WATCH: The Situation + Bristol Palin's Awkward and Awful Sexual Health PSA
For the first season ever, I've been watching Dancing With The Stars namely because of two characters (yes, they are characters): Bristol Palin and Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino from MTV's Jersey Shore. I have no...well, maybe a little...shame about it, ABC knows how to draw in viewers. If you watch the show, you'll notice that Bristol Palin is always introduced as a "teen activist" for her work promoting abstinence. We are all hyper-aware of the inherent irony of Bristol coming out as a staunch advocate of abstinence-until-marriage, considering she is the unwed mother of a toddler. Now for more comic relief, she has teamed up with her randy DTWS co-star, promiscuous panty-chaser "The Situation," for a new safe sex public service announcement sponsored by The Candies Foundation (which signed on Bristol as a spokeswoman last year).
I want to warn you that this video is painful to watch, make sure you are sitting down and that there are no loose objects hanging around for you to throw.
In theory, there is a positive message here in that they are supporting a spectrum of sexual choices, abstinence until marriage and safer sex for those who are not going to abstain. But in reality, this is a hot mess. Just as it is ridiculous for Bristol to be proudly touting her abstinence-only messages, it is completely insane for "The Situation" to be waving around Magnums for the last 30 seconds of the clip. I kid...kinda. Let me be shallow for a second: I'm simultaneously grossed out and entertained at his insistence that he needs such large condoms. A tip for Mr. Situation: those who use them (because they need them) usually aren't the ones bragging about it.
I take issue with "The Situation" being repeatedly rewarded for being a misogynist. Besides his book deals, magazine covers and TV appearances all based on his abs and skills with "smooshing" drunk women, he is now a sexual health spokesman? The guy who termed the word "grenades?" (Translation: an ugly woman who hangs with a hot girlfriend.) Yes, he makes for "good" TV by garnering ratings and being outrageously obnoxious, and I admit that I have been wooed by his foolishness (for analysis purposes, I swear!). However, the juxtaposition of the "chaste" Bristol Palin against the man-whore image of "The Situation" is troublesome. It accentuates gender stereotypes; women should be good asexual beings but men are allowed to be lascivious dogs...as long as they use condoms! Make 'em Magnums at that.
I'm also tired of having Bristol Palin's brand of abstinence shoved down my throat. It feels disingenuous and contrived. I support candid discussion of the difficulties of teen pregnancy and teen motherhood. I think it's wonderful to encourage young people to be thoughtful and safe when they decide to be intimate with a partner. I'm okay with the idea of abstinence for young people, if it's framed in a way that sex is not dirty or shameful, but that sex is powerful. So Bristol (and Mama), when are you gonna give it a rest? Abstinence clearly did not work for you. And since you want to be seen as just another normal teenager, then let's be realistic in saying that abstinence is not going to work (and hasn't worked) for a majority of teens either.