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If you've ever watched one of MTV's Teen Mom episodes and felt like it was an advertisement for a certain IUD, you're not alone. If you made a drinking game out of the number of times girls mention their preferred birth control on one of their "check-ins" with Dr. Drew, you'd be good and drunk by the end of the show. Take a shot every time the guys bring up prevention methods, on the other hand, and you'd be pretty sober.
Why is that? Blogger Gino Feretti calls the plea for celibacy by girls at the end of each 16 and Pregnant episode "MTV’s brackish continuum of failing teen fathers" because the new moms are doing all the work, and it's always directed at the girl viewers at home. I'll see his argument. And I'll up the ante.
MTV isn't just failing teen boys. They're failing teen girls. And so are parents across America.
There's an emphasis on getting our daughters to take the birth control pill or shoving an IUD up where the sun don't shine. Girls can walk into Planned Parenthood and chat up a gyno and walk out with a prescription or a fistful of condoms.
What do teen boys have? Where are the PSAs telling them that it takes two to tango? Where is the affordable health care provider with that baggie of condoms?
Thanks to the pharmaceutical industry, the onus for sexually active couples to remain baby-free lies largely on female shoulders. Boys can't get an IUD, take a pill, or get a shot. And of course, as we all know, they can't get pregnant.
It's the latter fact that seems to set the minds of parents of boys, producers at MTV, health industry workers at ease. Why think about them? We don't have to worry about them getting knocked up!
And we wonder why statistics show teen fathers are unlikely to stick around, even though teen boys are more likely to have initiated the sex that created the baby in the first place. Society has given them a pass from the get-go. Sure, maybe Dad slapped them on the back and said, "Son, you gotta wrap that sucker." But compare that to the barrage of information out there, the resources out there, for our girls. The message is pretty clear: society has also told our girls, our DAUGHTERS, that they are responsible for her actions and his.
I can't help thinking of the burden of being an older child, always told "but you should have known better" when parents dole out a lighter punishment for the younger sibling. Our teenage boys aren't being given the tools to ensure they'll help prevent a pregnancy because society says our girls "should have known better." And her punishment is tenfold what his will be.
MTV's Teen Mom and its sister show 16 & Pregnant are only part of the problem, although watching the likes of Chelsea Houska's boyfriend make his booty calls without a single repercussion certainly doesn't help matters. We need a reboot of the entire teen pregnancy prevention process, and we need it now. There are two people who make a baby, there should be two people responsible for preventing one.
What can be done to help make this an equal burden on our teenage boys and our teenage girls?
Image via MTV