Using the threat of cancer to promote chastity is not ‘pro-life’

A lot of Christians were upset about and opposed to the HPV vaccine because they were sure that protecting young girls from one day getting the cancer-causing virus would make them slutty.

They were wrong. “American girls who receive the CDC-recommended HPV vaccination at age 11 and 12 aren’t any more likely to turn up pregnant, STD-infected, or on birth control pills three years later.”

So now those folks will have to come up with some other ethical guidance for their daughters other than “OMG! Abstain until you’re 30 or you’ll get human pappilomavirus and die!”

Maybe, just maybe, fear of disease isn’t the optimal core of good character or the optimal basis for good behavior.

And maybe, just maybe, preventing cancer might be more “pro-life” than scoring cheap tribal political points by anti-science fear-mongering over anything and everything having to do with ladyparts.

* * * * * * * * *

Pat Boone records a birther attack on Obama.

Apparently this is not his first such foray into birtherism. I knew Boone was conservative, I didn’t realize that he has quite a history of loopy, racist WorldNetDaily-type stuff.

The racism doesn’t harm Pat Boone’s status as a beloved “evangelical Christian” celebrity. He’s anti-abortion and anti-gay and isn’t accused of adultery, so he’s OK with the tribe. No matter how enthusiastically Boone disgraces himself, he remains in the good graces of evangelicalism.

That tribe still doesn’t seem to realize that no one will ever begin to trust it’s moral judgment on adultery, sexuality or reproductive health until it begins to display better moral judgment on racial justice.

* * * * * * * * *

Speaking of pop stars and religion, it’s been 20 years since Sinead O’Connor was wrongly condemned and mocked for tearing up a picture of Jerry Sandusky on Saturday Night Live.

Many people were appalled and O’Connor’s career in America never recovered.

Sandusky was a respected official, after all, and she had a lot of nerve criticizing him and suggesting that there was something rotten at the core of the revered institution he represented.

Kris Kristofferson was almost alone in getting it right. (Bob Dylan got it wrong. And he still hasn’t apologized for that. He needs too.)

Related: Former Sen. George McGovern died this month. He’s famous for opposing the Vietnam War and getting trounced by Richard Nixon.

(The common thread there is that you can be forgiven for almost anything except for being right about something very important years before everyone else comes around.)

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ mistformsquirrel

    Ahh Pat Boone, still trying desperately to be relevant.

    It surprises me that this doesn’t put him on the outs with the fundies though…  I mean OMGDEVILMUSIC right? … Right?

    I mean crap, he covered Holy Diver of all things!  How’d he get away with that?  I’m not so much complaining as just begging for a little consistency (x-x)

  • aunursa

    My problem with Sinead O’Connor’s action was not that she criticized the pope, but that she did it on Saturday Night Live.  If she wants to make a political or religious statement or whatever, let her do it on her own dime.  By doing it in that forum where she was invited to perform — not to make her own statement — she embarassed SNL and NBC.

    And I would feel the same way, for example, if it were a pro-Israel SNL guest tearing or burning a photo of Arafat or Ahmadinejad.

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

     My goodness I thought “Use a condom or you’ll get pregnant/hiv/human pappilomavirus (or some combination of the three) and die!” as pushed in the UK in the 1980s was bad.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Speaking of pop stars and religion, it’s been 20 years since Sinead O’Connor was wrongly condemned and mocked for tearing up a picture of Jerry Sandusky on Saturday Night Live.

    She was just ahead of her time. We hadn’t heard about the League of Kiddie Diddlers yet. If she did it today half the world would probably applaud and demand an encore.

    And I would feel the same way, for example, if it were a pro-Israel SNL guest destroying a photo of Arafat or Ahmadinejad.

    Sure. Okay.

  • Magic_Cracker

    They gave her a platform and she used it. Boo-fucking-hoo.

  • Carstonio

    What exactly was O’Connor’s motive for tearing up the Pope’s picture? Not long afterward on a Letterman anniversary show, a clip of O’Connor among other performers still drew long boos from the studio audience.  And Madonna parodied it using a photo of Joey Buttafuoco. Even now I’m not exactly sure why O’Connor took so much grief over her stunt. Maybe JP2 was very beloved at the time, or maybe Irish and Italian residents of NY saw Catholicism as part of their ethnic pride.

    SNL claims that O’Connor deceived them with the stunt – during rehearsal she simply held up a photo of a child. That clip was used instead of the live performance when the show was rebroadcast.

