UN diplomats and civil society representatives crowded into a conference room for a panel to hear topics that are rarely discussed at the UN.
People are an asset. Life begins at conception. Population decline will impact global security. Men, marriage and family are good for women.
Why the interest? A few days later the Commission on Population and Development would begin negotiations on the controversial topic of “Fertility, Reproductive Health and Development.”
The event on “Secure Human Development: Marriage, Family, Community” was sponsored by the Permanent Mission of the Holy See, Malta and Honduras, and hosted by Focus on the Family, C-FAM, and Concerned Women for America. The speakers were Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt, Apostolic Nuncio of the Holy See, Yuri Mantilla of Focus on the Family, Susan Yoshihara of Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute, and Wendy Wright of CWA.
Following is Wendy Wright’s speech on “Human Sexuality, Marriage and Women.”
Human Sexuality, Marriage and Family from a Woman’s Perspective
President, Concerned Women for America
In the 1970’s, famous feminist Gloria Steinem said: “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.”
The message: Women are self-reliant, and men are superfluous. Men are unnecessary and incompatible with women. Her cynical view was, no doubt, colored by her father’s abandonment.
At our core, human beings are relational. Attachment to others is a basic human need. Our first attachment is to our parents. From our mothers we absorb what it means to be a woman. From our fathers, we learn how women ought to be treated by men. These kinds of lessons cannot come from classroom lectures, but through the intimacy of daily living.
When Gloria Steinem and other feminists belittle men, marriage and family, they are denying a basic truth: women need male relationships.
But in adopting the flippancies of the Gloria Steinems of the world, what is ideal for women has been set aside as unnecessary or unrealistic. Instead, full attention and resources are devoted to what is far less than ideal, and even harmful to women and society.
We are faced with two competing views:
1. The first is: Women are complete by themselves. Men and women are different only in the area of reproduction. Men are like ladders, useful only to support a woman as she climbs through life.
Here is an example: In the draft resolution on “Fertility, Reproductive Health and Development” for the Commission on Population and Development, the only significant mention of men is:
“OP14. Urges Member States, the United Nations and civil society to include in their development priorities programmes that support the critical role of men in supporting women’s access to safe conditions for pregnancy and childbirth, contributing to family planning, preventing sexually transmitted infections and HIV, and ending violence against women and girls.”
This minimal list is silent on the critical role that women need men to play in family life, as if there is no need for men to be intimately invested in providing companionship, security, protection and care for their wives, and a father for their children. There is no room here for a husband’s masculine, life-long embrace of his wife and their children. And there is certainly no expectation of fidelity.
Frankly, this is the kind of man that women don’t want. Distant, non-committal, giving only the bare minimum, but not giving himself. In their very low view of men, the Gloria Steinems teach men to treat women poorly which, when men do, naturally leads women to believe that they’re better off without men. It’s a self-fulfilling expectation.
Demeaning either men or women, treating either as utilitarian, or dismissing marriage as irrelevant damages us as human beings and destabilizes society.
2. The second view is that: Women and men are complementary. We are different in marvelous and various ways, yet in our differences fit together to complete one another. The most profound relationship is marriage – because it perfects the purpose of the two sexes, male and female.
While women may list professional accomplishments when presenting ourselves to the world, we find our primary identity in our relationship with our family – particularly, as a wife and mother. The most influential relationships, the ones that impact us the deepest, are those within our family.
It is these relationships that complete the purpose of what it means to be a woman. And marriage, in which both husband and wife completely give of themselves to the other, provides the security to fully live out this identity of womanhood.
Too often women and sex are viewed in isolation – Women are separated from men and from family, and sex is seen as a mere physical act that has nothing to do with relationships.
When policies are shaped by this view, they produce programs and laws that end up isolating women from real relationships and encouraging extramarital sex- which is the source of many diseases, pathologies and heartaches.
