Abstinence makes Nadine Dorries’ brain go softer


10:45 am - May 5th 2011

by Unity    


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I was originally going to fisk the speech Nadine Dorries gave in introducing her ten minute rule bill on the mandatory teaching of abstinence to 13-16 year old girls.

But much of what needs to be said can be readily covered using her pseudo-blog post on the same subject, which makes two key claims without any evidence whatsoever.

Today I presented a 10 minute rule bill to the House regarding the teaching of abstinence to 13 – 16 yr aged girls in school.

The thrust was that girls as young as seven are taught about intercourse, safe sex, how to apply a condom on a banana, where to get condoms, how to detect an STI and that they don’t need to tell their parents anything.

I believe that is tantamount to encouragement and that we have the balance wrong.

Never mind getting the balance wrong, Dorries got her "facts" wrong (as usual), putting her remarks firmly into the 100% fiction category.

To be absolutely clear on this matter, once and for all, children as young as seven are not taught about intercourse, safe sex, condom use or STIs in schools. Dorries is playing the tired old tabloid trick of making false claims about the subject matter taught to seven year olds based on the contents of the full PSHE and SRE (sex and relationships education) curriculum, which runs of early years education (3-4 years) right through to the end of secondary education (year 11, 15-16 years), presenting children and young people with age appropriate information at each key stage and year of the curriculum.

Contrary to everything Dorries has claimed today, a typical PSHE/SRE curriculum for year three children (7 years) covers the following topics:

  • Self esteem
  • Challenging gender stereotypes
  • Differences: Male and Female
  • Family differences
  • Decision making
  • Safety

You’ll note, straight away, that there’s a very marked lack of shagging, condoms or information on STIs in there – reproduction typically doesn’t enter the picture until year 6 (10-11 years) while contraception fails to enter the frame at all until year 8 (12-13 years) and its only in year 9 (13-14 years) that the curriculum covers contraceptive methods and STIs. – all information taken from SRE core curriculum for London, published by Young London Matters.

Staying on the subject of fiction, Richard Bartholomew has kindly tackled the statistics cited by Dorries – and attributed to Dame Joan Bakewell – in her speech in relation to the alleged sexual content of prime-time television:

Dame Joan [Bakewell] said that our society is saturated in sex: a typical prime-time hour on TV contains 2.6 references to intercourse, 1.2 references to prostitution and rape, and 4.7 sexual innuendoes.

Unfortunately, as Richard notes, Dame Joan Bakewell said nothing of the sort:

The statistics are actually a boilerplate talking-point which has been doing the rounds on Christian websites for years, sometimes attributed to a “Florida State University study”. One example of their use is the 1993 book by Bill Hybels and Rob Wilkins, entitled Tender Love: God’s Gift of Sexual Intimacy. According to them:

According to one study, a typical network prime-time hour contains an average of 1.6 references to intercourse, 1.2 references to prostitution and rape, 4.7 sexual innuendoes, 1.8 kisses, and 1.0 suggestive gestures.

Again, we have an example of Dorries sourcing her information from the heartlands of the American Taliban although, as Richard goes on to point out in a footnote, the original source of these claims may be 1987 study conducted for Planned Parenthood, the US equivalent of our own Family Planning Association, which was reported in the New York Times in 1988.

If Richard is correct – and I suspect he might well be – Dorries’ statistics are more than 20 years out of date and relate to prime-time television in the United States and are of no relevance to this current debate, not least because, unlike the UK, prime-time on US networks is defined as 8pm-11pm (Eastern/Pacific Standard Time) and 7pm-10pm (Central/Mountain), which means that two of the three prime-time hours in the two most populous and important US time zones fall after the UK’s 9pm watershed. In the US, prime-time viewing means the graphic CSI franchise – in the UK it means the One Show.

As usual, if you’re looking for a fact free environment, then Dorries’ pseudo-blog is the place to go.

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About the author
'Unity' is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He also blogs at Ministry of Truth.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Conservative Party ,Feminism ,Westminster

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Reader comments


1. Mr S. Pill

Once again Dorries is shown up as the liar that she is. How long before Cameron wakes up and throws this useless waste of taxpayer’s money out of the House of Commons? She’s a disgrace to all MPs of all parties.

