Author: has written 5302 posts for this blog.

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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31 Responses

  1. Gretchen
    Gretchen November 12, 2007 at 9:51 am |

    “From my experience the vast  majority of people still believe in an absolute – they believe in God  and they do recognize that we are dependent people.  Hence, this is why we start with the moral dimension, that does not flow primary from the church but flows from the very word of God,” the bishop said.

    Uh … dude, you’re a bishop. Of course the “vast majority” of people you interact with believe in God.

  2. Yuri K.
    Yuri K. November 12, 2007 at 10:09 am |

    His conclusion is “people need to worry more about being shot, by me.”

  3. libber
    libber November 12, 2007 at 10:21 am |

    Mixed message: don’t commit burglary, but if you do, don’t take any personal items.

  4. Schmorgluck
    Schmorgluck November 12, 2007 at 11:26 am |

    There’s a little mistake in the post, with a sentence displayed in a quote it introduces:
    “Then there are Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which are just as out of touch as abstinence-only sex-ed programs:”

  5. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne November 12, 2007 at 12:17 pm |

    Behind Planned Parenthood’s three-paned bulletproof glass receptionist window at 2010 Pecos, just off Sherwood Way in San Angelo, workers and volunteers provide every kind of contraception imaginable, including foam, condoms and other non-prescription methods without parental consent.

    The good Bishop may be shocked to hear this, but you can buy those non-prescription methods of contraception at any drugstore without parental consent. Hell, you can get ’em at Wal-Mart and Target if you want to save a couple of bucks.

  6. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers November 12, 2007 at 12:39 pm |

    You know what works to prevent teen pregnancy?

    Teaching girls that they have a destiny in their lives greater than simply having babies.

    I mean, if you’re going to grow up, get married and have babies, and that’s all you’re ever going to do, then why is it important to wait? You don’t need an education to have babies or even to raise them with love (although to raise them to be *smart*, yeah, you would.) You only need some apprenticeship training in order to keep a house clean and cook for it, and you may have already gotten that from your mom. So why not have your kids when your energy levels are highest, your health is best, and you’ll be most likely to live long enough to help *your* kids with your grandkids?

    Only if a girl has ambitions to get an education, and do something with her life instead of or besides having babies, does it matter that she shouldn’t have them as a teen. I always wanted babies, but I also wanted to be a scientist. That didn’t work out, but I did develop a career in IT, and now I can work from home and make money even with hefty family obligations that make it difficult to get an outside job. I have my babies *and* my career, because I knew from the start that I was going to college, that I was going to have a career, and I was going to be responsible for winning my own bread. My family never expected me to depend on a man for my survival; I was expected to go to college, become an intellectual, and acquire skills I could use in a successful, financially rewarding career. So I waited until 23 to have sex and 34 to have babies.

    You want your daughters not to be pregnant teens? Teach them they’re going to go to college and learn something and have a career. Because if you’re just going to have babies and keep house, you have all the training in that you need by the age of 16, and girls understand this.

  7. The14thOpossum
    The14thOpossum November 12, 2007 at 1:06 pm |

    Alara, I agree but it’s not just about waiting as long as you did either. I lost my virginity at 14, but always practiced (and still do) at least one form of birth control, usually two. And I knew I didn’t want kids that young because I wanted a future as well. Lucky for me, I lived in MA, and had no problem asking my Health teacher for condoms (that way I didn’t have to be embarressed about buying them at the store, or possibly not being able to get them because I wasn’t 18- real thoughts I had at the time), and later, about how to get on the pill. It’s just horrible that people are constantly trying to limit teen’s choices, with life-changing consequences.

  8. TinaH
    TinaH November 12, 2007 at 1:37 pm |

    Don’t you hate it when the Supreme Court interprets the words “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” to mean that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion?

    *shakes impotent fist at the Supreme Court*



  9. trailer park
    trailer park November 12, 2007 at 1:41 pm |

    Franke is also involved in teaching abstinence to her clients. “Many times when you mention abstinence, they’ll look at you like you are from Mars,” Franke said, lamenting about the downward spiral of moral understanding of young women. “There are no more positive role models. Many times it is the second or third generation of unwed mothers coming to see us. But every so often, the light will come on. They understand. They get it [that they don’t have to continue having sex].”

    I feel so sorry for the abstinence-pushers who say stuff like this. It’s obvious that they’ve never had a decent lay their entire lives, and that’s sad as hell.

