So, last night I took the liberty of watching the new MTV sensation, 16 and Pregnant. I watched it last season and suffered the same bout of overwhelming nausea with each passing segment (don’t ask me why I chose to endure the torture again). Six girls are highlighted in the series, and each show is an hour-long segment that normally takes place during their third trimester. They are filmed fighting with their parents, breaking up and making up with their unprepared, terrified boyfriends, and of course, pushing out babies.
I’ve got to give some credit to MTV – The network has done well to target the issues afflicting this generation. For those suffering from a lack of purpose, there is The Buried Life, which chronicles the exploits of a set of young men traveling the world to commit spontaneous acts on a list they have cumulated. They commit random acts of kindness as well, but have tons of fun along the way check out their krumping skills here: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMuJwvg9oG4). Or, to pay homage to those who may have realities outside of the norm, there is True Life – a new season will begin in the coming months. And, if you’re utterly bored and have absolutely nothing to do with you time, there is My Life As Liz.
But today I want to focus on the young women who find ways to deal with unexpected pregnancy. It baffles me. Some don’t know how good they have it! Their mothers babysit, they are provided a room and nursery. But they shout disrespectfully, vow to kidnap their babies, and neglect their children. One couple who gave the child up for adoption was scorned by the potential grandfather-to-be, though they had no way of raising the child in a peaceful, loving home had they cared for it themselves. It’s a hard, hard life.
And what frustrates me the most is the level of surprise the mothers seem to have when:
a) they can no longer go out and party with their high school friends
b) their relationship with the fathers of their children change (mostly for the worse)
c) they strain the bonds they share with their parents or caretakers
Most of the potential mothers on this show already have strained financial and emotional resources without the child, yet proceed to welcome it into the world and hope for better circumstances. They get angry with their parents when they are told the truth, and allow immature, inexperienced sexual partners to influence them and cause further harm. Since when do you listen to a 17-year-old boy instead of a caretaker with eons of experience? You didn’t know enough to conclude your teen years without reproducing, yet you cannot adhere to rules that will benefit the well-being of your child? The holes these girls dig are so deep and so wide that I feel myself sinking into them.
Keep in mind – that show is automatic, non-invasive birth control. I’m a legal adult attending college, and I am grateful for the onslaught of grimacing faces in the throes of childbirth, and tears due to heartbreak. Who would willingly risk enduring that pain?
Now, I am proud of the mothers who took steps to ensure that their children wound up in a home that could care for the child, or proceeded to take the appropriate steps towards acting responsibly in the face of true adversity. And I know – I’ve never been pregnant before, so I have no idea what it’s like. But I can speak to the fact that three years ago, I had a hard time being accountable for myself. I was a junior with SATs on my agenda, college in my heart, and big dreams in my head. I simply cannot understand what justification it would take to allow oneself to become pregnant with so many goals to be accomplished; many of them right at your fingertips.
This show makes me want to take teenaged girls and boys by the face and plead with them, “Just wait!” Or find a way to make sure this doesn’t happen to you! If you aren’t ready to be a parent (or use one of the MANY contraceptive methods available today) you shouldn’t be having sex. Sex, like any other recreational activity, should be treated as a privilege, especially to those who have not proven that they have enough maturity to handle the potential repercussions of their actions.
Needless to say, I’m boycotting the show. At least until I can view it without watching thorough my fingers.