Sex-positive Cooties: You May Already Be a Victim


Move over, Ben Stein. The contest for worst scandal spin is far from over. Alicublog points us to the perfect storm of unadulterated stupidity: David Brooks, Mark Foley, and—oh yes—The Vagina Monologues. Brooks breaks it down ($):

This is a tale of two predators. The first is a congressman who befriended teenage pages. He sent them cajoling instant messages asking them to describe their sexual habits, so he could get his jollies.

The second is a secretary, who invited a 13-year-old girl from her neighborhood into her car and kissed her. Then she invited the girl up to her apartment, gave her some vodka, took off her underwear and gave her a satin teddy to wear…

The first predator, of course, is Mark Foley, the Florida congressman. The second predator is a character in Eve Ensler's play, "The Vagina Monologues."

Foley is now universally reviled. But the Ensler play, which depicts the secretary's affair with the 13-year-old as a glorious awakening, is revered.

Brooks argues that "by the rules of expressive individualism" Foley is an Enslerian hero, to be revered by women's studies majors and worshipped at consciousness-raising drum circles. They're probably already burning bras somewhere before a Mark Foley-shaped piece of cardboard. But under the guidance of a superior, older moral code, social roles–not choice–would rule ascendant.

So, expressing liberal sexual mores entails exonerating those in positions of power from all personal responsibility. I see basically no evidence for this, and Brooks offers none beyond his interpretation of a moronic piece of theatre. Perhaps it is possible to understand that Congressmen should not query pages on their masturbation habits, while doubting that every new release of Girls Gone Wild portends the fiery end of civilized society. Which, make no mistake, we are barreling inexorably toward. Brooks adds, shedding a tear for the children lost to renegade VM performances, "In a country filled with parents looking for a way to raise their children in a morally disordered environment, Foley's act is just one more symptom of a contagious disease."

But back to the Vagina Monologues, the point at which, as has been noted here and here, all conservative punditry begins and ends. From what I remember of watching the play—other than wanting desperately for it to be over—there was no reason to conclude that Eve Ensler supports the seduction of 13-year-olds. You might even conclude that it's possible to stage an act without endorsing it. But perhaps such reasoning is just another symptom of the afflicted.

NEXT: PATRIOT Game, Set and Match

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  1. I read that column and found it beyond asinine. Mr. Brooks doesn’t seem to understand that the standards of behavior for actual live people and fictional characters are somewhat different.

    (You might be interested in looking at the Crunchy Con blog at beliefnet, which discussed this yesterday.)

  2. What do you expect from a man who wears rouge?

  3. I didn’t want to lead off with cheap Brooks-bashing and derail the thread, but since we’re here anyway…

    Perhaps the difficulty Mr. Brooks has in distinguishing fictional characters from real people explains his willingness to spend the lives of American soldiers so cheaply. They do look like something out of a movie, after all.

  4. What do you expect from a “man” who goes to see something called The Vagina Monologues (which isn’t even a remake of Chatterbox)?

  5. Brooks becomes more asinine every column.

    I once admired the guy for his cogent analysis on the news hour, and his occasional atlantic pieces, like the Red and Blue, and Kicking the Secularist habit. But now I cant cite them without caveating, ‘the guys an asshole, but he has a point here…’


  6. But of course THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES is a work of explicit agitprop. It is not a play with characters where it is unclear who speaks for the author, but a series of monlogues (obviously) with which Ensler clearly wants the audience to agree. Ensler’s raising of the girl’s age to sixteen in subsequent editions seems to indicate that she does condone the act but was forced by public pressure to make it slightly more palatable to the masses. Even in the unlikely event that Ensler herself does not condone the act, those who applaud it clearly do.

  7. Mr. Kabala,

    Even though the writer of “Thelma and Lousie” does support women empoyering themselves by breaking rules and supporting each other, she doesn’t actually think it’s good for them to drive off of cliffs.

    Do you think John Steinbeck supported executing retarded adults with a bullet to the back of the head? Do you think that Steve Miller, noted Amercian poet, supports shooting a man while robbing his castle? Having characters display their viture, or at least the characteristics that could lead to virture, or at least their commitment to fighting a certain evil, by committing bad acts, is a fairly old and respected way of getting a point across without falling into boring white-hats-and-black-hats melodrama.

    That Ensler would have a sympathetic character commit such an act, and treat it as liberating, is not the same as endorsing the act itself.

