It's every woman's worst nightmare: the pregnancy scare. Chances are, if you've been sexually active for any length of time, you've either experienced one or are about to experience one.
Like pretty much every other woman of my generation, I grew up in a traditional and religious household. Therefore, when I started having sex at age 18 and I was extremely concerned about others finding out.
I never found it necessary to keep it a secret from my friends, but relatives and strangers were uncharted territory. I imagined a land mine going off the moment one of them learned the truth.
Obviously, the pregnancy scare is the embodiment of this fear. I've always doubled up on contraception (condom + pills), but I'm still very prone to a full-fledged scare. Breasts are swollen? I'm pregnant! Get sick in the morning? I'm not ready!
There are many who say that if you're that afraid of getting knocked up, you shouldn't be having sex. But that doesn't really have much of an effect on most women. The reason is this: that statement still allows men all the sexual freedom in the world. They're never going to get pregnant; therefore, they are immune to this rule, and don't have to worry about the consequences of their actions.
Society unintentionally upholds the belief that unplanned pregnancy is always the woman's "fault," and she should be punished for her misbehavior by giving birth and caring for a child for the next 18 years. Maybe the dude will help, maybe he won't.
This is how the concept of the pregnancy scare arises. Women feel this pressure in their everyday lives, and dread the day that they are "found out" by those who judge them. They don't want anyone to know that they're having sex for reasons other than conception - what a sin! Because when that time comes, they'll certainly pay the price.
Shaina Monfils is a feminist and freelance writer living in Iowa. View more of her writing at http://www.toasterbyte.com.