By now, everyone in America knows about the sixteen-year-old girls in Gloucester, Massachusetts who intentionally got pregnant.
JAN: After the town was overwhelmed by media attention -- calls from Oprah, the whole nine yards, the high school principal began to back away from a notion that there might have been a "pact." But whatever you want to call it, there are an unusual number of young girls (18 by last count) carrying babies in high school.
The problem, I think, isn't that the controversy is stirring debate. But that its stirring the wrong debate. Birth control education versus abstinence education. Neither is relevant if the girls set out with the goal of getting pregnant.
These girls don't need education about contraception. They need education about reality. They need to learn that no one is going to make a film out of their noble decision to give up their baby to Jennifer Garner (JUNO.) And that paparazzi isn't going to even try to get a telephoto shoot of their expanding waistlines (Jamie Spears) And that Gisele Bundchen (spelling) is not going to send them designer baby gifts to enhance her media image.
Yes, just like Queen Victoria got the credit for influencing generations of sexual repression, I think the glamorization of unwed mothering by celebrities is to blame for the resurgence of the teenage pregnancy rate, after being on the wane for fifteen years.
But no one really wants to call out celebrities and suggest any sense of societal responsibility that might be too inhibiting to their lifestyles. And the media really isn't going to blame the media. So we talk about contraception.
That's my take anyway. What do you think?
ROBERTA: Honestly, I think it's a very sad story. I completely agree that talk about contraception is off the mark here. What seems to me more on target is the self-esteem and future dreams of this group of girls.
If the girls set out with the goal of getting pregnant, they couldn't have been thinking too hard about college and careers. That seems sad to me. They have no idea how limited their lives may end up as teenage mothers. Yes it's possible to go on to school but it sure is going to be a lot harder. (And that's not even getting into the lives of the babies, starting out with young mothers and non intact families...)
HANK: Can you imagine telling your mother, at age 16, that you were pregnant? We hardly said the P word.
The possibility that the "pact" story is completely untrue aside, it's indisputable that more than a dozen teen aged girls in one lovely town have unalterably changed their lives--and their children's lives!--and could not possibly know by how much. I mean--remember, there are going to be babies.
Maybe it's--the unreality of their lives? Movies, TV, glitzy magazines, video games, advertisements, maternity clothes, Demi Moore on Vanity Fair,--all making an unreal reality. Jamie Spears? Is pregnant at 16, and it's a one day wonder. And it's always more about the "mother" than the baby. It's so sad.
First, it was those little dogs. Now it's babies. The latest fashion accessory. But these items, you can't return to the store.