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Don’t Shut Up

26 May

We hear a lot from a few specific teen mothers: the cast of MTV’s docu-dramas “Sixteen and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom”; Bristol Palin; Jamie Lynn Spears. This is not a lot of representation. It is, in fact, very little representation. The cast of the MTV shows are the closest we get to hearing from teen moms who aren’t ridiculously privileged in every way, but even those mothers are only a small part of the spectrum of opinion, belief, and lifestyle in teen mothers. Yet some still think we hear from teen moms a little too much.

Take Jessica Shafer, who video blogs about her pregnancy on YouTube. Though she’s eighteen now and graduating from high school with straight As, people still want her to shut up. A writer of particularly modest intellect and impressive inability to Google basic facts, Mary Thatcher, has been especially insulting. In her article which I won’t link to for fear of giving her easy page views, she contributed such gems as:

“…girls who have sex with boys are not physically bonded to get married.”

I think she’s saying Jessica should switch teams? This sounds like a plea for more lesbianism. Unfortunately, I think it’s just slut-shaming. Once you give away your precious flower (I’m trying not to vomit, here), you’re no longer marriageable. I could write ten posts about this alone, but instead I’ll just ask — where is Mary’s problem with the boys? I guess “lady’s men” and “studs” are still fine for marriage.

“Neither do I think she should be commended for having sex at an unusually young age.”

Here’s where Mary’s poor skills in basic research come in. The average age of first intercourse in the United States is seventeen according to the Guttmacher Institute. I found that information in a total of two seconds by searching “first age intercourse united states”. In other words, it was so incredibly easy that Mary’s ignorance cannot possibly have any excuse that shouldn’t embarrass her horribly. Sadly, Mary doesn’t seem embarrassed about being lazy and bigoted.

“Secure females never look to males for self-esteem, and think that sex will make a woman ‘whole and perfect.'”

Does Mary believe that’s the only reason any unmarried female has sex? I think she needs to read The Multi-Orgasmic Woman.

“Her publicizing of her pregnancy will only encourage more girls to engage in high-risk behavior…”

Her publicizing of her pregnancy will show people that teen pregnancy does not need to be the end of a young woman’s life and accomplishments. Such a revelation can only be a good thing in a world where teen mothers struggle not just because teen motherhood is innately difficult, but because people like Mary don’t want them to have any visibility or community.

The only reason not to want a certain class of people — teen moms, in this case — silenced is because you find them unsavory. That is bigoted, and it’s a poor way to live. In the past, pregnant teens were sent away so as not to shame their family in a public manner. Now, they can share their stories and form meaningful narratives.

Jessica? Don’t shut up.

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10 Things I’ll Tell My Daughter About Sex*

20 May

1. Guys aren’t the only way to feel good. Try a vibrator before a boy.

2. But hey, girls can’t get you pregnant. Wink, wink.

3. Yes, I will take you to get birth control if and when you decide to have sex. In fact, maybe you should start taking it now. No, you don’t have to hide it from me. You should probably just take it along with your daily vitamin. I won’t make any awkward jokes.

4. Yes, I will purchase condoms for you, though you can go get some free ones from Planned Parenthood. I think Abercrombie sells them too. I know because I remember the parental outrage.

5. Here is my credit card. Here is www.tryavibratorinsteadofaboy.com**.

6. You can get pregnant during any hetero+vaginal intercourse. Even on your period. Even standing up. Even if you pray real hard.

7. Pregnancy is not the worst thing sex can bring. So don’t skip a condom just because you’re on birth control.

8. If you get pregnant, how to proceed will be your choice. Abortion is perfectly okay. Adoption is perfectly okay. Keeping the baby is perfectly okay.

9. Don’t base sex just on love. Base it on whether or not you’re ready to deal with the complications it brings into your life. A feeling of love is worth bullshit when compared to readiness and responsibility.

10. Have fun. If you’re not having fun, say no. It’s not worth doing it just to please someone else.

*I will probably be less snarky when I tell her these things.

**Unfortunately, this isn’t a real web site.