In a strip mall down the street from me, a Condom Sense store is opening soon. I live in a thriving suburb of Dallas that is populated mostly by families. There is a large church and master-planned community behind this particular strip mall. You can likely see where this is headed.
From the outrage people are expressing over this store opening, you would think they’d announced naked ladies pole-dancing on the median. Here’s the icing on the cake though: last year, a gun store opened up in the same strip mall. Nobody seemed to think this was worth commenting on.
It occurs to me that this is a snapshot of our country right now, especially in Texas. It seems that people are generally more concerned about sex and it’s possible consequences than guns and theirs. And they are using morality to justify their concerns about sex, while turning a blind eye to the moral responsibility we all have as citizens to make sure everybody, especially school-age children, stays safe from gun violence.
I recently put something on my Facebook page about how I thought it was silly that people were so upset about the condom shop but not the gun shop. In an attempt not to be belligerent about it, I deflected with childish humor. One response to me was that guns don’t kill people, mentally ill people kill people. This argument doesn’t work for me. Anybody can be mentally ill momentarily. If you physically or emotionally hurt my child, for example, I might be so enraged that I am capable of murder. According to the CDC, there were 33,636 deaths related to firearms in the US in 2013. Were all of those deaths perpetrated by the mentally ill? No.
Meanwhile, Texas, with the third-highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, offers abstinence-only sex education in most schools, while its culture places a bizarre ‘value’ on girls’ virginity. I have twice heard fathers tell me that their daughters are virgins as if it were an accomplishment that they, the fathers, can be proud of. Or that it’s something the daughters should be proud of, for that matter.
We are on constant anti-sex patrol, yet we will not talk about sex openly and in detail with our children. We take them to the mall and walk them by Victoria’s Secret display windows with giant, airbrushed, surgically-enhanced women in their underwear. But Planned Parenthood must close. This dissonance makes it uncomfortable and confusing for our children, who are riddled with hormones and questions. How can we keep them safe if they are too uncomfortable to talk to us? If we aren’t open about the workings of the body with our children, then we are putting our own shame on them, and passing that right on down the line.
I have three children myself. While I’m not eager for my nine-year-old to pop into the sex novelty shop, I’m not afraid of it happening. I have empowered my kids to talk about what they see and hear and to ask questions. There is nothing I can do to prepare them, however, for a shooter going on a rampage at their school.
But by all means, let’s go after the condom store.