More to sex education, safety than abstinence

I was a little taken aback by the editorial cartoon in Sept. 13th’s issue of The Lanthorn. It strikes me as inconsistent and inaccurate.

According to the Mayo Clinic, condoms are “a very effective way to protect yourself and your partner from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and to prevent pregnancy” ( This cartoon’s inconsistency shines through when the first “seminar” involves distributing condoms, but the second implies that due to the advice of the first, teen pregnancy, unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections are rampant. Condom distribution actually helps prevent these issues, rather than propagating them. Countless studies have shown that comprehensive sex education does not lead to earlier or more frequent sexual encounters among young people (, so the cartoon’s implication of this falls flat….

…I’ve yet to discuss my strongest concern, however, so here it is — with follow-up workshop topics like “Why ‘No’ Means ‘NO’” and “Violence Against Women: The Causes?”, this cartoon clearly implies that one of the consequences of comprehensive sex education is increased acceptability of rape. I am deeply offended by this suggestion. Abstinence-only education is not the solution to ending sexual violence. Assault survivors and victims include those who are not sexually active as well as those who are married — and the suggestion that abstinence would solve the problem of violence essentially ignores spousal abuse and marital rape. Rape is not an expression of healthy sexuality (like the cartoon’s “Safe, Fun Sex” seminar topic), but an expression of violence from an oppressive culture. Connecting the distribution of condoms with sexual violence is gravely inaccurate. Safe sex and fun sex involve consent, adult communication, non-risky behavior, and mutual enjoyment. These attitudes do not lead to rape. Violent objectification of those you think are less than human (aggravated by factors like sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia…) leads to rape. Acceptance of violence leads to rape. Anyone who has experienced sexual assault will tell you that it is downright offensive to connect “safe, fun, awesome” marital or extramarital sex with rape.

Lena Judith Drake

GVSU Senior