Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Bristol Palin: Why I feel for her
There is a marked difference in these two videos. In one, Bristol Palin expresses that "abstinence is unrealistic," and in the other she is introduced as an advocate for abstinence-only education. In both videos she appears very much a girl of her age, uncomfortable talking about her sexuality on camera. That's understandable. It's this change of heart about the question of abstinence that is so strange, and the fact that if she doesn't want to talk about choices she made in her own life, how can she teach anyone anything?
Abstinence did not work for her. She is a poster-child for the cultural divide described in Red Sex, Blue Sex. So why does she think it would work for anyone else? She avoids any details from her life, never revealing just why she didn't use contraception, offering no real advice for others, except of course "wait ten years." On the Good Morning America video, her answers seem rehearsed, manipulated. She knows exactly how to derail the journalist's inqueries and answer questions that were not asked of her. It seems she's gotten more training on how to give an interview than how to prevent pregnancy.
I feel for her because it so clearly doesn't matter what she really believes. She knows what she is saying isn't "realistic" and won't help anyone to avoid pregnancy or STDs or the fear and shame she herself is probably feeling from all the attention she is getting. Does she really want to be an advocate? How did she come to be called this? Was this her own idea?
Why are conservatives so obsessed with the way they think things should be that they can not handle the way things really are? Do they think the sky will cave in if people continue to have sex outside of marriage? Why do people think withholding information about contraception and protection - life saving information - is morally acceptable?
If she is anything, Bristol is an example of a failed ideology. I'm sure she didn't choose to be that either. I feel for her, because she seems to have no agency, no voice, no control over her own life. Her image and story are used as examples of all types of ideas: pro-life, abstinence-only, how abstinence-only has failed, of the hypocrisy of the Republican party. But she doesn't seem to have any ideas of her own about what has happened to her. She certainly doesn't have any idea how to help anyone else.
Watch the videos, see for yourself. She seems without a spirit.