I have a weakness for reality TV. I’m not proud to admit it, but I do, so it’s unsurprising that as I was flipping through channels recently, I got sucked into a new reality series called “Big Rich Texas.”
The thing I immediately loved about Big Rich Texas is that these ladies are Southern. Sure, the Texans are catty and rich, as any reality TV star must be, but they also pride themselves in being demure and proper. It’s the “proper” aspect that made for the interesting episode I saw the other night.
Melissa picked her 15 year old daughter Maddie up from a doctor’s appointment and noticed she was holding a brown paper bag. She asked Maddie what the doctor had given her, and Maddie reluctantly held up a birth control pack. Then Melissa grabbed the bag and discovered the bag also contained a bunch of condoms. She immediately yelled, “Are you having sex?!” but seemed to calm down after Maddie promised she wasn’t.
Later that night, Maddie and her 15 year old friend Grace were getting ready for a big soiree at the country club, when Maddie showed Grace the condoms. Y’all, this was my favorite part! Maddie and Grace decided to open a condom, and they reacted exactly the way you would hope two 15 year olds would react. They started shrieking about how slimy they were. Then they tried to fling them at each other, until they started screaming after one stuck to the bathroom mirror.
The trouble started when Maddie decided to give Grace some condoms, and Grace’s mother, Connie, found them in her purse during the country club event. To put it lightly, Connie did not react well. She yelled at Grace, immediately confronted Maddie’s mother Melissa, and made Grace leave the party early.
I’m not a parent, so I’m automatically not very qualified to judge Connie’s reaction. I realize that even though it seemed extreme to me, you really don’t know what it’s like to find condoms in your 15 year old daughter’s purse until you’re living that situation. I would probably freak out too. I do hope, however, that Connie had a chance to watch the footage of Grace and Maddie playing with the condoms and realize how innocent they actually are. Unfortunately, there are too many 15 year olds in South Carolina who wouldn’t have been fazed by the condoms, because they’re already having sex. Grace carrying them around in her purse “just because” doesn’t seem so bad in comparison.
I think sometimes our “properness” gets us in trouble in the South. Maybe if we were more willing to talk openly about these things, teens wouldn’t be so eager to have sex, and there wouldn’t be so many teens having sex at the young age of 15. It’s also important to remember that talking about sex does not mean we’re encouraging teens to do it, or conveying that it’s ok. It just means we’re answering their questions and eliminating their curiosity, which leaves one less reason for them to have sex before they’re ready, or to be unsafe when they are.
-- Lauren Angelo is a Graduate Assistant at the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and a MPH student at the University of South Carolina. Contact Lauren at firstname.lastname@example.org