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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Pregnancy and Parenting » Pregnancy and the Media

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Author Topic: Pregnancy and the Media
Aria51
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I've noticed that in the past few years, being pregnant has been sort of "in style." Many actresses are being open with their pregnancies, and are not afraid to hide their tummies.

Quite a few TV shows have written pregnancy into their plots -- I'll use ER for an example. On the show, Dr. Benton, Dr. Ross and Nurse Hathaway, Dr. Green and Dr. Corday, and Dr. Chen have all had babies. None were concieved in "wedlock," and were generally viewed as joyous occaisions.
The same show sometimes deals with teenage pregnancy, and it's almost never a joyous occasion.

So far the only shows I've found that portray pregnancy in the best way are Birth Day, Maternity Ward, Birth Stories, and Labor And Delivery. All of these shows are on educational channels. They show the joys and tragedies of pregnancies. They show healthy, "normal" mothers in the same hour as crack addicts, teenage mothers in the same hour as mothers pushing 50.

So why do you think it is that shows on network channels (ER) show mainly the happy, funny parts of pregnancy and shows on the educational channels (Labor And Delivery) show every aspect? Do you feel The Media is biased against young mothers? Would you like to see more network TV shows start being fair with their plotlines? (35 year old woman with a tragic pregnancy, 15 year old woman with a happy one, single mothers, partnered mothers, etc)

Any thoughts?

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Celtic Daisy
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People say that media mimics reality. However, i argue that it's the other way around, for most things. Of course, i think being a teenage mother would be hard, but i don't think that those shows do tell the whole story.

Lotsa times, the teenage mothers are immature, cheer leader types, or partiers, or people on drugs. I don't recal ever seeing on a show a young girl who was with her boyfriend and they used all the stuff and it just happened.(with the exeption of "15 and pregnant" on WTN)

I spose that in general, teenage pregnancies are viewed as bad. I mean, in our society. Really, i dont' think that teenagers are ready to be parents, but some are ready and willing and can handle it just fine.

I do think that because of media, teenage pregnancy is viewed even more evil, and only seen as happening to those partier girls and boys.

Sorry if that was confusing, it's late, i'm tired.

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"A six foot tall anorexic bimbo,with plastic breasts is making me feel weird about my own body."
-Miss Bif Naked


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alaska
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Well, I thought about this for a while, to see what my opinion on this actually is.

Over here, I think, the deal is a bit different. What you see on TV relationship/pregnancy/diversity wise seems to be a little more on the real or non-traditional side than what you guys seem to be seeing in the US. Not always (because we do get lots of programs from the US, after all), but at least a little. Just to give a few examples: German daily soaps feature or have extensively featured the following plotlines :

  • a lesbian couple (and no, they didn’t go hetero after a while again) who have sex and try to get pregnant (not like on Buffy, where Tara & Willow can only hug);
  • a soap where one of the lead characters has Osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease), sits in a wheelchair but still leads a very active sex & dating life with his non-disabled extremely pretty girlfriend (even though they have broken up recently;
  • happy single & teen mothers
  • a gay couple that adopts an HIV+ boy; and
  • a teenage girl who gets pregnant and is happy about it, hides the pregnancy from her partner who does not want to have a child; she still decides to keep the baby and –after lots of struggle- is very happy.

Especially the oldest German soap, Lindenstrasse, has really pushed non-traditional/cliche plots on the screen. The series started back in the eighties and has always been surrounded by scandals – they were the first to feature a gay kissing/sex scene on TV and also have very happy teen and single moms, who just face the usual struggles we all face – just because this is life (TV life, admittedly) – not because life as a teen/single mom is doomed.

Well, of course also get the usual crap on TV, too (and it probably outnumbers the good stuff): pregnancy scares that never end in birth or abortion, but usually a miscarriage; people who are HIV+ who of course aren’t sick; and the like.
I think I agree with you, Aria, on the ER thing: all those out of wedlock pregnancies are good, yet the show still features bad teenage pregnancies and “teen sex=bad” plotlines, too.
All the docu/reality TV shows we get on pregnancy and giving birth over here (which seem to be similar to those shows you mentioned), do offer a wider picture. I was very happy to see one of these programs recently which had lots of teen and single moms giving birth and making good, independent choices, and it was still depicted as a joyous situation, not as the end of the world.