2. AstroGirl

I’m pretty disgusted that my MP, a fundamentalist Tory if there ever was one, voted for this nonsense. I’ve challenged him on it (for all the good it will do) asking him why he was prepared to support a measure based on entirely false claims.

I suggest that anyone else who is unfortunate enough to have one of the 67 ayes as their representative should let them know that this kind of behaviour doesn’t just go by unobserved in London, but is noticed by voters in the constituencies too.

At least it might have the effect of making you feel better about being represented by someone prepared to play fast and loose with young people’s lives for the sake of their poisonous ideology.

Here’s the list from Hansard: http://bit.ly/j1X4Rm

Am I the only one who thinks that we may be giving the nauseating Ms Dorries too much attention?

To quote the late lamented Linda Smith on the equally odious Hamiltons:

“I don’t want to give them the oxygen of publicity. I don’t even want to give them the oxygen of oxygen.”

Chris Bryant’s response is brilliant. It’s worth looking at the Hansard link above just to read it.

5. Chaise Guevara

“Dorries is playing the tired old tabloid trick of making false claims about the subject matter taught to seven year olds based on the contents of the full PSHE and SRE (sex and relationships education) curriculum”

Tabloids and excitable moral-guardian types in general do this in any context you care to name. For example, if I see a headline like “Rise in Alcohol Abuse Among Children As Young As Ten”, I’ll assume (generally correctly) that the vast majority of child alcohol abuse cases affected people aged 15-17, and that there were only one or two instances of ten-year-olds getting booze, and that these were probably one-off occasions.

It’s almost as if they’re not interested in a sensible, factual debate.

Chris did very well, although he should really gone full bore by pointing out that parental opt-outs and curricular interference by religious schools are part of the problem.

7. Chaise Guevara

@ 4

Also see Dorries’s comment that “Indeed, it will be interesting to see a man stand and oppose a Bill that is about empowering young girls.” At the very BEST, that’s an attempt to silence the opposition by attacking their gender. At the worst, it’s creepy as fuck.

7 – In fairness, it was in response to a pretty mindless interruption from Bryant. As I said, I come over all Iran-Iraq with those two.

9. Cheesy Monkey

[deleted]

10. Chaise Guevara

@ 8 Tim J

“In fairness, it was in response to a pretty mindless interruption from Bryant.”

Weeelll, without wanting to derail the thread, he had a point, assuming you’re referring to him saying “stop going to those shops then”. It’s pretty much the defining feature of moral guardians that, rather than avoid material they dislike (lad’s mags and porn in this case), they think that the material should be banned outright. It’s a bit like watching TV post-watershed then writing in to complain about the swearing. And in any case, there’s no excuse for saying “you’re a [gender], so shut up”.

11. AstroGirl

And comment 9 is within the remit of Liberal Conspiracy’s tight comments policy aimed at fostering constructive debate, how?

Cheesy monkey, Dorries is a lot of things. But flinging misogynistic insults at her merely brings you down to her level.

What’s next for Mad Nad? She failed to change abortion laws. She failed to change sex education. How’s she going to top that? Failing to bring back Section 28? Failing to get re-elected, I hope.

13. Cheesy Monkey

@11

Not meant in a misogynistic way at all – I’m an equal opportunities cuntist. The context here is severity, not femininity.

14. AstroGirl

Cheesy monkey, context is not necessarily yours to define.

I’m challenging you to make better arguments than Dorries does, to trade in facts and evidence rather than lies and insults, and not to resort to easy abuse.

15. Cheesy Monkey

[deleted]

@14 Astro

“Cheesy monkey, context is not necessarily yours to define.”

I’m not a fan of using the “c” word except in extremis, and don’t particularly approve of the use here.

However, the context isn’t necessarily yours to define either.

17. Chaise Guevara

@ 15 Cheesy Monkey

Getting married to her after the rapture would be even worse!

18. Chaise Guevara

Being slightly more sensible, I agree with Galen. There’s no reason to suppose that Chessy Monkey intended to use that word in a misogynistic sense, and since the “context” is his own post and he’s said it wasn’t meant as a sexist term, it seems reasonable to accept that. It’s unhelpful if alternative interpretations of people’s words are used to attack them.

