Scared Straight: The Teen Pregnancy Edition

(WARNING: Video contains graphic images)

I think it’s great that the British kids who came up with the concept for the above video were committed to a teen pregnancy PSA that wasn’t preachy.

Too bad the end result is problematic for other reasons.

Reason #1: So…the big downside of teen pregnancy is that you might have to deliver on a field surrounded by taunting classmates? Nothing about possible lost educational or future professional opportunities, the economic realities of parenthood, adult responsibilities…nothing?

Reason #2: The video fails to show how the pregnancy impacts the (presumably) teen father’s life.  Remember him?  You know, the guy who provided the sperm to make the baby sliding from the loins of the traumatized teenaged girl on the field?

Reason #3: Yes, kids should be made aware of the reality of childbirth, and yes, childbirth is painful and intense.  But that’s not all it is.  Labor and delivery take place in a variety of settings, under a variety of conditions, and many women’s experiences are, ultimately, warm, happy occasions.  Way to promote childbirth=horror to the kids!  Are they supposed to think it’s like this for every woman, or just teen girls?

Thumbs up to the public health officials for giving the kids a leadership stake in this effort.

Thumbs down to those same officials for not asserting more editorial control.

by Deesha Philyaw
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6 Comments Have Been Posted

I have to disagree. I don't

<p>I have to disagree. I don't think they're claiming that you'll be giving birth on a field among all your classmates—I think the ad's primary purpose is to shock the viewer and remind them that parenthood is probably not going be what you expect—especially as a teenager. </p><p>I agree that it only focuses on the mother, but I wonder if there are other ads in the series that might focus on the dad as well? I think it's fine to focus on one aspect of the issue in a single ad, as long as the campaign in general is making sure to speak to both male and female teens. </p><p>Ulitmately, I think they were using a metaphor to remind teens about the possible consequences of their actions. In the UK, teen pregnancy is at a ridiculous high, so I'd imagine the usual sensitive kinds of ads may have lost their potency. </p><p>I'm pretty impressed with the ad over all—particularly knowing that teens were involved in making it. </p>


I agree that there should be more ads that hold the father-to-be accountable. No-one ever blames the father, or hold him accountable but the girl in the situation is always the one ridiculed and looked down upon. It is just as much his doing as it is hers, but no-one ever considers him, with the exception of the occasional pat on the back. I think they should focus more on the father in future ads as well as the responsibility both parties should take and less on the humiliation and trauma of giving birth and the horrified reactions of their peers.
In addition, they are making the process of childbirth look like an ugly thing. It is natural and in many ways a beautiful thing.
I think it's one of the coolest things about being a women, besides of course multiple orgasms. ;)
I know many girls who originally lost their virginity at a young age (younger then they really wanted to) due to pressure and lack of knowledge. Perhaps empowering girls to take more control of their bodies and their sexuality/ safety would be more effective then just showing them how scary childbirth can be.

The biggest issue that I

The biggest issue that I have with ads like this is that they totally disempower young people who have babies already. Are young women supposed to be terrified? If abortion is not something that they are okay with for themselves they are supposed to go the route of adoption? As though that system is any better for mother or baby? How about empowering young women? Telling them that they can succeed without telling those with children that they can't... How is it a feminist action to shame women for their choices? For some young women the birth of their children is a turning point for good. Some of those young women have raised presidents, some have raised people who will be the positive change that this world needs.
To say that they cannot succeed or that their lives are doomed to hardship is to place them at a decided disadvantage from the start. How is that helpful? Because less young women will have babies? These advertisements have not been shown to have any positive impact, but they HAVE made plenty of young women feel shamed.
Since when is it okay to assume that young women are incapable of making reproductive choices? I mean, unless they are choosing abortion. Choice is about the ability to MAKE that choice, and to say that young women either have to choose abstinence or abortion is not any better than those that stand on the other side of the abortion debate.
Where is the clip showing young women who are accomplishing something? I work at a community college and I see young women coming to college for the first time, sometimes with an infant in their arms. How is it okay to shame them?

What on Earth

Ok, so I may be asking the most "stupidist" question in the world....but what the hell was the warning on the BITCH reference to the article about "graphic material"????? Was it the baby or the reference to a vagina??? Please let me know, because I am really frigging confused. For a "feminist" magazine, this seems incredibly short sighted, and unethical if you ask me. Why the heck are we giving warnings about any references to childbirth, and vagina's? Perpetuating the same shit if you ask me and can not certainly be considered feminist. In fact, its woman-hating to warn someone about the reference to a vagina.

It's not the vagina...

It's the brief glimpses of blood that are graphic in nature. Some people really don't handle the sight of blood well, even in a context such as this. I'm one of those people, and I appreciated the warning posted on this video at HuffPo, where I first viewed it. It allowed me to brace myself. Having given birth to a child myself, I didn't need a warning for that, of course. I saw the warning and figured blood would be involved.

If others aren't squeamish at the sight of blood, great. But there's nothing unethical or woman-hating about warning those of us who might be.

Blood - graphic? I think not

I have to disagree. I do not see how this is a warning about a brief glimpse of blood. If the warning was to do with blood, then it should state "warning there is blood in this clip" not a warning about an unstated graphic material that may offend. I think its a cop out to not name it as it is. Its a way we can continue to obscure the way this society hates women's bodies! It is a way that misogyny can continue without being named for what it is. Not being partial to squeemishness of blood, I fail to appreciate warnings regarding blood and other "bodily fluids" that may offend (?)... so whilst I may possibly support such warnings, I would only do so at a complete level of explicitness as stated above, not some arbitrary warning about an unstated graphic expression that could pertain to a number of deliberately unstated things.

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