Why the Trojan condom commercial is emblematic of abstinence-only sex education

Jill Filipovic wrote for the Huffington Post on why the CBS and Fox executives might have decided not to run the new Trojan ad. I really recommend you read the piece in its entirety, but here’s the first and last bits, to get you really interested:

According to a Fox executive, “Contraceptive advertising must stress health-related uses rather than the prevention of pregnancy.” One has to wonder where this executive got the idea that pregnancy is not a health-related issue (maybe he sat in on a few too many Bush-funded abstinence-only education classes). While the executive may appear to simply lack a rudimentary understanding of pregnancy, it’s more likely that he is bowing to demands of the “moral majority” in the United States — a vocal and powerful political force that claims to be pro-life and pro-family, but doesn’t actually believe in preventing unwanted pregnancy.

The vast majority of American women will use contraception at some point in their lives. People of both sexes want to plan their families. Self-determination is a desire that crosses all party lines and ideologies. All of this makes it even more fascinating when a fairly quotidian advertisement makes waves because it attempts to sell condoms, while few of us so much as bat an eyelash at the constant stream of highly sexualized images we see on television every day.

While Fox executives are comfortable airing an ad of Paris Hilton in a bathing suit soaping herself up to sell hamburgers, they refuse an ad that promotes condom use for pregnancy and disease prevention. It’s an interesting twist on the old advertising adage — Sex sells, just don’t try to sell safer sex.

So here’s the thing: we must start serious sex education in our country. Our teen pregnancy and STD/STI transmission rates are abysmal when compared to other industrialized countries. Really, it’s just embarrassing. Its been shown often enough that abstinence-only-until-marriage either has no effect or has a negative effect on adolescent sexuality. I continue to be amazed that in the fact of the high need of our teenagers and the high impact of a relatively simple solution (comprehensive sex education) our country continues to do nothing.

So rebel! Go tell all the teenagers you know about safe sex! E-mail them a condom commercial! Send them to a website designed to be really informative! Hand out condoms outside your local high school (be sure to do it just off of school grounds)! Volunteer at Planned Parenthood! Call your Senators and Representatives to say you are firmly in favor of comprehensive sex education, that safe sex must be taught in our schools! Sign the petition to have CBS and Fox air condom commercials! You can have an effect on individuals and on our country as a whole.

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.

1 Comment

  1. The media has made sex so dirty that safe sex has become an enigma!By not promoting safe sex media houses help maintain the taboo status thus making it more alluring and in the end sell more products.

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