The transcendent wonder of femininity, marriage and sexuality is difficult to describe when crafting policy documents. However, we can point out the benefits of marriage and the rightful place of sexuality.
Benefits of Marriage – Healthy, Wealthy and Wise
Marriage exists throughout history and in every culture. Now science is catching up to human experience and quantifying the benefits of marriage.
Married women are physically and psychologically healthier than unmarried or never-married women. Married women had less job stress, environment stress, child stress, financial stress, and relationship stress. Formerly married women reported the worst health, after never married women.1 Married women are less likely to experience poverty than never-married women. Women who had ever been married were substantially less likely to be poor – regardless of race, family background, non-marital births, or education. Currently married women had a two-thirds lower probability of living in poverty. Women who had ever been married were roughly one-third less likely.2 Married men make more money (which is good for their wives). Taking into consideration factors such as education, married men earned about 20 percent more in wages than unmarried men.3 Married women are less likely to be associated with problems with alcohol.4
The Best Sex
Contrary to the view of people who dismiss traditional morality – from the pink palaces of Hollywood to the ivory towers of Harvard – sex is best in marriage.
The highest levels of physical and emotional satisfaction were reported by individuals who were in married, monogamous relationships.5 The National Health and Social Life Survey, the most authoritative research on sexuality in America, concluded: “In real life, the unheralded, seldom discussed world of married sex is actually the one that satisfies people the most.” 6
Sex and the Single Girl
Under the guise of “empowering women,” a decades-long campaign has divorced sex from marriage in policy and culture. Successful in their efforts to normalize sex outside of marriage, advocates for promiscuity now turn their attention to encouraging young people to be sexually active. While they rationalize that “kids are going to do it anyway,” their policies create that reality, by creating an environment conducive to promiscuous and premature sexual activity.
Comprehensive sex education programs promote early sexual initiation and non-marital sex. But both early and non-marital sex are linked to other unhealthy behaviors and damage young people’s ability to bond to others.
The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) is the leading promoter of comprehensive sex education. UNESCO turned to SIECUS when it created its guidelines on sexuality education. But what SIECUS considers age appropriate is shocking.7
For example, they advocate teaching children at every age level beginning at 5 years old – about masturbation.
5- to 8-year-olds:
Touching and rubbing one’s own genitals to feel good is called masturbation.
9- to 12-year-olds:
Masturbation is often the first way a person experiences sexual pleasure.
12- to 15-year-olds:
How often a person masturbates varies for every individual.
15- to 18- year-olds:
Being sexual with another person does not mean that masturbation must or should stop.
The concept of children as “unwanted” is taught to 5- to 8-year-olds.
Abortion is introduced to 9- to12-year-olds as a “very safe” option, and a “right” to 12- to15-year-olds.
5- to 8-year-olds are introduced to homosexuality.
9- to 12-year-olds are introduced to bisexuality and gender confusion (as SIECUS describes it, “Gender identity refers to a person’s internal sense of being male, female, or a combination of these.”) SIECUS states that people who engage in homosexuality and bisexuality can have children or adopt.
12- to 15-year-olds are taught about “transgender.”
Teenagers with questions are told to consult a “knowledgeable adult” (parents are not mentioned).
The first lesson taught to 5-year-olds about family is this definition:
“A family consists of two or more people who care for each other in many ways.”
The graphic nature of comprehensive sex education and its distortion of human nature and family:
Destroys children’s innocence. Separates children from parents and family. Emotionally isolates women and men. Encourages self-centeredness, using other people for their own pleasure. Distorts a child’s concept of healthy sexuality and marriage.
The Risks of Early Sexual Activity
There can be serious consequences for youth who engage in sexual activity. Girls’ immature bodies are more vulnerable to sexually-transmitted diseases – diseases that she may later bring into her marriage. Every option to deal with pregnancy among girls too young to be married is physically and emotionally difficult. Teen sexual activity is linked to emotional problems, abuse, and unhealthy behaviors such as violence, alcohol and drug use.