I think what hurts the image of teen mothers more than all those series (at least over here) are all the sucky daily talk shows. Teen pregnancy & teen parenthood is the fave topic on German shows these days, apart from “being fat”, “body size” & “breast” topics.
It seems like every other talk show these days has “being pregnant and young” as their topic (including shows during which teenage girls told their moms/parents that they were pregnant - that almost made me throw up, I swear). The girls they get for those talks shows seriously aren’t the best depictions for the fact that teens can be fabulous, loving, nurturing parents. No wonder, those talk shows don’t aim to show teens as just as likely to be good parents as older parents anyway. And every time they do get teen moms who are don’t fit into the cliché that “teen pregnancy ruins your life”, they find a few people who will bash those happy girls completely.
Sucks, very very much.

I sometimes wish everyone would hear about how fab & loving & successful & happy the young Scarleteen moms are instead of the crap that’s on those sucky talk shows.


So yup, I think a more realistic/diverse view on pregnancy and teen parenting on TV would surely be lovely.


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"We must become the change we want to see."
Mahatma Gandhi

[This message has been edited by Alaska (edited 05-10-2001).]


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Milke
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Does anyone else remember Spike on Degrassi (Junior) High? I'm likely a bit confused because CBC seeemed to have some opposition to playing the reruns in chronological order, but the basic story was that a fourteen-year-old daughter of a single mum gets pregnant, chooses to keep her child, and does okay. Of course, there were difficulties (if I recall right, her kid's father ends up brain-damaged from a really poor suicide attempt and eventually ends up dying anyway, and money's always a problem), but the girl's mother was supportive, her classmates were shocked but mostly kind to her, and Spike ends up being a pretty good mum. This series later on had a story about a girl who became pregnant and chose to abort, and again, was just fine with it, and this had the plus points of Spike making very clear to the girl (I really can't remember her name) that having her baby was the right choice for her (Spike), but it wasn't for everyone, and the girl's sister, while being very much anti-abortion, realising that she had to be supportive of her because she loved her, and helping her through a mob of scary protestors. Especioally considering that this show was from the mid-eighties, I was really impressed.
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alaska
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Oh, Milke, I remember it!

Just a few weeks ago, I saw a few old episodes on Degrassi as a re-run, and I must say I was SO impressed, I think I had forgotten how extremely diverse and open that show was.

Just to add: they didn't only have Spike, the good teen mom, but they also had inter-racial dating, HIV+ teens, they portrayed disabled teens as normal, they talked about peer pressure...

Excellent show, in retrospect.


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Rizzo
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Ah, Degrassi! Such fond memories. I think it was Erica who had an abortion, or maybe it was her twin sister Heather. I'm pretty sure Erica was the "bad" one, though, so it must have been her
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Milke
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Rizzo, does it make any difference? Much as I liked the show, I just couldn't stand the twins!
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alaska
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oh yes, those twins....were horrid. And not just because I always associate them with buffouant black and white 80's clothing with shoulder pads.
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lostcat
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amen.

pregnancy is horribly distorted in the media. they show the happy, fun, exciting parts of pregnancy.. after all, no one wants to turn on the tv and see a woman throwing up, skipping class/work to take two hour naps, or being in intense pain during childbirth. pregnancy in any one under.. 21 or so is generally seen as a horrific event, where a girl has three options: abortion, adoption, or keeping the child and having a miserable life, not achieving much, and being on welfare for years. they never want to admit that younger women having babies can work in certain instances- they just push and push old stereotypes, and that's not helping anyone.

even on shows like "a baby story" on tlc, they seem to only show heterosexual couples in their late 20's-early 40's becoming parents. goddess forbid we'd ever put a single parent, or a teenage parent, or a gay couple expecting a baby on the show.

also, like someone said above, pregnancy in teens is always shown among partier types. i'm 19, i'm not a partier type at all (i've had sex with one person in my life, i've never been to a bar or club or frat party or anything like that, and my extent of drug experience is nicotene and a little pot.) and i'm pregnant. when i told my parents that i'm pregnant, they replied, "but you're not like that at all! you're a really calm, smart, good kid.." and so on. truth is, an unintended pregnancy can happen to anyone... from partiers to the class valedictorian who's a member of chess club to your very, very average teenage kid. i think in a way, shows that show teenage moms as being the partier-on-drugs type are very harmful to girls, because they're led to believe, "well, i'm not like that, i'm just having sex with my boyfriend, that couldn't happen to me," which is exactly what i thought for a while, but i realized that's so untrue. it can happen to anyone who's sexually active (well, with a partner of the opposite sex), and i wish the media would show that.

