Wednesday, September 30

Invisible Girls book review & debate on RH reality check

RH Reality check recently posted a really great book review of Dr. Patti Feureisen’s revised second edition of “Invisible Girls: The Truth About Sexual Abuse.” Since I don’t want to repeat the review word for word, I highly recommend you check out the post by Brittany Shoot.
What I will say is that the post is interesting not only due to the subject matter –sexual violence and the more subtle sexual abuse that occurs in so many contexts–but also the reaction to the review. Some of the comments at the bottom of the page are downright virulent. One reader in particular seems to feel that books that expose sexual violence as pervasive and damaging to young girls and women are simply an offshoot of ’whiny feminism.’

Another commenter on the post wrote a rather convoluted attack on comprehensive sexual education. His post included this paragraph:
“Honestly, if these stats are true (and not just another case of gross exaggeration re: sexual abuse appearing on this site) I really need to reconsider my support of comprehensive sex ed for young people. It’s no wonder parents want to lock up their girls..The message of education in hopes of healthy sexual teen relationships strikes me as absurd in light of these stats. With comprehensive sex ed aren’t you just giving girls a false sense of security and setting them up for abuse?”

While I’m not sure I understand how he has linked comprehensive sexual education with an increased risk of sexual abuse and/or assault, this is exactly the kind of situation that I find both frustrating and frightening. In my mind, accurate and comprehensive sexual education should equip both young men and women with the knowledge and power to make informed sexual decisions. Preventing sexual abuse and assault should be a component of this education, but is really a much larger cultural/societal issue. We should not confuse teaching healthy sexuality to teens with reshaping our cultural norms as they relate to sexual violence and the position of women.

I’m going to register @ RH Reality check so that I can comment that effect at the bottom of the article. Allowing confused people to connect these issues makes it more difficult to clearly advocate for the continuation of comprehensive sexual education and the ending of sexual abuse and violence.

I hope you will do the same and take some time to comment here, @ RH reality check, or at the Alliance blog (where I cross-posted)!