This charming (by which I mean "really gross") image came across my facebook feed yesterday:
Ew. While I know that these particular memes are often intentionally offensive for the purposes of being oh-so-edgy, I also know that the attitude that teen pregnancy happens because omg, the slutty, slutty girls is a pervasive attitude. And I know that it's incorrect. And I know that since the slutty slutty girls are not the reason teen pregnancy happens, slut shaming is not part of the solution.
I digress. This meme is gross, and I'll explain why. But first, since an increasing number of people are missing out on comprehensive sex education, it seems a little biology lesson is in order:
Teenage girls to do not become pregnant by wearing make up or "provocative clothing" or by dating. Teenage girls become pregnant by having unprotected sex. With boys.
I know. I was shocked too. That boys are equally responsible for teenage pregnancy. Except, no, I wasn't shocked, because, SCIENCE.
So if you don't want your daughter to wear make up at 10 or date at 12 or wear certain clothing at 14, cool. I, myself, am likely to discourage my daughter (daughters?) from wearing make up or "sexy" clothing as adolescents. Not to prevent pregnancy, but because I do everything in my power to counteract the constant messages that in order for a woman to have worth, she must fit into a little box that society has labeled "sexy". (And hey, perhaps if more of us did more to counteract the messages that women are expected to be sexy, young girls wouldn't be so interested in such things in the first place, hmmmm?) But don't kid yourself into thinking that prohibiting those things will keep her from becoming pregnant. And don't think that if you have sons, you're off the hook in this whole teen pregnancy thing.
The way we prevent teen pregnancy is not by telling girls that they have to be "good girls" and that that "good girls" don't dress "like that". The way we prevent teen pregnancy is by teaching our children, boys and girls, to respect their own bodies and the bodies of others. By teaching our children, boys and girls, about how to have sex safely and responsibly. By providing our children, boys and girls, a safe and non-judgmental environment in which to discuss such matters.
When I started having sex, in my late teens, I didn't wear much make up, and coming of age in the grunge era, I certainly didn't wear provocative clothing. I also didn't become pregnant. Why? Because I'd had comprehensive sex education in school. I knew how babby is formed. I knew the myriad of birth control options available. And I knew that I could talk to my mom about it. When I did, we had a discussion about making sure I was ready, and then she made me my first big girl doctor appointment, and she paid for my birth control.
So if you're wondering why your daughter got pregnant at 16, it's not because she wore make up, it's not because she went on dates, and it's not because of her clothing. It's because she had unprotected sex, with a boy, who is equally responsible for not preventing the pregnancy, and whose parents are equally responsible for making sure he knows about safe sex.
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