At a Target store in California, a shopper browsing the greeting card aisle was intrigued by a card that read, “Heard you’re pregnant,” but was shocked when inside the card all it said was, “Whore.”
In the handful of articles I found on this story, I couldn’t believe that the consensus was that either the card was funny or that it didn’t matter and anyone who was offended should chill out and get a sense of humor. Really? Shaming and bullying young, sexually active girls and young women about an unplanned pregnancy is funny? It’s no big deal that a girl was called a whore? Do you think she deserves it because she dared to make a choice of having sex without your approval?
Because let’s be clear here: this is targeting young, unmarried women and girls. Who would even think to call a married woman a whore for getting pregnant? Who assumes that a married woman getting pregnant is automatically a bad thing that she should be called names for? And who would call an older, single woman a whore for getting pregnant? Married women and older, single women are socially allowed to have sex. The fact that they have sexual desires and act upon those desires is understood and accepted. The same respect for female sexuality is unfortunately not nearly as common for young women.
When a young woman becomes pregnant, it’s as if she has done something horribly wrong. Calling her a whore signifies the stereotypes that she has slept with several men (which is also seen as something horribly wrong for a young woman) and that she must have low self-esteem because it is presumed that she lets men use her (which, though it hardly stops anyone from slinging this insult, also unfairly makes men out to be animals who only want instant-gratification sex and then discard the girl without further thought).
Calling a girl a whore for the fact that she had sex and accidentally got pregnant devalues the choice that girl made to have sex and devalues her ability to make a positive sexual decision. When someone is called a whore, they are being told that the way they have chosen to express and practice their sexuality is wrong. Teenage sexuality is not inherently wrong. But when we have a culture that believes that it is, then the girls who get outed for having sex by becoming pregnant face much harsher torment and ridicule than all the other sexually active girls. They somehow get more blame and are more publicly shunned.
But why? With the prevalence of abstinence-only programs in this country, (along with the unfortunate social stigma) is it any wonder that many teenagers don’t know about all of their birth control options, how to use them correctly, and lack access to them? And when they do have all the information, why does no one seem to accept that accidents do happen? Nothing is 100% percent effective at preventing pregnancy for people who are sexually active. So why does she still deserve to be called a whore?
And then there’s the possibility that the reason she got pregnant is because she was raped. Is she still a whore if someone raped her? And if this young woman was raped, if she had to endure something as terrifying and demeaning as rape, does she really need to hear that you think she’s the one who should be called names for what happened? Calling her a whore after she was raped further demeans and disrespects her, but more significantly, it blames her for what happened. Blaming a survivor of rape for becoming pregnant because of that rape is it’s own level of cruel. We should be ashamed that we let our society treat our young women this way. Having sex doesn’t make you a whore no matter how old you are, no matter who you had sex with, and no matter whether or not you became pregnant.
The fact that many people think this card is funny shows how little the public realizes that they are shaming young women and that doing so is wrong. We have to become more aware of how our vocabulary affects others. While most people agree that bullying is wrong, too many people participate in and condone bullying everyday. Not seeing the problem when pregnant girls are called whores IS the problem. Now you know.