If Boys Got Pregnant: Reducing Teen Pregnancy with ‘Unexpected’ AdAela Mass
One of my first ever pieces of writing was printed in my high school newspaper way back in 1995. I wrote an “enraged” Letter to the Editor about an anti-teen pregnancy poster that was hung in the hallways of our school. It had an image of a girl, from the waist down, sitting with her legs crossed. The caption read: There’s a simple way to prevent pregnancy.
I had all but forgotten about this letter until I discovered a copy of the newspaper clipping buried in a box during a recent move. I laughed at my then-outspoken self for tackling such an issue at 16 years old, but mostly I laughed at horribly the letter was written (and to think it’s in print!). Though, I must say, my point was pretty damn good.
My beef with the poster wasn’t that it was trying to prevent teen pregnancy. My beef was that it was placing the responsibility and worse, the blame solely on girls. As if boys played zero role in pregnancy. As if by simply uncrossing her legs, a girl could magically and miraculously become pregnant all by herself.
In my letter, I questioned why the school hadn’t also put up a poster with the same wording accompanied by an image of a boy’s pants zipper with a pad lock on it.
Why was it only our fault? Why was it only our responsibility? Was what is only our issue?
Fast forward 18 years, and someone finally gets it. Well, sort of.
What if boys got pregnant?
The Chicago Department of Public Health just launched an awesome ad campaign aimed at preventing teen parenthood — because, let’s be real and call it like it is: Teen pregnancy leads to teen parenthood, which is actually more life changing than the mere 9-month gestation period.
The ads feature the simple words, “Unexpected? Most teen pregnancies are. Avoid unplanned pregnancies and STIs. Use condoms. Or wait.” Simple. Direct. Clear.
What makes this ad campaign brilliant and what’s catching the eyes of people everywhere is the image. Teenage boys with pregnant bellies are on the posters. Sure, boys can’t actually get pregnant no one thinks teenagers are that naive but the image is shocking in the sense that boys can’t actually get pregnant, yet here they are. Pregnant.
The ads do what good ads are supposed to do: catch your attention and get you talking. The campaign has already caught the attention of Good Morning America and Today. And I believe if Don Drapper was real, it would catch his attention as well that is, if he wasn’t the genius who created the ad in the first place.
Only time will tell if the ads actually reduce the high rates of teen parenthood in Chicago. But, in the meantime, people are talking about the issue. And that, in itself, is a success.
In case you’re wondering what ever came of my 1995 Letter to the Editor: I was heard. The school took the posters down.
Read more of Aela’s writing at Two Moms Make a Right
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