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The Answer Blog

Archive for June, 2008

Body of War

June 27, 2008

Most of the audience at a recent screening I attended of the movie Body of War saw it as a terrible indictment of the Iraq war. I did, too, but as a sexuality educator, I also found myself riveted by several scenes that focused on the body portion of the film.

The film is about Tomas Young, a 25-year-old from Missouri who enlisted in the Army after watching President Bush swear vengeance through a bullhorn at ground zero after 9/11.

Young is permanently confined to a wheelchair after having caught a bullet the first week he was in Iraq. The bullet hit him just beneath his left collarbone, causing severe and permanent spinal cord injuries. He was instantly paralyzed from the chest down.

In the first part of the film, Tomas is getting married to Brie and all seems to be going well. But then the film focuses on the unexpected: a very detailed description of the effects of Tomas’s injury on his penis, and how it damages his ability to have erections and sex with the woman he has just married.

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On Gloucester

June 25, 2008

“Hope is the best contraceptive.”

These words immediately flashed to my mind when I read about the pregnancy boom at Gloucester High School, in Gloucester, MA. I heard them some 20 years ago from Marian Wright Edelman, head of the Children’s Defense Fund, when she talked about high rates of teen pregnancy among poor, African-American girls.

She was convinced, and quoted research to prove it, that there is a strong correlation between poverty and teen pregnancy. In order to reduce the high rates, adults from parents to educators to policy makers must provide hope to poor girls that they can expect more out of life than having a baby.

Edelman’s words were strongly echoed by a classmate of the 17 girls at Gloucester High—none older than 16—who reportedly made a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together. She said: “No one offered them a better option.” The local superintendent of schools backed her up when he said that jobs had disappeared in this mostly white, blue-collar city and that “families were broken.”

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