This post by Ethan Persoff is making it’s way around the blogs this week. It’s a scanned comic book from Planned Parenthood from the 1950’s-1960’s. Reading through it is pretty amazing – I highly recommend that you take a look for yourself.
The comic tells the story of a couple who have been married for 4 years and have 3 children (ages 3, 2, and 10 months!). They have tried several kinds of “birth control” and the wife is getting sick and unable to care well for her three children. She stops having sex with her husband because she’s so freaked by the idea of getting pregnant again. He is so worried that he is careless at work and sticks his hand into a machine. Luckily it’s just a scratch. However, the accident brings the husband to a doctor who asks why he was so careless and the husband opens ups about his wife’s fear of another pregnancy (the husband, it seems, is only worried about the withholding of sex, not more children). The doctor recommends birth control and a trip to Planned Parenthood. The wife is very nervous that birth control will stop the couple from having children in the future (she still wants more children?!?), but is put at ease by the female doctor at Planned Parenthood. She starts having sex again and six months later is happily having sex with her husband, but is happily not pregnant. She determines to tell her married and soon-to-be-married friends about the wonders of birth control and the ability to plan your family (while still satisfying your husband).
I find this to be a relatively hopeful piece from history. The amazing thing here is just how much mainstream attitudes about birth control have changed over the past 50 years. While it may be that abstinence-only education currently reigns supreme in schools, most teenagers and adults do have some knowledge of birth control – that it doesn’t permanently affect your ability to have children, that there’s a healthy option for everyone, and that it’s legitimate for married couples. Hopefully birth control will be as acceptable for non-married couples as well before another 50 years pass.
In that vein – keep sending your friends and family, both teens and adults, to the condom ads I’m posting. They just keep getting better!