Those of us who felt anger that our daughters had to be vaccinated against the HPV virus (and not our sons) have been handed a victory. The newest vaccination schedule issued by the CDC advisory panel in October 2009 now recommends that boys receive the vaccine, too.
The Gardasil controversy has many factors. For one thing, vaccinating youngsters is seen by many as the equivalent of tacit approval for sexual activity in children as young as 9 years of age. Of course, as parents, we'd like to protect our daughters against STD's contracted during sexually violent encounters such as rape, but does vaccinating a young girl give her the impression that it is safe for her to become sexually active? Will she get the wrong impression that this vaccine means she has the permission of her parents and her government to have sex?
Then again, the feminists among us had other fish to fry: why are the girls being vaccinated and not the boys? Aren't boys every bit as responsible and even more so if one considers the act of rape, for spreading the human papilloma virus (HPV)? Why should our daughters submit to this vaccine and its risks and not our sons?
Drug manufacturers and our government tried to tell us that the vaccine was not proven effective in boys and men but underestimated the ability of the public to reason. The thing is, the effectiveness of the vaccine in girls and women was known because it was tested in girls and women (and not in boys and men), until at last, angry parents hammered the idea into the heads of the people who run the drug companies that boys and men be tested, too. Parents were not surprised to discover that the vaccine was found to be just as effective in boys and men as it is in girls and women.
So, we can see the new 2010 vaccination schedule as a victory of sorts for American parents, who have learned better than to shut up and put up with whatever the drug companies and the government wants to do to their children. Yes, we are grateful as parents that medical interventions have been found to protect our children from HPV and its effects, but we have issues in the way this solution was presented to us and our children.
We don't want our boys and men to think that they have carte blanche to engage in any sexual behavior they choose and that it's the girl's job to protect her person against a boy's undeniable urges. Boys and men must also take responsibility for their pleasures. We need equal rights to apply to our medical care every bit as much as we need these rights to apply to our employment situation.
As parents, no matter whether we are mothers or fathers, we need our children to think outside of gender stereotypes that permit boys and men to be all-empowered when it comes to sex while women must be protected from them. We must teach our children the concept of equal responsibility.