Belfast Telegraph Implies Contraception Will Make You a Whore

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?"

Women’s 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.

Now, 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.

Adding 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?”

Aha, 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.

Prostitutes need condoms. Older people need bus passes. And, it seems, thirteen year old girls need contraception.

As 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.

The articles 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.

All those girls who’d quite like to grow up and start a mouse sanctuary one day, unscuppered by an unwanted child.