LET'S TALK ABOUT SEX. I think Courtney Martin makes a great argument that the number of drunken acquaintance rapes might be reduced if everyone was more experienced talking about sex, boundaries, and needs. While I think it's at some risk for being interpreted as, "Date rape is women's fault if they can't say 'no' loudly enough" -- which is definitely NOT what she's saying -- the inability to have a mature dialogue about sex and power is a largely unexplored consequence of abstinence-only education. And an under-explored contributing factor to drunken acquaintance rapes.

Abstinence-only indoctrination could also make it more difficult for women to come to terms with the fact that they've been raped. Most curricula drill home the idea that all sex should feel dirty and shameful. So when young people have an experience like (Courtney's friend) Jen's and feel regret afterward, it can be hard to tell whether they feel that way simply because they've had sex -- because they've been taught that all sex should feel bad -- or they feel that way because they were involved in a rape.

But I've gotta say, a standard of healthy, open discussion with teens about sex and power seems like a total pipe dream at a time when we can't even get many school districts to discuss more straightforward topics like contraception.

--Ann Friedman

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