A sex-negative diagnosis

A report in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics proves sex negativity in the United States is affecting young adults’ health. The religious right is in for a treat with a recent

A report in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics proves sex negativity in the United States is affecting young adults’ health.

The religious right is in for a treat with a recent report on the sex habits of young adults.

The report, published in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics on Jan. 3, accounts for 14,000 young men and women who were tested for the sexually transmitted diseases chlamydia, gonorrhea and trichomoniasis. Six percent tested positive for one of the aforementioned STDs.

Sarah and Bristol Palin and the others responsible for the prevention or delaying of comprehensive sex education in the United States might be reassured to know that among those with an STD, 10 percent reported abstaining from sex.

Jessica Sales, a researcher of the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education at Emory University, elaborates for all those scratching their heads.

“They were self-reporting that they hadn’t had sex in the past 12 months, but they were testing positive for an STD,” Sales said to CNN in a Jan. 3 online article. “There is also the potential they could have actually had other forms of sexual behavior that could have led to them testing positive for an STD.”

The problem with this explanation is that abstinence, as the Palin camp sees it, entails avoiding any type of sexual contact whatsoever. Sales and the other researchers can play it up however they want, but the group’s discrepancy between contracting STDs despite abstaining from sex is a result of the negativity toward sexuality in the U.S.

According to the Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, Wilhelm Reich, an Austrian-American psychoanalyst of the 1920s hypothesized “some societies accept the inherent value of sexual expression and indeed insist on it as a prerequisite of mental health, while other human groups despise sexuality and are ceaselessly inventive in devising austerities and prohibitions as a means of social control.”

Unfortunately, the latter, sex negativity, is a far more pervasive force in our society than the former part of the hypothesis, sex positivity.

Conservative figures throughout history, from obscenity crusader Anthony Comstock to Palin, create a sex-negative culture by removing pleasurable associations from sex, attempting to make contraception access difficult and creating sexual morals – whereby sex is not only limited to a reproductive function but also promotes heteronormativity.

It’s bad enough to have to deal with raging hormones on top of academic responsibilities, extracurricular activities and Regina George-style mean girls and bullies when you’re a teenager or young adult.

The lack of support for comprehensive sex education and negativity often associated with sex outside of film and television shows make juggling life harder, and being straightforward at the doctor’s office can be even more awkward.

CNN.com reports the study’s authors’ notes: “If pediatricians and adolescent medicine physicians do not test all young people, there are likely a substantial number of missed cases of STDs that will go undiagnosed, untreated and spread to future sex partners.”

Feminsting.com blogger Maya wrote that although more STD testing should be encouraged, the solution to have doctors test more young patients won’t resolve the entire problem.

“Instead, we should be asking why young people aren’t honest about their sexual behavior and how doctors can ensure better communication with them,” Maya said in her Jan. 7 blog post.

Getting diagnosed by your doctor as having an STD is humiliating, but to have to go into the most vague of gory details about your sexual activity triggers a lot of embarrassment that shouldn’t be there in the first place.

The only way to treat and prevent STDs and awkward chitchat at the doctor’s office is by admitting the problem and working to educate current and future generations that sexuality is a natural part of life. And as such, sexuality and talks about safe sex shouldn’t be off limits.

Josh Fernandez can be reached at josh@temple.edu.


  1. The Religious right would do well to pay heed to this report. Then again, doesn’t Tony Perkins and Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council get all their information concerning social sciences from “The American College of Pediatricians”. The name itself, evokes mastery of the philosophy of pediatrics. Alas, they are but an extension, of Focus on the Family, as is The Family Research Council. They consist of a couple of hundred of religiously conservative pediatricians, a fraternity that pales in comparison to the 60000 members of the AAP. However, the Palins, Dobsons, Perkins of the world will always sit on news media programs, and pontificate how they have a report put together by the American COLLEGE of Pediatricians, that will lend credence to their prevarications…ahem. The AAP may have a study consisting of 14000 subjects, however, the religious right will have their study from the American College of Pediatricians which will state exactly what they want it to state. Grant you, their subject base may only be 140 of their own constituency, but they will swear to high Heaven that it is indeed a scientific report. Sounds like junk science to me.
    To illustrate their evasive and deceptive nature, I sent The American College of Pediatricians a query, “Dear Sirs, How many members do you have in your organization?” The response, “We have members in 47 states, and in several countries.” That answered my question pretty well, dontcha think…NOT.
    My whole point is that the Palins, Dobsons, Perkins of the world, do not listen to any reputable reports, unless it serves their self aggrandizing myopia.

  2. Have an STD? You are not alone. Find others with same STD at site named pozmingle. you may be upset and think your life is over. However, once you settle down and learn the facts, you’ll realize that having STD is not the end of the world, and it’s not the end of your social life.

  3. It really beggars belief that Sara Palin gets blamed now for STDs among young sexually-active teens, who typically are liberal-left in politics. Palin has zero influence over social policies put into place by Clinton, then hardly changed under Bush, and now continued under Obama and the Democrat-run congress. I suggest, the “reporter” here should instead consider how space aliens from the planet Zolgrov in Andromeda have been sending “VD-rays” at Earth over the last decade. That has about the same validity. But oh, don’t ever consider that young people have some responsibility here. Not That! Never!

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