Fighting with the Sky

What If Gardasil Was for Boys?

Posted on: August 28, 2009

So you know back when Gardasil (the HPV vaccine) was approved and people wouldn’t vaccinate their daughters because they thought it would promote promiscuity? That was a fun time. I never really understood this line of reasoning.

Apparently if a 10-year-old girl is given a vaccine that would help prevent cancer someone down the road, she will go out and have sex because there are no more worries! Not pregnancy, not STIs. The only worry that girls and teenagers have about sex is getting HPV. I don’t mean to belittle the seriousness of HPV, but there are other risks to having sex than just HPV.

I got the Gardasil vaccine just this past year, but I know that if it had been around when I was younger, my mom would have had me vaccinated. Not because she thought I should have sex (she would have been supportive of that decision though…I think), but because she would want me to be protected against contracting HPV down the road.

At least from what I’ve been aware of, the drama over the Gardasil vaccine has calmed down. Now, the FDA is going to consider whether Gardasil should be approved for boys and young men. When I learned this, it made me wonder, would there have been such an uproar about it originally if Gardasil had been approved for boys as well.

As many of us know too well, boys (not all boys, but this is prevalent throughout society) are encouraged from a young age to view sex as a “conquest” and male teenagers and young men are seen as “studs”, “playboys”, etc. for sleeping with many women. Where as girls are encourage to “save” their virginity and purity for that special someone. These differing views of sexuality for boys and girls play right into the rigid gender norms of society.

So if Gardasil was approved for boys from the beginning, would it have been seen as promoting sex at a young age and promiscuity. Sadly, I don’t think that it would have been seen that way.

7 Responses to "What If Gardasil Was for Boys?"

Well said.

My question here is, why WASN'T it marketed to boys as well as girls? Especially since not only do boys have similar consequences (cancer, etc) of HPV, they are also much more likely to go on conquesting unaware of their condition because boys aren't routinely tested for HPV. Young women, generally, are. At least the young women in the socioeconomic class targeted by the drug in the first place.Is there something to this, in the sexual dichotomy, related to women not only as protectors of "purity," but as the ones responsible for birth control, and now STI prevention?

I think there was more to the outcry than only the fact that it was solely approved and marketed to girls. That was a big part of it, but there was a large anti-sex element as well. Perhaps, however, the argument would have still focused on girls, like the birth control argument tends to be. I’ve seen lots of billboards that talk about birth control pills “killing babies,” but none talking about condoms. That doesn’t mean they aren’t also anti-condom, they’ve just shifted most of the focus to women because women are supposed to desire sex for baby-making and not for pleasure (no, I don’t really believe that).

I think perhaps the arguments would have shifted toward less ridiculous critiques of Gardasil’s marketing campaign and mandatory vaccination instead of whining about how they don’t want their nine year old having sex.

While I agree there may not have been as much of an anti-sex outcry I do think that if it had been marketed to boys it would be marketed under the angle of helping women and girls.

Thanks for the info.

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