A Lesson in Abstinence

Allegory of Chastity, by Hans Memling (1475, oil on wood)

Early Wednesday afternoon, when Nadine Dorries, Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire, moved to introduce a Bill to ‘require schools to provide certain additional sex education to girls aged between 13 and 16; to provide that such education must include information and advice on the benefits of abstinence from sexual activity; and for connected purposes’, she set alight to the feminist blogosphere (See here, here, here, and here, for examples).

Central to the feminist criticism is the clear gender asymmetry contained in the proposal, as immediately pointed out by her detractor Chris Bryant, Labour MP for Rhondda (a transcription of the debate is to be found here). ‘For a start, the Bill is just about girls,’ complained Bryant, ‘I am not an expert, but it seems axiomatic to me that if we want to tackle teenage pregnancy, we have to talk to the boys and the girls.’ Continue reading “A Lesson in Abstinence”

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Banning Discussion of Suicide?

Newspaper and pages are currently impressed with the melancholoy story of two stangers (Joanne Lee and Steve Lumb) who met on a suicide discussion forum and subsequently met for the first time in order to fulfill a suicide pact, dying together in a fume-filled car.

Of course the circumstances of these deaths are incredibly sad and we should have sympathy for those affected by their demise. However, when individuals like the understandably distraught father of one of those now dead call for the banning of newsgroups and forums focused on suicide on the grounds that they provide an opportunity for depressed individuals to be both encouraged to end their own lives and instructed on preferred methods, they’re simply mistaking the medium of communication for the message. Continue reading “Banning Discussion of Suicide?”