  8. I don’t see what’s wrong with seducing a 13 year old girl. I’ve realised the real reason I want to move to Spain after looking at the link posted recently supposedly giving age of consent for various countries and states – it’s 13 there.

    (I’m kidding, for those of you who can’t appreciate a little humour.)

  9. Let me make myself a bit clearer: there is a huge, vital, and necessary distinction between the actions of a character in a play or novel and the actions of an actual person in the real world. Ensler may very well thing seducing 13 year olds is a delightful idea, but so long as she refrains from doing so in real life, there is no issue and no reason to compare her play to a real, live pervert. I, for example, love Raymond Chandler. In several books, most notably The Big Sleep but also in some others, Philiop Marlowe destroys evidence that a particular person had committed a crime. I don’t think that Chandler ever meant to endorse obstruction of justice, even though the sympathetic character commits it.

  10. Joe, your refutation of James’ point is pretty thin. You are trying to argue that in a work celebrating the vagina and female sexuality, when a sympathetic woman character seduces a sympathetic girl character, and this has only positive results, and is written in such a way that the audience cheers, that all this is somehow “not the same as endorsing the action itself”? If it’s not, what would an actual endorsement look like? A neon sign over the stage flashing “This is OK”?

    I admit I haven’t seen the play, and only read reviews of it and interviews with Ensler. But doesn’t it seem highly unlikely she’s actually condemning this particular behavior? She condemns rape and violence against women, and I’ll bet nobody cheers for rape and violence during those portions of the play.

    Brooks’ basic points seem valid to me: the post-’60s rules of sexual behavior are not logical or internally consistent. (Not that they were pre-’60s, either.) And of course, that many partisans will instantly switch between condemning and supporting an action, depending on the affiliation of the people involved: thus the already-beaten-to-death Foley/Studds comparison, and the Clinton-caused feminist switcheroo regarding the seriousness of sexual harassment and sex with subordinates.

  11. It’s always amusing reading the pontification on The Vagina Monologues because it’s easy to spot the people who haven’t seen or read it.

    No “act” is staged for the performance; they are merely monologues. Ensler includes several instances of rape among the stories, including a woman during the war in Yugoslavia as well as the 13 year old girl. There is no reason to believe any act is endorsed by the text alone (the performers could impart their own interpretation, however.)

  12. I’m not a fan of Foley, the Republican party, or David Brooks, but I still don’t see the flaw yet in his comparison. It’s not a pure mystery whether an author means to endorse any particular action of his or her characters. Sometimes it may be ambiguous, but sometimes it is obvious. In the case of this particular monologue within the Vagina Monologues it is obvious. It may be conceivable that a performer somewhere may attempt to interpret the monologue as a story of sexual exploitation, but it would be massively difficult given that the text makes it sound like something great. People who try to claim that it’s a mystery where the text stands are the ones who likely haven’t read it or seen it (very few people have *read* the Vagina Monologues, up to the latest one; many many people have seen them especially if you are on a college campus).

    Just because some liberals somewhere endorse sex with minors doesn’t let Foley or the GOP off the hook, not one bit. But just because Eve Ensler is a feminist depicting lesbians rather than a gay man interested in 17 year olds doesn’t get her off the hook, either.

  13. Any fellow libertarians think we ought to abolish the age of consent laws? Who says its ok to have sex with an 18 yeard old but not someone who is 17 years and 9 months? Once people hit puberty they’re sexual beings.

  14. Wow. Did Ensler actually sponsor legislation against writers who glorify pedophilia? Did she call theatergoers who applaud at inappropriate times “animals” and “sickos” and “subhuman”? Does she favor lifetime government surveillance and harrassment of playwrights?

    If not, all this gassing about Ensler’s boring feminist vagina adds up to nothing more than a clumsy “can we please drag a liberal into this GOP scandal” maneuver.

  15. I’m a big fan of 24, but I oppose torture.

    I should note that while 24 has portrayed torture in a positive light, they have taken a firm stance against secret CIA prisons. I mean, it sounds like a good idea at first glance, putting the evil warlord in a secret underground prison. But then his sons show up with a crew of mercenaries and powerful explosives, and the next thing you know you’re trying to smuggle an exploding cell phone past Secret Service while your daughter is held hostage in an abandoned warehouse.

    That ain’t fun.

  16. In the case of the show 24, suppose a government official was found to have used torture in a way consistent with how it has been used on 24. I think it would be fair to say that government official would be a 24 hero.

