by Kimberly Travis
Contraceptive use is not a sign of a man’s masculinity or a woman’s promiscuity. However, contraceptives are still taboo topics in the 21st century, especially in Mississippi. Growing up in Yazoo City, Mississippi, I learned many stigmas about what girls should and should not do, but there were a few things that I had to cancel, and in 2020, I hope you will, too.
Number 1: “If you have sex, you will get pregnant and die.”
It’s a scare tactic that parents and educations use time and time again to scare young people into abstaining from sex, but it also isn’t wholly accurate. The truth is, using an effective form of contraception can prevent pregnancy. However, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you’ve become pregnant, it does not mean that you will die. While we cannot rule out risks that may be associated with carrying a child, it is essential to note that women and girls have healthy pregnancies and that getting pregnant does not equal death.
Number 2: “If you get on birth control, it means you get around.”
It is devastating to think that people would stigmatize contraception as something used by those who experience sexuality differently than others. But, then again, who cares about their opinions? Birth control should be available to anyone who wants to prevent pregnancy, and it comes in many different forms: medications, procedures, devices, and behaviors. What’s important is that you find the contraceptive option that works best for you, and ignore the unsolicited perspectives of others who may not agree with your decisions.
Number 3: “A woman should not carry condoms because it’s not ladylike.”
For boys, it’s like a right of passage to get your first box of condoms. We celebrate boys for making the safe move of taking proper precautions to prevent pregnancy, but not girls. No matter what anyone says, it is perfectly okay for girls to carry condoms, too. It’s what we call “sexual safety.” Unlike other contraceptive methods, condoms can prevent pregnancy and protect you from being exposed to STIs.
It’s okay to stay prepared. Taking care of your body means that you are practicing self-care and self-love, and that also includes taking care of your sexual and reproductive health. While some people are more focused on managing your sexual behaviors, your use of contraception proves that you are taking proactive steps to prevent consequences later. To stop the stigma and shame around contraception, we must all realize that we are all sexual beings and that sex is a natural part of living. As a result, using contraceptives should be seen as a responsible choice of action, regardless of gender or sex.
Kimberly Travis is a Teen Health Mississippi youth contributor.