Daily Beast columnist Meghan McCain is like an unpredictable lover. Sometimes her columns hit the spot. Others leave me utterly unfulfilled. When she ably took down Laura Ingraham for making fun of her weight and stood up for gay rights, I cheered. This week’s column seemed especially promising, given the subject matter. “The GOP Doesn’t Understand Sex” targeted the GOP’s support of abstinence-only education and argued that conservatives have a serious problem with sex. Sounds compelling, right? McCain thinks so, tweeting, it’s “possibly my most revealing so far. I really hope everyone likes it.”
Actually, I thought it was meh. While I agreed with much of what she wrote, I didn’t find any of it particularly illuminating. Yes, the Republican party is super stodgy about sex, especially when it comes to teens and women. But I wanted and expected an insider’s look at why this is the case, not a regurgitation of the obvious. McCain writes that the daughters of conservative politicians have it especially rough, citing Bristol Palin and her personal experience as examples. Yes! Please, oh, please, tell us what Moms and Pops McCain said when you told them you were sexually active! Instead, her anecdote went limp.
“…a reporter asked how [my father John McCain] would feel if I became pregnant and wanted an abortion. He answered that it would be my choice, sending shockwaves throughout the party (because for the GOP there is only one answer, and obviously Senator McCain’s daughter shouldn’t be engaging in sex ever)…. It didn’t matter that my parents raised me to know that, regardless of the mistakes I might make, they would allow me the dignity and courage to make my own choices. That’s the kind of trust my parents have always placed in their children—yet the GOP still needed to get involved and have a say in what I did with my body.”
That’s nice that Senator McCain was so supportive of Meghan’s right to do what she wants with her body, but he’s supported anti-choice legislation and chose one of the most conservative politicians on this issue for his running mate during the 2008 election. Meghan goes on to write that she’s pro-life. Wait. You just said that you didn’t think the GOP should have the right to “get involved and have a say.” That makes you pro-choice, Meghan.
McCain argues that since everyone would like less abortions, the answer lies in providing citizens with accurate, comprehensive sex education. “The problem with abstinence-only education is that it does not make teenagers and young adults more knowledgeable about all the issues they face if or when they have sex—physically and emotionally,” she writes. Well said, but duh. Then McCain writes that sex is a subject that really depends on honest communication between parents and children.
“At the end of the day, the worst thing parents can do is raise children who are not prepared for the situations they may encounter, especially when they’re not planned … Unfortunately, Republicans typically don’t like to discuss or deal with things they think are wrong or immoral.”
Again, DUH. But also, WHY? Pointing out that conservatives have blinders on when it comes to sex is great, but explaining why they insist on wearing them, despite mounting evidence that abstinence education fails and pathologizing female sexuality is wrong, would have been far more revealing. This time, McCain left me really unsatisfied.