Originally posted on Feministing- http://feministing.com/2013/05/16/will-the-teen-mom-shaming-ever-stop/
By VERÓNICA BAYETTI FLORES | Published: MAY 16, 2013
A lot of these ads include the stuff about the cost of raising a child, which once again, is not particular to the age of the mother. What gets to me about these are the class implications of this kind of approach – i.e. if you don’t have this kind of money, then you have no place being a mother. Sure, young folks likely have less independent sources of income, but we can’t decontextualize this from the class status of their families, and thus their access to financial support. Economic arguments like this one serve to reinforce racist, eugenicist notions that poor folks are unfit to parent.
This one makes me wanna flip tables and take off my earrings because I am ready to step. There is so much wrong here, but let’s start with the idea that mothers can’t change the world. WHAT! Yep, too busy changing diapers, you can’t possibly use that little brain of yours for anything else amiright? The sheer absurdity (and, oh yeah, sexism) of that notion is really beyond comprehension. Was nobody involved in this ad campaign a mother? But we know this ad is targeted at youth, and perhaps the idea is that YOUNG mothers can’t possibly create change. Of course, this is no less ridiculous – young mamas are resisting shameful messages, hitting up their representatives in DC to demand the support they need to raise their families, fighting for paid sick time and the right to stay in school. Young mamas are making it happen y’all! They’re changing diapers and cooking dinner and organizing the protest, they’re securing childcare and figuring out how to make ends meet, and that survival is resistance in the face of bullshit like this ad campaign.
How about some real solutions? How about increasing access to contraception and abortion for young women who don’t want to become parents but can’t afford these options? How about acknowledging that these even exist and are safe and effective? How about working toward a world in which young parents have the support they and their children need to thrive? We need less shaming and more expansion of health care access, less useless PSAs and more support for young parents to stay and do well in school. This isn’t a new concept – communities of color have been calling this out for years. It’s obvious that these initiatives serve only to add stigma and do nothing to address the material conditions that actually affect young families and the poor outcomes that they can face: access to things like education, affordable health care, childcare, housing.
No one has any business telling people when or how it is appropriate to start their families. Reproductive justice at its core is about bodily autonomy, supporting people’s reproductive decision-making, and making sure that folks can raise the kids that they have with dignity. We cannot meaningfully stand for these values and shame young moms at the same time.