Why isn't abstinence suggested occasionally?

You don’t need to have read George Orwell, brilliant writer that he was, to know that the meaning and usage of words is critical. Since Orwell’s time there have been many examples of Newspeak, the mendacious language he invented in 1984, such as “collateral damage” for the killing of innocent civilians caught up in a war zone.

A recent item of news brought Orwell straight back to my mind. It seems that the NHS has made a short film to try to encourage teenagers to practise “safe sex” (whatever that means in Newspeak). Called Condom No Condom, the clips show teenagers preparing for a party. Watched by an unseen male character, the group visits a corner shop where they have the option to buy condoms. They proceed to a party where the male character meets a girl, flirts with her and then takes her upstairs where she lies back provocatively on a bed.

In some scenarios the couple have unprotected sex. If the male character tries to ignore using a condom, he is rejected by the girl. If the characters have unprotected sex, the male character ends up in a clinic with a sexually transmitted disease. (Don’t young women get STDs, then?)

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YouTube states that parts of the film are suitable only for over-18s, yet there are no effective controls to stop children from viewing the explicit images. Apparently it can’t be shown in Whitehall as Government computer filters deem it too pornographic.

In this tawdry story what caught my attention was the opinion of the producer, Rachel Drummond-Hay; she said the film was intended to be “titillating rather than pornographic”. Tell that to the Government computers. According to the dictionary “to titillate” means “to tickle or excite agreeably”. It is invariably used in a sexual context, as the computers understand and as the producer, for some inexplicable reason, doesn’t. “Pornography” means “explicit description or exhibition of sexual activity intended to stimulate erotic feelings.” The pictures accompanying the news item looked explicit enough for me, even without seeing the film itself. They also – though this might be my own moral and aesthetic filter operating – looked dreary, unexciting, disagreeable and sad. So is the whole idea behind this film. It is a waste of taxpayers’ money as well as a shocking message to give young people at a time when they are most confused and vulnerable.

As Norman Wells, director of the Family Education Trust, commented, the NHS should not be sending out a message that casual sexual liaisons “leave no regrets”. A question: why doesn’t the NHS suggest abstinence occasionally?

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