  10. Cara
    Cara November 12, 2007 at 1:55 pm |

    “Plan B,” or emergency contraception, is not the same thing as the abortion pill.

    Dude, how many fucking times do we have to over this? It’s gotten to a point where I can’t even tel the willfully ignorant from the malicious liars anymore.

    “It was like they were trying to sell me a used car!”

    Actually, it sounded like they were trying to help you. Abortion costs money. Hundreds of dollars. Most of PP’s regular clients are low-income, because otherwise they’d just go use their insurance to go to their personal doctors to get things like BC. They know this. Most low-income people without health insurance don’t have hundreds of dollars just sitting around. They were recognizing the fact that the woman could save $125 on a procedure that she might already be struggling to pay for, and giving her that option (the reason, I believe, that the price goes up is because the procedure has to be performed differently, i.e. a D&C instead of vacuum aspiration). You know, giving her the option, caring about their patient’s needs, being nice.

    Yeah, what slimeballs.

  11. Yup
    Yup November 12, 2007 at 2:08 pm |

    All due respect to everyone on here, but a lot of this just misses the point. Teen pregnancy has a lot more to do with class/socioeconomics/religion than it does with what sort of education a person receives at school. Go to some of the largely white/asian and extremely affluent suburbs of Dallas or Houston (e.g. Plano, Sugarland, The Woodlands) and the teen birth rate is incredibly low, lower than the national average. But Texas as a whole is comprised of more hispanics than whites, and hispanics tend to be very poor, and Catholic. If you’re wondering why a Catholic would be having premarital sex – they often don’t. Catholic hispanics in Texas tend to marry very young.

  12. meggygurl
    meggygurl November 12, 2007 at 3:03 pm |

    If you’re wondering why a Catholic would be having premarital sex – they often don’t. Catholic hispanics in Texas tend to marry very young.

    Umm… now maybe there is a large difference between the Hispanics in Texas as my home state, Georgia, but I doubt it’s that huge. I knew PLENTY of Catholic hispanic youth that were UNMARRIED and having sex. Just like I knew plenty of African American Baptists having teh sex. And these kids believed in God and were religious… funny… it seems they still were having sex.

    Of the soild 30% Hispanic population of my high school, as far as I knew, none of them were married. And plenty of them were having sex and getting pregnant. Just as the blacks were and *gasp* white kids! Upper class white kids too!

    Hell. My youth minister almost knocked a high schooler up. (And people wonder why I don’t go to chuch anymore.)

  13. roses
    roses November 12, 2007 at 3:24 pm |

    If you’re wondering why a Catholic would be having premarital sex – they often don’t.

    Hahahahahahaha. I went to Catholic school, so most of my friends are Catholic. None of them are married yet, and few of them are virgins. (And I’m not sure about those ones, either). Some of them just said, fuck it, others have an attitude of: “We’re in love, and we’re probably going to get married someday, so it’s okay.” (Which incidentally leads to intense feelings of guilt if they end up breaking up… my best friend is still fucked up over that, nearly two years after their breakup).

  14. Vir Modestus
    Vir Modestus November 12, 2007 at 3:38 pm |

    Some argue that without a common set of absolute moral values, and a collective community desire to teach moral values

    How about “Sex is nice and pleasure is good for you” as an ethic to teach. No, one can’t stop there, but it is a hell of a better start than slut-shaming and lying about, well, everything.

    Just a suggestion.

  15. nonskanse
    nonskanse November 12, 2007 at 3:46 pm |

    “too pregnant”??? versus kind of pregnant?
    Too young… … apparently not, because they’re having babies.

    I have a really hard time believing that almost half of 15-year-olds have had sex.

    I don’t.. I knew lots of people who had sex in 8th or 9th grade. But why the hell does it matter? Just educate the kids on the risks and the safest sex possible. Anyway, the lower stats in previous years may indicate lying…

  16. T.J. Narom
    T.J. Narom November 12, 2007 at 4:45 pm |

    “I love the myth that Planned Parenthood is making bank on abortions.”

    And I notice that anti-choicers usually specify ‘revenue’. I assume that conflating revenue with actual profits is an intentional slight of hand, to fool those who don’t know the difference.

  17. LS
    LS November 12, 2007 at 5:00 pm |

    I wonder how many of the oft-cited “39 percent of teens [who] said their “morals, values, and/or religious beliefs” were the most important factors affecting their decision about whether to have sex” were (gasp!) not religious? Cuz I’ll tell ya, that’s the answer I’d give, but it has far more to do with only sleeping with people who meet certain standards than it does with the Sky Fairy shaking a finger at me. Kinda like how if I’d been polled at the 2004 election I probably would have been lumped in with the “values voters” because it was all about values and ethics — Bush has none.

