Often, I would wonder about societal change. It is an interesting and sought after ideal of progressives even if it is an elusive one. There are many factors that prevent us from achieving the changes we seek but there are two in my opinion that do the most damage to the movements we are trying to build.
The first one is that too often, we as a people believe we have no power. It is this belief that we cannot make a change in the status quo that stymies our revolutions. The second factor is that too often, we are trapped in the cycle of reactionary activism where we only bring up issues that need constant vigilance when something already happens. We then further forget about it until another similar incident occurs.
This behaviour of ours was once again seen when a video surfaced online showing high school girls performing sexual acts on young men. I have not seen the video, nor do I wish to see it. Aside from being ethically wrong, the sharing and viewing of sexual images of underage boys and girls is an offence and can see one being registered as a sex offender.
Incidents like these reveal the ugly underbelly of society. It is in these times that we see the blatant misogyny, victim blaming, double standards and shaming that too often accompany women throughout their lives.
We have a culture where we are constantly exploiting, sexualising and policing women’s bodies, even from the youngest of ages because it helps to reinforce the stereotypes we have of them and makes it easier to continue treating them as lesser than. The damage is two-fold when women become the biggest defenders of the social systems that keep them at a standstill.
I will not comment on whether the young women were right to have performed sexual acts on camera (it is unclear to me whether they knew they were being filmed) because that is entering into a moral debate that I have no interest in. We need to ask ourselves not only why they would choose to video sexual acts, but also we need to ask ourselves why it is that we as a people feel comfortable to distribute the video and shame the young girls in said video. What purpose exactly does it serve to plaster the images of minors across the Internet and do you see yourself as part of the problem?
What I do have an interest in is how we as a society continue failing our children. There has been much chatter about the need for the students to be more “religious” in that they should not be partaking in sex. While I do not have a problem with abstinence messages, I have a problem when that is the only message being sent to young people.
Whether parents, teachers and policy makers decide to take the blinders off of their eyes or not, the majority of adolescents will have sex before they are ready or are already having it. So, to teach abstinence only approach can be seen as counterproductive. What we should be doing is not telling children that the only option is to not have sex but to explain that while that option is preferable, if they do partake in it, they should do so responsibly.
Countless studies have shown and proven how abstinence only approaches not only fail, but see many children partaking in riskier sexual behaviours than those who would have had access to comprehensive sexual education.