Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sexual politics rearing ugly head on HPV vaccine

LAST night I received a very interesting (chokes) message on Facebook from a complete and utter ignoramus and I thought I would share it with you. I won't be a complete pig and publish her details, much as I am tempted to. But lets just call her by her first initial, G. To me G represents the worst of the smoke-screen arguments being uttered on this vaccine.

She says: "I wonder why you invest so much of your time promoting this vaccine. If you are so worried about your daughter's health shouldnt you be spending time with her instead explaining to her that sex at 12 is not a great idea? I am sorry to put it this way but I just find it so shocking that a mum can support this type of "emergency measures" instead of devoting her time to educate and explain the main things to her daughter. If you expect your daughter to be sexually active by 12 then theres many worst things than cervical cancer that she could get from that. Many are still incurable and they are not only health related problems."

Mmm.

So I'll take this line at a time because unfortunately as we saw in the Sunday papers the nonsense has probably played a bigger part in influencing the decision to deny our daughters this vaccination than we have been led to believe. This argument is a woeful throwback to the jaded and faded sexual politics of the past, from people who believe they hold a higher moral ground than most of us. Once again I will just say mmmm or should that read shame on the whole bloody lot of you.

"I wonder why you invest so much of your time promoting this vaccine. If you are so worried about your daughter's health shouldnt you be spending time with her instead explaining to her that sex at 12 is not a great idea?"

Firstly you have no idea of how or what I have already explained/talked to my daughter. Rather like your message which is full of dreadful inaccuracies, you are talking nonsense about my daughter who is not 12 years old. My daughter is too old to receive the vaccine, she was too old even if it was introduced this year and too old even if the Government had decided in its initial announcement to include 13 to 15 year olds, my daughter was still too old.

"I am sorry to put it this way but I just find it so shocking that a mum can support this type of "emergency measures" instead of devoting her time to educate and explain the main things to her daughter."

No problems G apology for your utter ignorance accepted. I find it shocking that someone would call what is essentially a vaccine that helps prevent cervical cancer from developing in 70 to 80 per cent of the recipients 'emergency measures'. How do you explain that? Its makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever, if you want a different view point have a read of some of the testimonies that members of the Facebook group have written on the discussion board of their own experiences of this cancer. Dismiss them all you like, their stories only make me more fervent in my belief our campaign is right.

"If you expect your daughter to be sexually active by 12 then theres many worst things than cervical cancer that she could get from that. Many are still incurable and they are not only health related problems."

Aside from the fact, which has nothing to do with anything really but I have to add it, my daughter is not 12. But that is not to say that another mother who wants this for their 12-year-old is somehow being irresponsible, or indeed encouraging their child to become sexually active.

I would dearly love someone to explain to me how on earth they equate this vaccine with becoming sexually active young because I really do not see it and do not get it.

Do they think a 12-year-old thinks 'thank Heavens for that, I am now vaccinated against HPV so I won't (well a 70 to 80 per cent chance) in my future life contract cervical cancer, lets go get jiggy'. Really? Do you think that? Are you wise?

If a 12-year-old is having sex the reason for that is as far away from your explanation as you can get. I wonder how many 12 year olds you have been around.

Indeed a pal said: "Sure in my school we got a rubella vaccination at 13, to protect any unborn babies against German Measles...we didn't all run out and have sex cos our babies would then be protected from rubella! And it's a vaccine for CANCER! Not a free for all for sex."

"If you expect your daughter to be sexually active by 12 then theres many worst things than cervical cancer that she could get from that. Many are still incurable and they are not only health related problems."

MMmm advice from someone whose point of view is somewhat offensive to me, no thanks. You show up your ignorance ten-fold. So there are things worse, like hellfire and damnation perhaps?

At the end of the day G, if you have daughters, hopefully at some stage you have a choice whether or not to allow them to have a vaccine that will protect them in later life against 70 to 80 per cent of cases of cervical cancer. As it stands now we will continue to campaign to have this choice for our daughters so your phrase of 'invest' my time is very apt.

