On a recent Snapchat thread, Teen Vogue informed users about how to get an abortion without parents knowing. This is a super important thing for kids to know how to do because otherwise young women would have to be honest and forthright with those people in their lives whose main job is to keep them alive, healthy, and unharmed.
The thread linked to an advice column in which a young woman writes in to find out how to proceed with her unwanted pregnancy. She’s afraid to tell her parents because of their anti-abortion views.
It makes sense that a 16-year-old girl would not want to have a baby. Babies are a huge responsibility, and being pregnant is rough. This question of teen pregnancy has been widely debated in western culture. So much so that MTV has its own TV show about being a teen mom. It’s a meme, a punchline, a stereotype, but that doesn’t negate the reality of its difficulty.
It also makes sense that she wouldn’t want to tell her parents. Kids never want to tell their parents when they screw up, from a lousy report card to crashing the car to unintended pregnancy, kids want to keep their disasters to themselves. If kids and parents have a good relationship, the kid is a little bit afraid of their parents. They should be, because parents are only in control as much as the kid thinks the parents are in control. This means that parents have to instill a little bit of fear, just to maintain the illusion of authority.
If the question were “how to hide bad grades from my parents because I’m afraid of what they will think,” or “how to hide my eating disorder,” or “how to hide my kidney transplant,” or “how to hide the fact of my abusive boyfriend,” or “how to hide that I crashed my car,” or a DUI, or a detention, or literally anything else, no one in their right mind would instruct the kid to keep their own counsel.
To the columnist’s credit, she does advise that the girl reconsider talking to her parents, or perhaps seek out another trustworthy adult. But if a young girl can’t face telling her parents that she’s having sex, can’t confide in her doctor and take precautions, then perhaps it’s just a little bit possible that she’s not ready to be having sex. It’s controversial to say it, what with sex positivity and this whole thing about how sex isn’t supposed to have any emotions attached to it, but the kids should know that it’s okay to want to and to not do it.
While many adults are dead inside, and don’t link that most intimate act of human connection to emotions, that doesn’t mean this should be the norm for teens. Miley Cyrus may claim that “virginity is a social construct,” but why should teens be deprived of the gravity of the decision to have sex for the first time?
The much-derided, Federally funded, “abstinence-only” sex ed in the U.S. during the George W. Bush years has given way to a loosy-goosy “anything goes” attitude where sex is meant to be shame-free and all teens are supposed to be super chill with their bodies. However, this only instills yet another unrealistic expectation on teens.
Teens feel shame about sex and their bodies not because society tells them to, but because human beings inherently feel shame about sex and their bodies, especially during those tumultuous adolescent years. Telling kids they don’t need to feel shame won’t stop them from feeling it.
We’re not Adam and Eve before the fall out here, we’re freaked-out creatures who want what we can’t have, and desire that which feels good as much as it terrifies us. That’s not going to change. That shouldn’t change. Fear of shame and humiliation stops us from doing lots of stupid things. And teens not wanting to tell their parents about having done stupid things is also a good deterrent to not doing those things.
Teen Vogue may have the take that it’s no one’s fault when a teen gets pregnant, and there should be no blame placed, but any girl who has ever willingly been sexually active and experienced a pregnancy scare knows exactly where to place the blame: on the one person who could have prevented it. We may not want to hold girls responsible for the consequences of their sexual activity, but women do have more responsibility for their own bodies than anyone else does or should.
During the 2016 election cycle, Teen Vogue went super political; it was the hope for all the young women who were coming up and wanted to change the world. Now it’s back to the basics: like teaching young girls how to have proper anal sex, how to masturbate toward wish fulfillment, and how to hide their abortions from their parents.
Parents are not the enemy, abortion isn’t always the answer, and Teen Vogue will probably do less damage promoting socialism than giving this kind of garbage advice to teen girls.