Educate Not Shame

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Slut-shaming is one of the many tools used by American society to embarrass women who are sexually active and have the nerve to actually enjoy sex. Whether by choice or force, women who have sex are ridiculed in cruel and demeaning ways. Example: Cassidy Goodson. Cassidy is a young girl who last year was charged as an adult in the murder of her newborn son. She hid her pregnancy from her family and subsequently strangled her son to death. She faces life in prison if convicted.

Image from: Renegadechicks.com

Image from: Renegadechicks.com

According to a news release from the local sheriff’s office, on Sept. 19, 2012, Cassidy Goodson went into labor in the bathroom of her family’s mobile home in Lakeland, Florida. To hide her cries of pain, she placed a towel in her mouth and ran the water in the faucet. She used a pair of scissors to pry the nine and a half pound baby out of her womb and into the toilet, where she squeezed its neck until it stopped moving. Then she cleaned up the bathroom, showered with the dead baby, and placed the infant’s body in a shoebox along with her soiled clothes and towels.

Three days later, after smelling a strong odor coming from Cassidy’s room, her mother found the deceased newborn and placed a frantic call to the police. Upon questioning by homicide detectives, Cassidy confessed to choking the baby to stop him from breathing because she “didn’t know what to do with it.” Autopsy results have confirmed that the cause of death was asphyxia from strangulation and blunt force trauma.

The comments about this young girl on various blogs and Internet news sites have been absolutely vicious. She has been called an evil, selfish little ho who should have kept her damn legs closed The level of ignorance and vitriol directed towards this little girl brought tears to my eyes because I was in the same situation myself. I become pregnant at the age of fifteen and hid it from my mother, friends and various family members until my belly became too big and I could deny it no longer and went crying to my mother.

Until you have walked in the shoes of a scared, teenage girl who is pregnant, you will never understand the paralyzing fear and intense shame that she feels – for having sex, getting pregnant, and the fear of being looked at as a nasty slut. This paralyzing fear makes a young girl scared to tell her parents for fear of being looked down upon and judged. This same fear makes a young woman in this position leery of confiding in her peers because young girls often have big mouths and can be more judgmental than the adults.

But since American society is an intensely unempathatic and judgmental one, no one gives a shit about this little girl and other little girls like her: young, pregnant and scared as hell but we are left with two central questions: how do we prevent these situations, and once they occur, how do we deal with them? The answer on the front end seems easy, but in reality it is not.

Although teen pregnancy has been on a long-term decline in the United States since the late 1950s, the teen birth rate remains one of the highest among industrialized countries. In 2010, more than 365,000 American teenagers bore children, with the highest rates for African-Americans and Latinas. Meanwhile, our government funds $50 million annually for the promotion of sexual abstinence outside of marriage despite the fact that abstinence only education is not working. Instead of shaming young women and girls about their natural sexual urges, we need to educate them and the young men they have sex with about birth control and condoms because biologically speaking, women and young girls cannot get pregnant by themselves.

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