As an aside and it really has nothing to do with this issue G but I feel compelled to spell it out, you don't know anything about me, nothing to enable you to judge as you do in your message. It is funny though because I find myself now judging you and it isn't favourable.

14 comments:

Fiona McCann said...

I am so angered by these arguments that I'm afraid I can't actually articulate a response. There are so many problems with the notion that by providing this vaccination you are encouraging children to become sexually active at 12, and that this is somehow an argument against this potentially life-saving measure, that I don't even know where to start. But you made a fine fist of it, Redmum.

Damian O'Broin said...

Ah, the old umbrellas cause rain argument. I wonder would G advocate doing away with seatbelts to improve road safety?

The nasty way in which FF seem to be throwing out the sexual politics defence now, not because they seem to believe it, but because they think it will give them some sort of smokescreen, is truly despicable, but not at all surprising.

C.K. said...

What would G say about sexual assault victims? 62% of whom are under 18. Doesn't the fact that HPV doesn't require penetration to be spread and that women with only one sexual partner are still at a big risk of contracting HPV (http://www.thestar.com/living/Health/article/293604) throw the crazy promiscuity arguments out the window?

Karen said...

Typical! Someone mentions anything to do with 'down there' and straight away the loons are out in force! This argument that protecting a child or teenager against cancer will encourage her to go out and jump in the sack with the first pimply bloke she sees is preposterous.

At school we were given a talk about Aids - the causes of it, treatment, stigmas - all of that and we were spoken to very frankly about the syndrome and how it can be caught through sex, as well as through other ways, and about condoms and protecting yourself. And, it might surprise G to realise this, but not one of us thought "woo hoo, if I wear a condom I'm protecting myself against Aids, I'm going to go out this minute and sleep around with everyone! This talk turned me into a slut!"

My mother, my very Catholic mother, was MORE than delighted for me to attend this talk in school as she admitted to knowing little about Aids herself and wanted me to be properly informed and educated by professionals - both to learn how to protect myself and to learn more about the syndrome and how people with it deal with it and overcome victimisation. She wanted that for me and was the first in the class to sign the consent form for me to attend. In my opinion she would have done me much more of a disservice by insisting I stayed away from that class and remained ignorant.

Just as Red Mum says, vaccinating a 12-year-old does NOT say to her "now, run free, have sex with impunity, you're safe now" it simply does not.

What it says is, the HPV vaccine will help prevent cervical cancer, which is a massive killer in this country. Here, roll up your sleeve. End of.

There should be no debate or discussion, it is a vaccine, it presents a killer disease, let's get it out there.

The more I read G's comments the more I think I see an underlying thread of 'people who get cervical cancer deserve it cos they sleep around' which is not only disgusting but deeply disturbing as well. I hope I'm wrong about that, because that would sicken me.

Tatty Franey said...

i have been quietly reading your blog for such a long time now as i love your writing and your topics, but i have to comment today as ignorant people really get to me. it's unbelievable that people would actually take the time to send you a comment with such remarks in it. it's unbelievable that real people actual say such things in real life.
i am apalled at the government's decision; i wish i could get the vaccine myself, how can people possibly think that it's ok to deprive children of a better life?
i know i'm not making much sense, just angry :)
but wanted to say i join you in your outrage and your campaign!

Dan Sullivan said...

I'm still waiting for them to start campaigning against tetanus jabs because you know how it encourages kids to climb trees and we should all just rely on that talk they were given about the dangers of climbing trees.

Amanda said...

I love how so many people would rather have others die than ever discuss something as basic as reproductive health. ignorance=death

The Sexy Pedestrian said...

Great reply. I don't understand how people like 'G' can be so anti-vaccine given the information available. How someone could describe the jab as an 'emergency measure' is just beyond me.

http://reluctantmemsahib.wordpress.com said...

I agree with Dan. And Amanda. Actually i agree with you all. Great post. We must at least give the ridiculous G that: that she inspired such energetic debate?

artfulkisser said...

Geez, I hope G's not an actual "friend"? With friends like these... Particularly hard to listen to that perspective when cervical cancer is so often detected far too late.

cc said...

Well said Redmum!

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