Sexual health is a tricky area to tackle - and some people on Twitter felt a recent NHS campaign fell short of the mark…
An NHS poster that promotes emergency contraception to young women has met with online anger over its “sexist” and “ludricuous” messaging.
The image, appearing on buses in the Midlands area, shows a pair of heels and a lipstick next to a pink dummy with the slogan, “would you give up this for this?”
It was shared on Twitter earlier this week, where it was greeted with widespread dismay.
Some felt it depicted women as “stupid”, while others hit out at its “reductive” narrative and use of gender stereotypes.
Advertising emergency contraception is, of course, important for effective sexual health provision, for all ages. However, the ludicrous image chosen for this campaign from Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust is a reductive representation of child-free women "verses" motherhood pic.twitter.com/ePfb754dyx— Katie Paddock (@KatiePaddockPhD) September 14, 2018
And the fact that their tool to promote sexual health is “ew, like, babies mean you can’t wear steroetypical feminine stuff, like, gross” seems misguided.— Katie Paddock (@KatiePaddockPhD) September 14, 2018
The problem is it’s insinuating that young women are stupid and would only realise the enormity of having a baby when faced with the option of heels/ makeup for nights out or newborn baby, like that would make them suddenly realise oh shit yeah I better use contraception then.— Madeline Cochrane (@madelineEmily) September 15, 2018
I would give up heels for the safety of my ankles...but would maybe give up a baby for free lipstick (dependant on which lippy brand / how compliant the baby is)— Eleri Morgan (@Eleri_Morgan) September 14, 2018
What do I win??
The advert in question was first spotted by social media manager Kirstie Jones
“I couldn’t believe it, I thought “what am I looking at here?” she tells the Metro.
“They’ve gone about it in a completely misguided way, it’s an outdated point of view, and it goes against the important message it’s trying to send out – awareness of the free service.”
The equivalent ad encouraging young men to use condoms was also criticised for its lack of nuance.
Here’s the male version for people asking if there ya one. I actually think this a lot worse than the woman’s one. The women’s isn’t that bad - nights out do end or at least aren’t as often I think that’s what it’s saying, the men’s HA! the text 🤦🏽♀️ pic.twitter.com/qcmEKRjW6t— Victoria Connett (@VictoriaConnett) September 15, 2018
A spokesperson for Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust said the campaign had played an important role in tackling teenage pregnancy and poor sexual health in the local area.
Posters “do not refer to gender” and are now coming to a close after a school holidays awareness drive, the Trust added.