Mtv's 16 & Pregnant Glorifies Teen Pregnancy

Topics: Gender role / Pages: 7 (1570 words) / Published: Apr 8th, 2012
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 86 percent of mothers who give birth out-of-wedlock are teenagers. MTV’s show “16 & Pregnant,” which has only been on air since June 2009, is already reflecting the rapid boom in teenage pregnancy across various cities in America. Since the early eighties MTV has been considered somewhat of a cultural phenomenon for American adolescents and its depiction of gender has a strong impact that continues to this day (Holtzman 2000). Created by Morgan J. Freeman (director of teen shows Dawson’s Creek and Laguna Beach), the show “16 & Pregnant” has been said to be guilty of exacerbating, normalizing and even glorifying teen pregnancy. Perhaps, it’s just reflecting a current social dilemma occurring amongst female youth. Each week a new episode revolves around a different girl struggling with the challenges of teenage pregnancy. The network presents these characters as “real”, plucked from the grips of reality, validated and “chosen” to represent some sort of normalized or otherwise glamorized middle-class identity of teenage motherhood. The show depicts women’s roles that are often typified to include traditional gendered norms of heterosexual relationships, marriage, motherhood and femininity. “16 & Pregnant” serves as a platform to broadcast what is seen as a stereotypical American culture that is now engulfing teen girls everywhere. The social identities MTV presents reinforces those of traditional female roles and gender norms and attempts to establish a new model for pregnant teens in a modern age. Just by airing the show, MTV is assimilating new ideas of teen pregnancy into American society. Historically, there has always been some sort of unspoken Christian tradition that has governed American women’s birth rights; that one should not get pregnant out-of-wedlock. Today, however, teenage pregnancy is so rampant that families are forced to deal with the situation in a positive manner, often honoring the

References: “16 & Pregnant” Morgan J. Freeman. MTV Productions 2009. Bellafante, G. “Real Life Is Like Juno, Except Maybe The Dialogue.” New York Times 10 Jul. 2009. Gallagher, M. “Gender Setting: New Agendas For Media Monitoring and Advocacy.” London and New York. St. Martin’s Press 2001. Holtzman, L. “Media Messages: What Film, Television, and Popular Music Teach Us About Race, Class, Gender and Sexual Orientation.” New York. M.E. Sharpe Inc. 2000. Nayak, A. and Kehily, J. “Gender, Youth and Culture: Young Masculinities and Femininities.” New York. Palgrave MacMillin 2008. Rescule, F. “Television And Teen Pregnancy: How Sexual Content Loosens Sexual Morals.” 2005. Brown University.

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