‘Some birth control methods mix better with booze. As in, you don’t have to think in the heat of the moment. Are you ready to party?” That’s the text to an ad I see multiple times a week on my Facebook News Feed. It’s an ad for “Bedsider,” a campaign from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, which, according to its Facebook tagline, is “here to help you get on top of your sex life.”
It’s more than a little strange to see this campaign promoting casual sex as a way to prevent unplanned pregnancy. The National Campaign prides itself on bipartisan and inter-religious support and leadership. Oddly enough, its board of directors is chaired by a retired Republican governor (Thomas H. Kean) and includes a Catholic priest (Michael Place) and a conservative author and commentator (Linda Chavez) alongside Planned Parenthood’s vice president of medical affairs (Vanessa Cullins) and a senior fellow at the left-leaning Center for American Progress (Maria Echaveste).
A closer look at Bedsider content indicates that the National Campaign may be moving away from the bipartisan, more sensible approach it has taken previously. The approach and language at Bedsider is consistent with liberal rhetoric of the “War on Women,” whose proponents too often seem to claim that a woman’s progress in society relies on her sexual and reproductive freedom. Further, Bedsider’s all-sex-all-the-time approach, in contrast to its earlier campaign directed at teens, fails to consider the emotional and physical hazards associated with casual, uncommitted sex — beyond just the “hazard” of an unplanned pregnancy.
The National Campaign is currently celebrating a historic decline in teen pregnancy and births. The national birth rate for teens “has declined by more than half since 1991, a dramatic plunge of over 52 percent,” reports the Daily Beast, citing the National Campaign among the leaders who deserve credit for this downward trend. “More teens are waiting to have sex,” Sarah Brown, president of the National Campaign, tells the Beast. “They also report fewer sexual partners and better use of contraception.”
When it comes to teen sex and pregnancy advice, the National Campaign’s content appears sensible. “Can I get pregnant if . . . ” reads one Facebook post at the Stay Teen page. “Hint: If you had sex, the answer is probably yes,” it continues. “The reality is, men and women’s bodies are designed to reproduce,” explains a blog post on the National Campaign’s site StayTeen.org. Other advice on the Stay Teen website seems to revolve around relationship advice (saying “I love you” to a romantic partner is a big deal), positive self-image (“it’s not your job to be a sex object”), and the importance of listening to the good advice given by parents.
The National Campaign’s teen efforts thus far have resulted in broad support from politicians and cultural leaders. Therefore, it should be in an ideal position to lead on the issue of twentysomething pregnancy.
Yet Bedsider has taken a vastly different approach on this matter, and it’s likely to make those individuals who are serious about the issue more than a little uncomfortable.
Need a coffee-cake recipe? Bedsider has a recipe that will “make your lover rip off his or her clothing immediately,” because it may act as an “aphrodisiac food.”
“Ready to unleash your artistic side in the bedroom?” asks Bedsider, in its Frisky Friday series. They have tips for you: “Get creative in the bedroom: Have sex. Make art.”
Are you feeling down about a hook-up? No need to worry about that, Bedsider says, in another post on Frisky Fridays: “Some of the most modern, empowered, secure, sexylicious women among us have had at least one walk of shame.”
The e-cards and graphics shared on Bedsider’s Facebook page are more than a little suggestive, with direct invitations for casual sex, celebrations of a life without children, and photos that resemble genitalia and pornography. Its videos featuring Guy Nottadadi (get it? — not a daddy) explaining female birth control are downright vulgar and only add to the idea that men don’t want to commit to a woman (or a child they father); all they want is easy access to sex.
With all the explicit talk about sex, it’s hard to tell that Bedsider is actually a website promoting birth control for women; that, at least, is what it claims to be doing. “Bedsider.org (Bedsider) is an online birth-control support network for women 18–29,” reads the About Us section of the Bedsider site. “Babies are great . . . when you’re ready for them,” the site explains. “We think in the meantime women should have the right to a healthy, happy sex life without having to worry about unplanned pregnancy.” So Bedsider offers a birth-control finder to help you find the method that fits your lifestyle so you can explore your sex life — with or without a committed partner.