  18. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie November 12, 2007 at 5:34 pm |

    I mean, if you’re going to grow up, get married and have babies, and that’s all you’re ever going to do, then why is it important to wait? You don’t need an education to have babies or even to raise them with love (although to raise them to be *smart*, yeah, you would.) You only need some apprenticeship training in order to keep a house clean and cook for it, and you may have already gotten that from your mom. So why not have your kids when your energy levels are highest, your health is best, and you’ll be most likely to live long enough to help *your* kids with your grandkids?

    I don’t even know where to begin with this. You do need some education to raise kids. It’s not a walk in the park. De-valuing motherhood by implying “any idiot could do it” is insulting.

    You don’t need an education to love babies, true. But I’d hazard that a high school girl would have a much harder time raising children than a college graduate, or a high school graduate with some work experience, would.

    As for helping your kids with your grandkids, geez. So according to your schedule, you have your own kids when you’re young, and then when they have their kids, you raise them, too?

    Where are the babies’ fathers in this fantasy world of yours?

    And what makes you think that a 14- or 15-year-old who is so sure “all she wants to do is have babies” will continue to feel that way at 18 years old & one or two kids later?

    As for a destiny greater than “simply” having babies, please don’t continue to promulgate the ignorant canard that having babies is a waste of one’s life, or boring, or easy, or all the other things that pit mothers against non-mothers. Would you not feel insulted if I said, “Teach young girls that they have a destiny greater than simply having a career”?

  19. meggygurl
    meggygurl November 12, 2007 at 5:57 pm |

    tinfoil hattie-

    I believe that Jill was being a tad bit sarcastic when she said this. I think if you read this site often, you would realize that none of the bloggers think having children is a waste of time or talent. The point they are often trying to make, if that having a child, IF one wants to, should be an important and amazing thing. I can’t wait to become a mother, but I want to wait until I am old enough, smart enough, and mature enough to give my children the best mother I can be. Instead of me when I was 16, which was a mess.

    Do you take Stephen Colbert this literally, also?

  20. Micky
    Micky November 12, 2007 at 6:47 pm |

    I think the question of whether someone is having a baby in their teens is completely useless unless you include whether or not the baby was wanted. And when you ask that, it doesn’t matter which age cohort you are dealing with. Also, cultural dynamics would come into play. In African-American communities there is a stronger tradition of grandparents (particularly grandmothers) helping raise the kid which might make it easier for a young girl to consider having a baby. Also,in Hispanic communities motherhood is strongly valued and large families are common and very desired.

  21. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte November 12, 2007 at 7:01 pm |

    The assumption that the message should be “Don’t have sex” is the original fallacy. I think there is severe disagreement on both sides—our side, to be frank, thinks sex is great and that people who can enjoy it safely should feel free to indulge. It’s not “don’t have sex”, it’s “wait until you’re mature enough to have sex”, a different message entirely.

  22. Tiki
    Tiki November 12, 2007 at 11:38 pm |

    Did anyone else catch the author referring to Plan B as “the abortion pill”? I’ve posted a comment to the article calling them out on this, citing the FDA’s Q&A page if anyone is actually interested in science rather than rhetoric. I am pleased to report that I am now stuck in moderation, and expect to be so indefinitely.

  23. Tiki
    Tiki November 12, 2007 at 11:40 pm |

    whoops. This is why I stick to lurking. Jill is way ahead of me on this one. never mind…

  24. HotRodGal
    HotRodGal November 13, 2007 at 3:08 am |

    It does not surprise me in the least that this comes out of San Angelo. My boyfriend was born and raised there and I have seen up close the attitudes that seem prevalent in the area. I think Alara hit the nail on the head above regarding the need to give girls something to aspire to, a destiny greater than only having babies. There’s not a lot of opportunity there for anyone (my boyfriend moved back for six months and even with a college degree had a hard time finding work that paid more than $7/hr), much less for women with little education or skills. San Angelo also has a very high rate of meth usage.

    Of my boyfriend’s family, one sister is married and has a job but her teenage son just became a father, and the other sister is a single mom to two teenagers (both in trouble with the law) and one newborn (whose father is now in prison) and has not held a job in the six years I have known her. And, from what I have seen, this is not an unusual occurrence there.