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"i need to wash myself again to hide all the dirt and pain, 'cos i'd be scared that there's nothing underneath"- radiohead


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Siren
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There's this one show on lifetime, called "Any Day Now" (I'm not sure if anyone has heard of it), but it's one of the only shows that portrays teen pregnancy and parenting in a realistic way. In it the daughter has a serious boyfriend, they are careless, and she gets pregnant. She is a normal high school senior, so is the boyfriend, and the family treats her pregnancy very much like many of my friends families treated them when they got pregnant young. They are upset about it, but they deal with it, and help their daughter. And the girl and her boyfriend face a lot of real life problems, like how will they afford a baby, will they continue going to school, how will a baby effect their relationship, etc., etc. I found it really good.

And LostCat- I watch a baby story too, and I agree about the couples, they all have that "perfect" family aura to them. I always wonder why a single mom couldn't go on the show, or a young unmarried couple.

And one show which always works my nerves in "7th Heaven". (which I watch only because it works my nerves!) I remember they did a show on teen pregnancy and they made the girls out to be stupid and irrisponsible, same with the guys. They even made one comment that really got to me, "No matter what, there is NOTHING good about teen pregnancy." And of course the mother in the show was pregnant, and I think that opitimizes the "perfect" pregnancy senario. She was up and about until the last minute, and she was expecting twins. haha. They did make her a little grouchy, but I think that was the only problem she seemed to have. That's also a show which REALLY condescends upon working parents, or any other type of family where the mother isn't a stay at home mom, or both parents are happily together. Ugh, works my nerves.

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Lil Siren
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KittenGoddess
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Oh, I agree about A Baby Story. I'll admit that I somehow can't stop watching it, but it does just seem to show the perfect cookie-cutter families. What I really find amusing on that show though is how they talk to the dad's and so ofter they're like "No, we've decided that we're not having drugs during labor." We? What we? The last time I checked, they weren't the ones actually having to give birth. Don't get me wrong here, I think that if you want to deliver without drugs, then that's wonderful for you. I just find it amusing when these guys start that stuff about 'we'.

~KittenGoddess

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the kittenblog

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KittenGoddess
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Hey, I just wanted to bring this back up cause I saw the neatest thing today.

While I still agree that TLC's "A Baby Story" tends be a bit distorted, I saw an episode today that gave me hope. They actually featured a lesbian couple. They already had one baby and having their second. Lovely, happy family. I really had to give a big thumbs up to TLC for featuring a non-heterosexual couple.

According to their website, they're also looking for stories about adoption and surrogates to film for "A Baby Story".

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Sarah Liz
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[This message has been edited by KittenGoddess (edited 04-24-2003).]


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foxfire
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A baby story is a wondeful program in my opinion. Not only did they air the one with the lesbian couple but they had one where the mother was on chemo. It was heartwrenching for her to have the babies (twins) and think that she might not get to see them grow up. On one show a baby was born with sickle cell anemia but that one was a little sketchy.

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Siren
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I agree with all that was said. I was actually thinking about this the other day. I'm 21, and 13 weeks pregnant, and I was thinking, there are NO shows that portray being a young single mom as a GOOD thing. Usually the girl chooses to just have an abortion, or puts the baby up for adoption. I know I'm your regular college student, I never partied during college, I don't hang around a bad crowd, I get good grades in college, I'm a nerd basically, lol, but birth control fails. I just felt it was best for me to have the baby, that felt right to me. I'd love to see a show which doesn't put a stereotype on teen moms. I think one show I liked was "15 and pregnant" with Kirsten Dunst (sp?) it was on lifetime, and other channels. But I think it showed teen pregnancy in a very realistic, non horrid way.

And I was soo happy to see the lesbian couple on TLC. Now I'd just love to see young unmarried parents, and maybe a single mom. You know? Get real. I don't even like the idea of showing adoption, because again it's showing the single unmarried mom giving a baby away to a well off, two parent home.

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Lil Siren
"Those are some BIG ice cubes..."


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logic_grrl
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quote:
I don't even like the idea of showing adoption, because again it's showing the single unmarried mom giving a baby away to a well off, two parent home.

