Schools Are Using These Gross Food Analogies to Slut-Shame Teen Girls

Sexually active girls are like dirty pieces of chocolate? That's the message high school students are reportedly receiving in Oxford, Miss., after the school district adopted a sex ed curriculum that "called on students to unwrap a piece of chocolate, pass it around class and observe how dirty it became," according to the Los Angeles Times. That's right, teachers in this district are teaching young women that having sex makes you germy, unappetizing and imminently disposable.

In light of Mississippi's abominable sexual health indicators — it has the second highest rate of teen pregnancies, the second highest rates of gonorrhea and chlamydia infections, and the seventh highest rate of HIV infections — the state recently implemented legislation requiring sexual education classes. 

As the Oxford example illustrates, however, this doesn't mean schools are teaching comprehensive, medically accurate sex ed. Instead, state districts must choose between abstinence-only programs and "abstinence-plus" programs that urge abstinence but also teach about contraception. And whichever version districts choose, teachers must teach that homosexual activity is technically illegal in Mississippi.

Unfortunately, the Magnolia state isn't alone in its abstinence-preferred, sex-shaming "educational" approach. For years, the federal government has poured millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars into abstinence-only programs that not only spread inaccurate messages (like sexual activity outside of marriage is likely to have harmful social, psychological and physical effects), but are also ineffective.

Oxford Superintendent Brian Harvey now protests that the dirty candy method mentioned in the Times is a few years old: "We have no knowledge of this particular aspect (example of the candy making the rounds in the classroom) being taught in any Oxford School District classroom," he told a local paper. However, even if this is true, Oxford is not the only region in America where women have been told that sex makes them dirty or disgusting.

Considering that schools are among teens' most trusted source of information on contraception and sex, it's hugely detrimental to be likening premarital sex with dirty candy (or gum and used toothbrushes). What message is this sending about sexually active women? Or candy, for that matter?

Read on for the five most ridiculous sex-shaming food comparisons that have been "taught" in our nation's schools.

1. A glass of water with bits of chewed up food floating in it

Girls in Boulder, Colo., were given two glasses of water and told to chew up and spit food into one of them. They were then asked which one they'd rather drink: the dirty one or the clean one. Because obviously, having premarital sex is akin to slurping down someone's upchuck. 

2. A half-licked Hershey Kiss

Ella West, an xoJane columnist, recalls being handed a Hershey Kiss during her sophomore year and told to unwrap and lick half of it, and hand it to another student. The presumed point of this exercise? Nobody wants a piece of candy — or a vagina — that's been licked by someone else.

"Looking back, I think it's safe to say that Sex Ed failed me and my classmates pretty spectacularly," West wrote at the time. "Even as a swarthy 15-year-old, cloaked in my trusty romance proof shield of messy ponytails and oversized softball T-shirts, I knew there was something screwy going on."

3. A man-handled Reese's Peanut Butter Cup

A small-town Georgia schoolteacher handed out peanut butter cups and instructed her students to "do whatever they wanted with them," Rachel Puleo told the Huffington Post. After the chocolate cups were passed around, licked and impaled with pencils, Puleo said her teacher claimed that "having sex with more than one person is exactly the same. No one wants to eat this peanut butter cup, so why would someone want to have sex with you if you have been 'passed around.'"

4. A chewed piece of gum

In Texas, a school district apparently used a chewed piece of gum as its abstinence-only metaphor, comparing non-virgins to the discarded gum or to a toothbrush to illustrate the difference between "used" and "new." Students were told that "people want to marry a virgin, just like they want a virgin toothbrush or stick of gum." 


5. Jolly Ranchers

An Ohio sex ed teacher placed individually wrapped Jolly Ranchers on her students' desks, but warned them not to eat the candy: "You must wait until after class. It will taste much better if you allow yourself to wait," the teacher said, according to The Nation.

Sorry, but candy is candy — it tastes good no matter when you eat it.

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Maureen Shaw

Maureen is a contributor to Identities Mic and the founder of sherights.com. Her writing has appeared on the Huffington Post, Feministing, Jezebel, Fem2.0 and more. Follow Maureen on Twitter at @MaureenShaw.

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