The corruption of youth under guise of women’s health

Notice: This article contains some references to sexuality and sexual activities that may not be appropriate for young or sensitive readers. Please use discretion in deciding whether to read it.

The conference room where Nafis Sadik, former executive director of the notorious United Nations Fund for Population Activities, was speaking was only about half full for the first several minutes of her talk. Then it happened.

Streams of high school girls started filing into the room, and before long, it was a standing-room-only affair. A captive audience had been bused in to fill out the crowd.

The occasion was the opening address at this year’s Women’s Health Matters Forum and Expo, held Jan. 18 and 19 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Billed as a two-day “interactive consumer and health provider event for women of all ages,” the event was marked by a keynote address by Sadik, who spoke to a mainly young audience about “rights of women,” particularly as they pertain to what she saw as “reproductive health” (read: abortion).

Also on the agenda was a series of three “special presentations for adolescent women,” including Let’s Talk About Sex, Sex on the Couch, and Questions About Birth Control and the Emergency Contraceptive Pill. They were presented by such organizations as Planned Parenthood of Toronto, the (Toronto) Bay Centre for Birth Control and Teens Educating and Confronting Homophobia. Comedienne-radio DJ-television personality Carla Collins was recruited to add further luster.

Rounding out the program was an exhibit area, which featured condom distribution exercises by Planned Parenthood of Toronto and Voices of (HIV) Positive Women. Display areas were also set up by various pharmaceutical firms, which touted their birth control exploits. One of them noted on a large banner that, “We’ve been sexually active since 1970.”

In another part of the exhibit room, the Festive Earth Society, which promotes environmental and health awareness, and Sandra the Palm Reader had presences.

The fact that high school girls – including a contingent from a Grade 9 class at St. Clement’s private Anglican school in Toronto – were brought in to be exposed to such influences was bad enough, but what made it worse was the positively pornographic nature of some of the presentations.

This was particularly true of the session: Let’s Talk Sex About Sex – Have Questions? Don’t Be Shy … Ask Us! Most of the discussion topics cannot be recounted in a family newspaper; however, some generalities can be described.

The session was arranged in a question-and-answer format. Allegedly, the young attendees wrote out and handed in questions they had about sexuality. The four facilitators then went about answering these inquiries.

One might have had doubts about the authenticity of the questions that were supposedly asked – the queries seemed to come from persons with knowledge of sexuality and its terminology far beyond that which would be had by girls in their early teens.

Either way, a great deal of emphasis was put on the necessity of “safer sex.” Perhaps realizing the inherent dangers involved in adolescent and non-monogamous sexual activity, the facilitators eschewed the previously favoured term of “safe sex.”

“What does safer sex mean for you?” asked “Tanya,” one of the facilitators, of her young charges. “What is going to make sex safer? … You don’t want to get pregnant? So, what you need is birth control, and you need access to accurate information about birth control, and you need birth control in and of itself … So, are you comfortable buying condoms, buying dental dams? … If you start answering these questions now, then when you’re in the heat of the moment, and you’re about to have sex, you’re gonna have a lot more fun, because you’re not gonna have the stress of all the issues that are gonna make sex unsafe for you.”

The co-ordinator of Teens Educating and Confronting Homophobia said her group is a peer-education program that is active in schools, community settings, youth groups and youth shelters. “We’re really in the classroom to talk a lot about coming out, sexual orientation, as well as the kind of discrimination and homophobia that people face in coming out.”

Among the other issues dealt with through the questions and answers were: When is one ready to have sex? Where can I find a gynecological clinic without my family knowing? What should you do if you want to wait to have sex until you’re married? How do you know if you’re gay or a lesbian? Can you get an infection from using vegetables as sexual objects? How does one masturbate? Is sex proper at age 12? How do I use birth control pills? What else can I use other than birth control pills?

Other questions dealt explicitly with sexual techniques and enhancing pleasure during sexual activities.

“None of us can tell you when you’re ready to have sex,” said “Tanya.” “You can ask yourself about are you ready to have sex in relation to safer sex … You can always have sex with yourself, have some good time with yourself and, you know, you’re ready at 10 as far as I’m concerned! And maybe even before that.”

“One of the probably best-used clinics in Toronto is the Bay Centre for Birth Control, which is a sexual health clinic, and there, your parents do not know,” said the second facilitator. “Everything’s confidential. It does not cost anything.”

