In his New York Times op-ed, Richard Reeves argues that shame is an integral part of a
healthy, liberal society. The op-ed was written in response to the New York City Human Resources
Administration’s recent ad campaign targeting teen pregnancy.
The campaign ads are featured on bus shelters in “neighbourhoods with high rates of teenage pregnancy,” meaning, in effect, neighbourhoods experiencing poverty and historical disenfranchisement. The ads feature toddlers saying things such as: “Honestly, Mom… chances are he won’t stay with you. What happens to me?“ – thus reinforcing harmful stereotypes while slinging blame at young women. Planned Parenthood issued a statement denouncing the poster campaign, stating that the ads ignore the structural realities that create the conditions for unintended pregnancy while simultaneously stigmatizing and shaming teen parents and their children.
Robert Doar, commissioner of the city’s Human Resources Administration, in a piece written in the New York Times, states that the goal of the campaign was to, “send a message about personal responsibility that would resonate with teenagers.” These types of ads are nothing new, and are problematic in similar ways to other ad campaigns that focus on personal responsibility at the expense of social accountability.(more inside…)