19. Cheesy Monkey

@17

Yeah, a bit of a gamble there, but you can currently get very long odds…

Dorries’ position hinges on teenagers having sex to be a bad thing in and of itself. Personally I’m not too bothered what teenagers get up to with one another. Of course clued up and self confidant teens are more likely to avoid any potential pitfalls than those given the ‘protection’ of ignorance.

21. AstroGirl

@galen10 @Chaise Guevara

And I think it’s unhelpful to resort to crude name-calling when there are so many better grounds on which to take Dorries on.

Cheesy monkey, I can only add that you have demonstrated amply how you have no better shots in your locker.

Have a nice day!

22. Chaise Guevara

@ 21 AstroGirl

“And I think it’s unhelpful to resort to crude name-calling when there are so many better grounds on which to take Dorries on. ”

There I agree with you (in fairness, he’s now done so @15).

23. Cheesy Monkey

@21

Yeah, whatever. Mmmmkay.

24. Chaise Guevara

@ 20 Cylux

“Dorries’ position hinges on teenagers having sex to be a bad thing in and of itself. ”

Also, this sort of education in general is based on what we think teenagers should be doing, rather than what they will actually be doing regardless of whether or not we think they should be doing it.

25. George McLean

Why do the concepts of Nadine Dorries and bananas go so well together?

@ 21 & 22

I entirely agree that there are better grounds on which to attack this deeply repellent individual (altho as Chaise pointed out cheesey did go on to broaden his attack later).

Astro, I think you risk coming over as a tad po-faced; however quesionable the language, there is sometimes a place for invective as part of a response to such views and individuals.

Whether “in the round” the context justified the original comment, and whether you are the best judge of it, is another matter.

27. Mr S. Pill

Re: the cunt situation. There’s no need to call her any particular names. Just point out facts:

Dorries is a proven liar. She is lying here. She has lied before. She will lie again. So long as that mantra gets through there may be a chance of getting rid of this awful person from the House of Commons.

Dorries is also on a moral crusade despite a) having an extra-marital affair (breaking one of her precious Ten Commandments) and b) vindictively outing her partner’s ex as an alcoholic.

All of this is uncontroversial, easily verifiable, fact.

Oh fuck!

In passing.

I don’t suppose anyone else here is as horrified as me that 7 year old children are being taught, as part of the national curriculum to “challenge gender stereotypes”?

Who decided such indoctrination was desirable? I am perfectly happy to have my children work out their own responses to gender differences and how they are portrayed and realised.

By the way, I agree with Cheesy Monkey but perhaps calling ND a cunt insufficiently challenges anatomical gender stereotypes…..

The word cunt used in the context above is sooo passé. Yours, V.Solanas

31. Chaise Guevara

@ 27 S The Pill

“The Cunt Situation”

Isn’t this the title of Guy Ritchie’s next hard-hitting gangster film?

(On a sensible note: good post.)

32. Chaise Guevara

@ 29 pagar

“I don’t suppose anyone else here is as horrified as me that 7 year old children are being taught, as part of the national curriculum to “challenge gender stereotypes”?”

Depends on what that means, really. If it’s just to combat the stereotypes they’ll pick up in the playground (e.g. “Girls can too play football!”) then it doesn’t bother me too much. If it goes beyond damage control then I’m not so comfortable. I dislike politics in the classroom, but I doubt this one is worth getting too het up about.

33. Mr S. Pill

@31 CG

“Isn’t this the title of Guy Ritchie’s next hard-hitting gangster film?”

Well, Mr Ritchie being a well-known reader of Lib Con, it is certainly is now… 😉

@29 I, for one, am not at all bothered by seven year olds being taught that such things as “a woman’s place is in the kitchen” to be complete bollocks.
To each their own however.

35. Watchman

One quick question – there is a lot of portrayal of Ms Dorries as a fundamentalist Christian on here, but I haven’t actually seen any evidence (e.g. S.Pill @27: “breaking one of her [Dorries’] precious Ten Commandments” .

