Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Legend: A teenage girl is caught in the act with her boyfriend when her mother returns home unexpectedly. As the mother lectures her daughter on the foolishness of engaging in sex without taking precautions against pregnancy, the girl admits that she has been taking precautions: she's been using her mother's birth control pills for months. When then mother demurs, hesitatingly stating that she hasn't noticed any pills missing, her daughter informs her that she replaced the pills she took with baby aspirin. Less than a month later, the mother discovers she's pregnant again.
Origins: This humorous tale can be seen as nothing more than a comic calamity, or it can be viewed as a commentary on the perils of not having frank discussions about sex with your children. In this case the daughter already knows more about taking "precautions" than her mother thinks she does; if the two of them had had open discussions about the facts of life, the daughter might have had her own means of birth control and the mother wouldn't have (ironically) ended up pregnant.
This legend appears to be nearly as old as the pill itself. Watch as one of the lab technicians who worked on the development of the birth control pill with Gregory Pincus relates the same story when interviewed for the television version of David Halberstam's book The Fifties.
Sightings: This legend serves as the plot of the novel and 1968 film Prudence and the Pill and is briefly mentioned at the beginning of 1998's Urban Legend.
Last updated: 18 July 2007
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