The Right to Know

Judith Levine, in the chapter entitled “Community: Risk, Identity, and Love in the Age of AIDS,” introduced the concepts of sexual health, identity, and love and how they are impacted by the prevalence of AIDS and varying levels of AIDS education.  A main problem according to Levine, among many others, is considering sex to not be so harmful to minors. Many people are not comfortable with saying that sex is not a dangerous thing for minors to learn about and experience. In a previous blog, I explored the fact that many children are seemingly hidden from the idea of sex so as to avoid the many problems potentially associated with it. However, this type of fear and avoidance creates two paradigms of exacerbation in regards to the deficiency of societal sexual health.

On the one hand, we have the children that are told not to have sex, whether for religious reasons or other personal reasons, who actually abide by these sheltering restrictions. As a result, it is possible that these children will gain no type  of understanding or sex education. In a society where sex is the general undertone of much of the media and popular culture, lacking sexual education creates a layer of vulnerability. Not that sex is the general basis of life, but in a way, not knowing about sex when it is so prominent places children at a particular social disadvantage. On a more serious note, if a child is to eventually engage in sexual activity, lacking sexual education likely means lacking an understanding of safe sex. So the protective barriers that were established to prevent the child from dealing with sex could in turn put them at a greater risk if they were to break these rules later down the line.

In somewhat of the same fashion, there are then the children that see the rules regarding sex, know the rules, and chose to break the rules. This is one of the outlined risks of college students that decide to experiment and take more risks once they arrive to college and experience independence for the first time. In the act of exploration and rebellion, these individuals likely take risks that would otherwise have been avoided had they not had the same thirst for sex.

This may seem like a very radical approach. The point is not to say that all adolescents that are withheld from sex and sexual education will eventually get pregnant or contract a sexually transmitted disease or infection. Rather the idea is that educating young adolescents about sex will likely lead to higher usage rates of protection and more effective decision making skills in regards to sex. Afterall, people tend to make healthier decisions regarding pleasure when the risks are known as well.

“But what about AIDS?” Levine notes this as being the main question asked once the notion of sex not being harmful to minors is introduced. Yet is this not even more reason to educate children and adolescents about sex. With the prevalence of AIDS and other STDs remaining steady if not increasing, the answer is seemingly not to withhold information, but to encourage understanding. Education is not synonymous with intercourse, but potentially is reason for better decision-making. Why prevent young individuals from being aware?

1 thought on “The Right to Know

  1. Jsmit: this is a provocative and thoughtful post but you need to engage with the texts (either our readings or what you find in the archives) more explicitly. In your first paragraph you say ” introduced the concepts of sexual health, identity, and love and how they are impacted by the prevalence of AIDS and varying levels of AIDS education.” How does Levine do this? Can you provide textual evidence?

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