Abstinence, The "Sexy" WayS

The Candie's Foundation claims that its mission is "to educate America's youth about the devastating consequences of teenage pregnancy." So why, then, is it pushing abstinence, and "sexy" abstinence, at that, as an ideal solution?

The foundation is currently pushing their new t-shirt design, created in partnership with Seventeen, which reads: "I'm Sexy Enough To Keep You Waiting." A number of other designs were considered, shown on the website in this charming graphic, with girls in flirty tees surrounding text that reads: "Be Sexy! It Doesn't Mean You Have To Have Sex!"

Abstinence, The "Sexy" WayS




No, it doesn't. But as Lisa at Sociological Images points out, why aren't there any boys wearing these t-shirts? Why is it only girls who are expected to "be sexy!" but remain chaste? Why are we pushing this ridiculous "I'm so sexy," bullshit slogan as a means to really address the issues behind teen pregnancy rates? Why aren't there any references to condoms, or safe sex, or birth control pills? It seems a bit disturbing that the foundation's main method of reaching young girls is to tell them to "be sexy" but remind them that having sex might lead to "devastating consequences." Mixed messages much?

I suppose this fits in with the company's current split between its retail spokesperson, Britney Spears, and its recent foundation spokesperson, Bristol Palin: they push a sexy image on consumers, and hope that teens will buy into their sexy brand, but then expect young women to push their sexuality aside (or apologize for it) and abstain, or else face "the consequences." Are there consequences of having sex? Yes. But it seems as if pregnancy is the only one this foundation wants to address, and abstinence is their main method of doing so, all while reminding girls that they can still "be sexy!" It's disappointing and frustrating, and just feeds into the bizarre culture that wants young women to exude sexuality, as long as they don't dare to actually claim some sort of control over their own.

If the Candie's Foundation really wants to fight teen pregnancy, perhaps they should tone down the "sexy" angle and focus on the actual sex. Oh, and it wouldn't hurt to note that teen pregnancy isn't a female issue alone: turning it into the sole responsibility of young women, who have too many mixed messages thrown at them as it is, simply makes it easier for the world to expect them to remain both sexy and sexless, an unfair notion that will only lead to more confusion. It's education, openness, and honesty that's the key, not pushing girls away from their own sexuality while slapping the word "sexy" across their chests.

[Candie's Foundation]
Sexing Up Abstinence [Sociological Images]
Bristol Palin's New Gig [NYTimes]