Emily DePasse (@eld3393 on Twitter) calls herself “The Carrie Bradshaw of Herpes” — a reference to the protagonist of Sex and the City — and she’s teaching her beliefs to children at a private school in Baltimore.
DePasse is a feminist who joined the #ShoutYourStatus campaign forSexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Awareness Month, declaring that her herpes infection had not prevented her from having a “fulfilling sex life.” DePasse went so far as to assert that being infected with herpes“actually made my sex life healthier & more satisfying than before.”
Such claims — in effect, “Herpes is good for you!” — might seem startling, but not as startling as the fact that DePasse has been teaching her feminist beliefs to seventh-graders at Baltimore Friends School, an elite private academy where tuition is more than $25,000 a year.
DePasse designed her own sex education curriculum, after she said the opportunity to teach the class “fell into my lap.” Monday, she described how one of the seventh-grade boys in her class, “On his way out the classroom . . . said to me, ‘See you tomorrow Sex Lady.’”
DePasse said she “kicked off” her celebration of STI Awareness Month by talking about her “herpes story” with her students. Thursday, she reflected: “Teaching sex ed this week has taught me that it really, really, REALLY needs to happen over the course of childhood.”
Who is this “Sex Lady” who talks to 12-year-old boys about her herpes infection? DePasse graduated last year from Maryland’s Salisbury University, where she majored in Gender and Sexuality Studies, doing her senior project on “The Secret Sexual Revolution at Salisbury University in the 1960s and 1970s.” Not long after graduating, in July 2015, DePasse was diagnosed with genital herpes, she explained in December:
Twelve weeks after my initial diagnosis, I received the results of my latest blood test: “This test confirms patient has genital herpes, HSV2 +.” I never realized how much it affected my self-esteem until I saw the paper reflecting proof that I carried the virus, officially. That weekend, I drank myself into oblivion. My hangover consisted of spending an entire day in my bed, sleeping, crying, and staring at that f–king piece of paper. Herpes won. I was defeated. I now consider those days as some of the darkest in my life. No one tells you what to do post-diagnosis. For months, I fell asleep reading herpes forums, hoping to educate myself more about the virus that now claimed my body as its home.
DePasse said she was inspired when she “stumbled upon Ella Dawson,” who made headlines in 2015 by declaring that, although she “never had unprotected sex,” she experienced a “tidal wave of shame” when she was diagnosed with herpes. (Condoms don’t prevent herpes or HPV.) Dawson got her degree in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from elite Wesleyan University (annual tuition $48,974) in 2014. Reading about Dawson’s 2015 “herpes disclosure gave me hope that one day, I too would be okay,” DePasse wrote on her blog in December, where she asserted:
It is our terminology and misunderstanding of the virus that leads us to stigmatize the STD and those who carry it. . . .
Friends and family members have seen me struggle navigating life post-graduation and post-diagnosis, and it has been a complete disaster — I have been a complete disaster. There are times when I have been an irresponsible, immature, and sh–ty person over the last six months. I cannot change my actions, or how I handled my herpes diagnosis, but I believe that in sharing my story, I have the potential to change others in similar situations as myself.
In February, DePasse wrote a controversial article at the progressive website Thought Catalog entitled “To The Girls He HASN’T Given Herpes To Yet: This Is For You,” in which she described contact with women she had seen interacting with her ex-boyfriend on social-media sites:
So to the woman who thinks she’s won him over, the woman who thinks she has him hooked, I hope you think again. I hope you put yourself first in this. I know you’re asking questions, I know you’re thinking deeper than what you see. I know your friends are, too (They friend-requested me on Facebook, after all). I know how you feel towards me. I know, he likes your pictures — the selfies, the friends, the seemingly innocent moments — but that’s his game. You think to yourself, “This time must be different. It’s me.” Well my dear, you and every other girl he’s focused on for six months or less. I know we only know one another through twenty-something, social media stalking, but I will be there for you if things ever do go awry.
