Camille Paglia gave a wide-ranging interview to the Wall Street Journal last week, covering everything from diminished respect for the military to radical feminism as a threat to all of Western civilization. Paglia, a liberal feminist and lesbian who voted for Obama and excels at destroying sacred cows, said that “our culture doesn’t allow women to know how to be womanly” and falsely promises them that they can “have it all.”
Paglia also broached a topic that’s not discussed nearly enough, even in conservative circles. Saying that sex education classes focus too much on mechanics, she said that girls should be taught to consider how vocational decisions they make as teens can impact their futures:
I want every 14-year-old girl . . . to be told: You better start thinking what do you want in life. If you just want a career and no children you don’t have much to worry about. If, however, you are thinking you’d like to have children some day you should start thinking about when do you want to have them. Early or late? To have them early means you are going to make a career sacrifice, but you’re going to have more energy and less risks. Both the pros and the cons should be presented.
In our “have it all” culture, young people — young women in particular — are told to go to college, have a career, and then, perhaps somewhere way off in the future, get married and have kids. But no one really explains to young women about the requisite costs and trade-offs along the way. If a girl thinks she would like to have a family and children some day, it’s essential for her to consider how and when that might happen and whether that goal conflicts with other plans she has for her future. Despite the stereotypes fed to us by Hollywood, for most families, babies do not just pop out into designer 5-bedroom homes with live-in nannies. A 17-year-old girl may not want to think about such mundane things as child care when she is dreaming about a glamorous career as a CSI investigator, but better to consider them at age 17 than to have reality come crashing in later when she has less flexibility to make career-related decisions. Unfortunately, this kind of “family planning” is not only absent from most sex education classes, but it’s also rarely mentioned in career and vocational planning for teens.