Friday, April 20, 2018
Opinion

The state of Florida wants to know about your sex life

The topic is sex. The moderator is your government.

The proper response is:

Ewwwwww!

If we in Florida are one big, happy family, then the Department of Health has just assumed the role of your pervy Uncle Ernie.

Because it seems our leering old relative wants to talk about sex with a whole bunch of young ladies. And he's offering presents to anyone who takes him up on this offer.

Now I suppose I should acknowledge this is a lot more harmless than it seems.

In reality, the Department of Health began this tale with the best of intentions, if not the worst of pickup lines.

To backtrack a little bit, the Department of Health was trying to figure out why Florida has such a low rate of contraceptive use. That certainly sounds like an admirable goal.

And since federal grant applications require detailed family planning services, there are legitimate reasons for wanting to compile up-to-date and detailed data based on age, religion, race and other factors.

It's just the way your friendly, family bureaucrats went about procuring this information that has been off-putting to some people.

According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the department sent a 46-question survey to more than 4,000 women between the ages of 18 and 24 around the state.

Some questions were harmless. Some were probing. Some were just plain creepy.

These young women were asked to voluntarily own up to their number of sexual partners in the past year. They were asked about their emotional state after unprotected sex.

They were asked about "the heat of the moment'' and going with the flow. They were asked how old they were when they lost their virginity, and about the possibility of paramours punching holes in condoms.

For all of this, they were offered $10 CVS gift cards.

Granted, this comes nowhere near the level of legit outrage. It's far from being the worst miscalculation Florida has committed this year, or even this month.

It just might have worked a little better if the state had looked for willing volunteers before randomly sending out surveys with so many invasive questions.

A second round of surveys was scheduled to go out this month, but the Sun-Sentinel said researchers have suspended the program for fear the mailing list might include minors.

My suggestion? Work out the kinks, so to speak, in-house. Legislators, for instance, could get a similarly themed survey specific to their own experiences.

Sample questions:

How old were you when you first pandered?

How many utility companies are you in bed with?

Do you ever filibuster when you're alone?

The real shame here is the Department of Health was trying to do something worthwhile, and because of some clumsy execution, this important research may get pushed aside.

Instead of talking about an important public health issue, we have a bunch of angry parents, a handful of bureaucrats scrambling to cover their backsides and clowns like me looking for a cheap laugh or two.

Conversations about sex need not be taboo, but it would help if the state was a little more discreet when looking for willing partners.

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