Bristol Palin: Don’t get pregnant unless you’re privileged

Bristol Palin has shot a new PSA for the abstinence pushing and just generally creepy Candie’s Foundation. And it is so not OK:

Transcript after the jump.
Even entertainment website E! Online recognizes that this add is messed up, saying the message is:

“I’m privileged, so it’s OK that I got pregnant, but you’re not, so don’t.” (We paraphrase…but just barely.)

Apparently you should keep your legs crossed (Candie’s Foundation’s preferred method of birth control) if you’re poor, don’t have family support, or are not a celebrity. What a despicable, classist approach.

Transcript: What if I didn’t come from a famous family? What if I didn’t have all their support? What if I didn’t have all these opportunities? Believe me, it wouldn’t be pretty. Pause before you play.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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  • Nikoel

    That would be true if this were just an interview. Instead it’s a Public Service Announcement telling other teens what they should do to avoid being in her situation, which is just don’t have sex unless you come from privilege too. How can you completely miss the bullshit here?

  • paperispatient

    Absolutely. But in the abstinence-only world, the only valid way to “take responsibility for your actions” is to keep and raise your baby whether or not you actually want to.

  • paperispatient

    I don’t think it’s that feminists are defending the idea that “underprivileged teens shouldn’t be warned off from having kids.” But the ad doesn’t offer any useful information or practical advice, it just moralizes to teens who don’t have the privilege that Bristol does. And even though I don’t think anyone would argue that it is a desirable thing for teens living in poverty to become single parents, policing their sexuality and telling them to “pause” before having sex doesn’t seem terribly constructive or helpful. Pause…and then do it anyway? Pause and put on a condom? Pause and decide to “save” yourself for marriage? As some others have commented, although Bristol has made statements about safer sex, she’s also made them about abstaining until marriage, and I think in a lot of people’s minds, fair or not, she’s linked more to the latter than the former.
    To me, by not offering something more concrete than “pause,” the ad kind of suggests that it’s cool for kids like Bristol to have sex because they have a wealthy family to fall back on if they get pregnant but teens that don’t have that are just shit out of luck. I think you can discuss the difficulties middle- and working-class teens would have dealing with pregnancy and becoming parents without making it seem like just not having sex is their only option.

  • liv79

    Why? Why “trust” her? what on earth does she know about how life without support is not pretty? Why trust someone who says “Do as I say, not as I do?” Why trust someone who preaches abstinence with a babe in her arms? We don’t accept hypocrisy from legislators or politicians, why accept it from Palin?
    We all make mistakes, but we don’t get paid to make self-reverential PSA’s about our mistakes and then preach to the less fortunate about seeing the error of our ways. It’s crap I tell you, plain and simple.

  • Sloppy Sandwich

    Maybe the reason we’re missing that part is that she didn’t say that.

  • Sloppy Sandwich

    She isn’t the only spokesperson. And some teenage girls are conservative, maybe she resonates with them. It’s not an ad campaign aimed exclusively at feminists.

  • TabloidScully

    Even if you’re correct that the real problem is more white women with financial means aren’t acknowledging their privilege, that doesn’t make the problems with this ad go away.
    First of all, the world’s most famous teen mom has zero credibility in preaching abstinence. It comes across as hypocrisy at its finest, which is something that “isn’t pretty.” Especially since she’s tried to become the poster woman for abstinence, which she has likewise admitted is “unrealistic.”
    Which wouldn’t be such a problem, except there is no ambiguity to this ad. Candie’s says they support contraceptive and abstinence, but as an earlier poster already identified, the Candie’s website clears up any misunderstandings that might ultimately arise as to where they stand. There’s a reason they say “PAUSE before you play,” rather than “PROTECT.”
    Not to mention this ad is obviously targeting girls. Where are the “PROTECT” or hell even “PAUSE” messages geared towards boys? Nowhere to be found. We can’t hold Palin directly responsible for that, but it does show there’s an obvious flaw in how Candie’s chooses to operate (and, given how many ads Candie’s ran in the 90’s of Jenny McCarthy in a cami, some Candie’s and just her panties, don’t tell me they have no idea how to market to males).
    However, I think people supporting this ad are misunderstanding those of us who don’t. We’re not saying Palin is wrong in identifying her privilege made it easier to have and support a child because that’s obviously just reality. We’re arguing that the message is classist because her privilege made it okay for her NOT to “pause” before she chose to play, because she would have support for the consequences while the rest of us likely don’t. That, itself, is undeniably classist, because privilege should not determine whether a person opts for sexual relations.

  • liv79

    Amen. And generally when someone is identifying her privilege, the best thing to do is to push that dialogue further, rather than solidifying it with more displays of privilege and classism.

  • Kessei

    What’s wrong with pausing?
    I constantly hear people saying that teenagers will go ahead and have sex no matter what because it’s in the heat of the moment and hormones and blahblahblah. If that’s really what people believe goes on, then I’d argue pausing and taking stock would be PRECISELY what needs to happen.
    How many people end up having sex they don’t really want because in the momentum there’s little clear-headed opportunity for them to sit back and say, “Hold on, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this”?
    I knew a LOT of classmates – male and female – who had that experience in high school and college.
    Pausing and considering what you’re about to do is hardly saying, “Don’t have sex.” It’s just saying, “Make sure you want to have sex.” How is that not feminist? How is that anything other than “Yes means Yes”?

  • Ayla

    This has to be one of the most ridiculous posts I have ever seen on Feministing.

  • rhowan

    The point is that using Bristol Palin in their ad without explicitly saying they are pro-contraception inadvertently misrepresents their values. Most people viewing the ad will see Palin and interpret “Pause before you play” as abstinence only.

  • bumblebecky

    I plan on sending this e-mail to them:
    “While I appreciate that you at least mention condoms once on your website, I am thoroughly disappointed by your latest PSA starring Bristol Palin.
    And I do mean starring lightly, because I am assuming you paid a very pretty penny for her very pretty face.
    I don’t think that you realize the underlying message of what your PSA is claiming. Bristol is saying that it’s okay for her to get pregnant because she is famous, and so is her super-duper loving family, but not okay for you, because you most likely do not have a famous family.
    I guess that’s why Jamie Lynn Spears’ pregnancy was okay too! Except that she had a group of followers on television show….who then thought it was a good idea to get pregnant. Interesting. Politics arn’t like that, right? It’s strictly business!
    Fix your message. Until then I will never support your campaign and will be against it.
    Thank you for your time.
    I look forward to hearing back from you, but I will not hold my breath,

  • bumblebecky

    I am actually 18. I was under the bush abstinence only program and I managed to find out lots of things on the internet (specifically Violet Blue and and was able to tell my peers things. I would often always have condoms in my backpack (that I would take from planned parenthood) and I would distribute if people wanted them, I would often leave them in the bathrooms too.
    I would tell kids who had herpes to make sure they bought lube that did not have Arginine in it, and I would sketch sex positions to have the best orgasms.
    I am not saying that I am BETTER than her, or anyone for that matter. But seriously, it’s about education and that ad I honestly don’t think is going to make people want to get educated. I think it’s going to make the people that hate her, hate her more. (I am included in that list) and the people who love her, love her more.
    What I really really want to know, is the money. Is she like her mother? Did she do this out of the concern of her heart? Or is this going to baby’s first gun?
    Again, I don’t mean to be condescending, but everyone has access to information (We aren’t china!) It’s how you distribute it, and make people want to learn thats the hard part. This did not inspire me, nor did it inspire a lot of people here.
    PS From what I can tell, they only mention condoms once on their website.

  • bumblebecky

    I like you! You can come home with me tonight. =D