Category Archives: Dysfunction

The subject of dysfunction encompasses individual, familial, and societal dysfunctionality.

A Very Important Perspective

…in my considered opinion, of course.

I have been really enjoying answers received in my surveys. In four days, I will be closing up the initial survey and comparing all the answers. Yes, I will share how those answers came together in a blog entry here.

For the other survey, an answer was given the other day that caught my attention – because it provided a perspective that is not plainly and openly discussed in the “mainstream” of sex education. The question was Regardless of whether you liked or disliked Beyonce’s halftime show, can sports’ celebrity performances be used in terms of sex education? And if yes, in what way? (If your answer is “No”, simply state “No” – no further commentary is necessary.)

The answer given – Yes. The way bodies are judged publicly is important, especially the way female and black bodies are assigned a negative qualities without regard to action.

*nodding emphatically* There is a huge difference, on a very public level, between how white female bodies are judged and how black female bodies are judged. Rightly or wrongly, there is a difference in expectations (societally) and a vast difference in judgment. This is a very important perspective, and I will definitely be opening the subject further as I continue to write the book. I will also be seeking out, very specifically, personal perspectives from women of color to help explore the topic in that section of the book.

For now, I hope your Wednesday is wonderful!

Sex Ed, STIs, and Demographics

Yesterday, over in my personal blog, I shared a tidbit from my dissertation. (Note: In the future, I will share more from my research, after the dissertation has been published — what I’m sharing here is already public information, and is easily verifiable.)

In the United States in 2007, 1,108,374 new incidences of chlamydia were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with females reported at 825,660 new cases and males reported at 280,337 new cases. The numbers from 2007 are a 6% increase in chlamydia transmission from 2006, a 24% increase from 2002, and a 47% increase from 1997…” […] “Further, Black female teens contract chlamydia eight times more frequently than White female teens, and Hispanic female teens contract chlamydia more than three times more frequently than White female teens.”

I want you to read the above very carefully. Then I want you to consider the following…a story from my own personal life experience…before I dive fully into my thoughts — and questions — this morning.


I was 22 years old, a single mom in the process of my first divorce. My oldest child and I were living with my mother and grandmother in San Antonio, Texas. I was working one full-time job and two part-time jobs. My son was on Medicaid, and even with all of my jobs, we qualified for state benefits like food stamps. Did I mention I was in the process of a divorce? It was a particularly nasty one, at that.

My full-time job was as a secretary/registrar for an international organization…you may be familiar with it…as it provides disaster relief services around the U.S. and around the world. Because of my particular position within this particular organization, I interfaced frequently with the public and on many different levels. One of those levels happened to be courier services, and one of the couriers was a young, attractive man who, for some odd reason, had a cute little crush on me. I was mildly interested, but not enough to actually act on that interest. Stress from the divorce process and all that…

This guy and I talked semi-regularly, so I got to know a little about his life and he got to know a little about mine. All in snippets, of course, since he and I both had jobs to do.

One day, I was particularly stressed out…and he was solicitous as to what was bothering me. My stress had to do with the child support facet of the divorce, and how tight funds are when a single parent works as much as I was working just to make ends meet. I remember with a degree of uncanny clarity what he said to me in “support”: Why don’t you change your last name to Hernandez and apply for welfare?

I looked at him, only initially shocked, and said flatly, My maiden name is Alvarado, you *****, kindly leave and don’t grace me with your presence again.


I didn’t say it quite so nicely as that, mind you, but I won’t speak to everything that I actually said…or thought…at the time. I was disgusted and appalled.

I have shared the above story for different reasons with different people in different contexts…but the thrust is, I have –my entire life– lived in White skin. I do not and cannot speak directly to the lived experiences of People of Color (hereafter, simply referred to as POC, for those who are unfamiliar with the term). I will never be able to speak to the lived experience of any POC. What I can speak to is what it is like to live in White skin, the privilege associated with that, and the displeasure of being the recipient of “insider commentary” of White privilege. I was raised by a man who is 1st generation American of Mexican parentage. The father of my eldest child is half Mexican.

