Melissa Harris Perry
updated 5/11/2013 2:46:28 PM ET 2013-05-11T18:46:28

Why does so much legislation come from fear of young women being sexually active?

Why is it that the only thing scarier than teenage girls being coerced into having sex seems to be teenage girls choosing to do it? With North Carolina lawmakers considering a bill that would require parental consent for medical care as basic as birth control, the Obama administration still fighting to restrict access to emergency contraception, and abstinence-only sex ed still the law of the land in most states, things aren’t egetting any easier for the 70% of young women who are sexually active by the time they hit 19.

On Saturday’s Melissa Harris-Perry, the host and her guests talked about young women, sex, relationships, and the role shame plays in policing the sexuality of both young men and women. When we teach children that their worth is only physical, it can wreak havoc, as Elizabeth Smart described earlier this week in a speech at Johns Hopkins University.

Watch the full discussion and tune in every Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. EST for new episodes of Melissa Harris-Perry.

Video: Real talk about teenage sex

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    >>> this morning my question. what will stem the tide of sexual assault in the u.s. military ?

    >>> plus, house minority leader nancy pelosi is coming to nerd land.

    >>> and st moral protest in north carolina . this time it's voter suppression and so much more. but first, teenage girls , sex and who is really at risk? good morning. i'm melissa harris-perry. monday evening, 5:52 p.m . the unbelievable story that has dominated the news cycle began with this call to 911. i've been kidnapped and i've been missing for ten years and i'm here. i'm free now.

    >> that was 27-year-old amanda berry who disappeared the day before her 17th birthday in 2003 , calling for help after emergeg from a 10-year nightmare. berry along with her 6-year-old daughter was freed from the house of who rows where they were held captive. sometimes bound with ropes and chains. more than a decade. the survival story of these women after enduring abduction, enslavement and torture is a chilling echo of others like jaycee dugard and elizabeth smard that have also captured national attention. these are the stories they remember because they go to the heart of the most horrifying svu filled nightmares of teen girls and sexual vulnerability. but far more common when it comes to young women and sexual exploitation , teen girls denied the support to emerge safely into womanhood in an environment of sexual consent and exploration. instead they are shaped, exploited and sometimes denied health care . we got a good glimpse of what that looks like in policy form. they would have advanced minors to get notarized consent from a parent or guardian to be treated for a sexually transmitted disease , pregnancy, substance abuse or mental illness. backers of the bill were hoping it would, quote, reinforce the long standing pruesumption that fit parents act in the best interest of their children. this is the that all children have fit parents. it ignores that some are survivors of rape by the parent or guardian that would have to give their okay. it overlooks the uncomfortable truth that younger women are more likely to have an older male as the first sexual partner , which is associated with a increased risk of unpanted pregnancy, childbearing and sexually transmitted the diseases. pregnancies go up while the likelihood goes down. at the federal level , the obama administration is per suing the opposition to lifting age restrictions on over the counter emergency contraceptions. this is one of the safest purchases a young woman could make at the drugstore. so devoid of opposing easy access to the drug, the administration boils down to this. listen, i get it. it is not a thought that a parent wants to entertain. but less appealing is the idea of girls facing unintended pregnancies and finding themselves with limited production on options. we cannot escape the facts? 7 in 10 teens have had sexual intercourse and thinking about teen girls being vulnerable to sexual perversion makes you want to stop listening now, you may want to take a deep breath for this. some of those sexually active girls are having sex because they really like it. now you can stop clutching your pearls. the fact is that all teenagers who are having sex are not just acting out some kind of pathological behavior. safe, consenting, pleasurable, abandoning the willful ig forns requires embracing both ends of the spectrum. and those who are sexually empowered. comfortable with the discourt. and finally talk about teenage sex, starting right now. dr. melissa gillian and the center for inquiry ininnovation in sexual and reproductive health , both at the university of chicago . an education psychologist and professor at hunter college . an organization devoted to helping women deal with domestic violence. she herself was once a survivor. this is what we saw of cleveland was tough.

    >> absolutely. this has got to serve as a wake wake-up call that tolerance will no longer be held when women are violated, when girls are violated. and it begs the question, where do we go from here? perhaps amanda and gina and michelle's abduction could have been prevented if ariel castro had been held accountable for viciously beating his wife years ago. if the police had followed up on leads that got me on the community and if we as a community paid close attention to the size. we are so plugged in to our iphones and ipads and our busy lives that we become unplugged to humanity.

    >> it feels like a special kind of evil from castro at this moment. this is inexplicable and unimaginable. i don't want to imagine it. she told me she's not outside anymore. i worry our response to the who row that we shau in cleveland it's to become more horrified about the idea of the vulnerability of the daughters. so we muss what they are vulnerable too.

    >> if the reaction is let's lock up the daughter and protect them, why is the reaction to make sure the son is not the next ariel castro ? or make sure my son's friends know how to intervene in cases of rape and sexual assault . but the biggest dangers are being uninformed and starting to explore the sexuality. but not strg the legal access to contraception. not being able to talk to the daults in their lives at school. there are only 20 states in the united states that mandate sex education with hiv education. so we still have young people not getting this information. that is where they are the most vulnerable on a day-to-day. you're engaged with young people on the ground there in the city of chicago on the question of vulnerability. we can look at it two different ways. we are going to be very naive if we think young people don't don't have questions. so we have to create these spaces for young people . but helping them to thrive this every aspect of their life. and those assets, communications, great schools. all things help to defer the risk behavior.

    >> so we have in part the plan "b" image up. the other piece that was going around behind this was the idea that we need to protect the girls . not only from exploitation but of their own decision making. and buying plan "b." st there a good reason to limit the access of plan "b" to young teens?

    >> no, these are policies that harm the most young people . there accessing medical care is really, really difficult for young people . so the goal is to lower as many barriers for young people . it's really hard for young person . and for the middle of the night , that's not when you want the unnecessary barriers in place?

    >> what are the key barriers the young women are facing? i think a huge bar yeg is the shame in judgment that sexual young girls face. and i get the message that female sexuality is wrong from all fronts. parents, teachers, music, media, all of that. so that can really inhibit a young girl from talking to their daughter or to their parents, absolutely. and the shame really silences young people .

    >> if i have to go in to get plan "b" and i live in a small town and it's behind the pharmacist counter and i live in a very small town and my pharmacist knows my whatever, my aunt. there's ways that because we don't act like it's an antihistamine, we have a shaming position on it.

    >> and this is so much better than trying to call up a doctor you know. it's frut traiting to me. much less the transportation, the finances and the wherewithall to do that. this is so much a better option.

    >> when we come back more about the issue of how we educate young people . elizabeth smart weighed in ob abstinence


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