  • James Probis

    Of course Pat Boone is a racist loon. His entire career was based on racism. He would be unknown if radio stations hadn’t been afraid to play the original (black) artists versions of songs he recorded.

  • Magic_Cracker
  • http://twitter.com/emjb emjb

    Even if I thought my kid getting pregnant/having sex outside marriage was A Terrible Thing, I would not EVER consider it worse than DYING of CANCER. What kind of parent does that make you? Willing to let your kid get CANCER because that’s better than dealing with the fact she will grow up and have sex, possibly they type you don’t approve of, someday? What a monster that makes you. How will it feel to hold her hand while she dies, knowing that you could have maybe helped her if you weren’t so blinded by your fear of sex?  It’s beyond horrible.

  • Carstonio

    From the title of Fred’s post, it sounds like pro-lifers believe that HPV making girls slutty will cause more abortions. I would be curious to know what rationale they would give for focusing on chastity only for girls. A couple of times when I’ve picked up prescription meds for family members, I’ve glanced at the covers of the “inspirational” books on display, and blanched at the descriptions they give for the supposed nature of boys.

  • Carstonio

    Now I’m the mood to see the original Hairspray film, to see Waters lampoon the original racist reactions to rock ‘n’ roll. And to remind myself how much the folks decrying the Gay Marriage Apocalypse sound just like their forebearers who predicted doom ‘n’ gloom from race-mixing.

  • ReverendRef

    A lot of Christians were upset about and opposed to the HPV vaccine
    because they were sure that protecting young girls from one day getting
    the cancer-causing virus would make them slutty.

    I don’t think it’s just the HPV vaccination.  I think it’s the whole anti-vaccination movement in general.  My wife works in the medical field and I often hear stories about parents refusing vaccinations for their kids based on some whacked out religious exemption thing.

    I just don’t get it.

    And, btw, we have one daughter.  We made her get the HPV vaccination because, you know, cancer bad.

  • D9000

    We didn’t have to make our daughter get the HPV vaccination, she was entirely clued up about it anyway, as who would not be in our household. Mrs D works in the field and can get … vocal … on the topic. Mrs D has a general piece of advice about cervical cancer, which she gives freely on all appropriate and many not quite so appropriate occasions, and it runs thusly: “Gentlemen; wash your willies.”

  • WalterC

    I think if you are ever having a debate, and you realize that you are on the same team as cancer, it might be time to stop speaking, take a deep breath, and try to go over in your mind how you got to that point. Because that’s just frightening.

    (Seriously, if someone ever told me that an actual, literal treatment to prevent little kids from getting cancer would be unpopular with anyone except for cartoon supervillains, I would have laughed.)

  • Magic_Cracker

    Step 1: Protect kids from cancer and pedophiles
    Step 2: ????
    Step 3: MORAL HAZARD!!!

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    That tribe still doesn’t seem to realize that no one will ever begin to trust it’s moral judgment on adultery, sexuality or reproductive health until it begins to display better moral judgment on racial justice.

    I think you are wrong there, Fred.  Surely someone will trust that moral judgement, just not society in general.  The ones trusting its judgement will be those raised inside the Evangelical bubble, and more importantly, those who can be kept in that bubble until they cannot conceive of any life outside of it, even when that life smacks them in the face.  

    However, that amount of people is getting smaller every year.  I doubt it will die, but its influence with whither.  

  • http://www.blogger.com/home?pli=1 Coleslaw

    The vaccine is not just for girls and women, BTW. Men can get oral cancer from HPV, which is now outstripping smoking as the main cause of oral cancer, so boys should be vaccinated, too. (I heard this from an oncologist who spoke at a conference I attended on post-surgical swallowing therapy.) 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    And then the self-same smug dorkuses turn around and lie and say abortion causes cancer. (>_<)

  • LL

    I’m pretty sure SNL got more free advertising out of that than almost anything else that has appeared on the show before or since. She did them a favor. They won’t ever admit it, but things like that make SNL more relevant culturally than the rather sad skits they produce every week. 

  • banancat

    I had HPV ten years ago now (wow, time sure flies).  I had a high risk strain and I was 17 years old and terrified.   It all ended well for me and I now longer have the virus and I also got the vaccine to protect from other strains, because that is not something I want to go through again.

