in the future.” But the rest of the campaign makes it pretty clear that gay kids, who can’t ever get married, will never be successful or happy.

via Feministe and Salon.

Femininity Out of Control on the Internet: A Critical Analysis of Media Representations of Gender, Youth, and MySpace.com in International News Discourses

New article in Girlhood Studies by Shayla Thiel-Stern. I can’t wait to get the inter-library loan copy of this, it sounds great:

This article raises issues related to the gendered representation in the print media, particularly English-language newspapers, of girls who use MySpace as foolish innocents who invite sexual predation. It examines the ways in which the stereotyped representation of girls and boys promotes the hegemonic discourses that construct girlhood as a time of helplessness and lack of control, and that blame the technology itself, in this case MySpace, for a multitude of cultural problems. Ultimately, these discourses portray MySpace as a dangerous place where adolescent girls flaunt sexuality, where sexual predators lurk, and where boys commit violence, thus creating and reinforcing a moral panic and extending stereotypes about girls and boys, and about technology.

After so many panicked empirical studies of girls’ risks online, I’m glad that I’m finally starting to see more scholarship on the discourses about the internet, myspace, and sexual predators.