Beantown Mom, a blogger over at Daily Kos, tells the harrowing story of how her 16-year old daughter was slut-shamed for simply being on the pill. High school kids have always been mean and used excuses to pick on ‘weaker’ kids, and there has pretty much always been slut-shaming, but in this case the harassing girls specifically mentioned Rush Limbaugh’s “women who are on birth control are sluts”-comments that they and their mothers apparently believe.
This is just so, so wrong. Not only is slut-shaming wrong in general – it is here specifically caused by a powerful male commentator who has nothing to do with raising a teenage girl that took a low level birth control pill to ease her significant health problems.
Plus, I think a rational approach to birth control is such an important aspect of good sex education that keeps women and girls* from exactly what these ultraconservative commentators also shame: Being pregnant too early. Even if many parents don’t want their teenagers to be sexually active – many are, or at least want to, when they’re around 16. I think it’s important – and from my experience it’s quite common in Germany – that when parents (mothers) have ‘the talk’ with their daughters* that it includes safe sex measures and (hormonal) birth control. Mothers convincing their daughters that girls who use birth control are ‘sluts’ (read as: bad) – that’s just wrong and, in my opinion, dangerous.
I’m not saying that every 16-year old has or wants sex or that every teenage girl should be on the pill, but it should be a viable option. I also don’t think that having sex (or kids) at a young age is inherently wrong – but it can be problematic.. And if you add the virgin/whore dichotomy, societal pressure to both be ‘sexy’ and innocent plus general and individual boys pressure to have sex as a sign of ‘loving’ to the mix, it’s almost a lose/lose situation for young women* (especially when they don’t have good support from their mothers/other important people in their lives.)
Now how perfidious it is that people like Limbaugh not only shame girls for taking care of themselves but also are against comprehensive sex education, access to safe abortions and support (welfare or otherwise) for young mothers/parents, that requires another post.
[*And other people who can get pregnant. I write mainly about mothers/daughters because I think this is a special mother/daughter thing – at least in my experience and from what I read in the text. But most of it also applies to other genders/- combinations]