First there was Solange Knowles, Beyonce’s younger sister, known mostly for being a married mama at age 18. Then there was Jamie Lynn Spears, Britney’s younger sister, known mostly for being an ummarried mama at age 17. Then there was Bristol Palin, Satan’s youngest daughter, known mostly for being a mama-to-be at age 18.
Throw in some “Engaged & Underaged,” and a healthy dose of Jessica Lownde’s glowingly pregnant teenage character on the new “90210,” and you have a healthy, empowering message for teen girls everywhere — teenage pregnancy (and marriage) is acceptable, exciting and even good for your skin. Who needs Proactiv when you have 3-point lighting and that beautiful second trimester glow?
Fortunately for parents everywhere, there are still a few voices of reason in the national media. Voices extolling the virtues of the juniors department to a generation raring to get into the elastic waistbands and designer mumus of the maternity racks. Voices like the Candie’s Foundation, which is dedicated to preventing teen pregnancy by ensuring that all little girls grow up with the clearest of mixed messages — sure our clothes scream sex, but that doesn’t mean you should be having it.
Not that I have a problem with the idea of clothes that scream sex. I fully subscribe to the line in the “Vagina Monologues” that says “My short skirt is not begging for it. It does not want you to rip it off me or pull it down.” What I have a problem with is the idea that preventing teen pregnancy is the same thing as abstinence education. And, the fact that Candie’s has enlisted that icon of adolescent abstinence, Bristol Palin, to be its latest role model for little girls.
I don’t need to get into the sheer ludicrousness of Bristol Palin playing this role. Do a google search of the girl, count how many irresponsible, ignorant or just plain insane quotes of hers come back, and figure it out for yourself. She’s no role model. And, plenty of pundits have been saying so since Bristol first took the Candie’s-branded stage yesterday.
What I have a problem with is the horribly hypocritical bill of goods Bristol is trying to sell (I’m resisting the urge to make a crack about how you could insert Bristol’s mother’s name into that last sentence instead, and how that sentence would still make perfect sense if you did). In fact, Bristol’s hypocrisy is like the encapsulation of everything that is wrong with abstinence education. The girl admits to having sex (clearly), she admits to having lots of sex (reluctantly) and she admits to having unprotected sex (obviously).
But, according to her, she and her baby daddy used condoms. Except for the times they didn’t. Had she been on birth control, the odds are pretty good that she would be sans baby at the moment. Instead, she relied on a sporadic, somewhat spotty knowledge of condom usage to prevent pregnancy. Why? Because, as she said herself, abstinence education isn’t enough to convince horny, hormonal teens to abstain.
Had someone simply taken the poor girl to Planned Parenthood, sat her in some stirrups, and gotten her a prescription for birth control, she could have had her hormonal cake, and eaten it too. Without having to eat for two. While I’m not saying every teenage girl should go on birth control, I am saying that had she been given the choice between popping a pill and popping out a baby, she may have chosen the former.
Instead, now she’s going around the country promoting an agenda that, by its very nature, takes that choice out of the equation and leaves it up to teens to figure out how to take responsibility for the consequences of sexual behavior that many of them will inevitably end up engaging in anyway. Sure, plenty of them will figure it out. But plenty more will end up with bad information or no information at all. Google can only get you so far. Rather than preaching a path that attempts to cut all dialogue about sex off at the head, Bristol should be traveling the country telling teens to talk about sex — and its consequences — with each other, their parents, their doctors, etc. If her story should model anything for little girls and their parents, its that pretending teens won’t or aren’t having sex is the quickest way to a quickie wedding and a big ol’ baby bump.
Then again, maybe Candie’s is smarter than we’re giving them credit for. Maybe, Bristol’s role as abstinence ambassador is supposed to be an ironic statement about the inevitable results of abstinence-only education. Maybe, just maybe, it’s all a brilliant plan to expose abstinence-only education for what it really is: irresponsible, ignorant and just plain insane.