Another day, another dollar, another article bemoaning the fact that Hollywood doesn't feel the need to stigmatize and slut-shame teenagers who get pregnant. This time, writer Sarah Kliff says that young Hollywood mothers and movies/TV shows like Juno and The Secret Life of the American Teenager supposedly glamorize teen pregnancy and will make young women go, wow, that doesn't seem quite so bad! Because, really, that's what every single teen girl does, right? Ellen Page is so cute, and it's totally not a fictional story or anything and being pregnant is so fun la-la-la-la you're not listening to any other media messages and oh, did you notice that the supposed Gloucester pregnancy pact was formulated around that time or something? It's obviously going to make teenage pregnancy cool again! Or, you know, for the first time. Or, you know, not at all because most teenage girls realize that pregnancy can delay or outright squash certain kinds of dreams.Look, I'll step up to the plate and admit that I was a stupid, reckless, hormone-addled teenage girl completely in love with my boyfriend with whom I thought I would live happily ever after. But we were also thoughtful and respectful of one another and made the decision to lose our virginities to one another in a clothed conversation before we bought condoms and proceeded with doing the deed. And then sometimes, one would break or we'd run out or we'd be somewhere and in the mood and we'd take the VERY BIG BAD risk of pulling out. And it was stupid, yes, but we thought we were invincible or I wasn't ovulating or whatever and all of that shit ended the very first time my period was late, believe you me. That was the longest week of my fucking life, mostly spent crying where my parents couldn't see because I saw two very distinct options: trying like hell to save up to get an abortion in time to actually have an abortion (not easy when you make $4.35 an hour at the mall and can't work more than 16 hours a week); or ruining my life. Yeah, I saw Murphy Brown and I knew about adoption but everyone's best student goodie-two-shoes little me could not get pregnant because I had plans and I was going to get out of Scotia and stop underlining everything. And, really, I doubt seriously that most young women think too much differently about it, Juno or no Juno. Yeah, she has a happy ending and whatever (and, yes, I have a completely age-inappropriate crush on Michael Cera), but watching a damn fictional move or television show isn't going to make a teenage girl with aspirations of being more than the check-out girl at the local grocery store go out and attempt to get knocked up. But that's the crux of the issue, isn't it? Even the girls interviewed about the supposed pregnancy pact and every girl ever interviewed about (purposeful) teen pregnancy ever identified the cause — most girls that seek out pre-graduation pregnancies really don't have great aspirations. They don't think college is in the cards, or don't want to go. They aren't looking beyond next year or the year after because they're not expecting much out of their lives. And so, sure, maybe Jamie Lynn Spears saying that being a mom is totes awesome rings a bell with them because being a mom is the only way they are really expecting to make a difference in the world. Planned Parenthood notes that 73% of teen pregnancies occur among teenagers in families living below or just above the poverty line, even though less than 40% of all teenage girls fall into those income groups. Young women in those income groups are less likely to use contraception the first time than other women, less likely to use it on an ongoing basis and more likely to view a young pregnancy as a good thing. So, how about instead of yelling at Hollywood for not making this seem all horrible and terrible for every single girl, we start looking at the Bush Administration (and school boards and state Departments of Education) for pushing abstinence-only education? And then we should probably look at rising economic inequality (fed by, among other things, government policies) for failing to convince a large part of generations of women that they can't expect any more than their mothers had? And then we might want to take a deep and non-judgmental breath and start thinking about the generation or two of parents who failed to effectively parent their girls to believe that they can do anything a boy can do and then some. No, wait, it's just easier to blame Diablo Cody. Never mind. Teen Pregnancy, Hollywood Style [Newsweek] Teen 'Pregnancy Pact' Has 17 Girls Expecting [MSNBC] Reducing Teenage Pregnancy [Planned Parenthood]
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