    I am sharing this because I have decided to talk about this disease to take away the taboo surrounding it.  It shouldn’t be shameful to catch it.  I make a point to not hide my experience with it.  It should be no more shameful than any other disease.  And talking about it the same way I would talk about getting strep throat is a way to normalize it.  I hope that others who have gone through this will someday be able to talk about it without feeling any embarrassment by it.

  • Satchel

    Maybe, just maybe, fear of disease isn’t the optimal core of good character or the optimal basis for good behavior.

    But if they admitted that, they  might have to admit that maybe, just maybe, fear of eternal damnation isn’t the optimal basis for religious belief.

  • Katie

    The HPV vaccine has been  approved for boys and young men fairly recently-ish.  The opposition to vaccines, *any* vaccines, is just weird to me.  One of the arguments that I find especially weak is the ‘one of the cell lines used to develop (iirc) the MMR vaccine was originally derived from an aborted fetus’, so therefore vaccines=murder.  Seriously.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Fred, you’ve got a typo: “He needs too” should be “to”

  • Fusina

     As did I. And caught hell about it from my Mom, because, hey, now she can have sex without worrying about HPV. Now that they have it for boys, the son is going to be vaccinated as well.

    We got her vaccinated because my at the time brand new sis-in-law ended up getting a hysterectomy because she got cervical cancer–caused by, yes, HPV, which she caught from her husband…

  • Trixie_Belden

    Thanks, banancat.  Well done!

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I think that the opposition to things like comprehensive sex education is primarily because they see fear as a tool they can use to coerce people into chastity.  Knowledge negates ignorance, and ignorance is necessary to cultivate fear.  The problem that they have with vaccines, birth control, and abortion is that these are things which mitigate some of the negative potential consequences of sex.  

    When sex has clear and serious risk factors, encouraging chastity makes sense from a social good standpoint.  However, as those risk factors are reduced and sex becomes less of a danger, any dogma demanding chastity starts becoming increasingly irrelevant.  For someone who’s sense of faith is rigidly “all or nothing”, that is a worrying possibility.  

  • mud man

    The cheapest rebuttal in the world is to talk about how things were said in place of what things were said. Really very mean-spirited. You are asking the victim to give up anger before you’re willing to listen to them. 

  • aunursa

    The cheapest rebuttal in the world is to talk about how things were said in place of what things were said.

    No.  I don’t have a problem with how things were said.  I have a problem with where things were said.  She had every right to criticize the Church and the pope and tear up his photo in order to make her point.  It was inappropriate for her to use SNL as a vehicle to express her personal views — without approval from the producers.

    And as to LL’s point, it doesn’t matter whether SNL stood to gain or lose from her stunt.  It wasn’t her decision to make for them.  A retirement plan manager who invests the funds of his retired clients in high-risk funds without notifying his clients is morally wrong even if the risk actually pays off.

  • P J Evans

     Well, there are people who are still mad at Jane Fonda: it’s been 40 years, and she’s apologized several times.
    One local-to-me newspaper columnist suggested it was time for the anti-Fonda people to put that one behind them, and got some fairly nasty comments.

  • WalterC

     I agree. I think there’s a time and a place for things, and you probably shouldn’t do something like that “in someone else’s house” without clearing it with them first, since they have to share the repercussions of your actions, even if your actions turn out to be righteous. I have no problems with flag burning as a form of protest but I don’t think I would want someone to burn a flag in my house (even if it was done in a very safe way) and I wouldn’t be OK with burning someone else’s flag.

    My problem here though is that a lot of people let the context of O’Connor’s comment obscure her message. And that was their choice, not hers. You can say, ‘OK, that was probably not the best place to say it, but what you say makes sense’, but they didn’t; instead, the impression that I got was that the decades long child rape scandal of the RCC was balanced out by O’Connor’s ripping up of that picture. In fact, I remember in the immediate aftermath there were more people talking about her than the (not to put too fine a point on it) child molestation cover-ups.

    Yeah, I think she should have cleared it with her producers. No, I don’t think that it’s all her fault that we as a society launch into Rapid Response Mode when dealing with a torn piece of paper or a nipple slip at the Super Bowl but take decades to confront the systematic torture of our own children.

    Decorum is important, but that’s no excuse for our priorities to be that perverted.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The analogy I like to make about sex is that it’s like having a very effective, useful, but also dangerous tool at your fingertips.

