by Meghan McCain
Bristol Palin's new abstinence campaign shines a light on the Republican Party's unhealthy attitude about sex and desire.
The first time I ever heard about oral sex was during the Lewinsky scandal. Mostly, I remember being confused by President Clinton’s response—“It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” When it comes to sex, politicians face all sorts of double standards: who is allowed to have sex with whom, what constitutes sex, and whether it’s appropriate, to name a few. Candie’s Foundation’s announcement that they were partnering with Bristol Palin to promote an abstinence-only campaign has caused me to reflect on my own experiences as a political daughter, and the role sex plays in defining the Republican Party.
Let me get something straight: Bristol Palin, as an 18-year-old adult, is free to make her own choices and decide how she wants her life to unfold. But for whatever reasons, the American public and media remain overly engrossed in our politicians’ sex lives and, as in this case, those of their families. There’s an especially unhealthy attitude among conservatives. Daughters of Republican politicians aren’t expected to have sex, let alone enjoy it—as if there were some strange chastity belt automatically attached to us female offspring. God forbid anyone talk realistically about life experiences and natural, sexual instincts. Nope, the answer is always abstinence.
This is something I know about firsthand. During my father’s 2000 presidential campaign, a reporter asked how he would feel if I became pregnant and wanted an abortion. He answered that it would be my choice, sending shockwaves throughout the party (because for the GOP there is only one answer, and obviously Senator McCain’s daughter shouldn’t be engaging in sex ever). I’d like to thank that reporter for single-handedly putting me through years of trying to reconcile the fact that when it comes to politics, no matter what you do or who you are, everything is fair game.
But seriously, here was a father, delicately navigating a question about his teenage daughter and being true to the kind of father he had always been, and the Republican Party was outraged. It didn’t matter that my parents raised me to know that, regardless of the mistakes I might make, they would allow me the dignity and courage to make my own choices. That’s the kind of trust my parents have always placed in their children—yet the GOP still needed to get involved and have a say in what I did with my body.
( Here’s what I’ve never understood about the party: its resistance to discussing better access to birth control...Collapse )
Meghan McCain seems to get it, at least when it comes to birth control and sex ed. Now when will the rest of the GOP get it and join us in the 21st century?