The National Abstinence Clearinghouse Comes to St. Paul

I can now say that I’ve shaken Leslee Unruh’s hand.  I know, you’re not jealous, and frankly, I wish I hadn’t had to, but you do what you have to do.

What I had to do on Monday was attend a press conference for the National Abstinence Clearinghouse’s annual convention, which is being held in St. Paul.  As some of you know, I write for Minnesota Monitor, which is an online news magazine that covers politics in Minnesota, and I’ve got the reproductive health beat, so what choice did I have?

At any rate, I’m putting the story up in three parts; if you’re interested in what the NAC is up to, you can read part one starting today; parts two and three will be up tomorrow.

And if you’re interested in what the story looks like, I’ve got an excerpt below the fold.

“We feel it’s a privilege to be here,” said Unruh, after spending the first 10 minutes of the press conference chatting amiably with a cohort at the table.  Indeed, it’s hard to describe it as a press conference, exactly.  It was more like a brief gathering of conference leaders that invited the press to hang out.

At long last, Unruh began to call on members of the table to give their paeans to abstinence.  The first was Lakita Garth Wright, a longtime pro-abstinence-based education speaker, author and former Miss Black California, who argued that the abstinence movement has been getting a bad rap.

“There are a lot of fallacies that need to be undressed,” she said, explaining that she had decided at age 11 to be abstinent until marriage, after seeing how her grandfather missed her late grandmother.

“I run a business.  If you come in for a job washing my bathroom floors, I ask you your name — and your real name, not ‘Pookie’ or ‘Ray-Ray’ or whatever you’re calling yourself today.  I ask you your address, so I can see if you’re still living with momma.  I ask you where you’ve worked…and that’s to clean my floor.  That’s more than some girls ask guys they sleep with.”

Wright says she views her abstinence-based message as the “Ultimate in teaching feminism.  I had no need for a man while friends [were] addicted to ‘Sex in the City.'”

*  *  *

Amanda Marcotte, a feminist writer and head of the blogging community at Pandagon.net, disagreed strongly with the idea that Wright’s is a feminist message.

“Obviously she’s not feminist or she’d know that real feminism isn’t about hating men or wanting to be apart from men, but having equality with men,” Marcotte said, in an interview with Minnesota Monitor. “She’s setting up a false definition of feminism to back her ideals.”

Advertisements

13 Comments

Filed under 10_jeff_fecke

13 responses to “The National Abstinence Clearinghouse Comes to St. Paul

  1. Whenever I read stories about Leslie Unruh, I always hope that she’s a parody (along the lines of Hank Harvey Unruh http://www.cineclick.it/recensioni/images/yesmen_3.jpg) intended to make anti-choicers look bad.

  2. NameChanged

    I think that if we are practicing abstinence, we should not be “undressing” anything.

    *eyeroll*

  3. I can now say that I’ve shaken Leslee Unruh’s hand. I know, you’re not jealous, and frankly, I wish I hadn’t had to, but you do what you have to do.

    Brave little soldier! 😉

    Great piece at the MM. I love this: “But somehow I hadn’t quite been prepared to see the cheery, trade-show booths lined up with their neat, professional banners advertising the urgent need for everyone not to have sex.”

  4. Pingback: Who are we? at Shakesville

  5. pilotweed

    Jeff, thanks for your contributions here. As a result I recently started reading MM on a regular basis. I must have been in a cave or something to be a Minnesotan and not know of Minnesota Monitor.

  6. latts

    I had no need for a man while friends [were] addicted to ‘Sex in the City.’

    Um, I don’t think Sex and the City actually made most women want a man more Expensive shoes & clothes, certainly, but there’s a reason that only a handful of male actors had recurring roles, and several of those were playing gay characters.

    Of course, she was just trying to insert a negative cultural association in there; even right-wingers who actually understood SATC will gloss over the fact that they were primarily offended by the fact that men were usually transient while female friendships endured.

  7. Hey, but I heard today that the real life, real talk is coming to Minnesota. I am sure they are far more interesting to talk to!

  8. Molly, NYC

    I had no need for a man while friends [were] addicted to ‘Sex in the City.’”

    These are her friends and she’s talking about them like this? And to the press?

  9. JoAsakura

    Jeff, did you have to wash your hands afterwards?

  10. carovee

    Hey Jeff,

    I just read part two. You did a great job of shooting holes in the abstinence only arguments with the help of some good sources. I only have the teeniest, tiniest quibble. When talking about the Northwestern study that surveyed kids 2-6 weeks after an abstinence presentation (or program) you referred to the teen who says one thing in class and does something else on the weekend as “she”. And that bugs me ONLY because, to me, it plays into the stereotype perpetuated by these programs that only young women’s sexuality really matters. And THAT bugs the crap out of me.

    Great writing overall though. Thanks for taking one for the team, so to speak.

  11. bluefish A

    i’m just wondering where i can buy a pair of shades that are exactly like abstinence comic Keith Deltano’s.

  12. you referred to the teen who says one thing in class and does something else on the weekend as “she”. And that bugs me ONLY because, to me, it plays into the stereotype perpetuated by these programs that only young women’s sexuality really matters. And THAT bugs the crap out of me.

    Fair point, and I actually mused over that pronoun for a while. I ultimately went with “she” specifically because these programs emphasize women as passive recipients of male lust, something I get to in the final part. I used “she” to point out subtly that women actually may decide to have sex too, because women actually like sex too.

    But I can understand how you’d view it differently; ultimately, “she” always draws notice because we’re so geared to the universal “he.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s