    Suppose Foley and the page did decide to drive off a cliff or some commit some other act similar to the driving off a cliff scene from Thelma and Louise. And then suppose, Thelma or Louise had been under age and seduced by the other one. Then I think it would be fair to say that Foley was a Thelma and Loise hero. Though at the same time, I’m not sure it’s fair to pull out just any old action from a play, movie, or book to make this point. If the action is central to the values the character is exemplifying then it’s legitimate.

    The point is not that fictional characters and real live people are the same. The point is that fictional characters are sometimes held up as examples of values or beliefs the author believes are virtuous or worthy to have. Of course it depends on the work; in some cases, as in the Steinbeck example, the point is obviously ‘not’ to hold up that act as worthy or heroic or virtous or liberating. In many texts the author is describing human weakness, not liberating or virtuous acts – it’s important to make that distinction.

    Having said that, I mostly disdain Brooks. I agree that he does treat war as though it’s some sort of glorious game, a way to bring back the old chivalric code and other prep school values. Brooks doesn’t strike me as knowing the difference between war and a rough game of football played without helmets – in his eyes they are both legitimate ways to turn boys into men and a way to bring the community together. Don’t think he ever served in anything beyond male cheerleader squad duty though.

    Grand Chalupa, don’t some kids reach puberty as young as 10? Sorry, I couldn’t agree that just puberty should be the criteria to decide age of consent.

  17. After commenting above I went to Alicublog and found this quote:

    “Millions of people enjoyed Silence of the Lambs, and yet if a Republican were caught engaging in murder and cannibalism, you can only imagine how the hypocritical liberals would react.”

    I didn’t know Hannibal Lector was the hero of that movie. I thought the Jodie Foster character was. Lector was fascinating of course – the mix of genius and the worst form of sadistic sociopathy a person can imagine, but I don’t see that he was supposed to be held up as a hero; he was there as a fascinating albeit repulsive monster, a counterpoint to the Foster heroine. The other fascination was watching a moral character, the virtous hero, work with a completely amoral person, a complete monster, to solve a serial murder.

    Now if a Republican law officer had to deal with a Lector character in order to solve a serious serial murder case, then we’d have something of a comparison, though I doubt there’d be much of an outcry.

    Oh, and btw, there can be a huge difference between ‘expressing liberal sexual mores’ and ‘seducing someone under age or at a very young age.’ I might like to have multiple partners with consenting adults. That’s a liberal sexual value but it’s strikingly different from seducing a 13 year old.

  18. “Any fellow libertarians think we ought to abolish the age of consent laws? Who says its ok to have sex with an 18 yeard old but not someone who is 17 years and 9 months? Once people hit puberty they’re sexual beings.”

    That is the kind of thing that sends people to the constitution party. Have you ever spoken to a 13 year old? They are dumbasses, they do need to be protected. I don’t know if 18 or 16 is the proper age but you have to have an age of consent somewhere. The best approach is to have a peer group range of maybe 3 years so horny high school seniors aren’t put in jail for dating freshmen. If your a grown man (our women) you should stick to the out of high school set.

  19. We should at least prod the prolifers into lowering the age of conesnt to 17 years 3 months, if life really does begin at birth.

  20. The issue is not underage sex: Ensler and many other authors have celebrated it, Democratic and Republican elected officials have pursued or achieved it. They are all equally bad, or equally good, depending on your point of view. But Foley by himself isn’t the big issue. The reason this matter has legs is hypocrisy; it reflects badly on Republicans because of what they pretend to be.

    Plus, of course, it’s not just the crime, it’s the coverup. The coverup being in turn a consequence of the gap between what Republicans say they are and what they really are.

    A fish rots from the head down. If we have a President who lies through his teeth every chance he gets, if he pretends to be everything he is not, there’s no reason the rest of his party should not do the same and expect to get away with it.

  21. What? Some avant-garde theater-goers cheered for Eve Ensler, so nobody from any blue state can now complain about pedophilia?

    Anyway, pedophilia is too nice a word for the cold-hearted serial seductions of teenagers carried out over many years by Congressman Foley.

  22. Does this mean that Eric Clapton really did shoot the sheriff? That the late Johnny Cash really did shoot that man in Reno just to watch him die? That Mick Jagger and the Devil really did kill the Kennedys?

  23. Does this mean that Eric Clapton really did shoot the sheriff? That the late Johnny Cash really did shoot that man in Reno just to watch him die? That Mick Jagger and the Devil really did kill the Kennedys?