    Now, anyone with this tool would read the product warnings, the instruction manual, the recommended safety precautions, and use the tool with full knowledge that the procedures they follow are designed to get maximum utility with careful use of the tool.

    Yet when it comes to sex, people would rather not provide safety instructions of any kind, nor supply an instruction manual which discusses the body parts involved.

    And then folks are shocked, SHOCKED, to find out that the dangers of having sex without full knowledge are widespread. (-_-)

    Anyone who wilfully supplied a powerful tool with insufficient safety documentation or instructions would be looking at class-action lawsuits and/or FTC investigations.

    Yet people who wilfully contribute to ignorance of proper and safe sexual habits in a way that maximizes its use and enjoyment – they are praised and honored and feted instead of being billed the costs of their insistence on this kind of negligent lack of teaching.

  • GDwarf

    I think, ultimately, opposition to birth control and safe sex isn’t really some sort of conscious plan. It’s all about gut reactions: Humans have always had some pretty severe hangups about sex and how it ties into society as a whole. What’s more, many of the people who are now suddenly against safe sex have a hard time articulating why. It’s not about anything but the fact that sex outside of marriage and/or non-PiV = icky to them, and so all these policies and protests aren’t about actually stopping teens from having sex, it’s about declaring to the world what your views are.

    Now, I’m sure many of them do think that fear will keep their kids in line, but I don’t think that’s the main reason. It’s all about tribal markings. You oppose sex ed because so does everyone else in your group.

    As for how all this got started: Well, as I said, sex is a hangup with people. It’s hardly surprising that many of these emotion-based tribal markers gravitate towards it.

  • SisterCoyote

    She was protesting the corruption in the Church, specifically abuse by priests and clergy.  I can’t remember where, now, but I read an interview with her some time after, where she explained that she was still Catholic through and through, but she couldn’t get behind the abuse of women, and of children, and the cover-ups by the Vatican.

    The reason why she took so much grief over the action, I think, is well-stated in Fred’s initial post. It’s the same reason Sandusky’s fans rioted when he was first exposed. When someone stands up and says the head of an organization has done something horrific, it’s perceived as an attack on the organization itself, and tribalism kicks in – the first response is denial, vicious and angry and violent denial.

  • Lori

    Your point is absolutely true, with one small correction—it was Joe Paterno’s fans who rioted. The one and only tiny speck of light in the whole Penn State nightmare was that groundswell of support for Jerry Sandusky. (In many cases I suspect the reasons for not supporting him were bad, but in a situation that horrific I figure we have to take whatever small positive thing we can get.)

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Umm… wtf is wrong with being on birth control pills?! I wish I’d been on birth control pills as soon as my period started, which was when I was 11. My periods were hell on earth. Cramps so bad I couldn’t sleep or go to school.

    And the idea that any girl or woman should be considered “slutty” is despicable. And this post does not address that — it actually seems perfectly fine with that underlying assumption. Fred, what is this? 

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    No, actually, humans have not always had hang-ups about sex. Other cultures have looked on sex in completely different ways, many of them thoroughly positive. Further, U.S. culture is one of the more messed-up about sex in the world. 

    Also, plenty of people do consciously use the lack of sex education to control people, particularly girls and women. They deliberately draw a straight line: a girl who knows about sex is a girl who’s a lot harder to control. She might even start enjoying it. And that would be the worst thing a girl could do.

  • mud man

    inappropriate …. without approval from the producers … [previously: ..  ... let her do it on her own dime.

    What I said. Your problem is that Sinead did it wrong.

    I see you edited out the part about NBC being embarrassed by Sinead’s suffering. Good call.  cf: Genesis 9:24

  • Münchner Kindl

     However, that was not lying about science, only exaggerating (not every unprotected sexual encounter would result automatically in AIDS/ pregnancy, but it had a much higher chance).

  • Münchner Kindl

     

    When sex has clear and serious risk factors, encouraging chastity makes sense from a social good standpoint. 

    Actually, no. Because in the real world (as countless studies of comparison have shown), chastitiy has a much worse rate, esp. among teens: once it fails, it fails catastrophically.

    Whereas sex ed. still allows chastity – nobody is forced to have sex – but lowers risk once chastity does fail by using condoms on that occasion.

    Moreover, the European model where teens are expected to have friendships that develop into relationships and parents are relaxed and allow teens gradually more freedoms proves to be much better on many levels (not only less consequences from sex, but also emotional maturity etc.) than the b/w model where until 18 everything even kissing is forbidden, but after that suddenly everything is allowed. This does not work well in the real world.

