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.'”
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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.”