  24. Does this mean that Eric Clapton really did shoot the sheriff? That the late Johnny Cash really did shoot that man in Reno just to watch him die? That Mick Jagger and the Devil really did kill the Kennedys?

  25. friday’s new york times had some excellent letters refuting the david brooks column

  26. friday’s new york times had some excellent letters refuting the david brooks column

  27. 13 year olds, if they really are dumb asses, are only such because our culture treats them as such refusing to allow anyone to grow up (by law and custom) until they’re 25 or so.

    When I was young I worked for a guy who laid railroad ties 10 hours a day 6 days a week when he was 14. He got the same pay as anyone else and supported his family with it because his parents were dead. 85 years later, you gotta get a work permit for a part time job at Mickie Dees, 13 year olds are kindergartners, and having sex with a 17 year old makes you a pedophile.

    Brooks is right about the VM, it is a vicious anti-male play whose author portrays women as body parts, well, one body part actually. I always thought femenists didn’t like being portrayed as sex organs.

    VM is an easy fargin’ target, which is why conservatives see it as a lightning rod. Maybe if it wasn’t so popular with radical lefties it wouldn’t be villified by the right (and libertarian feminists like Wendy McElroy).

  28. Foley put out a strange campaign video before he resigned…

  29. I’ve never seen or read Ensler’s work, and I’ve never liked Brooks’ work, but the notion that artists never endorse or condemn the behavior of fictional chracters via their art is ridiculous. The worst art, of course, tends to endorse or condemn behavior in the most unsubtle, cartoonish terms.

  30. “Grand Chalupa, don’t some kids reach puberty as young as 10?”

    Many reach puberty by 10, and 8 or 9 is not unheard of.

    I worked with a student who was a father by 11, the mother of his child was 10 when the child was born. The situation was not positive for any of the 3 children.

    A factor that many are forgetting in this debate about age of consent is that the majority of adult/child sex occurs in relationships where the child can not give consent meaningfully. Setting a default age of consent provides for a way to deal with cases of abuse where consent can’t be determined. In those cases where it is the HS senior and his freshman girlfriend, clearly juries should be able to see the difference, and clearly prosecutors who charge the senior are idiots.

    A perfect system will not be had.

  31. The Hannibal Lecter books are interesting to compare. In the first two, Lecter is portrayed as a fascinating, yet ultimately mysteriously hideous human being. In the last book he is portrayed almost heroically, with a cliched back story revealed to explain his behavior. The character would have remained a lot more interesting if he did what he did for no other apparent reason than he found it sensuously or aesthetically pleasing.

  32. Some works of art are just plain unsubtle. BIRTH OF NATION, for example, is a film that clearly endorses the KKK and white supremacy. Does anyone really deny that? Others may disagree, but I see TVM as a work of art that clearly falls into this category of unambiguous propaganda. The annual “V-day” celebrations seem to have waned in popularity in recent years, but they clearly treat the play as propaganda rather than as a complex and subtle work. They are generally put on by women’s studies departments, not theater departments. If we had white sumpremacist groups making annual showings of BIRTH OF A NATION every year on Martin Luther King Day, and Griffith was still alive and approved of it, could we really say with a straight face, “How do we know the movie is on the Klan’s side?”

  33. Regardless of what Eve Ensler does or doesn’t think, there’s still a difference between portraying it and doing it.

    Also, the “Eve Ensler talked about it too!” excuse is even lamer than the “But what about Clinton?” excuse.

  34. Have you ever spoken to a thirteen year old kid? They are dumbassses, they need to be protected

    Have you ever spoken to a 19 year old? They’re dumbasses too.

    Isn’t every young man trying to get laid really engaging in a battle of the wits? And doesn’t age have very little to do with intelligence?

    I’m conflicted about this. Of course we have to draw the line somewhere. But I hate to see someone’s life getting ruined (getting sent to jail for 10+ years) for having sex with an underage person who will probably have forgotten about the experience long before the guy sees the light of day.

    Does anybody know anyone who had consensual sex at a young age and ended up being that traumatized from it?

    This is “think of the children” syndrome at its worst. I think I just coined something. TOC syndrome. Feel free to use it when you like.

  35. “Does anybody know anyone who had consensual sex at a young age and ended up being that traumatized from it?”

    Age of sexual debut related to life-style and reproductive health factors in a group of Swedish teenage girls.

    Andersson-Ellstrom A, Forssman L, Milsom I.

    Center for Public Health Research, Karstad, Sweden.