DePasse complained she had “been painted as a bitter and crazy spirit, an angry feminist” by some critics of that article. Perhaps more troubling is that, like so many others in the feminist movement, DePasse appears to be committed to teaching anti-moral attitudes to children.
The so-called “safe sex” agenda of promoting condom usage, which began as a response to the AIDS epidemic among gay men in the 1980, was embraced by Third Wave feminists in the 1990s. However, the fact that condoms are not effective in preventing the spread of diseases like HPV and herpes was commonly ignored by “safe sex” activists. Furthermore, campaigns aimed at reducing teenage pregnancy rates led some sex educators to encourage young people to engage in oral sex and anal sex, including homosexual activity. While such practices obviously do not cause pregnancy, they can and do spread sexual diseases, and public health officials in recent years have expressed concern about the prevalence of these diseases, particularly among young women and minorities. A 2010 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the herpes rate “was nearly twice as high among women (21%) as men (11%), and more than three times higher among African-Americans (39%) than whites (12%). The infection rate among African-American women was 48%.” For obvious reasons, promiscuity increases the risk of infection, and the CDC found that about 27% of those who reported 10 or more partners are infected with herpes.
DePasse has written at length about her sexual behavior on her “ELD Soul” blog. She attended Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, wheretuition is $19,550 a year. Despite attending a Catholic prep school, DePasse explained how “when I first made the decision to have sex” during her sophomore year, “I wrote my mom a letter explaining that I needed to get on birth control.” The next year, she developed an eating disorder, DePasse explained, becoming “skin and bones” at 5-foot-7 and only 99 pounds. “The more emaciated I became, the more powerful I felt,” she wrote, adding that she was subsequently diagnosed with “general anxiety disorder” as a high-school senior:
I began taking Zoloft to assist with my anxiety, especially since I would be headed off to college in the fall. I chose Salisbury University, where my then-boyfriend was attending. Yes, I was that girl, the one who followed her boyfriend to college. We broke up within two months of me being there, and I did not dive into another relationship until my junior year. . . .
Although each of these relationships lasted over a year, I wish I had ended both of them sooner. I always choose to see people for their potential, rather than who they are in the present moment. I often give people more chances than they deserve, especially when it comes to relationships. I have had boyfriends go through my text messages, and even my diary. I have been labeled as a slut and whore in these situations. Although I knew it wasn’t okay then, I still tolerated it. I let it go, and I shouldn’t have. It is evident to me now that I was a victim of emotional/verbal abuse. I sacrificed my identity and my self-worth . . .
Elsewhere on her blog, DePasse has written, “At this point in my life, I do not foresee myself having children, nor do I really want them,” and describes herself as “self-admittedly too selfish to have children.” Feminism has long been hostile toward marriage and motherhood.
“Women are an oppressed class. . . . We are exploited as sex objects, breeders, domestic servants, and cheap labor.”
— Redstockings, 1969
“Certainly all those institutions which were designed on the assumption and for the reinforcement of the male and female role system such as the family (and its sub-institution, marriage), sex, and love must be destroyed.”
— The Feminists, 1969
“The enslavement of women in marriage is all the more cruel and inhumane by virtue of the fact that it appears to exist with the consent of the enslaved group.”
— Sheila Cronan, 1970
“Pregnancy is barbaric.”
— Shulamith Firestone, 1970
“The first condition for escaping from forced motherhood and sexual slavery is escape from the patriarchal institution of marriage.”
— Alison M. Jaggar, 1988
“Heterosexuality is the structure that keeps sexist oppression in place in the private realm; where sexism in general operates to also oppress in the public sphere. In other words heterosexuality reinforces the hierarchy established by sexism to keep women dominated in ‘sexual interaction, romantic love, marriage, and the family.’”
— “Heterosexuality: The Role it Plays in Feminism and Lesbianism,” 2007
“The term motherhood refers to the patriarchal institution . . . that is male-defined and controlled and is deeply oppressive to women.”
— Andrea O’Reilly, 2008
“Why do women keep getting married? . . . It’s conceivable somebody could be happydespite being married, but never because they were married. . . .
