Two years behind the curve, I’m watching the first season of 16 & Pregnant via Hulu+. My initial impulse behind watching the show was to help inform one of my novels/stories, which involves an unexpected teen pregnancy. Since I’ve never carried a pregnancy to term at any age I figured I’d like a bit of versimilitude.
Three hours later I’m about choking on versimilitude.
First off, let me say that I admire–in an odd way–each of those young women for meeting an obvious challenge in a head-on fashion. It takes a lot to admit that you’re scared, ignorant, unprepared…and still go through with it. That is the textbook definition of courage.
But let’s be honest. None of the young women and men we’ve been shown in these shows are in any way ready for parenthood. I wish we had more detail about what kind of sex education they had prior to their situations–other than the requisite scene with the disgruntled grandparents-to-be acting shocked because “we talked about sex!”
And I’ll be honest. I think those of us who are pro-full-term-pregnancy have done a huge disservice to this generation. It seems most of us have forgotten what it was like to be a kid with hormones in overdrive, a sense of invincibility and an overall ignorance of long-term consequences. It’s easy to look back now and say “just don’t have sex” when most of us are too tired, too stressed about the long-term consequences WE’VE gotten ourselves into, to be indulging in much spontaneous sex. Yes, abstinence is a fairly fool-proof way to prevent teen pregnancy but it isn’t easy and, quite frankly, isn’t always realistic.
Look at the home lives of some of these young women and you’ll see what I mean. In nearly every case they crave either unconditional love or a measure of self-determination. (In the case of that hideous brat Farrah it’s both.) I will swear to my dying day that teen pregnancy may be a consequence of sex, but is in actuality a side-effect of unempowered young women.
Sure, I favour birth control education. I’m not sure where I stand on accessability, and change my thinking on that often. But what I really wish we had were classes where girls were told they didn’t have to date idiots to feel loved and they didn’t have to feel loved to be worthy of love. That they can stand on their own, and that they are special and capable and don’t have to prove that by offering their vagina in trade for some second-class attention from a boy with a car.
I had good parents and good adult mentors at school, at church, in the Three Rivers Science Fiction Club, in the Role-Playing groups. I was geeky and awkward but NEVER felt that sex would do anything more than complicate my life and shortchange me from opportunities. It makes me sad that these young women–who have so much going for them–don’t understand that. “Put on a condom” and “don’t have sex” aren’t what we need to tell them. “Value yourself”, “safeguard your future”, “contemplate your own strength”….that’s what we really need to be saying.