January 14, 2014 — Americans "can address our societal problems" of teenage pregnancies and births outside of marriage, "but to do so we must first address our societal issues," New York Times columnist Charles Blow writes, adding that he does not "see the argument as completely binary or the problem as intractable."
According to Blow, "most Americans still agree" that "young people should delay sexual activity until they are mentally and emotionally capable of reasonably consenting and comprehending the consequences." Further, most "want fewer children born to parents unwilling to provide for those children, or incapable of doing so, emotionally or financially," as well as "fewer unplanned and unwanted pregnancies" and "fewer women to have to face the often wrenching decisions about what to do about such pregnancies."
He suggests several "rather simple ways to move in this direction," including "teaching young people to value themselves in a way that contextualizes the initiation of sexual activity as a thing fully within their control and not so easily manipulated by peer and societal pressures."
Blow also endorses "provid[ing] thorough and unimpeded sex education -- in the home and at school -- about how to engage in sex safely and responsibly," along with ensuring access to "a full range of reproductive services."
In addition, instead of stressing "marriage as a panacea for many of these problems ... we must respect all family structures and encourage all parents to be active and engaged in child rearing," he writes. Further, Blow criticizes "much of the discussion about single-parent families and births outside of marriage" for focusing "too heavily on young women" as "a form of sex shaming that blames them for not being proper guardians of chastity."
Last, Blow notes that males in the U.S. "are not taught to value themselves as fully human, but only as conquerors of ... women, workplace, [and] the world," adding that "men who are incapable of valuing their own humanity are incapable of fully valuing the humanity of a love interest" (Blow, New York Times, 1/10).