From superficial smoking campaigns to ads that attempt to make breast cancer sexy, public health advice for women has got a long way to go…
Hear that sound, all you women of a childbearing age? Its time, running out. Soon your eggs will be past their prime and you will no longer be of any use to society. Even if youre hot! Just ask the Italian government, which recently launched an advertising campaign urging women to get a move on with their baby-making. One poster showed a woman brandishing an hourglass with the caption: Beauty has no age. But fertility does. Feminism: it has come so far.
The ill-conceived ads, launched ahead of Italys first national Fertility Day, were not well received and the campaign has been pulled. Its 2016 and women feel as if they should be treated as more than glorified incubators. Who knew? There were also some suggestions that maybe the government should focus less on reminding women about their ovaries and more on trying to fix issues such as unemployment, paid maternity leave and poor childcare provisions.
Italys fertility publicity may not have worked as intended but it has done a good job of advertising the extent to which womens bodies are still carefully controlled under the guise of public health advice. So, to ensure you are all up to speed with the latest developments on how to safely operate your lady-body, here are a few more examples of campaigns demonstrating an unhealthy interest in womens health.
Booze and babies
Mixing alcohol with oestrogen, women are frequently told, is a recipe for disaster. Drinking will get us raped and/or give us herpes for starters. And if thats not enough to get you to put that glass of merlot down, then wont you think of the unborn children? Earlier this year, Americas Center for Disease Control and Prevention caused widespread ire when it basically said that fertile women shouldnt be drinking unless they were on birth control. A press release explained: Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant. About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women wont know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking. The risk is real. Why take the chance?
Ive also heard that walking down the street puts you in danger of getting struck by a car. The risk is real. Of course, I dont mean to underplay foetal alcohol syndrome, but this advice seems to greatly underplay womens common sense. Whats more, its based on highly dubious evidence. A number of studies have shown that light and occasional drinking poses little risk to pregnant women, or their foetuses. In any case, the most frustrating thing about the constant flow of moralising about women and drink is how one-sided it is. Theres been very little health advice to men, after all, about how that one sip of Stella is going to turn you into a rapist with raging syphilis.