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Competing Interests

I'm going to break my normal rule of not blogging whilst inebriated. (My Perspectives final is done, the Reg State one holds little fear, and frankly, cheap Stella Artois is too good to pass up.) So forgive me if the spelling is pretty grim, but this makes a good Reg State topic.

Will Baude is hoping that the new policy in some areas of Britain--to encourage kids to have oral sex and thus delay intercourse--is going to be a good thing. He thinks it will discourage teen pregnancy. I have my skepticism. States Baude:

I know that oral sex isn't necessarily 100% safe from disease (or from whatever moral decay some people think attaches to certain kinds of sex), but it is 100% safe from pregnancy, which is especially important when some kinds of birth control are unavailable to the young (though the British system of medicine is different from the one we have here).

Well, let's look at the 'evidence' put forward by the scheme's proponents?
Now the government will recommend the scheme, called A Pause, to schools throughout England and Wales following the success of the trial in 104 schools where sexual intercourse among 16-year-olds fell by up to 20 per cent, according to Dr John Tripp of the Department of Child Health at the University of Exeter, who helped to design the course.

But does that tell you anything? How many of the girls involved were having oral sex at 16, and graduated to straight intercourse at 17? Are we any better off as a society because those acts of intercourse were delayed by a year? How much of this was merely a delay of the problem by a statistically meaningless fraction? We don't know. (Though the study does say that, "Schoolchildren, particularly girls, who received such training developed a 'more mature' response to sex." How lovely.)

More to the point, oral sex carries its own risks. Baude mentions that "I know that oral sex isn't necessarily 100% safe from disease (or from whatever moral decay some people think attaches to certain kinds of sex), but it is 100% safe from pregnancy, which is especially important when some kinds of birth control are unavailable to the young (though the British system of medicine is different from the one we have here)." You'll excuse me if the idea of raising a generation of girls with a higher rate of oral herpes or genital warts--both nicely spread through unprotected oral sex--doesn't seem like a sterling policy victory.

My dismay at this program basically rests in its uselessness. Somehow I can't imagine that British teenagers need training in the fact that oral sex is a 'safer' alternative to normal sex, expecially with relation to pregnancy. I base this on the fact that even the benighted young gentleman of Alabama, where I spent my youth, were often quite ready to encourage a young lady to participate in fellatio as a sign of affection that didn't risk pregnancy, and I never got the impression that the men or women of England were substantially less-inclined to the obvious. In the meantime, by encouraging oral sex as a way-point, you might actually be promoting health problems, a far cry from the Observer's conclusion that this "dispel[s] the fears of family campaigners who believe such methods actually arouse the sexual interest of teenagers."

To make this conclusion, you'd need more than the Observer's hope and assertion: you'd need data that these women (and, let's not forget, their partners) didn't suffer from a greater rate of oral herpes or genital warts. You'd need some idea of the baseline number of girls who were engaging in fellatio anyway. You'd need, in short, a solid defense and reasonable data, instead of the sort of article the Observer likes to print because it can score cheap points against "family campaigners."

The relationship ot Reg State, of course, is that this is the kind of hole you have to pick in a fact-pattern: how did the proponent of the idea fail to get from X to Y. But mostly, it's just an example of why I think the Observer isn't a particularly good newspaper, unless you already agree with what it says. In which case, I can't imagine why it's useful.

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Comments

I ask only for a little elaboration. Where did you get cheap Stella? [This is a serious question, I need beer to even comprehend Reg. St., and Stella fits the bill. It will fit the budget too, if you can tell me where to get it cheap]
Shame on you for not reading the fucking article "Those behind the course stress the scheme does not suggest teenagers experiment with oral sex." They are I imagine more likely to know than an Observer hack looking for a headline. It's also worth noting that over the age of 16 it's their own damn business anyway. Teaching them how to use condoms beats the hell out of 'wait for marriage'. None of this makes Mr Baud any less foolish since he probably hasn't read it either, but I'd have expected you to have at least read the original piece.
Sorry, just remembered you're drunk. Your failure to check sources is excused. Plus, congratulations on beating another round of exams. Don't know how many are left before you're officially a scary lawyer - but you're getting there!
Fellow Servant: Split pitchers at the West End. So it wasn't really cheap, per se, as much as a team-Stella matter. Martin: I caught that, and actually I read the article two days ago. I'll admit to that being a source of some significant confusion on my part, even whilst sober. Assuming that it isn't encouraging oral sex--the implication of a stopping point is 'do this instead'--I'm sort of unclear on how the course differs from a sex-ed course of normal vintage? I assumed that the sentence you quote was some kind of pro forma denial. Thanks for the congrats, though! I'm still two years from lawyerhood, so it's not that close.
It's a sticky question, that's for sure. I'm wondering if the success of the study is not due to teens having more oral (and thus less genital) sex, but perhaps to the open discussions of previously hush-hush topics, thereby making the "forbidden fruits" somewhat less attractive (well, more 'ho-hum' anyway) to young adults eager to learn the rules of the game... I think most social conservatives would even agree that removing the shame and secretiveness from the topic of sex would lead to a more mature attitude among youngsters, but how to go about doing so without actually saying "go ahead, give it a try" is problematic.
The whole thing sounds a lot like normal sex ed. I'd guess 'stopping points' do indeed involve things like 'do this instead' such as 'walk out of the room'.
I'm sure in a lot of people would rather have oral sex and take away the rate of pregnancies. Although it is not the same feeling(s) I think it is a better alternative.
I'm sure in a lot of people would rather have oral sex and take away the rate of pregnancies. Although it is not the same feeling(s) I think it is a better alternative.
Oral sex is not that safe... You can catch both AIDS and herpes and some other deseases. The safest was to have sex is to use both oral contraceptive medicines and condoms. And even if you use condoms only, the protection is quite high. The society has to support safe sex. If we can't prevent teens from having sex, they should know all the safety rules.

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