Originally published January 2019
Candice Smith Adewole
Recently in conversation, I mentioned how I saw my 19-year-old niece on Instagram hugged up with some boy on a photo, with #GodGotUs (serious side eye). I immediately in boxed her and told her that she needs to get on birth control. Mind you, she and I have had plenty of conversations about the importance of her womb space and sexual choices, she has read both of my books (The Black Girl’s Guide to being Blissfully Feminine & A Girl’s Guide to being A Lady in Waiting), but I know that when teenage hormones are raging, reason often goes out of the window.
I proceed to tell a closed circle of sister-friends about the conversation I had with my niece and how I’d be speaking with her mother regarding getting her on birth control when one of them asks why I didn’t tell her about being abstinent first. I explained how my niece has been spoken to many times about abstinence and how that’s the best choice, but I’d prefer her to get on birth control now that she’s socializing with boys in a romantic way, than to take chances and she becomes part of the 77% of Black women having babies out of wedlock and set herself up for a life of hardship and poverty.
What my sister-friend (who I totally love and respect for the record) said next completely blew my mind. She said she will not teach her children about birth control, and that she will only teach Jesus and promote abstinence until marriage due to her religious convictions. She then says that Jesus is birth control if you have a “real relationship” with him, and my mouth literally fell open. Not wanting the conversation to go left I ended things tactfully.
Her comments, however, were shocking. The reason why her comments were so shocking is that at the same time Black women are leading the way with high out of wedlock birth rates, sexually transmitted infection rates, and poverty rates, we are ironically the most religious group of women. It is that something is out of alignment with the core values of Black women.
“What would Jesus do?” has never stopped anyone’s panties from dropping in the heat of the moment, and not telling our daughters and nieces about birth control options is, in my opinion, irresponsible and delusional. I would love to think that by simply preaching abstinence, every young woman (and man) would choose to keep their legs closed, but that simply not realistic.
Black women are no more promiscuous than any other group of women but are still having babies alone (or have baby daddies in the house), so what that says is that non-Black women are utilizing birth control and waiting until they are in more favorable conditions to bring children into the world, while we just have children. Can we please stop this cycle of generational madness!
I grew up in a very religious home. My mother did not feel comfortable talking about sex, men, or relationships with me. When I tried to start conversations with her about sex, her answer was always “Well the bible says don’t have sex until marriage, and for me and my house, we will follow the Lord.” Like so many other Black women she felt by options, she’d be giving her consent to have sex, which I ended up having anyway despite prayer, bible studies, purity rings, and youth groups.
I whole heartily respect people’s religious beliefs, in fact, many of my core values are in alignment with Christianity (although I do not identify as Christian), but I am extremely realistic about the difficulties of being young and having raging hormones as you navigate these newly awakened emotions and may want to experiment sexually. Birth control education or taking your daughter to the doctor or Planned Parenthood for birth control pills is the best thing you can do for their future if you know there is a chance they could become sexually active. Why would any mother risk their daughter’s chances of having access to the very best life choices and mating pools, because they were banking on the bible being enough to keep her legs closed?
Teach abstinence yes! Teach about the sacredness of her womb space too, but let’s educate our daughters about birth control, sacred masturbation, and how having a baby too soon, and without a man who can be a responsible father can change her entire destiny, because having that conversation about birth control pills is much better than having that conversation that starts with “Mom, I’m pregnant”, and ends at the abortion clinic or maternity ward.