Thursday, January 03, 2008

Punishing young women for sex: the Jamie Lynn Spears edition

Breaking News: In the United States it is STILL not illegal to be pregnant!!!
By Guest Blogger, Adrienne


Two months ago, Jamie Lynn Spears was not only a teen star on a popular Nickelodeon show, she was also (ALAS, NO!!!) having sex. Two months ago, Jamie Lynn Spears was not registering a blip on the gossip—or conservative—radar, EVEN THOUGH she was engaged in a sexual relationship with her boyfriend.

Now, SUDDENLY, because there is EVIDENCE of that sexual relationship, she is a 'slut,' she has 'loose morals,' and, randomly, she's also a 'role model.' Funny, but I don't think I ever heard Jamie Lynn Spears referred to as a role model even once before all of this happened (and, just so you know, I think that choosing Jamie Lynn Spears as a role model for your child is ludicrous, regardless of her sexual choices). Moms are yanking their tween daughters from the living room because they don't want their daughters to catch the sex bug from the TV waves (first of all, AS IF Nickelodeon is going to shoot a show about Zoey being pregnant. Give me a break. If you moms weren't making such a big deal about it, your tweenagers would have no idea that it was happening. Promise.)

I'd like us all to engage in a little exercise. Raise your hand if you were a virgin at sixteen. Seriously. Last week I engaged in a conversation with some people who were so angry about Jamie Lynn Spears' pregnancy, saying that she was a role model with obviously loose morals. I just sat looking at them in shock—I knew for a fact that every single one of them (except for me—so there!) was having sex at 16. They just didn't get pregnant. So I asked them the same question I'd like to pose here:

Which headline would you rather read: "Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant at 16" or "Jamie Lynn Spears has an abortion at 16."

Obviously I am pro-choice. It is not illegal for Jamie Lynn to get an abortion with parental consent—how easy would it have been for her to just say, "Oh, I'm going to take a little break and go spend some time abroad" and get rid of the baby? HOW BRAVE for her to stand up and announce that she's pregnant and keeping it, knowing full well what it would do to her reputation and her career. But you don't hear anyone towing that line—just people being pissed that she's pregnant. Well guess what? What's done is done. Crabbing about it won't make her less pregnant.

I am also not for punishing celebrities for doing the same things that everyone is doing. When I said that to a friend last week, he said, "But don't they get paid a lot of money? Then it kind of comes with the territory doesn't it."

How lame. I am a teacher, I make just above minimum wage. My best friend works at a hospital and makes considerably more money. So, if I came out of the closet, would it be less controversial than if she did? Should every choice she makes be broadcast on a larger scale than mine because her paycheck is better?

While I'm at it: I am in a traditional 'role model' position—does it affect society more if I were to get pregnant out of wedlock than if the clerk at Shopko does?

I suppose that because we aren't stoning Jamie Lynn Spears in the town square it's telling your children that you condone teen pregnancy.

And, not to mention, would a male tween star be getting the same kind of flack for getting his girlfriend pregnant? Uh, no. Most likely they would say it wasn't theirs, call the girl a slut and a hoe bag, and quietly settle to pay her off. Take the money and say that this baby is not mine, that's the best you're going to get. Thank God we have the science to prove paternity, and I pray that if it ever happens that girl is smart enough and strong enough to demand a test before taking a settlement.

Come on people. It is such a conflicted point of view to say that she should have been 'responsible' when she was engaged in an activity that most kids her age are. I think it's fair to be disappointed, but at the end of the day if you're going to assign blame for something that has nothing to do with you, maybe you can start with yourself. What did YOU personally do to make sure that Jamie Lynn Spears was armed with the knowledge to protect herself, or the confidence to say no? What have you done today to make sure that other teen stars don't go down this same road—beside telling your daughter that she can't watch Zoey 101 anymore, even though the story line, script, setting, etc, will not change whatsoever?

At least, there are three great things that will come out of this. Jamie Lynn has the means to provide very well for her child, so this will not be another baby born into poverty, crime, drugs, etc. Secondly, maybe tween girls will stop watching so much tv all together. It would be fantastic if some actual role models could be chosen for girls—not to mention, less TV might actually mean that the sex bug WON'T infect your child from the millions of commercials and other TV shows that are trashy.

Thirdly, it would be fantastic if this could start a conversation. Ask your thirteen year old if her friends are having sex—but it might surprise you. Ask your teenage son about his friends. Talk about some options to replace intercourse. Talk about the consequences of sex (and no, pregnancy is not the worst one, just the most visible).

CLICK HERE to read Tobes' take on the Jamie Lynn Spears pregnancy story, published at the blog, Planned Parenthood advocate.

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