I do not abide White privilege with ease or comfort, and at my current age, I am better equipped to speak to it bluntly and boldly. At 22, I was not quite so at ease in my own skin. In fact, I wound up remarrying, and enduring a 12-year relationship with a racist, sexist, homophobic emotional abuser before finally recognizing that much of my discomfort within my own skin was both directly and indirectly related to societal dysfunction regarding racial stereotypes. I came through those things…safely to the other side where I am today…and I won’t say that I came through unscathed, but I am here. Both proud and humbled…and stronger for having endured those experiences.

It is, however, with caution and care founded in deep respect for my fellow human beans, that I come here today with the topic of sex education, STI prevention, and demographic statistics related to sex education realities and STI information. I shared the above tidbit from my own life to make clear that I’m not attempting to usurp anyone else’s lived experiences…AND because the statistics are tragic. Those statistics need to be addressed forthrightly with unflinching honesty, because POC are disproportionately affected by STIs, and not just chlamydia. Different segments of the population are affected by different STIs…and racial differences are notable, in terms of trending.

Here is one thing I want to make very clear, because I have had people attempt to assert this (and I’ve heard strains of such commentary in various media)…the differences within racial categories are not about “promiscuity”. In other words, Black people and Hispanic people are not more promiscuous than White people; Asian-Americans are not less promiscuous than other demographic categories in the United States. This is not an issue about promiscuity at all…and the implications of such assertions are insidious in the subtle cruelty that only serve to increase our already crippling societal dysfunction.

There are several societal patterns that, when researched, clearly contribute to different racial categories having increased occurrences of STI incidence — and that is a topic that I will delve into on a later date, because it is critical to understand if we wish to have any hope of containment and reversal of those numbers. That is not the purpose of today’s entry.

Today, I would like to reach out and ask for your thoughts. What do you perceive to be some of the reasons for the differences in demographic disparities with respect to STIs? And for readers who are POC, I really would like you to share your thoughts, because your voices MATTER.

Questions about Sex Education in American Public Schools

Happy Monday! 🙂

This morning, I want to throw a thought out for consideration.

I am, personally, a huge advocate for comprehensive sex education in public school, and starting earlier than 5th or 6th grade — but I know that idea makes a lot of parents squick out. With 30 out of 50 states accepting Title V funding for abstinence education, the fact that many parents/voters seem to “want” abstinence-based (AOUM and abstinence-plus) sex education taught to their kids…though I suspect not many really know what is actually taught in abstinence-based sex ed. More importantly, I know most parents do not know what is not taught in abstinence-based sex ed. Nor do most parents know the history of AOUM sex education, much less how much of a battleground topic it is in Washington D.C.

Schools across the country, desperate for funding, accept Title V funding, even if it means they know their students do not receive complete (or even necessarily accurate) information. There are a lot of politics surrounding this topic, and the reality is that abstinence-based sex education has its roots in religious ideology, which is something I will bring up for discussion in a future entry.

For today, I want to ask this question. If all states accepted appropriate funding for ALL education, to include sex education…and if all states’ *public* schools stuck with comprehensive sex education (minus all the gender-focused religiously-rooted and shame-based loaded language), what would be the problem for *religious* parents who wanted to teach their kids –at home– what their religious beliefs are related to sex? …rather than pushing a religious ideology via sex education onto all kids, regardless of home-based religious beliefs? What would be wrong with giving the parents the choice to opt their kids out of comprehensive sex ed, if they hold such strong objections to it?

Why are we dealing with this sort of sex-negative education in the 21st century? Particularly in the face of the United States having the highest rates of unplanned pregnancy and STI transmission across the teen and young adult populations in the industrialized world?

To provide a contrast…the Netherlands has among the lowest rates of unplanned teen pregnancy and STI transmission in the world…they provide comprehensive sex education at very early ages…and there are PLENTY of religious people there. For people who truly want to reduce teen pregnancies, abortions, and STI transmission, why is the question of comprehensive sex education actually even a question at all?


Friday Thought-seeking

For my first real blog entry here, I got an unexpected “inspiration” (if we can call it that) from a disagreeable discussion elsewhere online. The initial topic of discussion is not relevant to my questions for you (and yes, I am seeking your thoughts, so please share them).

Does language (any language, really, but in this I’m referring specifically to American English) affect how we interact? If so, in what way/s?

Do you see connections between our spoken and written language and sex education? If so, what connections do you see?

Do you believe that how we use language contributes to individual, family, and/or societal dysfunction? If so, in what way/s?