  25. brandann
    brandann November 13, 2007 at 3:22 am |

    The children of unwed mothers are likely to repeat the cycle.

    why, oh why, is this always painted as a wrong thing to do? i am really sorry…but married does not equal good parent. i am twice the parent i could have been if i had married my Kid’s father. wtf?
    teen pregnancy also does not equal unwed mother. children out of wedlock is not the same thing, and it sure as hell isn’t dooming our children to fruitless futures. yes, i think teen pregnancy is a travesty, but unwed mother is not the same thing. perfectly mature adult women consciously decide to become mothers w/o being married all the time!!!

    it makes me angry that we paint unwed mothers as some great mistake…ugh! i can’t even form coherent thought right now…

  26. HotRodGal
    HotRodGal November 13, 2007 at 3:33 am |

    And just to clarify, per Tinfoil Hattie’s comment (I started my reply much earlier in the day and came back to finish it tonight prior to reading the other comments), when I referred to the line “destiny greater than only having babies” I meant no disrespect at all to motherhood or people who choose to have children. I think it is a very hard and important job. My point was more that with no opportunity it is harder for people to visualize a life that is different and thereby perpetuating a cycle of early pregnancy and single motherhood. Having children is a choice, but not the only option.

    Many people in San Angelo have never had the option of a career and not wanting children is seen as a VERY bizarre thing – my boyfriend’s mom asks me when we are going to have kids every time I see her even though we are not married and have repeatedly told her we don’t want them.

  27. Marle
    Marle November 13, 2007 at 11:04 am |

    Tinfoil Hattie, Alara wasn’t imagining some fantasy world, but real life for many girls who live in poor communities. It may seem insulting that any high school dropout could be a mother, but it’s true, and I’m sure that 16 has been a common age to start being a mother throughout human history. I also disagree that an education makes parenting easier. Experience with children makes parenting easier. I’m a college graduate, but I’ve never so much as changed a diaper, and I know that becoming a parent would be incredibly difficult for me. I’m sure a 16 year old who has a lot of younger siblings and nieces and nephews and knows what to expect with babies would have a much easier time being a parent than I would.

    Of course, I’m not encouraging 16 year olds to be parents or saying it’s good for them. I’m just saying they are.

  28. Alara Rogers
    Alara Rogers November 13, 2007 at 11:45 am |

    tinfoil hattie, I am a mother. I wanted to be a mother since I was a young woman. I chose it. My mother wanted to be a mother since she was a small child. She chose it. I am fully cognizant that being a mother is not a walk in the park.

    But I was babysat frequently by three incredibly stupid but incredibly loving friends of my grandmother, and I didn’t realize how dumb they were until I was a teenager. Being a mother, a *good* mother, doesn’t actually require a college education. It just doesn’t. It does not require being able to do a job that takes years of training in your adult life; the training you need to do it is often dished out to young girls from the time they are three, and often, twelve-year-old girls can perform *most* of the duties of a mother in a loving and responsible way, at least for short periods of time. Which is why we hire them as babysitters. You can be incredibly ignorant and still be a good and loving mother.

    I am not saying you *need* to be ignorant to be a mother. I am not saying you *should* be ignorant to be a mother. I am saying that you can be. And everyone knows that, including teenage girls. If a girl is raised to believe that she will never do anything with her life except have babies and raise them, why does she think she needs to wait until she is a legal adult? Kids know legal adulthood is a fiction based on how much training and education you need to do a job. A girl who never plans to do anything with her life except have babies, and raise them, and then help her babies raise their babies, and die of old age surrounded by a loving family she has cared for her whole life, DOES NOT NEED to wait until she is 22 to start with that plan. She doesn’t even need to wait until she’s 18. In fact getting started young, when she can depend on a great deal of help from her own mother, is to her advantage.

    Yes, I think there is something wrong with the life ambition to never do anything with your life except have kids. The life ambition to have kids, I totally agree with. If you want kids, you should have them. You should not let anyone shame you or make you feel inferior for wanting them. But men get to have a life ambition to have kids, and *also* a life ambition to be doctors or lawyers or CEOs, and no one even suggests to them that it would be a better world if they had no other ambition in life, no other training, no other purpose. (I also think you would have a pretty empty life if you had no destiny other than to make a lot of money at your job… but this is not an issue generally addressed by feminism because only men ever get *that* message.)

