The Mythical 11-year-old Slut with Fifty Bucks in Her Pocket

sexualized childrenYou know the eleven year old down the street who  divides her after-school time between the park where she gets laid and the drug store where she buys her douches? Yeah, neither do I. But apparently a number of right wing commentators live in a different world than we do—because in their world that girl is the reason all of us should have to show ID to get emergency contraception.

In their world, if we can get EC without showing our names and birthdates, then she can too—and will. Right now, apparently, this girl’s fear of pregnancy is the only thing keeping her and her peers from even nastier sex lives. Think tweens gone wild. As columnist Kathleen Parker put it, “As long as there’s an exit, whether abortion or Plan B, what’s the incentive to await mere maturity?” Conversely, if we all are willing to put up with the minor humiliation of announcing our names and ages to drug store cashiers along with our contraceptive failures, then that girl will instead turn to the wise, thoughtful parents whose supervision she’s somehow been evading. The mother and father will buy Plan B with their own fifty bucks instead of her allowance. And those parents, who have heretofore failed to notice their daughter’s precocious promiscuity, will carefully read the Plan B insert and coach her through the nausea—or at least coach her on how best to parent her baby.

And they will all live happily ever after.

In my world, where science and data matter, less than one percent of 11 year olds have had sex, and for most of those, the “sex” they had was incest, rape, or some other form of sexual assault. For twelve year olds, that number is two to four percent. When it comes to actually purchasing expensive EC, the percent of pre-teens who can scrape together $50 unnoticed may be as small as the percent who are sleeping around, like next to none. Tweens Gone Wild is a pedophilic fantasy.

However, teen sex isn’t. By age 15, about 13 percent of teens have initiated sex. The average age at which people start sexual activity is 17, and by age 19 seventy percent have had sex at least once. Fortunately, teens are starting sex later than the used to, but thanks in part to abstinence only education, many don’t use protection till they have a scare. Teen pregnancy, when carried to term, trashes lives. Only 40 percent of girls who give birth between ages 15 and 17 ever graduate high school; less than 2 percent graduate college by age 30. Their offspring have higher rates of poverty, learning problems, health problems, criminality, and—teen pregnancy. Even during the twenties, unintended pregnancy is associated with economic struggles, reduced opportunity, and less family flourishing.

In this world, where morality is about actually making people’s lives better, drug regulations are optimized to promote the general welfare. Public health officials do a complex risk benefit analysis to decide whether any given drug prevents more harm than it causes. Part of their responsibility is to assess whether men, women and children are best served by having that drug be available over the counter or under the scrutiny of a physician.

ella ovulation adIn the case of Plan B, every body of relevant experts—the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the FDA scientists themselves believe that the public health is best served by having Plan B freely available to all who seek it. The primary question in their minds is whether other more effective forms of contraception (including more effective emergency contraception like ella and Paragard) should be freely available as well. Their recommendations are based on research that says Plan B is safer than Tylenol, and the risks of Plan B (and Tylenol) are many times lower than the risks from miscarriage, abortion, or—most risky of all—full term pregnancy. That is why the presence of Plan B on regular drugstore shelves should be taken as a sign that the professional and regulatory bodies are doing their jobs.

Mandatory age checks are a draconian solution to a nonexistent problem, so what goal does opposition to Plan B really serve?

  • Male Control of Female Sexuality – As futurist Sarah Robinson has eloquently described, every culture, society and religion on this planet is structured around the once universal and now obsolete fact of women having no control of their fertility. This reality gave males certain privileges that now are threatened. Every step toward better birth control drives another nail in the coffin of male privilege, which is why, as Robinson sees it, we’ll still be fighting this battle 100 years from now.
  • Fetal Personhood vs. Female Personhood - Despite all evidence to the contrary, conservatives continue to insist that every fertilized egg is a person-to-be and emergency contraception is abortifacient. In reality, the only established mechanism of EC action is delaying ovulation. Even the best emergency contraception available, the copper IUD (which isn’t available without prescription), prevents more fertilized egg suicides than it causes. But that hasn’t stopped the embryo advocates from insisting that Plan B murders teeny babies, which means it must be opposed by whatever means available.   
  • Parent Rights over Child Wellbeing – In biblical law, children are property of men, as are women, slaves and livestock. Parental rights are inviolable to the point that a man can sacrifice his child and have it “counted as righteousness” rather than murder. Our culture has moved toward the ideal expressed by Kahlil Gibran in his famous poem, On Children, meaning that we house and nurture our children rather than own them. But the closer parents are to the traditional Abrahamic view, the more they mistrust tools that help teens to take care of themselves independently, even if these tools help young people to thrive.  

By opposing Plan B access, conservatives betray the fact that they are willing to sacrifice women, teens and pre-teens on the altar of patriarchy and—let’s get real here–religion. The Plan B fight pits the power of the priesthood, authoritarian parents and prudes against the obligations of the public health establishment and medical care providers. The 11-year-old-slut fantasy is brought to us by the same people who brought us pedophile priests, Jesus Camp, Child Evangelism and mandatory vaginal probes. Perhaps instead of tweens gone wild we should be worrying about clergy gone wild.

Related:
The Big Lie about Plan B–What You Really Should Be Telling Your Friends.
What’s Wrong With the FDA’s Plan B Compromise?  Almost Everything
Plan B Ruling: Fox and Family Research Council Seize Chance to Spread Misinformation
15 Things Old Boys like Rick Santorum Don’t Want You to Know About Your Body and Your Contraception
A Brief History of Your Period and Why You Don’t Have to Have It

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington.  She is the author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of www.WisdomCommons.org.  Her articles can be found at Awaypoint.Wordpress.com.

About Valerie Tarico

Seattle psychologist and writer. Author - Trusting Doubt and Deas and Other Imaginings. Founder - www.WisdomCommons.org.
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5 Responses to The Mythical 11-year-old Slut with Fifty Bucks in Her Pocket

  1. minnie says:

    Pregnant 11-year-old little girls is pro lifer porn. Forcing an eleven year old girl to give birth against her will, nothing a sexual torturer wouldn’t do.

    I get the same message from pro lifers that I got from the southern baptist creep who repeatedly sexually abused me when i was a little girl. It feels really good to FORCE girls and women to have physical and emotional pain. Pro lifers are on the same misogynist power trip that my rapist was on.

    Christians, conservatives, republicans, catholics, and pro lifers very much hurt me. These people never think raped girls and raped women have been through enough.

  2. gregwheaton says:

    Very interesting that pro-lifers claim to love children but only seem to care about kids before they’re born . . . very interesting that the pro-choicers would have a fit if the methods used in late-term abortions were performed on unborn cats and dogs and are usually against the death penalty for criminals . . . Weird inconsistencies, eh?

  3. cettel says:

    Superb informative and well-organized commentary, but it lacks one important thing: an arrow straight to the heart of Barack Obama, who has now made clear that he is determined to require any sub-15-year-old girl who has been raped by her father to obtain her father’s assistance in order to block a pregnancy from resulting. Obama wants to give the father the power to force her to carry his child in addition to his power to force her to have sex with him.

  4. MJG says:

    Agree that Obama’s position on Plan B is abominable. When he could be showing courage he plays centrist politics for whatever reason…as in the conservative religious right making life and public policy hell for all of us.

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