    AIM. To compare life-style and reproductive health care factors in girls with a coitus debut < 15 years of age and girls with a later debut. METHODS. Girls resident in the municipality of Karlstad, Sweden, starting their upper secondary school education were invited to attend the teenage clinic during two years (five visits). Gynecological examinations were performed and questions were asked about possible symptoms, sexual activity, contraception and sexually transmitted diseases.

    RESULTS. Ninety-eight girls accepted the invitation to participate and 88 girls completed all visits (mean age on admission 16 years). Median age for coitarche was 16 years. A sexual debut < 15 years was reported by 17 girls (19.3%), 54 (61.4%) had their debut > or = 15 years and 17 girls (19.3%) had not had their sexual debut on completion of this study.

    Girls with an early sexual debut had a greater number of sexually transmitted diseases (p < 0.05) and more cervical atypias (p < 0.05), and more often had a menarcheal age < 13 years (p < 0.05), > two brothers and/or sisters (p < 0.01), were more often not living with their parents (p < 0.01) and reported a greater number of life-time partners (p < 0.06) than the remainder,

    Girls with a sexual debut < 15 years started drinking alcohol earlier than others (p < 0.01). There was a greater proportion of smokers among girls with an early sex debut compared to the remainder (p < 0.05).

    CONCLUSIONS. Early sexual debut is associated with an earlier menarche and a more premature adult life-style and is an important indicator for continued risk behavior regarding reproductive health.

    Older Adolescents’ Positive Attitudes toward Younger Adolescents as Sexual Partners
    Journal article by Kristinn Hegna, Svein Mossige, Lars Wichstrom; Adolescence, Vol. 39, 2004
    Journal Article Excerpt

    Older Adolescents’ Positive Attitudes toward Younger Adolescents as Sexual Partners.

    by Kristinn Hegna , Svein Mossige , Lars Wichstrom

    During the last decade in Norway, the mean age at sexual initiation has dropped one year for females (to 16.7 years) and 6 months for males (to 18 years), and the number of early initiators has risen (Pedersen & Samuelsen, 2003). A wide array of studies describe the characteristics of adolescents with early sexual initiation.

    Early onset of sexual intercourse has been found to be associated with increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases, a high number of sexual patterns, and unwanted pregnancies and abortions (Hayes, 1987; O’Donnell, O’Donnell, & Stueve, 2001; Zabin, Kantner, & Zelnik, 1979), having experienced sexual abuse (Edgardh, 2000), having used drugs and marijuana (Fergusson, Horwood, & Lynskey, 1994; Lanctot & Smith, 2001; Orr, Beiter, & Ingersoll, 1971), early alcohol or smoking initiation (Andersson-Ellstrom, Forssman, & Milsom, 1996; Tyden, 1996), delinquency (Orr et al., 1991) and eating disorders (Kaltiala-Heino, Rimpela, Rissa nen, & Rantanen, 2001).

    An early onset of noncoital sexual interaction has also been shown to be related to antisocial behavior and substance abuse (Jakobsen, Rise, Aas, & Anderssen, 1997).

    Research on early sexual initiation has also shown that having an older boyfriend or girlfriend and peer norms about sexual behavior are strongly associated with sexual experience in young adolescents (Kinsman, Romer, & Schwarz, 1998; Marin, Coyle, Gomez, Carvajal, & Kirby, 2000). In particular, females with an early sexual debut more often have partners considerably older than themselves (Edgardh, 2000; Leitenberg & Saltzman, 2000). Having much older male partners has been shown to be associated with a higher degree of problem behaviors in females who have had their first intercourse very early or early in adolescence (Leitenberg & Saltzman, 2000). The same trend is evidenced with respect to American teenage pregnancies: Men who have finished their schooling father two-thirds of the infants born to school-age mothers and are on the average 4.2 years older than the senior high mothers and 6.8 years older than the junior high mothers (Males & Chew, 1996). Thus, these studies converge in identifying late adolescent or young adult males as sexual partners for early adolescent females as being potentially detrimental to some females at this age.

    Research on early sexual intercourse often focuses primarily on the characteristics of the early debut adolescents and on the negative consequences of their sexual debut. As a consequence, much prevention aimed at postponing sexual initiation targets young girls and tends to focus on individualized explanations of sexuality and engagement in risky sexual behavior, while the much older partners tend to be invisible or not perceived as relevant. However, the extensive involvement of young adult males in both school-age motherhood and its precursors represents a significant factor deserving greater attention and discussion (Males & Chew, 1996). Preventive efforts aimed at protecting pre-pubertal or pubertal adolescents from negative consequences of an early sexual debut should also address the sexual attitudes and willingness of older adolescents

    Early sexual initiation and subsequent sex-related risks among urban minority youth: the reach for health study.

