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Charles Fox, Jr.

Let's Talk about Sex...Again

On Monday June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations cannot be required to provide their employees with coverage for contraception. Such corporations can deny this based on religious preference. Now, I'm not here to debate the merits of what I feel are overly dogmatic, fundamental interpretations of any particular religion. That is a discussion for another column. However, what I will touch upon is the potential ramifications of this decision. Some folks seem to be ignoring the fact that birth control/family planning isn't merely a tool that "loose" women use to prevent pregnancy. That is, to put it gently, a very narrow lens with which to view things. It's like saying people who have maximum coverage on their car insurance premiums are all reckless and dangerous drivers without considering that there are a plethora of other practical and important reasons a person may opt for utilizing tools that are available to them. Here are just a few of the uses of birth control (that are often overlooked):

1. Prevent life threatening disease (ovarian cancer).
2. Suppresses the growth of scar tissue related to endometriosis which can cause severe pain and infertility.
3. Keeps uterine fibroid tumors and other cysts under control.
4. Not to mention, cramps, migraines, irregular periods, etc.

This SCOTUS decision, in my opinion, is not a win. It is not a win for anyone who thinks that women should have control over their healthcare regimen and not bureaucrats and CEO's. I sincerely hope that those who so vehemently believe that companies can refuse to pay for birth control never have to utilize birth control in the circumstances listed above. People who head up companies (the overwhelming majority of which being men) that are applauding the ruling have basically asserted that they should be in charge of whether or not their female employees can utilize these basic healthcare needs. How convenient it is to overlook the totality of facts when they simply don't apply to your gender.

My question to anyone retreating to the religious freedom argument: What would you have people do? You cannot espouse an ideology that is strictly "pro-life" but not be in support of services that greatly help reduce unwanted and unintended pregnancies as well as mitigate various other reproductive health related ailments. People of good faith on both side of the abortion debate can and should agree that reducing unwanted pregnancies (particularly that of teens) must remain a priority. In order to do this, we must engage in a frank and open discussion about sexual health and reproductive rights. You cannot be against abortion and simultaneously be against comprehensive, age/developmentally appropriate sex-education in schools. What form that takes, be it an abstinence-only approach or an abstinence-first model may be up for discussion but the fact of the matter is that young people are inundated with all sorts of convoluted messages about sex.

In their place of worship they are often hearing that sex is something that is private and dirty that happens between a husband and wife. When you really think about it, that logic makes little sense. You should wait until you are married to engage in such "dirty" behavior? Huh, come again? In fact, this is one reason why men who have sex with men remain among the highest groups affected by HIV/AIDS, they typically are not even included in the conversation about prevention and safe sex practices. Now I fully realize that the phrase "men who have sex with men" may make some folks feel uncomfortable. Your personal hang ups are not my concern at the moment. The fact of the matter is that there are men (many of which are God-Fearing) in the world who have sex with other men just like there are good women who are Gay. Some people may not like it, they may not agree with it, but these folks are still human beings who deserve all the dignity and respect that you would afford anyone else.

In fact, many of these people sit right next to you on holy days, ashamed to reveal themselves for fear excommunication from their place of worship. Don't pray next to them one day and then prey ON them during the remainder of the week. That is not Godlike...whatsoever. My concern is building better, healthier communities for all people. Be they Gay, Straight, Black, White, Green or otherwise.

So many parents remain so trapped in an antiquated method of talking about sex with their children that they fail to realize that while they are hesitant to say words like "penis" and "vagina" to their children, someone in the media (music, movies, and social-networking sites) is teaching their child about these things in a completely irresponsible and socially detrimental manner. You'd best believe they aren't using medically accurate technical terminology. You don't want to talk to your kids about healthy relationships? Ok, fine. Just know that some "entertainer" is making millions teaching your impressionable ten year old son that "these hoes ain't loyal" or your thirteen year old daughter that her vagina is not under her control and it's merely something for any smooth talking John Doe to "beat up" with or without the presence of love.

Of course, this is all just food for thought. In the end, people are going to do what they think is right. I believe that all of these things should be part of a larger conversation around the issues of sexuality and reproductive health. It's time to talk about it, openly. How can the very thing that accounts for all of us being created be considered taboo? We may differ and disagree but there is common ground that I believe can serve as the foundation for a fruitful dialogue. Until next time family, peace and love.

© Copyright 2014, Charles Fox, Jr.

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