Mary Kenny's article about contraception and the sexualisation of girls in the media appears next to "In Pictures: the Lingerie Superbowl", and "Women: Can you Flaunt too Much?"
bodies, and what we do with them, are a topic which is usually fairly high on
the discussion agenda. The media is always questioning what is and isn’t ok to
do with your body, with everyone participating the debate seemingly entitled to
their opinion, no matter how shitty. When you think about it, it’s like being
an elephant in the room: no one is talking to you, no matter how loudly you
scream, “BUT IT’S MY GREY ELEPHANTINE BODY, NOT YOURS! IT’S UP TO ME WHAT I DO
WITH IT!” Basically, it’s really, really impolite.
more than ever, women’s bodies are a battleground; mere vessels for debate and
discussion. Binge drinking articles – and the pictures that accompany them- are
particularly facile. Often, they will feature a photograph of a woman in a
short skirt or a low cut dress- your standard red top cliché of a good time
gal, despite the fact that it’s not all Watford Reflex on a Friday: plenty of
binge drinkers (male and female) are doing it on their vomit-stained couches,
in baggy pajamas, in the mornings, very unattractively. But the notion of binge
drinking being a female-specific malaise is a topic for a whole other article.
to this week’s dose of female corporeal analysis is the Belfast Telegraph, with
its article about “the problem of sexually active young girls,” its author
wagging their finger peremptorily at a group of schools in Southampton who are
offering the contraceptive implant to girls considering intercourse, not yet
having reached the age of consent. Mary Kenny
writes: “It makes a mockery of the idea of the legal age of consent, which is
supposed to be 16. If a girl of 13 has been fitted with a contraceptive
implant, surely this is the equivalent of giving the green light to sexual
activity at 13?”
the old green light argument, in which measures responding to society’s
symptoms are deemed to signify approval. By Kenny’s logic, giving free condoms
to prostitutes is “giving them the green light” to be paid for sex, and giving
free bus passes to pensioners means there’ll be a geriatric flooding of the
streets, when they should be at home, wrapped up warm in front of Doctors.
need condoms. Older people need bus passes. And, it seems, thirteen year old
girls need contraception.
per usual, pornography is to blame. “There are enormous pressures on young girls today,” writes
Mary Kenny, who, as no spring chicken, is best placed to know, “The internet is awash with
sexualisation and with pornography.” Yet,
perhaps tween year old girls aren’t as sexually precocious as Kenny would have
you believe. One twelve year old said: “I’m a bit confused about whether or not
I’m a child or a grown up,” (that’s puberty love, it sucks), “when I went into
town last Saturday, I bought a lipstick and some Sylvanian families.” Hardly
your depraved, sex-hungry tweenage man-hunter. When pressed on her future
ambitions, she said she wanted to start a mouse sanctuary.
article’s conclusion to the problem of
sexually active young girls is that “it is surely better for their own self-worth
and development if they can wait until adulthood.” Obv. That doesn’t mean that,
in the event that they are at risk of becoming pregnant, we shouldn’t give them
a daily dose of oestrogen to stop it happening. Because who is this initiative
for after all? Not the moralistic Mary Kenny, that’s for sure. No, it’s for all
the young girls who, for whatever reason, whether it is forced, manipulative or
voluntary, are at risk of becoming pregnant and may not have the emotional
skills to deal with the trauma of an abortion. It may erode the ‘rights of parents’
by not demanding their consent (but last time I checked ‘the rights of parents’
didn’t feature heavily in the European Convention of Human Rights) but it will
give young women the power to take decisions which will, ultimately, affect
their own bodies.
those girls who’d quite like to grow up and start a mouse sanctuary one day,
unscuppered by an unwanted child.