    O’Donnell BL, O’Donnell CR, Stueve A.

    Education Development Center, Inc., Newton, MA, USA.

    CONTEXT: Since the 1980s, the age at which U.S. teenagers, especially minority youth, begin having sex has decreased. There is limited information on the relationship between early sexual initiation and subsequent risky sexual behaviors. METHODS: A sample of 1,287 urban minority adolescents completed three surveys in seventh and eighth grade, and 970 completed a follow-up in 10th grade. Logistic regression was used to test the effects of timing of initiation on 10th-grade sexual behaviors and risks, adjusting for gender, ethnicity and age.

    RESULTS: At baseline, 31% of males and 8% of females reported sexual initiation; by the 10th grade, these figures were 66% and 52%, respectively. Recent intercourse among males increased from 20% at baseline to 39% in eighth grade; 54% reported recent sex and 6% had made a partner pregnant by 10th grade.

    Among females, recent intercourse tripled from baseline to eighth grade (5% to 15%); 42% reported recent sex and 12% had been pregnant by grade 10.

    Early initiators had an increased likelihood of having had multiple sex partners, been involved in a pregnancy, forced a partner to have sex, had frequent intercourse and had sex while drunk or high. There were significant gender differences for all outcomes except frequency of intercourse and being drunk or high during sex.

    Gender Differences in Risk Behaviors Associated With Forced or Pressured Sex

    Lydia A. Shrier, MD, MPH; Judith Dwyer Pierce, EdD; S. Jean Emans, MD; Robert H. DuRant, PhD

    Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1998;152:57-63.

    Objective To determine whether gender-specific patterns of risk behaviors are associated with a self-reported history of ever having been forced or pressured to have sexual intercourse among sexually active adolescents.

    Subjects and Methods In 1995, 21297 eighth- through 12th-grade students in 79 public and private schools in Vermont were anonymously surveyed. Data were analyzed for 7884 sexually active students (3931 girls and 3953 boys). Demographic variables and indicators of violence, suicide, recent substance use, sexual behavior, pregnancy, and weight control behavior were assessed. Data were analyzed with multiple logistic regression.

    Results Of the sexually active students, 30.3% of the girls and 9.9% of the boys reported ever being forced or pressured to have sexual intercourse.

    Among sexually active girls, being in 1 or more physical fights in the past year (odds ratio [OR], 1.65; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.40-1.94), seriously considering suicide (OR, 1.97; CI, 1.69-2.31), more years of sexual activity (OR, 1.52; CI, 1.43-1.61), not using a condom at last sexual intercourse (OR, 1.28; CI, 1.09-1.49), and having been pregnant more often (OR, 1.40; CI, 1.16-1.69) were associated with having been forced or pressured to have sex.

    For sexually active boys, seriously considering suicide (OR, 1.64; CI, 1.23-2.20), more years of sexual activity (OR, 1.21; CI, 1.12-1.31), more male partners in the past 3 months (OR, 1.30; CI, 1.14-1.48), more female partners in the past 3 months (OR, 1.09; CI, 1.01-1.18), not using a condom at last sexual intercourse (OR, 1.37; CI, 1.03-1.82), having been involved in more pregnancies (OR, 1.64; CI, 1.29-2.08), and having vomited or used laxatives (OR, 3.44; CI, 2.18-5.43) were associated with having been forced or pressured to have sex.

    Conclusions Patterns of risk behaviors differed among sexually active male and female adolescents reporting being forced or pressured to have sex. Having been forced or pressured to have sex was associated with externalizing behavior, such as fighting, among girls and with internalizing behavior, such as bulimia, among boys. These unexpected associations have notable implications for screening adolescents for a history of having been forced or pressured to have sex.

    Adolescent Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Recent Developments.

    Blake DR.

    Department of Pediatrics, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester, MA 01655, USA.

    Adolescents and young adults continue to have the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases. New chlamydia and gonorrhea diagnostic tests are being used in innovative ways to increase the number of infections that are detected. Nevertheless, challenges such as gonorrhea resistance and partner notification and treatment continue to hinder efforts to reduce the prevalence of these two bacterial infections. Although recent surveillance data suggest a decreasing trend of herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) incidence among adolescents and young adults, the incidence of sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) in adolescent and young adult females remains high. Progress has been made toward the development of vaccines that may become available in the future to prevent infection with and sequelae from HSV-2 and HPV.