“Sex and love is the dynamic that keeps women’s oppression going . . .
“Motherhood is a heavily permeated sex role.”
— Ti-Grace Atkinson, 2011
“I don’t particularly like babies. They are loud and smelly and, above all other things, demanding . . . time-sucking monsters with their constant neediness. . . . Nothing will make me want a baby. . . . This is why, if my birth control fails, I am totally having an abortion.”
— Amanda Marcotte, 2014
Feminism’s anti-family, anti-marriage, pro-abortion message has been strongly condemned by religious authorities, most recently in a message (Amoris Laetitia, “The Joy of Love”) by Pope Francis. Declaring that “the father and mother, a couple with their personal story of love . . . embody the primordial divine plan,” the Pope denounced abortion: “So great is the value of a human life, and so inalienable the right to life of an innocent child growing in the mother’s womb, that no alleged right to one’s own body can justify a decision to terminate that life.”
Catholic teachings appear to have had no influence on Emily DePasse since her graduation from Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in 2011. She originally planned to become a teacher, DePasse wrote on her blog, but changed her major as a freshman at Salisbury University after she “found several feminist-focused courses” in the catalog:
At this point in time, I did not even consider myself a feminist, but the topics piqued my interest, so I looked further. Somehow searching through the nooks and crannies of the Salisbury website, I found Gender and Sexuality Studies. The day that I changed my major was the day I started working toward my purpose.
DePasse’s classes included “LGBTQ History,” “Philosophy & Feminism,” “Human Sexuality Education,” “Sociology of Gender,” and “Psychology of Sexuality,” and she did a research project entitled “Here She Comes: The Mechanics of Female Sexuality and Impact on Body Image.”
DePasse apparently got her assignment to teach sex to seventh-graders at Baltimore Friends School through an internship with “If I Knew,” which describes itself on Facebook as a “prevention education project of Jewish Community Services” in Baltimore. DePasse’s promotion of the claim that herpes “made my sex life healthier & more satisfying than before” was apparently inspired by the #ShoutYourStatus campaign:
Writer and social media maven Ella Dawson, along with social work student Kayla Axelrod, freelance writer Britni de la Cretaz, and writer/activist Lachrista Greco started the hashtag #ShoutYourStatus to destigmatize STIs. Their goal is to promote a more open conversation about living with STIs. . . .
“The truth of the matter is, many people are living, and living happily, as STI+ people,” de la Cretaz told Revelist. “Being able to be publicly open about my status as someone with genital herpes is a privilege and I want to use that privilege to help other people feel less alone.”
Britni de la Cretaz is a recovering alcoholic who has described substance abuse as a way women “cope with the weight of living in a white supremacist cisheteropatriarchy.” De la Cretaz has argued that sexually transmitted diseases “should be destigmatized” because people infected with these diseases suffer “discrimination . . . fueled by harmful stereotypes . . . rooted in misinformation and scare tactics.” De la Cretaz says the “myth” that women with sexually transmitted diseases are promiscuous involves “sex-shaming and a whole lot of misogyny”:
Because it literally shouldn’t matter if someone got herpes and had sex with one person or 100 people. When I say we need to break the stigma, I mean for everyone that has it, and not just because some people get it from their first partner.
These narratives exist in the same sphere as our ideas about survivors of sexual violence. We’ve created these non-existent “perfect victims” to determine whose assault is valid and who deserved it based on behavior they were or were not engaging in. . . .
Genital herpes is nothing to be ashamed of whether someone contracted it from their first partner or after a rape or from sex work or from their 200th partner.
Conservative columnist Matt Barber wrote that the attitudes of the #ShoutYourStatus feminists reminded him of a Bible verse: “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things” (Philippians 3:10). However, with more than90,000 students enrolled annually in Women’s Studies and Gender Studies programs at more than 700 U.S. colleges and universities, this feminist agenda is increasingly influential in American society, and is already being promoted to 7th-graders.