The Contraception Controversies

Over the past few weeks, we have seen some fascinating, public conversations about contraception, sparked by the inclusion of contraception coverage in healthcare reform, and the opposition of the Catholic Bishops.  One of the most interesting articles to cover the topic in my opinion was in last week’s New York Times: “Obama Shift on Contraception Splits Critics,” which highlights the divisions over contraception within the Catholic church, even among some of the most devout.  In an interview I did today with New England Public Radio, I point out that it is important to keep in mind that it is really only a very small proportion of the US population for whom access to contraception is controversial.

Permit It, Hug It Close, Control It

That is how Simon Kuper, columnist for the Financial Times characterizes the Dutch approach to sex and drugs.  His is the first European column to review my book, Not Under My Roof.  Kuper, who is British, spent part of his adolescence in the Netherlands, where coincidentally he lived across the street from my home when I was teenager.  This insider-outsider perspective make him particularly well situated to grasp cultural differences.  He explains how the Dutch approach is far from “permissive” as it is often viewed across the Atlantic.  Don’t miss this incisive commentary, sweetened by a good dose of humor.

Sex education, queer youth, and sexual autonomy

The first post-publication reviews of Not Under My Roof have come in.  A review by Doug Ireland in Gay City News (Nov. 9) places the book in the context of the post-sexual revolution battles over sex education in the United States.  Ireland recounts the intensely hostile political organizing in response to Judith Levine’s 2002 book Harmful to Minors (University of Minnesota Press) and then US Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders’ thoughts on sex education.   The result of these battles has, he points out, been “particularly nefarious for queer youth” whose needs for protection from harassment are rarely met within high-school hallways and classrooms.

In this context, it’s courageous of Amy Schalet, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus, to offer up her fascinating and wise new book, “Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens, and the Culture of Sex”….  Based on a blending of meticulous scholarly research and extensive interviews with both Dutch and American parents and teenagers — mostly tenth-graders — Schalet’s book, although not as deliberately incendiary as Levine’s a decade earlier, nonetheless amounts to a ringing rationale for the sexual autonomy of adolescents.

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Amy Schalet is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Read More...