It is possible to be wrong on these issues without being a fundamentalist though – wrongness does not equate to fundamentalism, although fundamentalism does seem to equate to wrongness. Unless we have evidence Ms Dorries is actually working from a sense of Christian mission or the like, she might actually just be a misguided conservative (lack of capitalisation deliberate) who reads the Daily Mail and believes it. Which is a different sort of enemy.

None of which makes here anythng like right of course, as the original post shows quite nicely.

36. Mr S. Pill
37. Watchman

Cylux,

@29 I, for one, am not at all bothered by seven year olds being taught that such things as “a woman’s place is in the kitchen” to be complete bollocks.
To each their own however.

Doesn’t to each their own rather undermine your initial point? After all, surely the point is that everyone learns the same thing.

On which note, why are parents allowed to pull their kids out of compulsory education on religion and sex anyway? If they object to it as wrong, they can do as Ms Dories does and try to change the law – allowing them to make their own children in their own (potentially bigotted) image hardly helps the children.

38. Watchman

S.Pill,

Thanks – but do you seriously expect me to remember what happened before last weekend? That would require superhuman ability (especially since I missed the story totally). I’ll take that as proof as association at least, perhaps belief. Hardly a surprise, but nice to have something like that.

I’ve not looked on here for a while, but I see the level of debate has degenerated even further. Why are so many disciples of socialism, simply bitter, inarticulate and incapable of contructing an argument, resorting to lamentable squabbling over statistics?

40. Mr S. Pill

@Watchman

Aheh, fair enough. There is more evidence about Dorries’ religious beliefs all around the internet, that link was (obviously) the first one that came to mind. She may not be as evangelising as, say, Widdecombe, but she definitely has a religious agenda when it comes to matters of sexuality.

41. Chaise Guevara

@ 37 Watchman

“On which note, why are parents allowed to pull their kids out of compulsory education on religion and sex anyway?”

Presumably to avoid hysterical news stories about brainwashing and so forth.

“If they object to it as wrong, they can do as Ms Dories does and try to change the law – allowing them to make their own children in their own (potentially bigotted) image hardly helps the children.”

Agreed. It annoys me when people eulogise “parent choice” in schools as if the parents were the service users.

42. Mr S. Pill

@39

What are you blathering on about? Worried that Dorries has been shown up as a liar yet again are you?

43. Chaise Guevara

@ 39 Winston

“I’ve not looked on here for a while, but I see the level of debate has degenerated even further. ”

Well, I’m sure it’ll pick up after that productive contribution. How about some childish insults to seal the deal?

“Why are so many disciples of socialism, simply bitter, inarticulate and incapable of contructing an argument, resorting to lamentable squabbling over statistics?”

…There we are! That should get the debate back on track.

44. Watchman

Lamentable arguing over statistics – would that be the bit where it is shown that Ms Dorries is using the wrong figures from a different context? You know, where it is shown that the core of her argument is in fact, crap?

45. Planeshift

“Who decided such indoctrination was desirable? ”

Presumably the same people who decided it was desirable to teach children that stealing is wrong.

46. paul ilc

Violence – and its portrayal – is a far, far more serious problem than sex – and its portrayal. Some people will unconcernedly sit through truly horrible scenes of violence but get quite upset if they view scenes of more or less explicit sex. I don’t want to watch either, particularly; but violence is positively harmful, and sex is embarrassing at worst.

47. Watchman

Presumably the same people who decided it was desirable to teach children that stealing is wrong.

Damn those advocates of the ten commandments…

@ 46

Hmmnn.. perhaps the commandment not to covet thy neighbour’s ass has been misinterpreted all this time?

@ Planeshift

“Who decided such indoctrination was desirable? ”

Presumably the same people who decided it was desirable to teach children that stealing is wrong.

Are you seriously arguing that teaching one of the most basic aspects of moral behaviour is the same as telling a 7 year old that, because his mother cooks his food, she is conforming to a gender stereotype?

Or because she sometimes wears a skirt?

Or a burqa?

@50 Well our new resident Mighty Morphing Toss Ranger just basically brought up his favourite topic of conversation again. Doesn’t matter what the topic is, or what has been said before, it’ll get crowbarred in no worries.

