New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has transformed from an elected official into Superman. He limited commercial sale of soda and now he’s attempting to prevent out-of-wedlock pregnancies. Bloomberg enlisted the state’s Human Resources Administration to plaster advertisements in bus shelters and subway stations. The provocative ads, which feature distressed children speaking about their plight to their parent, are raising alarm among feminists and family advocates.
We know the statistics. More than 54,000 children were born out-of-wedlock in New York City in 2010 and this number continues to increase.
We also realize children raised in single-parents are considered “disadvantaged” based on studies and statistics. Bloomberg even refused to participate in a similar campaign two years ago, based on the racial implications of launching such a campaign.
He should’ve followed his first mind. Targeting single mothers without considering external factors such as what constitutes wedlock, the non-traditional families excluded from this definition, and the concept of villages raising children instead of two parents is both problematic and a method of shaming. Single mothers face enough societal stigmas about their parenting abilities without the government intervening.
The advertisements aren’t the worst of it though. Miriam Perez, a writer at RH Reality Check followed the instructions listed at the bottom of the advertisement. She texted “NOTNOW” to 877877 and was prompted to select a character (Louis or Anaya). It was downhill from there. The text messages sent unrealistic scenarios, designed to purport the unsuspected consequences of unwed pregnancies. All Bloomberg and his troop have accomplished is forcing heteronormative family values on women without offering solutions for preventing unexpected pregnancies.
Shame is not a prevention tactic. Education is. Economic mobility is. Community resources, like Planned Parenthood, are helpful in educating future mothers and fathers about the potential consequences of teenage pregnancy. Instead of shaming women, Bloomberg should offer jobs and community programs instead of backward advertisements.