Ian Somerhalder isn’t just our fancast to play the titular character in a Captain Planet movie that absolutely needs to happen. He and his wife, Nikki Reed, are both very environmentally conscious.
So they were natural choices to present at the 2017 Environmental Media Association Awards.
But this came on the back of a huge controversy about the couple.
We didn’t really get into this last week, and that’s our bad. We blame our distraction on Kylie Jenner’s pregnancy.
Nikki Reed gave birth to the couple’s first child back in August.
That’s a happy and wonderful occasion, but retroactively marred by a comment made by Ian on Dr. Berlin’s Informed Pregnancy podcast.
“We decided that we wanted to have children together, and it was just time. But unbeknownst to poor Nikki, she didn’t realize that I was going to go in her purse and take out her birth control.”
That is just … not an acceptable thing to say.
Now Ian has since clarified that this was a joke (and we have his statement below), but we need to talk about this.
What Ian jokingly described there is called reproductive coercion.
A woman poking holes in her condoms, a man “stealthing” by sliding off his condom without his partner’s knowledge so that they can go bareback without his partner’s consent, a man replacing a womans’ birth-control pills with placebos?
Those are all despicable acts by despicable people.
And it happens all of the time.
There’s nothing funny or cute about saying that as a joke.
The backlash was understandable and immediate, and Ian Somerhalder posted a clarifying message to Instagram.
“We never expect a lighthearted interview we did poking fun at EACH OTHER and how WE chose together to get pregnant, a goofy moment in Barcelona with our two best friends and the anticipation of the start of our journey together as we went from two to three, to turn into something representing a very serious matter.”
Do we believe that they mutually decided to have children? Yes.
But he should have been clearer with his words.
“However, if this somehow sheds a light on a topic that definitely needs mainstream attention, then we are grateful for the unintended consequence.”
It is important for people to have this conversation.
“It’s a shame that outlets chose this as their way into a very serious discussion, as we are certainly not qualified to be the faces of this topic.”
Nobody ‘chose this;” it’s a thing that people needed to discuss. Especially when it sounded like Ian had just confessed to a serious offense.
“We are two happily married people who chose TOGETHER to have a baby. The end.”
As we said, we do totally believe that.
Guys, we understand that “edgy” humor is a big thing and we get that Ian wasn’t even trying for that.
It’s easy to joke about things without realizing that they are things that really happen to real people.
It would also have been inappropriate for Ian Somerhalder to joke about, say, marital rape.
To anyone who knows him or Nikki, it might be obvious that it’s not something that happens in their marriage, but it’s a real thing that really happens.
The same is true of reproductive coercion.
We have to keep in mind that when a person who does terrible things hears a joke about it, they are likely to see it not as a joke in poor taste but as an endorsement of their actions.
Words have power, folks.