Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Candies campaign: Serious or sinister?

Part of me slacking at work includes visits to

Today his entire backdrop is advertising the Candies Foundation, a celebrity-heavy campaign to reduce the rates of teen pregnancy. (pictured below, the background)

Since I'm actually at work and should be working not blogging, I didn't have time to look too much into this but I was intrigued. Some things gave me hope. For instance their 'Frequently Asked Questions' page read (*emphasis mine*):

Unplanned pregnancy is at the root of a number of important public health and social challenges ....... Another major consequence of high rates of unplanned pregnancy is, of course, high levels of abortion. Although there are many deeply felt and strongly held opinions nationwide about the proper place of abortion in American life, all would prefer that fewer women be faced with difficult decisions brought on by unplanned pregnancy.

Cool, I can get behind that. I want less women backed into the tough decision of abortion/adoption/keeping an unplanned pregnancy.

But other things are not sitting so right with me. Take for example the site's tagline: "Vow Not Now" --- have we learned NOTHING from no-good abstinence-only programs?? Those virginity pledges weren't so effective.

Then there was this PSA with Jenny McCarthy.

I'm not loving the implied message here that sex equals baby. Actually it's sex without protection or failed protection which equals possible conception which THEN equals baby. It would have made much more sense for McCarthy to hand the guy some rubbers and hand the girl the pill. Although that doesn't sit right with me either.

That's the problem with teen sex, it doesn't break down into tidy little 30 second PSAs. It's full of emotions, hormones, choices and consequences (emotional and physical).

But the overall tone still bugged me, especially with the girl being handed the baby and the boy running out (even though that can be quite true as well). As a matter of fact, NONE of the Candies PSAs sat right with me. I thought most were a throwback to the posters I remember from my high school health days-- which I also thought were offensive (I remember one in particular with a sad looking girl with a HUGE pregnant stomach-- the text read: "You thought acne was embarassing"--- charming, huh?).

Then I saw that the website for Candie's foundation has a tab called "Be Sexy tees" and I thought-- what a mind-boggle, teens are wearing sexy tees but they're supposed to abstain/be afraid of sex?

The tee they are selling is this number:

Practically a page out of the ol' abstinence only playbook. I can't help but read a subtext here that says, "Sexy girls wait and slutty whores don't."

Not sure how I feel about this Candies Foundation yet.


Anonymous said...

I think it is a great campaign.

Anne Onne said...

I don't like it. Admittedly, it's new, and I don't know as much about it as I could, but...when it comes to anti-teen pregnancy campaigns, they tend to more often than not, invlove purity pledges and slut shaming, and tso far Candies haven't proved they're any different. I want to assume innocent until proven guilty, but with history, I tend to wait for something to really show they're different before handing out gold stars.

The PSA reinforces the notion that unplanned rpegnancies are all the girl's fault, and places the blame on them. The woman in the clip was pretty much addressing the girl, by the look of it. Whils I understand the argument that in reality, women are most often left holding the baby, I don't think targeting awareness ads at the people most likely to be aware of the risks is the best strategy. Sure, tell girls pregnancy is a big thing, and contraception and responsible choices are important. But don't EVEr ignore the boys, don't dare feed into the stereotype that it's nothing to do with them, and don't give them excuses for not facing up to their responsibilities, either.

I'm also being suspicious because of their 'Nearly 80% of fathers of babies born to teen mothers do not marry their babies mothers.' line. Is not marrying a terrible thing? Somehow, I have a feeling that with this and their emphasis on virginity pledges and shaming anybody who doesn't wait, that they have too much in common with your average Fundy organisation. It's not that they don't have any good stuff, but the focus is more heavily skewed towards abstinence

Whilst it's important that teens shouldn't be pressured into sex, and be able to see abstinence as a valid choice, the focus is kind of iffy to me. There's a lot more of a focus on that than on contraception, and half their pages link to *, which is harder to navigate, and not the best site for a teen who just wants some simple information. I'd think much more of them if they linked to family planning or scarlateen, because those sites are much easier to use, and useful, and much more well known. The omission personally speaks volumes for me. A site that can't frankly talk about contraception without first telling people to never have sex isn't responsible.

Also, there isn't any actual advice aimed at teens directly on their site, nor is it easy to access on the site they link to, because their tips for teens section links to a page about resources for anti-teen pregnancy programmes. If they're more worried about running programmes than on educating teens directly, I just don't think they're a good site.

Also, sorry to be nitpicky, but:
'I'm not loving the implied message here that sex equals baby. Actually it's sex without protection or failed protection which equals possible conception which THEN equals baby.'
Even possible conception doesn't equal baby. It equals embryo, which might develop into a foetus, which, if carried to term would equal a baby. Let's not take abortion or miscarriage out of the equation. ;)

* on top of being full of babble, so that any useeful info is lost in it all, it refers to such a thing as 'unwanted or involuntart sex' Dude, coerson is rape. end of. I don't like any site that doesn't recognise rape.

Anonymous said...

I think you are right on about the strangeness of the Candies campaign! Mixed messages = more confusion and shame = perpetuation of inequality and subjugation of women.

aj said...

The abstinence campaigns and the prevention crap are nonsense. How about this. Teach accelerated learning techniques to children and to adolescents so that by the time they reach the age of sexual maturity they can get married sooner and have children without telling them that sex is wrong. How about ending the 3 MONTH holiday every year for children and giving chilrdren diplomas at 14-15 and degrees at 18 instead of making them wait until 22 and binge drinking and crap like that. How about revolutionizing the public school system so they teach kids what they really need to know like things about health, goal setting, budget planning, and stuff like that instead of the useless memorizing of facts and reading of literature of dead people. The reason why teenagers have children is because they are of age. Change the system so that teenagers can have children if they want to intsead of demonizing teenagers. The reason why our grandparents had children so young is because it wasn't the end of the world if you didn't have a college education and you could get married without social stigma at 18 or 16. Now if you get married that young you are viewed as immature and unexperienced in life and weighed down. Give me a break. How about this. Cut down the education about 5-6 years and encourage teenagers to have as many kids as they want. People are the most important thing in the world after God and Jesus, not a career or money.