“No one knows why people are gay, lesbian or bi-sexual,” chimed in the TEACH co-ordinator. “Whichever way you come to being the sexual orientation you are, that’s okay … A lot of people who are lesbian, gay or bi-sexual say, ‘We’re happy with who we are. We don’t need to be fixed. So, we really don’t care how it is we’ve become lesbian, gay or bi-sexual because we’re cool with who we are.'”

The second facilitator urged the young people to cover vegetables with condoms if they were going to use them as sexual objects. “Who knows what could be growing on these things, what bacteria?” she said.

The first facilitator added that Toronto has a number of “great sex toy stores” and rhymed off a number of other objects that could be used for sexual self-pleasure.

The question on whether sex is proper for a 12-year-old youth elicited a hazy response that focused on the legalities of such conduct. It was pointed out that sex by a 12-year-old is legal as long as his or her partner is not more than two years older. “There’s a lot of grey zone in there,” was one response. “They’ll normally have to look at each case individually.”

On birth control, the young girls were told that there are “a lot of different birth control options that are available” – condoms, spermicides, birth control pills, Depo Provera, diaphragms, caps and sponges, among others. “Any of the sexual health clinics in the city will help you get started on the birth control pill,” said the first facilitator.

“Educate yourself as much as possible around what you want out of sex, when you feel you’re going to be ready, when it’s right for you in your own environment,” said the second facilitator.

The session closed with the facilitators urging the young girls to make use of the bevy of “sexual health” resources available in Toronto, including the Teen Sex Info Line.

The chatter was slightly cleaner, but the essence essentially the same, at the Sex on the Couch session, hosted by Carla Collins, and videotaped for apparent airing on television. Collins, accompanied on a couch by an obstetrician-gynecologist and a couple of “sex educators,” facilitated a gathering that also tried to reiterate the by-now-hackneyed “safer sex” message to youth, who many times appeared to be bored by it all.

Over at the sparsely attended Questions About Birth Control and the Emergency Contraceptive Pill assembly, the leaders attempted to bring youth up to snuff on the latest contraceptive methods. The ECP, previously called the “morning-after pill,” was heavily emphasized. Kim Feldman and Michelle Macintosh, a doctor and nurse respectively at the Bay Centre for Birth Control, described how and when the pill works, its effectiveness, the different types and various side effects.

“What kind of nasty things can (the ECP) cause?” asked Feldman. “Nausea, good. That’s the biggie … Vomiting is the other thing, so we even go so far as to give an anti-vomiting pill with it. Headache is a biggie as well … You can get a little bit of spotting and bloating.”

Feldman added that Ovral, one of the ECP types, “tends to be a lot more risky as far as causing things like blood clots, strokes and things like that … Every time you take the emergency contraceptive pill, you are exposing yourself to the side effects … Because of the estrogen, there are the risks of blood clots and each time you expose yourself to that, you are at risk.”

The Women’s Health Matters Forum and Expo was presented by General Motors of Canada Ltd., with Liberty Health, Sunnybrook and Women’s Health Sciences Centre and the Women’s College Ambulatory Care Centre serving as hosts.

Event sponsors included GM, the Harvey’s and Swiss Chalet restaurant chains, Tums, Canadian Living magazine, the Toronto Star newspaper, CTV television, 97.3 EZ Rock radio and the pharmaceutical firms GlaxoSmithKline, Wyeth-Ayerst Canada Inc., Berlex Canada Inc. and Organon Canada Ltd.

What effect did all the sex and birth control inculcation have on the young girls who were present? Perhaps a scene in the convention centre’s lunch area best tells the story.

A group of girls sat down at a table for a break. One of them, about 15 years old, poured out onto the table the contents of her shopping bag, into which she had placed a number of items she had collected from the exhibit area. Among them were about a dozen condoms, which she then began to sort though. “This one’s lubed … this one’s scented … this one’s coloured …”

Suddenly, she grabbed another item. “Look what else I got,” she said, excitedly.

“What’s that?” asked another of the girls at the table.

“This thing beeps when it’s time to take your (birth control) pill!” she replied.

“That’s cool!” said the other girl. “Where do you get it??”

“Over at one of the drug company booths,” she said.

The other girl left the table in search of the device – perhaps ensuring that yet another young soul was about to become enslaved to the profit motives of the pharmaceutical companies, the sex-pushing perversions of the medical and sex-education communities and the nefarious ideologies that underlie it all.