Teen Vogue crosses the line…and then some with its promotion of perverse sexual behavior
The main topic of this week’s Spirit and Life is something I wish I didn’t have to write about. While I will only provide absolutely necessary details, I warn you that the subject matter is disturbing and for mature readers only. I apologize for using such base language; however, it is crucial that we be fully aware of the forces that seek to destroy the innocence of young people by presenting a perverse and secular vision of the human person and sexuality. We need to protect our children, families, and society from this aggressive assault and fight back.
This past week Teen Vogue (that’s the same magazine that recently informed teen girls what to buy for their friends after they get an abortion) ran an article “Anal Sex: What You Need to Know.” Sadly, the only thing more disturbing than the title is the article itself. Again, I warn you about the language and subject matter.
“Sex educator” Gigi Engle begins by lamenting that while there is “a lot of stuff on the Internet about anal [sex],” very little of it is targeted specifically at teenagers. But don’t worry, she’ll remedy that.
Anal sex, she continues, while “often stigmatized” can be “awesome,” and is “perfectly natural.” And contrary to that natural first reaction any teen girl might have when hearing about it, it definitely “isn’t weird or gross.”
The rest of the article amounts to a step by step instruction manual on how to go about engaging in this perverse behavior (traditionally known as “sodomy”). I’ll spare you the details.
Ms. Engle may consider her article “sex education”, but I call it violence against a child’s inherent dignity – it’s child abuse.
Indeed, perhaps the most telling sentence in the whole article is the one tacked on by the editors after the fact. It reads: “This article has been updated to include the importance of using protection during anal sex.”
In other words, Teen Vogue managed to write an entire article about an extremely risky sexual practice, without once warning their highly vulnerable teen girl audience about the many dangers associated with it.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Center for Disease Control states bluntly on their website that sodomy is “the riskiest sexual behavior for getting and transmitting HIV for men and women.” And that’s not to mention the myriad other STDs that can be transmitted through anal sex, some of which (including syphilis) can be transmitted even when a condom is properly used.
Meanwhile, according to the American Cancer Society, anal sex also significantly increases the risk of anal cancer. And never mind the many painful injuries that can come from engaging in sodomy, many of which are endemic in the male homosexual community.
You get the point. But absolutely none of that was mentioned by Teen Vogue.
Indeed, reading this bizarrely one-sided article painting sodomy in the rosiest hues, it’s hard to avoid the thought that it bears a disturbing resemblance to the techniques of “grooming” – used by sexual predators to lower the sexual inhibitions of their young victims so they can begin their abuse.
Often, as InternetSafety101.org explains, sex predators will “use sexually explicit conversations to test boundaries and exploit a child’s natural curiosity about sex.” It’s all part of a process of lowering a child’s sexual inhibitions. Often, they’ll expose them to pornography, gradually normalizing practices that would naturally strike the child as abhorrent. All the while, of course, encouraging their young victim to say nothing to their parents about their little “secret.”
Sound familiar? In fact, so much modern “sex education” can only properly be understood as a legalized form of grooming, often deliberately bypassing or marginalizing parents, all the while assuring young people of their “maturity” to “decide” for themselves whether to engage in dangerous sexual practices that – but for the sex educator – they would never for a moment have considered.
In the case of this Teen Vogue article, the tragic results are inevitable: Many vulnerable teen girls, reading this disturbingly one-sided article, will be convinced (or, in many cases, heavily pressured by their pornography-using partners) to try something with which they are not at all comfortable, or for which they are not even remotely emotionally prepared. And many of them will pay a steep price, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
So, what can parents do?
First, educate yourself about what children are reading, or what websites they’re visiting. Parents have to come to terms with the fact that when it comes to raising their children in the practice of virtue, most of the media is enemy #1. Teen Vogue, like the equally (if not more so) grotesque Cosmopolitan and Seventeen magazines, has many millions of subscribers and monthly website visitors. These magazines (and many others like them) are often passed around freely among friends at school. They’re in every supermarket checkout line. Often, parents simply have no idea what their children are reading, or how bad it is. Parents must be vigilant.
Second, if what your children are reading, watching, or visiting is inappropriate, get it out of the house! As in the case of this Teen Vogue article, their lives may literally depend upon it. I would strongly recommend installing safety and accountability filters on all Internet-connected devices. In the age of on-demand Internet-porn, there’s no excuse for letting a child or teen use an Internet-connected device without a filter. There are lots of great tools available nowadays. If you don’t know how to install these filters, talk to (and if necessary, pay) a computer expert.
Third, talk to your children! I can’t emphasize this enough. Many parents assume that because they bring their children to church every Sunday, or send them to a good school, that they’ve done all they need to do to protect their children. It’s not enough. Parents are the primary educators of their children! It’s up to parents – not teachers, the media, or even your pastor! – to help their children navigate the minefield of chastity in an age hell-bent on destroying their innocence. Talk to and listen to your children about sex in an understanding and non-condemning spirit, while also providing firm guidance and putting in place uncompromising boundaries – teach them the true beauty of human sexuality and its proper role.
And finally, express your outrage to Teen Vogue magazine. Write them a letter. If you, or anyone you know, has a subscription to Teen Vogue, cancel that subscription and let them know why. Comment on their Facebook page. Sign a petition. Teen Vogue needs to know that they will be held accountable for playing fast and loose with the innocence and lives of our young girls.
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Father Shenan J. Boquet was ordained in 1993 and is a priest of the Houma-Thibodaux Roman Catholic Diocese in Louisiana, his home state, where he served before joining HLI as its President in August 2011. Father Boquet earned a BA from Saint Joseph Seminary College, a Master of Divinity (MDiv) from Notre Dame Seminary Graduate School of Theology, a Certification Program in Health Care Ethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and a Master of Science in Bioethics (MSBe) from the University of Mary in Bismarck. In 2018, Father Boquet was awarded an honorary visiting professorship by the Benedict XVI Catholic University in Trujillo, Peru. He is available for interviews and bookings on behalf of HLI by emailing email@example.com.