Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Is teen pregnancy a laughing matter?

The saga of the 17 pregnant teens in Gloucester continues. This time, it has to do with the boundaries of political satire. Apparently, there is a parade each fourth of July in Beverly Farms, MA (a well-to-do suburb north of Boston) called the Horribles Parade, "known for more than a century for its biting satire about current affairs." Horribles? So strange. Anyway, this year, someone decided it would be a hoot to make fun of the pregnant teens of Gloucester.

At first, I heard that there were girls dancing with pillows under their shirts, and I thought, what is the big deal? But today I heard more:

Then came the surprise floats at the annual July Fourth Horribles parade in Beverly, which has sparked outrage in neighboring Gloucester.

There were young men in diapers emerging from a female dummy's open legs, condoms raining on preteen spectators, and a truck that simulated a part of the male anatomy and carried the mocking message: "Knock 'em up high where expectations are low, Gloucester, MA."

Gulp.

So now it sounds like it wasn't just lighthearted fun, but it really was pushing the limit. It wasn't a gay pride parade, and people probably weren't expecting phallic symbols and condoms. I personally think it's kind of funny, but I can see why people are angry. Also, it has a lot to do with class differences. People in Beverly Farms tend to be wealthy, and those in Gloucester, more working class. So the Gloucester folks are angry for more than one reason.

I'm trying to imagine what it would have been like if I was there with J, my 9-year-old son. We are pretty open about sexual topics with him, and he is very curious, but he hasn't ever seen anything like this in a parade. I wonder if he would have understood? And the condoms: definitely would have been an issue. When we did the AIDS Walk a few months ago, A inadvertently picked up a cute metal container that held some condoms, and we REALLY didn't want to start explaining that to J... He is so grossed out by the idea of sex, how will we ever explain to him about birth control?

P.S. Here's a piece on the parade from Salon.com, including a video...

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