"Cheer up. Remember what the Monty Python boys say."
"Always look on the bright side of life?"
"No, 'Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.'"

Monday, January 7, 2008

Letter to the Editor: Seventeen Magazine

To Whom it May Concern:

While perusing the magazine section at the grocery checkout on Friday night, my eye was drawn to you magazine cover (to be honest, it was the right hand corner.). Staring back at me is the following article teaser:

If you are unable to read the picture, I will quote it, "Shocking ways you could get pregnant by accident." I grabbed the magazine and paged through it until I could find the article. I just had to read it. I mean, seriously, a girl can get pregnant by accident? I was shocked (as you said I would be) and thirsting for knowledge. I hurried to the check out so I could find a quiet place to read this wonderful gem of information. My mind was racing and I started to sweat a little in anticipation. Finally, pregnancy occurrence will be explained:

There were three big "oops" moments that can cause pregnancy, per your plethora of information.

  • 1. Heat of the Moment/Sex just happened
  • 2. Not taking the Pill correctly/Not using condoms when you take the Pill incorrectly
  • 3. Not using a condom/Relying on the guy to get the condoms

Wow! That is all I could say. Oh, and Thank you! Who would have ever thought that sex leads to pregnancy. (I can understand why I would assume that to be untrue, given my infertile status, but enough about me.) I have slept on your article (if you can call it that, it was more of just comments and blurbs) and thought about the ramifications of having this new found nugget of awareness; I need to share my thoughts with you.

Please, sit back, get a cup of coffee and let me give you a few nuggets of my own. Maybe this could serve as a dose of reality.

Number 1: The main reason that 'Heat of the Moment' and 'It just happened' sex occur is due to a funny little emotion called horniness. This is very prevalent in the teen population and is ongoing into the adulthood (though in adulthood maturity should take a front seat to the the lack of control teens ooze). There is a little known fact about horniness in females; females, especially teen females, are the horniest right before and during ovulation. Imagine that! The natural instinct to procreate is presented by increasing desire for sex. Wow! What a concept.

So while your advice is to always use protection via the pill or condoms, I find it sorely lacking. Forget about the teaching abstinence, go straight to the contraception. Why not add some information as to how the body actually works? Or will that not sell magazines?

Number 2: First, in the beginning of the article you acknowledge that teens should consult a parent when desiring contraception but then promptly tell them that is not necessary; birth control is available without their parents ever needing to know. So, as a national magazine, you are advocating intentional dishonestly and secrecy? Do you realize that the parents also suffer when that child (I say child because they still are children) ends up pregnant?

Imagine that every teenager having sex is mature, that they read instructions on their medications, and that they follow those instructions to the T. Now...

Wait, I need to stop laughing first...

Still laughing...

Wiping away the tears from laughing so hard...

Okay, as I was saying, believing that teens are mature enough to actually follow the instructions on their Pill packet when there are adults who don't even do it, it naive and irresponsible. In a Utopia, maybe, but alas, reality sets in and lack of maturity leads to the situations mentioned in #1 and they are back in the same boat; the heat of the moment overrides common sense and a secondary protective barrier is forgotten or the QBooMM (Quit before the Magic Moment) method is enacted. (Please see #1 for reasoning of horniness) Maybe in this same article it should have mentioned that thousands of sperm can be found in pre-ejaculate.

Number 3: Finally some common sense, if you don't have a condom, don't have sex. I was shocked that was actually mentioned. I read it several times because I wasn't sure your writer could actually give out real advice and information. She even goes as far as to suggest that the girls actually keep them on hand, too. Novel concept. A girl taking control of condom usage. How innovative. Maybe adults should take that into consideration also.

You treat sex and pregnancy so casually, like the outcome is an unfortunate accident not the product of irresponsibility. No pregnancy is an accident. When are you going to teach them that all sex can lead to pregnancy no matter how careful you may be? When are you going to mention that with sex comes emotional baggage? How many of these girls who read you religiously are mentally and emotionally ready for sex? I am not saying that abstinence only teaching is the way to go, but at some point these girls will have to deal with their decisions. (The example girls you used all ended up pregnant due to the above mentioned "sins". Only one of the girls actually mentioned that abstinence until you are mature enough to handle the possible outcome is probably best. One out of three. How sad.)

Why don't you put as much effort in to educating them about their bodies (physical and psychosocial) as you do about "Is he really into you?". Why don't you try to teach them about the real differences between love, lust and infatuation? Why are they really having sex? Make that a quiz to take. Ask them to take a deeper look into why they think sex at 13, 14, 15, even 16 is appropriate? (There is a reason there are laws about age of consent.)

I am a firm believer that waiting for sex until marriage is ideal but it is naive to think that everyone waits. I do think that sex education should be taught but it needs to be all inclusive. As adults we need to take responsibility for what we do teach these kids. Don't stop at abstinence, don't stop at contraception; stop when they realize that sex isn't the only answer to showing affection/love/commitment. Show them ways to love someone without sex being necessary. Teach real love, not Hollywood romance love. Don't shove sex down their throats at every corner. Teach them that pregnancy is never accidental but unintentional (There are too many forms of birth control in this day and age for anyone to ever have an unintentional pregnancy.) .

Will changing our mindset/attitudes towards this epidemic stop it? No, unfortunately it won't but we can slow it down. Why don't you do your part in that process? Stop advocating the idea that everyone does it and bring a more balanced approach to sex? I am sure there are millions of parents (not to mention women/men living with infertility) who would appreciate it more that you know.

Thank you for your time.

A concerned citizen

1 comment:

Erika Krull said...

I just heard about this ridiculous article and sent a similar letter to the editor. I'm a counselor, and I've seen countless young women and teens get into sex and regret it. Every single one had a missing or weak father figure - I have yet to see a totally well adjusted heathy teen girl with a loving intact family come to my counseling office with serious sexualized relationship scenarios. Perhaps I'm only seeing the worst of it, but I firmly believe anyone of age to read Seventeen magazine is ill-prepared for any consequence of sex. Anyway, I was hot under the collar and told them I would disallow my three young girls to read their magazine in a few years if they didn't change their act. Probably won't hold my breath.