Letters: Taking the morning-after pill is not something to be ashamed of

The use of contraception does not make a young woman “promiscuous”, nor is a young woman having sex immediately labelled as a person with “loose morals”

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The Independent Online

I am a 17-year-old girl from the North-west, a huge fan of The Independent and usually a great lover of brash and downright honest women who make it their business to educate people on the difficulties of being a sexually active young woman in 21st-century Britain.

However, I found myself appalled and offended at most points in Chloe Hamilton’s article “We should welcome morning-after pill pre-orders – as long as we talk to children about STIs” (26 March).

Her account of the “gruesome predicament”, which seems a complete exaggeration, is not only offensive but also destructive. Never have I experienced, or known any woman my age to have experienced, a “chemist keen to hurry me away from less promiscuous customers”, and I have collected more than one morning-after pill without “blushes”.

The article, although not specifically written about the difficulties of accessing contraception, outlines and summarises one enormous problem that I experience day to day: the stigma attached to young girls who use the morning-after pill – a stigma not embedded in society because of the attitudes of men, but because of the attitudes of other women.

The use of contraception does not make a young woman “promiscuous”, nor is a young woman having sex immediately labelled as a person with “loose morals”, as is so offensively stated in this article.

I have never wished to access the morning-after pill “discreetly”, nor have I ever known of professional medical staff wishing to hide me away from other customers. Subsequently I have no regard for women who paint a picture of girls as “panicky” or ashamed of their sexual activity.

Articles like this fuel the disregard that young women have for one another when it comes to sex.

A woman having and enjoying sex is not vulgar, and society largely accepts that women are sexual beings – the only “prying eyes” I have ever been under the radar of have been those of other women – and are fully capable of obtaining the morning-after pill without feeling humiliated or disgusted with themselves.

Not all women are confined to a life in which sexual activity is risky and dangerous. Many are of the opinion that having female apparatus – and using it – does not equate to a cry for redemption or pleading permission to carry out our satanic acts (buying the morning-after pill from a chemist) away from the eyes of society.

I agree with Chloe Hamilton that the quality of sex education should be significantly upped. Educating young people about loving relationships, feelings and emotions, rather than just biology, could be a more effective approach to encouraging my generation to take sex more seriously.

Eleanor Kerfoot, Lancashire