  36. I have always found that mainstream, or academic, studies of underage sex seem to indicate that it increases risk factors for those involved. That would seem to be a given.

    However. Couldn’t the same be said for underage drug abuse? My question is how does it affect QOL (quality of life) overall?

    These issues must be approached with a rational mind. Too much of the hyperbole surrounding these issues is simple knee-jerk response.

    Another good question. Would a 13 yr old girl be more inclined to report an underage experience than a boy? Would that same girl be more likely to report that it was “bad,” as opposed to the boy who may report that is was “awesome?”

    No easy answers here.

    Live free, fight or fall.

  37. It seems to me, Brooks has two points. The first one is that some art does more than just describe, it also endorses certain values. It seems clear that the VM is endorsing values, not just describing. So, in that case, I think Brooks has something of a point. But if his second point is that liberals are hypocrites for critizing Foley then he’s on shakier ground. First of all, certainly not all liberals would subscribe to the views presented in the Vagina Monologues. It’s one of those overgeneralizations that Brooks is often falling prey to. Secondly, for those particular liberals who also celebrated that scene that Brooks mentioned, I don’t think it’s so much of a case of hypocrisy as it is cognitive dissonance. It would be only be hypocrisy if it were a real live liberal democrat who committed a similar act as Foley. But it IS quite strange for someone to think those values presented in that play are something to celebrate when they would condemn Foley. I suggest they are having some sort of pre-schizoid break. At the very least, they are not being so honest.

  38. Of course this is relevant, since all Democrats and liberals have seen the Vagina Monologues and fully endorse every word said in them. Indeed, seeing the Vagina Monologues was actually a prerequisite for voting for John Kerry in 2004.


    Or maybe Brooks is just engaging in a desperate ‘tu quoque’ to try to dilute the response to the Foley scandal?

  39. Indeed, seeing the Vagina Monologues was actually a prerequisite for voting for John Kerry in 2004.

    Exactly! As a poll worker in 2004, I required anybody submitting a ballot for Kerry to show me a VM ticket stub.

  40. Even more to the point, every person that voted for Kerry personally knew of an underage sexual contact that they had not reported to the authorities. So, you see, the Democrats have no basis for criticizing the Republicans failure to live to their shrill, oft-repeated moral superiority.

    In the end, the scandal isn’t Foley, it’s the House leadership. Foley cannot be said to represent the whole Republican Party, but that is precisely the job description of Hastert and Boehner. Brooks is falling neatly into line behind the GOP banner while other conservatives, genuine, independent human beings capable of self-reflection and autonomous thought, are evaluating the scandal in other than Machiavellian political terms.

    A person is as a person does. This was a character test for Hastert and he flunked it long before anyone in the press or the opposition party ever caught wind of it. All the hot air blown back and forth cannot conceal the truth of the matter: the House leaders knew of a sexual predator within their ranks and they covered for him. Why they covered for him remains a mystery, but arrogance and short-term political calculations probably have something to do with it. The Republicans were battered by Katrina fall-out and worsening war news about that time, as I recall. The probably just didn’t want another headache and figured they could bury it.

  41. Anyone who has seen the “Vagina Monologues” doesn’t have to be hit on the head to realize that Ms Ensler viewed the seduction of a 13-year-old girl by an adult woman as being a ‘very positive’ experience.
    Those who attempt to excuse this as “fictional” must
    certainly realize that their argument is agenda driven and not objective. Pity.

  42. Of course art is supposed to reflect values.

    Where Brooks’ analysis falls apart is with the shallow assumption that there is a direct 1:1 relationship between what goes on within the art and what the beliefs of the artist and audience are.

    It’s not suprising that people who are incapable to processing moral complexity in life are equally incapable of processing it in art.

    Haven’t these twits ever heard of an anti-hero?

  43. Haven’t these twits ever heard of an anti-hero?

    A lot of conservatives think that 24 is pro-torture and pro-war.

  44. A lot of liberals think that “Born on the Fourth of July” was anti-war, and that the war was clearly wrong. Or that “Schindler’s List” was trying to make a clear point about the Holocaust -definite good guys and bad guys. What twits. Can’t they see understand that these movies were simply describing the moral complexity of these issues, with the directors having no discernible view at all? Heck, it was just about entertainment anyway – how was I supposed to enjoy my popcorn with all that mewling and sniffling going on in the audience?