@51 I fail to see what is wrong in teaching that gender is no barrier to a career path, or that it should define your ‘role’ in domestic life. I suppose stay-at-home fathers are the victims of indoctrination or something then?
I would have thought teaching that boys get to be pilots and girls get to be stewardesses was an idea that everyone had thankfully confined to the dustbin.

As despicable as Dorries is, we have a strict comments policy – I’ve deleted the two comments above for swearing. This is more symbolic and about standards. I wasn’t able to delete earlier

53. Cheesy Monkey

Erm, Sunny, if you’re going to delete some of my posts, you should delete all of them, as the ones you’ve left in now make absolutely no sense whatsoever!

@pagar

telling a 7 year old that, because his mother cooks his food, she is conforming to a gender stereotype?

Well, it’s not such a terrible thing, to conform to a stereotype. It’s just something that happens when we do certain things that align with how the groups we belong to are seen: it’s not an indication of some slavish victimhood or a call to arms.

Not all stereotypes are harmful (though I’d go out on a limb and say most are wrong). I conform pretty well to a stereotype common about Jewish women, by feeding my friends copious quantities of home-made food until all they can do is groan feebly “no more latkes, please!”. That’s not a big deal to me.

What would be a big deal to me is if people tried to define the rest of my personality and abilities based on this stereotype, or of they tried to force me into harmful ones (like a boss years ago that told me that, what am I talking about, it’s a well known fact that all Jews are rich). A lot of gender stereotypes are limiting and harmful, so I think it’s nothing to get excited about if we teach children that they can be challenged – while at the same time not being the end of the world if they end up living up to a few of them.

@ pagar

“Are you seriously arguing that teaching one of the most basic aspects of moral behaviour is the same as telling a 7 year old that, because his mother cooks his food, she is conforming to a gender stereotype?”

Well she is, not that there’s anything wrong with that. But more to the point, why do you think this is what the guidelines entail? Do you have any evidence, or have you just made it up? I’m willing to bet that what you are talking about has little to no relation to what is actually taught. I’m guessing it has more to do with girls being told they can’t play football or climb trees or wear trousers because they are female and all of that kind of thing. Do you think it’s a bad thing to challenge those attitudes?

I have started a Facebook campaign against this sexist bill at http://bit.ly/dorries which has info on how to find out how your MP voted on this and how to email your MP to complain or congratulate them. Most MPs were absent so it’s really important we make sure they attend the 2nd reading and vote this bill out!

So Unity, our youth shouldn’t be told the value of abstinence alongside the dominant sexualised messages portrayed by our culture, society and media?
And prime tv is not overly sexualised for young minds?

One can see that just because a tory says it, we challenge it. You can see with your own eyes the problems with mass media.
If we welcome choice, why are we afraid of young people hearing about abstinence alongside other messages? Wouldn’t it be a refreshing change.
I know of recent research that shows sex education in schools and its implicit expectations put pressure on some young people and do not affirm their no sex choices. Isn’t this perspective worth validating?


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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    Good frm @libcon on Dorries bill http://bit.ly/mgu6EL Why only girls? Are her fundamental reasons the right ones or is it start of crusade?

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  42. Slothrop

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    So does Absinthe!

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  44. A Lesson in Abstinence « The Philosopher's Eye

    […] activity; and for connected purposes’, she set alight to the feminist blogosphere (See here, here, here, and here, for […]

  45. Coventry Rape Crisis

    @Rolo_Tamasi Only for girls aged 13-16 yrs http://bit.ly/mNnx1F

  46. Dorries is right about one thing « AlysAnalysis

    […] This afternoon Channel 5 became the latest media outlet to fan the flames of publicity for Nadine Dorries’ 10 minute rule bill proposing that teaching young girls abstinence should be included in compulsory sex education. I have a maths exam tomorrow, so I won’t waste  the rest of my evening by explaining in detail the many levels on which this bill is a terrible, or highlight her totally out of character use of selective and downright dodgy facts. […]

  47. Pawsey backs the Dorries plan « The middle of the line

    […] made claims about what appears on TV in prime time which she put into the mouth of Joan Bakewell. This was not true. The stats bear an uncanny resemblence to those produced in a US study from ten years ago, and where […]





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