Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Birth Control Talk

A few weeks ago, I was talking to my mother when she told me that the daughter of a friend of hers was pregnant. The girl and I had been friends when we were younger, but lost touch as we grew up, so we haven't spoken in years. I was truly taken aback by the news. Aside from seeing bits and pieces of MTV’s 16 and Pregnantand Teen Mom, and of course all the warnings in health classes, I know very little about teen motherhood. It always seemed like such a distant issue, something I was completely detached from because I never personally knew anyone who had to deal with it. So to hear that someone I’ve known my entire life was pregnant was really shocking.

My mom continued talking about it, speculating at how long it probably took her friend to realize it and what the girl’s plans were, and how everything would work out, until finally, she huffed, “I just don't understand how she could be so stupid!”

I shrugged. “I don’t know. Sometimes stuff just happens. It’snot necessarily a matter of being stupid – it could happen to anyone, really.”
My mother shook her head. “No, no. I mean how could her mother be so stupid? Why wasn’t the girl on the Pill? Her mother knew she had a boyfriend, she’s a senior in high school, why in the hell wouldn’t she be taking birth control?”

When my mother sat me down years ago to encourage me to talk to her when I needed birth control, she left me with the impression that the second she suspected it was necessary, it wouldn’t even be a question. But I’ve never heard of anyone else’s mother being so proactive – I’ve known plenty of friends to stress out tremendously at the prospect of raising the birth control issue with their parents, but no one else I know has been approached by the parent first.

It made me wonder: after “The Talk,” how many parents continue discussions about safer sex? Probably not many, because it’s such an awkward topic. While my mother’s view is that it's her responsibility as a parent to do whatever she can to make sure I’m fully educated, her own embarrassment be damned, not every parent thinks like that. I have friends who’ve been in long-term relationships for several years,yet their parents still feign ignorance to the fact that they’re having sex atall, no matter how obvious it is.

While it can be kind of painful to talk about these things, isn’t it better to suffer through an uncomfortable conversation than to suffer the consequences of a lack of education? I can understand kids not wanting to approach their parents about it, because who wants to tell their mom they’re having sex?(Answer: no one). And I can see that it would be difficult to talk to your kids about it, for basically the same reason. But I think that there are some things that need to be addressed, no matter how awkward it is.

I don’t think the responsibility to talk about this stuff lies strictly with either parents or kids. I do think that there needs to be discussion about these things, though, because pretending it’s not happening –either by ignoring the fact that there is a really high chance that your teenager is having sex, or by pretending you’re not sexually active – isn't doing anyone any good. The bottom line is that teenagers have sex, and that means they can get pregnant, and acting like anything else is true is harmful to everyone involved.

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