Chicago’s ‘Pregnant Men’ Ads: Flipping the Dialogue on Men and Teen Pregnancy Prevention
The Office of Adolescent and School Health in the Chicago Department of Public Health (Chicago DPH) recently released a set of teen pregnancy prevention ads that feature images of half-naked young men who, thanks to technology, appear pregnant. When I first saw the ads, I thought, “Wow, how progressive! Chicago is actually creating ads that are trying to be more inclusive of transgender men.” Well, hope springs eternal—and in this situation, mine was completely misplaced. The ads are actually an attempt to get cisgender boys’ and men’s attention in order to charge them with stepping up when they are part of an unplanned pregnancy.
These ads are not the first of their kind. Just a few months ago, the New York City Human Resource Administration put out subway and bus ads, which received well-deserved criticismbecause of their negative messaging to girls and about boys and young men. With photos of young children accompanied by messages like, “Honestly, Mom—chances are he won’t stay with you. What happens to me?” the New York ads promote stigma, fear, and shame, which, as a strategy, is as unethical as it is ineffective for inspiring behavior change.
ADVICE: It Was Fun, and I Want to Tell My Friends, But…
I was with this guy down at the beach late in the night and we started to hook up. It got a bit heated and asked me if I wanted to try something new. I said yes (I consented). He started to eat me out following with me giving him oral.
I’m scared that if I tell any of my friends I’ll get judged. Girls are like that these days :( It’s not like I regret it or anything. To be honest, I enjoyed it. I’m just afraid because there is so many labels being thrown around.
Heather Corinna replies:
Unfortunately, for most of our global history, people have rarely been free from the judgment of others about their sexual lives. Mind you, we can say the same for pretty near every part of human life and behavior: Some people are judgy or sanctimonious about some things sometimes, and some of those people, some of those times, choose not to keep it to themselves.
So, this isn’t anything new. I’m a big sexuality history geek, and as far as I know, this has been an issue for pretty much forever. Same goes for the various disparaging words or labels people can and do put on other people’s sexualities or sexual lives. Sadly, we have a long, rich tradition of that kind of crummy behavior.
Of course, what gets judged, by whom, and how is all over the place. Whether we’re talking hundreds of years ago or today, one person might judge us for making a given sexual choice, while someone else might have strong, negative opinions they cannot seem to keep to themselves if we had made a different one. As I explained in this answer here, there’s simply no sexual choice or set of sexual choices anyone can make where they are going to have everyone’s approval or be magically free of other people’s judgment. No matter what you do or don’t do, someone’s not going to like it or put some kind of judgment on it.
The best we can do is to take the time to really figure out what we want and what is best for us at a given time, make sure any sexual partners we have feel the same way about what we do together, and then share things about our sexual lives with people who are safe for us—with people we know, even if they might not agree with all our choices, will accept and respect them, and accept and respect us as people making our own, unique choices.
(this part is specifically discussing why no one should feel ”anti-feminist” for their fantasies, because pro-sex feminism/see above)
Seriously, if we believe a 14 year old is too immature to know how to take a pill, do we really think she’s adult enough to handle an unwanted pregnancy?
The truth is that the age restriction is completely arbitrary, tied only to our puritanical comfort levels. And listen, I get it; I think it’s fair to say that most people are uncomfortable with the idea of a 14 year old having sex. But here’s the thing - access to Plan B isn’t about keeping a 14 year old from having sex - by the time she gets to the pharmacy, that ship has sailed - it’s about keeping a 14 year old who has already had sex from getting pregnant. And despite what urban legend (or past embarrassing FDA memos) may tell you, making emergency contraception more available is not more likely to make young teens have sex - it will just make them less likely to end up pregnant.
We can’t let our discomfort with teen sex trump young people’s right to sexual and reproductive health and we can’t continue to let politics trump science. If we care about young women’s health and bodily autonomy and integrity, we’ll drop all age restrictions from emergency contraception. Anything less isn’t just illogical - it’s immoral.— “Hey, FDA: Drop the Plan B Age Restriction,” my latest at The Nation (via jessicavalenti)