    I don’t agree that it’s a good thing for a woman to want *nothing* out of her life except to be a mother. My mother wanted to be a mother to a profound degree, but she also wants to be a writer, she also wants to be knowledgeable and informed, she wants to pursue her intellectual interests, she wants to be able to teach children she loves (not necessarily solely her own kids — she puts a lot of energy into tutoring my cousins), and so she needed an education (and frankly, could have used more of a one than she got. She dropped out of college to have me, and while she’s an avid reader and is probably more knowledgeable than many people with degrees, her lack of experience in knowing many people of different cultures than her own shows sometimes. Especially before the Internet. Now she knows a lot of different people, but she didn’t when I was growing up.) If my mother had been raised to believe that her intellect was irrelevant because she was just a girl, that she didn’t need or deserve a real education, and that her sole destiny was to be a mother, she would frankly not have been as good a mother as she was. But she was raised to believe she was smart, that she needed to excel at everything that she tried, that she should be a “champeen” (in my grandfather’s words), and that she *could* be any number of things. And I think she was a happier human being and a better mother for it.

    So if you want your daughter not to start pumping out babies when she’s 16, I believe you need to make it worth her while. She’s biologically better off starting at 16 if she’s never going to do anything with her life that requires an education. And being a mother, by itself, does not require an education. And telling her it does is not going to change the fact that it doesn’t, any more than telling kids that weed will make them go insane actually makes it do so, and kids are good at seeing through such lies. So if you want your daughter to wait until she’s an adult to get pregnant, the whole morality/religious crap is a red herring; there were plenty of religious married 14 year old girls throughout history. You need to raise her with the expectation that whether or not she chooses to have kids and be a homemaker, she should expect to do something *else* with her life as well. Hell, she could plan to homeschool and that would require a college education. She could plan to manage her family’s finances or a small business selling hand-crafted diaper bags, and she’d still be better off with a college education. If she wants the freedom to leave a husband who’s cheating on her, she needs an education because she has to have a career to fall back on if she has to be a breadwinner. But if parents do not instill girls with these expectations, if they expect that girls will grow up, get married and be perfect little hausfraus who have no life and no skills outside what’s needed to raise children, then they can’t be surprised when the girls start having kids very young.

    (As for whether or not 14 year olds who think they want nothing out of life but babies might change their minds when they’re 18… HELLO, THAT IS MY POINT. Do you actually think I’m suggesting it’s a good thing to raise your daughter to believe that she should expect nothing out of life except having children? But no 14 year old girl thinks that she will do nothing with her life except have babies unless her parents or the people responsible for raising her have *allowed* her to develop that attitude. Women whose life ambition from early childhood was to be mothers, like my mom, *still* see themselves as people who need an education *if* their parents have taught them that they need one.)

    My argument, in a nutshell, is that patriarchy, sexism and low expectations for girls causes too-early pregnancy as much as poor access to birth control does, and far more than “lack of religion” or “low morals” does. And if, as a parent, you want your daughters not to have babies when they are 15, rather than emphasizing that you, the parent, own their pussy and expect them to keep it locked up until they’re out of the house because the Thunder God told them so, you are better off teaching them that they have a future which would be threatened by too-early pregnancy, and if they believe it, they will do most of the work of avoiding pregnancy themselves.

  29. Dr. Hermione Granger, PhD
    Dr. Hermione Granger, PhD November 13, 2007 at 1:16 pm |


    I noticed the “revenue” slight of hand as well. Revenue is not profit, it’s the money you receive for goods & services and is separate from the expenses required to provide such services.

    God damn, I guess my accounting class was good for something after all!

    (please, no nitpicking, it was an intro class & I got a B)

  30. Feministe » Teen pregnancy will also restore your virginity and pay off your credit card debt

    […] babies, they’re taking all kinds of steps to insure that teenagers in real life have fewer options to prevent pregnancy, and are kept ignorant about their bodies and their health. They are making it […]

  31. Jesurgislac
    Jesurgislac July 22, 2008 at 11:31 am |

    Alara, I agree for the most part, but this has nothing to do with delaying how long you take to have sex – in the UK, teenage girls with career/education ambitions are a lot more likely to have an abortion if they become pregnant than girls who’ve been taught, by their family/their schools, that their function is to have babies.

    The upside is that a teenage girl who has a baby, even if she just thought that was all she would do, will often take advantage of educational/career support if that’s available to her. The practice of shutting off such support or making it hard to access is downright shortsighted, but it happens in the UK as well as in the US.

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