    And then these low brows have the audacity to leave the theater and protest other wars or anti-semitism. The nerve!

  45. “Where Brooks’ analysis falls apart is with the shallow assumption that there is a direct 1:1 relationship between what goes on within the art and what the beliefs of the artist and audience are.

    It’s not suprising that people who are incapable to processing moral complexity in life are equally incapable of processing it in art.”

    Yes, so Brooks presents one extreme, lacking in nuance or complexity. But the other extreme seems equally agenda driven, lacking in nuance, and simplistic: either art is just there to describe or entertain, or that the author of the VM or the people who cheered that particular scene (the lacking in nuanced view also has trouble separating out a whole work, television show, or play from specific acts presented in the work), have no integrity between what their professed values and their or others’ realized actions. Brooks is wrong in overgeneralizing and in making some sort of one to one correspondence between the cheerleaders of the seduction scene in TVM and Foley. Of course, it’s not hypocrisy. But tell me, really, doesn’t the following suggest some sort of cognitive dissonance, some lack of integrity even?:

    1. You cheer the seduction scene in TVM
    2. You would then condemn the actual seducing of any real minor


    1. You claim that you abhor torture
    2. You feel no displeasure or sense of disapproval in watching torture presented in a TV show as a necessary and good thing or legitimate policy of the country

    Or is it just so much more fun to just hate on someone (hey, I dislike Brooks as much as the next person ) than to bother to see if he even *partially* has a point.

  46. Just because one particular fictional 13-year-old had a positive sexual experience with a 30-year-old doesn’t mean that we condone 52-year-old Congressmen methodically pursuing 16-year-old pages while leading the fight against sexual predators while being protected by the House leadership of the Party of Moral Values, right? Right?

    No no, why bother to think when “But liberals are hypocrites” is always a useful defense?

  47. 1. You claim that you abhor torture
    2. You feel no displeasure or sense of disapproval in watching torture presented in a TV show as a necessary and good thing or legitimate policy of the country

    See, Jack Bauer is a force of nature in a fantasy show about an imaginary world. I know that in the real world torture introduces a bunch of issues that simply aren’t a factor in this imaginary world.

    Ever play a video game?

  48. In college I played video games. During those years the Contras were battling the Sandinistas. At that time, having heard of some of the attrocities committed by the Contras, being a bit naive about the Sandinistas as well, I was very much contra the Contras. I also heard about a video game that came out about this time, that was called something like “Contra War” and it was very much modeled on that particular conflict. It was not a game I wanted to play after hearing that. And I doubt I’d want to play a game called “CIA torture of Al Queda suspects.”

    It isn’t because I can’t distinguish between real life and fantasy. It’s that I think those particular games mirror too closely people and activities that I find repugnant.

    In art, the distance can close even more, but again, it depends on the degree to which the writer is just describing or endorsing values or actions.

  49. The main distinction between the Vagina Monolouges and Rep. Foley have nothing to do with fiction and reality but everything to do with the ethical use of power. Mr. Foley unethically used his power and position to come into contact with the boys which may have altered their patterns of conduct. A person may consent to the advances of thier superior that they would rebuff under other circumstances. The same could not be said of the VM scenario, there is no power at play, only the adult’s advances and the child’s intuition.

  50. I just want to interject here:

    1. Foley hasn’t been accused of having sex with underage boys
    2. Foley hasn’t been accused of having sex with with anybody
    3. Foley hasn’t been accused of misusing his office
    4. Foley hasn’t been accused of harassing his staff

    (By “accused” here, I mean “accused by someone who claims to know what’s going on” — not just accused by some random wingnut, of course.)

    Foley is accused of sending somewhat icky instant-messages to teenaged former interns of colleagues. Nothing unlawful. Indeed, had he sodomized one of the young men, as he probably would have liked, he still would have done nothing unlawful.

    Anyone who is trying to draw a distinction between Foley and Ensler on the grounds that Ensler just talked favorably about pedophilia while Foley actually committed it is wrong on two counts (he didn’t commit it and it wasn’t pedophilia).

    Though I am not a big fan of the tu quoque defense, I am curious: why is Foley’s trying to have sex with young, but legally of-age, interns worse than Bill Clinton’s successfully having sex with young, but legally of-age, interns (which I thought we all decided was A-ok)? Because he’s gay? Because he’s a Republican? Because he was unsuccessful? Because he’s even pudgier than Clinton?

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