Pam Stenzel is a speaker. She’s also starred in a couple DVDs. She’s well-known on YouTube for this vid:
Public School Edition: Today, people are faced with a raging plague of sex related problems. Pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and rape statistics are at all-time highs. Even so, today’s society encourages sexual activity, and young people must have a compelling reason to commit to sexual abstinence.
In “Sex Still has a Price Tag,” world renowned abstinence educator, Pam Stenzel, combines her personal story and extensive pregnancy counseling experience in a hard hitting look at the consequences of sexual activity outside of a monogamous, lifetime relationship.
In a captivating and inspiring talk, Pam tackles the touch issues of sex with candor, insight and humor while challenging young people to embrace the benefits of abstinence.
Well, that’s certainly interesting. However, I can’t help but wonder how much of the information she’s sharing is accurate. Turns out, according to Salon, she stretches the truth more than a bit.
Pam Stenzel impressively rattles off a list of diseases at an auctioneer’s speed: ”HPV, genital warts, syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, vulvodynia, arthritis, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV!” The Christian advocate is pacing the stage in her signature cool-mom denim jacket, warning an audience of teenagers about the potential consequences of sex. With a tone that would seem at home in a church-turned-comedy-club, she emphasizes the worst-case scenarios — a radical hysterectomy, cancer, death! But there is one relevant thing that she doesn’t bother to mention: condoms.
Well, I’ll be darned. I’ve never heard of a minister-type person bending the truth to get their listeners to agree with their point of view. Actually, I have. A lot. Stenzel is evidently no exception.
While talking about the importance of only ever having sex with one person for your entire life, she says, ”If you have sex outside of that context you will pay. No one has ever had more than one partner and not paid.” Other times, she takes a stab at statistics that are completely unsupported by any evidence — not just in her speech, but like in the world: For example, while talking about a hypothetical high school girl whose mom has put her on contraceptives, she says, ”That drug, that hormone, that pill, that shot that this girl is taking has just made her 10 times more likely to contract a disease than if she was not taking that drug.” She adds, “This girl could end up sterile or dead. Thanks, Mom, glad you cared.”
She seems to exaggerate a bit, too.
Death is a favorite scare tactic for Stenzel, who charges between $3,500 and $5,000 for her speeches. In one speech, she imitates a boy (she does seem to delight in mocking young people) who decides that he’s finally found the right woman and wants to settle down: “By the way, I’ve got genital warts. You’ll get it too and we’ll both be treated for the rest of our lives. In fact, you’ll probably end up with a radical hysterectomy, cervical cancer and possibly death — but marry me!” Truth is, as the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) wrote in a previous review of Stenzel’s work, that ”the majority of HPV infections cause neither genital warts nor cervical cancer but, instead, resolve themselves spontaneously without medical intervention. Even HPV infections that cause warts can resolve without treatment.”
Awwww… come on. Do people actually believe this stuff? Sadly, they probably do. I’m just surprised the message hasn’t changed since I was the kid sitting in the audience.
Stenzel’s DVD costs around 30 smackers. Imagine sending that much cash for a DVD to hear this message:
“[The DVD] is based on fear and shame; designed to control young people’s sexual behavior by instilling in them feelings of dread, guilt, and embarrassment.” The report argues that “in both her tone and her words, Stenzel appears to have an intense dislike or at least distrust of the young people she is speaking to, and seems to see her goal as that of a drill sergeant or prison guard who is there to keep them in line and dole out punishment.” It adds, “Moreover, Stenzel relies on inaccurate statistics and passes off gross exaggerations and complete falsehoods as fact.” As SIECUS concluded, her curriculum represents “the worst kind of abstinence-only-until-marriage programming.”
Sigh. I guess it was too much to hope that this madness would someday end.