    Take e.g. the Harry Potter books: even though they take place in prudish UK, the  teens start having friendships in the upper classes, and we see in book 5 and 6 how it takes several different partners for the kids to develop emotionally and go from “crush on pretty girl” to “serious relationship that can last”. (We only see kissing and snogginy onscreen, not real sex, but they are still allowed to develop partnerships.)

  • reynard61

    “I would be curious to know what rationale they would give for focusing on chastity only for girls. A couple of times when I’ve picked up prescription meds for family members, I’ve glanced at the covers of the ‘inspirational’ books on display, and blanched at the descriptions they give for the supposed nature of boys.”

    It seems to be in the nature of (but certainly not exclusive to) the Abrahamic religions to punish the female adherents for the sins, both possible and actual, of their male adherents.

  • Carstonio

     While I agree, my point was about confronting them: “Why are you saying that girls should keep themselves pure but boys shouldn’t have to do the same? Why the double standard?” I know a journalist who sometimes used a technique of posing a question that might sound uninformed, in a way designed to draw an explanation out of a source that wouldn’t be obvious otherwise.

  • Carstonio

    If I didn’t know anything about fundamentalist culture, I might assume that they shared the attitudes of the India communities that practice child marriage, where the colloquial term for unmarried daughters translates to “someone else’s money.” Or else the attitudes of royal families in Europe centuries ago where daughters were bargaining chips to form alliances. Both involve daughters as property.

  • Carstonio

    My issue with that standard is that it would rule out musical guests performing songs that were politically or socially controversial. “Personal views” is very broad – one could argue that with singer-songwriters or bands that write their own material, most of their works express their personal views.

    I didn’t know about the child abuse by priests when O’Connor did her stunt, although I obviously knew about the Church’s authoritarian and controlling stances on women. Although I generally don’t like calculated attempts to generate controversy (one reason I’ve never liked Madonna’s work) I greeted the stunt with indifference, partly because I didn’t know at the time what exactly she was protesting.

  • Carstonio

    One more post…

    That tribe still doesn’t seem to realize that no one will ever begin
    to trust it’s moral judgment on adultery, sexuality or reproductive
    health until it begins to display better moral judgment on racial
    justice.

    That sounds like Fred wanting to reform evangelical Christianity from within. He doesn’t seem to realize that all those moral judgments are connected and driven by authoritarianism and tribalism. He’s written many times that evangelicalism has pretty much devolved into a political movement. What if progressive evangelicals like Fred, Rachel Held Evans, Jim Wallis, and others declared themselves separate and formed their own denomination?

  • GDwarf

     

    No, actually, humans have not always had hang-ups about sex. Other
    cultures have looked on sex in completely different ways, many of them
    thoroughly positive. Further, U.S. culture is one of the more messed-up
    about sex in the world.

    Not all cultures have seen sex as bad, no, but I think it’s fair to say that all of them saw it as important. It’s been an aspect of religious ceremonies, stories, dominance, war…You’d be hard-pressed to find any other aspect of humanity that turns up in as many places.

  • fraser

     It’s not so much that they want them to get cancer (I think) as that they’d sooner take the risk of it than send anything that might be construed as “We know you may have sex.” It’s the same subtext to opposing non-abstinence-based sex ed: It’s seen as giving a blessing of sorts on premarital sex (which as Fred has noted in the past is the Big Bad)

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    Knowledge negates ignorance, and ignorance is necessary to cultivate fear.

    And fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to patriarchy, racism, and tribalism.

  • http://johnm55.wordpress.com/ johnm55

    I’ve never been a teenage girl, but I was a teenage boy, and although the memory isn’t quite what  it used to be, I’m fairly sure that the possibility of contracting HPV wasn’t among the reasons they gave for refusing to get in the sack with me.

  • Mrs Grimble

    There’s a similar panic about ‘monkey cells’ being in vaccines: “OMG, my kid’s being injected with monkey DNA!!11!!”
    The cell lines are from a variety of sources, both human and animal;  they provide the  material that the live virus is grown on, before it’s extracted and processed into a vaccine; nothing from the cell lines actually gets into  the vaccine. These people may as well freak out over getting a tomato that was grown in soil enriched by animal manure: “OMG, this tomato comes from WHAT???”

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    You’re not an activist, are you?


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