The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Mar 16, 2010


The human mind is a wondrous thing. It can imagine incentives where there are none, discern incentives other than those that are on offer, and - in all cases - act supremely rationally. But the human mind also operates under incomplete information, and what is rational to one is sheer idiocy to another.

The public health services in the UK have been crying themselves hoarse against smoking during pregnancy. Besides the respiratory burden imposed on the mother, chemicals in the cigarette tend to stunt foetal growth. Smaller, sicklier babies are the result.

What does the teenage mum take away from this? She thinks that her labour will be easier with a small baby. And so she smokes. Packs and packs.

Clearly, the part of the public health announcement that says 'unhealthy babies' is drowned out in the minds of these sexual athletes.

Why, though, are these girls so keen on a baby in the first place. Well, there's a couple of incentives again. First, they don't want to be known as lesbians in school. It's all about peer pressure, and school is a minefield even without being labelled a 'frigid dyke'. By the age of eleven, then, it makes sense to sleep with the first likely fellow that comes along. Falling pregnant is the ultimate stamp of heterosexuality.

Secondly, the public perception is that single mums' priority to obtain municipally funded accommodation rises dramatically. (Actually, according to Wigan Council, it doesn't - not directly, anyway.) Why would they want to stick around their working class homes with screaming mothers and absent fathers? Which teenager doesn't crave independence from interfering adults? Coming from broken backgrounds, a life away from all that turmoil can only bring peace, they think.

That civic-minded effort was instituted to help those at risk: poor single mothers who might get thrown out of their homes or faced assault from their partners. Unfortunately, somewhere between intention and execution, the plot was lost.


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