Just a note: not all adoptive parents are couples, let alone well-off, and not all birth parents who place their children for adoption are unmarried mums. It doesn't get half so much publicity, but there are plenty of cases where couples place kids for adoption, and plenty of single adoptive parents (especially when it comes to the adoption of older or disabled kids).

I totally agree with you about wanting to challenge the unpleasant judgemental stereotype of adoption where it's presented as the (implicitly bad, sinful, inadequate, irresponsible) unmarried teenage mum placing her baby with the (good, responsible, upstanding, etc.) married heterosexual couple. But there's no reason why an adoption story necessarily has to follow that pattern.


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Insane
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Siren, you remind me so much of me! lol! I was exactly the same, in university, didn't really party, didn't hang around a bad crowd, but birth control fails sometimes.

I totally agree that the media does not do young parenting justice. Heck, it doesn't do pregnancy justice. I remember watching all those baby story and maternity ward type shows when I was pregnant. Before my son was born, I thought no sweat if these people can do it, so can I. Boy was I wrong. It is super hard, and nothing anyone can say to you can fully prepare any pregnant girl for what lies ahead. I totally thought I was prepared for all of this. I can be totally honest about this, now I know I really knew squat. But you figure it out as you go.

But you know what Siren. Thank you for making me feel that I am not the only one in that was ever in that situation. Everyone here has a different situation and different circumstances. But it is nice feeling to know that I am not the only one who found myself in that sorta situation.


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Heather
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I don't mean to be too pointed, but what I don't want to support here is any sort of collective denial or truth-bending.

Yes, birth control fails. But it most often fails when it is not used properly, intentionally or unintentionally. More times than not, we all do get to choose whether or not we become pregnant.

A woman of any age still gets to choose, and has the right to choose, to bear children or not, and should be supported in any choice in my book. But Siren, you've intentionally become pregnant several times without using birth control at all on purpose, including this present time as I understand it.

Again, that's certainly your choice, but I want to make sure that we're all being truthful here -- I think we can do that and still get and give support.

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Insane
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quote:
Originally posted by Miz Scarlet:
.....I don't want to support here is any sort of collective denial or truth-bending.
....we're all being truthful here ....


I am not sure if the truthful comment was directed towards me or others. However, I have always been truthful on this board. I have no reason to "bend the truth" and I would like to think that I am helpful. Just a comment. Birth control doesn't always fail because of negligence on the part of the users. One can be fully informed just misinformed.

Nonetheless, I came back on this board today to make a comment. I thought of another example where single motherhood is protrayed like there is nothing to it. Murphy Brown. Anyone remember that show? She makes it out to be so easy. I think that is the biggest lesson I have learned though. That television sugar coats pregnancy and parenting. I guess that is why you aren't supposed to believe everything on TV. I am guessing that a show about the real hardships on young parenting, teenage pregnancy just doesn't get the ratings, hence the reason to sugar coat it. As society grows, I would imagine so will TV. All this talk about TV's protrayal and all has made me realize how important it will be to talk to my son about what he sees on TV and the diffrence between TV and reality.


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Heather
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(If you reread my post, you'll note that it was directed to Siren by name.)
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Insane
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Thank you for clarifying. I thought some of it was a general comment. Thanks for clarifying.
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Siren
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Oh, yeah, I should have pointed that out, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to mislead people. This pregnancy was definitely not prevented in any way.

I just wanted to point out that birth control does fail. That's why your doctor will always recommend a back up birth control if you definitely don't want to become pregnant. Like, condoms and the pill.

And I do agree that soo many tv shows sugar coat teen pregnancy, which I don't think is right. So many young girls, and I was one of them, think being pregnant and having a baby will be so easy. I'm 22 and it's still gonna be so hard, I can't imagine what it would have been like if I was younger.

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Lil Siren
"Those are some BIG ice cubes..."


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gothicbeautyqueen
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hi,
truthfully i think that pregnancy is a beautiful thing no matter what age you are, or if you are married, or even if you know the father of the baby. having a child is a joyous occasion no matter what. i myself am only 16 and if i were to have a baby i would be just as happy right now as if i were 35 and married. why should it be any less happy. for some people it may be the only time they can have a child. you shouldnt make it hell for yourself just because of the other problems you may be in. if you do get pregnant at a young age, ect, then you should make it as happy as possible rather then making it stressful and sad for the child and yourself. this might not be anyone else oppion but its mine so its good enough for me. lots of love

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