Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Contraceptive Culture-- Commercialized

I was recently very bothered by a TV commercial for a certain contraceptive device.  Now, really, it bothers me as a Catholic whenever I see a commercial for contraception.  When I see another commercial for yet another pill, I tend to roll my eyes and shake my head and perhaps mock the snazzy name given to it.  This was one for an IUD.  That is, an Intra-uterine device.  Similar to the pill, it is abortifacient.  These things can and will cause an abortion by preventing an embryo from being able to attach inside the uterus.

What appalled me about this commercial was not only the fact that it was for an abortifacient device, but that it was a representation and commercialization of contraceptive culture as a whole.  When I say "contraceptive culture," I don't just mean a culture in which methods of artificial birth control (ABC) are used.  That's just on the surface.  I mean also all of the concurrent characteristics of such a culture.  A few examples: A general lack of respect for the sanctity of human life and failure to recognize and value human life in its most vulnerable stage; a lack of reverence for the dignity of the person –that is, the image and likeness of God; a lack of esteem both for one's own body and the body of another, when one's own body becomes a tool to be controlled and used, or worse, a threat to be fought.  Finally, there is a lack of reverence for the sacrament of marriage and sexuality itself. 

The main purpose of contraception is to allow a "carefree" sexual (and likely non-marital) relationship, free from any potential "burden" (ie. "children").  And their commercials serve to convey how that can be made possible.  But this commercial conveys much more below the surface; unfortunately, something much more sinister about the culture in which we live. Here is a link to the commercial on YouTube.

The woman in this commercial is meant to be relatable to other women; in this case she is specifically meant to be relatable to mothers.  She is meant to represent the "typical" mother, and her children, "typical" children.  This "typical" mother's inner monologue is "Did I take my pill this morning? I can't even think of having another child," as she runs over to where her (unsupervised) children have accidentally dropped fruit on the store's floor.  The commercial's representatives of "typical" children, who result without the usage of their device, are shown to be inherently unruly and burdensome in order to convey society's general view of children.  There is also the brief but noteworthy presence of her apathetic and disinterested husband in the commercial.  He is intentionally portrayed as completely disconnected from her.  They don't even have a scene together.  To further stress society's view on children, her inner monologue concludes with "Ooooh, I think two's plenty."  OK, she adds "maybe," but who are they kidding? 

Lastly, there is the product's tagline: "Keep life simple."  Is that really all that it's about though? Simplicity?  We know already that life is not simple.  The gift that is life really is quite complex.  It is likely the most complex gift we can ever receive, and is from the most divine Source we can only try to fully imagine.  He calls us to accept His greatest gift, with all its complexities, to have faith that He will guide us through them, and not to let a desire for simplicity become a temptation to reject Sanctity. 


  1. I agree! Pope John Paul II spoke often of the culture of death that we live in. The beauty of sexuality is how it represents the love of the Trinity, and our unity with Christ in the Eucharist. I always think, however, that one major danger in contraception and abortion isn't simply the fact that they exist, but in allowing ourselves to slowly become ok with them existing.

  2. Yes, JPII's Theology of the Body teachings really are great and beautiful. Good point about the danger of becoming ok with contraception and abortion even existing.

  3. Yeah, birth control ads annoy me a lot too. If they aren't telling you children are a big pain, they are portraying life as fun, exciting and styleh if you take their pill (and put up with the possible side effects.) It's pretty much telling women that they should do whatever they want, and not be tied down to other people - a pretty self-centered worldview.

  4. Do you have a link to the commercial?