Stop treating women like hysterics

By By Beth Ranschau

By Beth Ranschau

Salt Lake City has been overrun with promiscuous, disease-spreading young women.

You mean, you haven’t seen them? Come on, those sultry women in their provocative knee-length skirts on Main Street are clearly prostitutes. They’re everywhere, taunting, “So what if I catch a disease? They have a vaccine for that now!”

If you haven’t seen these hysterical women running around the streets of Salt Lake City, that’s because they don’t exist. But apparently no one’s told that to the people who opposed House Bill 358.

The bill, presented by Rep. Karen Morgan, D-Salt Lake City, initially introduced a plan that would have allocated $1 million to the State Department of Health. These funds were intended to establish a public awareness program about the dangers of cervical cancer. The program would also provide women with the new Gardasil vaccine, which has been found to protect females from the highest-risk types of HPV that lead to cervical cancer.

It sounds great. They’ve finally found a cure for cancer, so everyone should be in favor, right? Apparently not. The House Health and Services Committee voted against the bill. Because HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, members of the committee said that many constituents expressed concern that the bill would lead to increased promiscuity.

But to say that a preventative vaccine will increase promiscuity is a dangerous one. This logic implies that women will act irrationally and irresponsibly if given the smallest opportunity. It presupposes that as long as a vaccine exists for a serious sexually transmitted disease, women will engage in promiscuous behavior simply because they can. It implies that even though the vaccine would only prevent one of many dangerous STDs, that women would throw caution (and their health) to the wind in favor of a good time.

The initial bill should have been enough for people to support, but because of recent rejection of the initial bill, Morgan has now pared it down. Yet even the new, less aggressive version of the bill — which has done away with the vaccine provision and drained the original proposed $1 million to a measly $25,000 — has been criticized.

Gayle Ruzicka, president of the Utah Eagle Forum, has expressed such concerns, stating that, “There are still a lot of questions about what, in fact, they will be teaching in this public-awareness campaign.”

Ruzicka’s comments reveal concern that the awareness campaign might include sex education. And others have expressed fears that young girls might act irresponsibly after having received the vaccine.

But these concerns are similarly problematic. Rather than educate teens about the dangers of unprotected sex and how to prevent unwanted pregnancy and disease, this logic advocates keeping teens in fear. As if the only thing keeping teens from having unprecedented amounts of promiscuous sex is the fear of pregnancy and disease. It couldn’t be that we’ve actually taught them to have morals or responsibility or anything.

Moreover, if young girls really are the sex-crazed heathens that we’re making them out to be, then current sex education programs — which teach only abstinence — are not enough.

Women’s health should be a top priority–even if that means putting aside a self-righteous agenda in favor of sex education and a vaccination program to prevent the spread of a deadly disease.