This text was adapted by The Saylor Foundation under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 0 License without attribution as requested by the work’s original creator or licensee. Preface



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9.6 End-of-Chapter Material

SUMMARY


  1. The sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s involved changes in Americans’ attitudes on certain sexual issues and an increase in premarital sex.

  2. Although teenagers are more sexually active today than before the sexual revolution, teenage pregnancy and birth rates have declined sharply since the early 1990s. Teenage pregnancy and birth cause several problems for the teenage mother and for society as a whole.

  3. To reduce teenage pregnancy further, the United States should expand publically funded family planning programs and increase the provision of contraceptives at little or no cost.

  4. Abortion has been common since ancient times and remains one of the most controversial issues in the United States. Since the US Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalized all abortions during the first two trimesters, subsequent court rulings and various state actions have made abortions more difficult to obtain. Abortion rates differ by region of the nation and reflect the presence or absence of abortion providers.

  5. Around the world, abortion rates do not depend on whether abortion is legal or illegal, and they occur in great numbers even when they are illegal. For abortions to be as safe as possible, they must be legal.

  6. Prostitution has also been common since ancient times. Until the second decade of the twentieth century it was legal in much of the United States in the form of legal brothels.

  7. Streetwalkers comprise about one-fifth of all prostitutes. Compared to indoor prostitutes, they are more likely to be victims of violence and to obtain and transmit sexual diseases.

  8. When prostitution is legal, prostitutes fare much better than when prostitution is illegal. The problems that streetwalkers experience generally stem from the fact that their behavior is illegal.

  9. Pornography has also been around since ancient times. It does not appear to cause sexual violence against women, and efforts to ban it raise freedom of speech issues.



USING WHAT YOU KNOW


A friend of yours has become pregnant after a casual sexual encounter. She is in the second semester of her junior year and was planning to graduate in fifteen months and go on to get a master’s degree in a business school. She confides in you that she is considering an abortion and wants your advice on what she should do. What do you tell her?

WHAT YOU CAN DO


To help deal with the sexual behavior problems discussed in this chapter, you may wish to do any of the following:

  1. Volunteer for a local agency that helps pregnant teenagers.

  2. Start or join in efforts on your campus to encourage safe sex.

  3. Volunteer at a family planning agency.


Chapter 10


The Changing Family



Social Problems in the News


“Help for Domestic Violence Victims Declining,” the headline said. In Georgia, donations and other financial assistance to battered women’s shelters were dwindling because of the faltering economy. This decreased funding was forcing the shelters to cut back their hours and lay off employees. As Meg Rogers, the head of a shelter with a six-month waiting list explained, “We are having to make some very tough decisions.”

Reflecting her experience, shelters in Georgia had to turn away more than 2,600 women and their children in the past year because of lack of space. Many women had to return to the men who were abusing them. This situation troubled Rogers. “I think their safety is being compromised,” she said. “They may go to the abuser’s family even if they don’t go back to the abuser.” A domestic violence survivor also worried about their fate and said she owed her own life to a women’s shelter: “I love them to this day and I’m alive because of them.”



Source: Simmons, 2011 [1]

Once upon a time, domestic violence did not exist, or so the popular television shows of the 1950s would have had us believe. Neither did single-parent households, gay couples, interracial couples, mothers working outside the home, heterosexual spouses deciding not to have children, or other family forms and situations that are increasingly common today. Domestic violence existed, of course, but it was not something that television shows and other popular media back then depicted. The other family forms and situations also existed to some degree but have become much more common today.

The 1950s gave us Leave It to Beaver and other television shows that depicted loving, happy, “traditional” families living in the suburbs. The father worked outside the home, the mother stayed at home to take care of the kids and do housework, and their children were wholesome youngsters who rarely got into trouble and certainly did not use drugs or have sex. Today we have ABC’s Modern Family, which features one traditional family (two heterosexual parents and their three children) and two nontraditional families (one with an older white man and a younger Latina woman and her child, and another with two gay men and their adopted child). Many other television shows today and in recent decades have featured divorced couples or individuals, domestic violence, and teenagers doing drugs or committing crime.

In the real world, we hear that parents are too busy working at their jobs to raise their kids properly. We hear of domestic violence as in the story from Georgia at the start of this chapter. We hear of kids living without fathers, because their parents are divorced or never were married in the first place. We hear of young people having babies, using drugs, and committing violence. We hear that the breakdown of the nuclear family, the entrance of women into the labor force, and the growth of single-parent households are responsible for these problems. Some observers urge women to work only part-time or not at all so they can spend more time with their children. Some yearn wistfully for a return to the 1950s, when everything seemed so much easier and better. Children had what they needed back then: one parent to earn the money, and another parent to take care of them full time until they started kindergarten, when this parent would be there for them when they came home from school.

Families have indeed changed, but this yearning for the 1950s falls into what historian Stephanie Coontz (2000) [2] calls the “nostalgia trap.” The 1950s television shows did depict what some families were like back then, but they failed to show what many other families were like. Moreover, the changes in families since that time have probably not had all the harmful effects that many observers allege. Historical and cross-cultural evidence even suggests that the Leave It to Beaver-style family of the 1950s was a relatively recent and atypical phenomenon and that many other types of families can thrive just as well as the 1950s television families did.

This chapter expands on these points and looks at today’s families and the changes they have undergone. It also examines some of the controversies and problems now surrounding families and relationships.


[1] Simmons, A. (2011, October 29). Help for domestic violence victims declining. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved from http://www.ajc.com/news/crime/help-for-domestic-violence-1212373.html.

[2] Coontz, S. (2000). The way we never were: American families and the nostalgia trap. New York, NY: Basic Books.



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