The Institute for Youth Development found.8 :
Adolescents who initiate risky behaviors, such as sexual intercourse, at an early age frequently have poorer health later in life, lower educational attainment and less economic productivity than their peers. The younger a girl is the first time she has sex, the greater the age difference between her and her partner. The greater the age difference, the more partners she is likely to have during her teen years. Among most girls who had sex before age 13, the first sexual experience was not voluntary or was unwanted. Those who have first intercourse before age 14 are more likely to have more lifetime sexual partners, putting them at greater risk of an STD or HIV. Sexually active teens, especially girls, are at greater risk for depression, making them more likely to engage in riskier behavior such as using alcohol and drugs. Adolescents who have three or more sexual partners in one year are more likely to engage in illicit drug use. Most teens who have sex wish they had waited. In fact, a large majority of both older teens and younger teens say they wish they had waited.
2 out of 3 (66%) sexually experienced teens wish they had waited longer before first having sexual intercourse.
7 out of 10 (71%) of those teens 12 to 14 years old wish they had waited.
6 out of 10 (63%) of 15- to19-year-olds said they wish they had waited.
Why do girls have sex? They think it will give them a relationship. But comprehensive sex education programs do not prepare girls for the crushing heartache and rejection that comes with casual sex.
What can protect girls from early sexual activity? .9
A positive family relationship. This is the primary factor in protecting adolescents. The more connected teenagers feel to their parents and family, the less likely they are to engage in early sexual activity. Perceived parent disapproval of adolescent sex. Religious identity. (A sense of belonging to God.) Pledge of virginity. (Identifying with their future spouse.)
Humans are relational. We need to belong to others. This is particularly true for women. It is within family and marriage that we are most likely to find safety, security, selflessness, and satisfaction. Marriage joins two families together and creates a new one, enlarging our relationships.
The sexual encounters promoted in comprehensive sexuality programs are the opposite – fleeting, insecure, unsafe, self-centered. The programs deliberately separate children from parents, leaving children vulnerable to adults who would exploit them. Non-marital sex damages a person’s ability to bond to another in marriage.
At the demands of the Gloria Steinems of the world, we’ve accepted a very low standard. Women have paid the price of devaluing marriage. Sexual partners are so interchangeable, and the unique nature of womanhood so denied that now we’re told that men can replace women in marriage.
What an insult to women.
Yet there is hope. Gloria Steinem – the woman who didn’t need a man – came around. In 2000, at age 66, to everyone’s surprise, Gloria Steinem got married.
In the Genesis account of the beginning of mankind, the Creator announces, “It is not good that man should be alone.” Even these many years later, women still need men and marriage is a definite good for women.
Christopher F. Scott and Susan Sprecher, “Sexuality in Marriage, Dating, and Other Relationships: A Decade Review,” Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 62, No. 4 (November 2000), pp. 999-1017. Daniel T. Lichter, Deborah Roempke, and Brian J. Brown, “Is Marriage a Panacea? Union Formation Among Economically Disadvantaged Unwed Mothers,” Social Problems, Vol. 50 (2003), pp. 60-86. Kate Antonovics and Robert Town, “Are All the Good Men Married? Uncovering the Sources of the Marital Wage Premium,” American Economic Review, Vol. 94 (May 2004), pp. 317-321. Allan V. Horwitz, Helene R.White, and Sandra Howell-White, “Becoming Married and Mental Health: A Longitudinal Study of Cohort of Young Adults,” Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 58 (November 1996), pp. 895-907. Christopher F. Scott and Susan Sprecher, “Sexuality in Marriage, Dating, and Other Relationships: A Decade Review,” Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 62, No. 4 (November 2000), pp. 999-1017. Edward Laumann, John Gagnon and others, “The Social Organization of Sexuality,” University of Chicago, 1994. http://www.siecus.org/_data/global/images/guidelines.pdf. http://www.youthdevelopment.org/download/sex.pdf. Ibid.