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Jamie Lynn, from a 20-something perspective

(This is cross-posted at BlogHer.)

There’s been a lot of talk about the recently announced pregnancy of 16-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears. People have been asking all kinds of questions: “What do you think? Should she keep the baby? Should Nickelodeon fire her?” And as much as I agree that people have the right to express themselves and say whatever they want, sometimes I think they’re just a little too willing to part with what THEY think is the right advice. Of course most people are going to have an opinion about whether a 16-year-old girl should or shouldn’t keep her baby if she gets pregnant — but is it right to make this girl a poster child for teenage pregnancy just because she happens to be on a TV show and have a famous older sister?

There’s been a lot of condemnation of Jamie Lynn, and speculation about whether or not she got pregnant on purpose. Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t. When I’ve heard disparaging remarks about her lack of maturity and her mother’s lack of parental skills, all I’ve been able to think is — what if this girl was your daughter, or your sister? Would you still be saying the same things? (It kind of reminds me of those politicians who stop saying negative things about gay relationships once their own son or daughter comes out of the closet.)

This is what I think — 16 isn’t an ideal age to have a baby, and preferably she would have waited longer, or paid more attention to her use of contraception. But I believe women have a choice, and even though she’s a young woman, she still has a choice. If she wants to raise a baby, that’s her decision. Just like she shouldn’t have felt pressure to keep the baby if it wasn’t the right choice for her, neither should she be made to feel like she should have terminated her pregnancy just because the announcement would cause such a controversy.

Also, unlike many other 16-year-olds, she has the financial means to make this happen. She can hire a nanny, finish high school, and even go on to college if she wants to. She doesn’t have to worry about such pesky nuisances as having to get a job to pay for childcare and put food on the table. Would I have kept the baby if I’D gotten pregnant at 16? No. But I was in a different situation, and I didn’t have the same advantages. I’m not saying it’s fair, but that’s the way it is.

Cara, writing at The Curvature (“a feminist perspective on politics & culture”), doesn’t think Jamie Lynn’s pregnancy is any of our business.

So, here’s what I don’t want to be writing about: Jamie Lynn Spears. I wanted to avoid this whole mess all together. Jamie Lynn Spears is someone, until a few days ago, whose existence I was only vaguely aware of, and whose existence I didn’t really care about. Her pregnancy was and is of absolutely no interest to me. And even more importantly than that, her pregnancy is none of my business. […]

I think that what pisses me off […] is the implication by both parents and teens that Jamie Lynn Spears has betrayed them.

It’s not just that Spears is a stupid, bad-girl slut, you see. She’s a stupid, bad-girl slut who didn’t even have the decency to think about how people she doesn’t know would feel about her pregnancy! How could she do this to good, white, middle-class families? If she wants to ruin her own life, that’s fine, but please god, won’t somebody think of the children?

A writer at Offsprung acknowledges that Jamie Lynn has the support and financial means to raise a child:

Although Spears is admittedly a younger mother than I’m comfortable with, she is so far and away better off than the majority of pregnant women and girls in the world, it isn’t even funny: She has a support network of friends and family, independent financial means, good health, and a boyfriend that loves her and seems happy to take responsibility for fathering a child. If all women had a life like this and could genuinely freely choose to keep and care for a baby, the abortion rate would plummet without punishing, dangerous bullshit laws restricting it.

Katy says that Jamie’s situation isn’t that different from similar things that go on every day.

So, yes, she has some unusual circumstances, given her family, but [Jamie Lynn] is not that different from a lot of American teens. Plenty of girls lose their virginity in high school, and some of them get pregnant. Some decide to keep their babies. This doesn’t make them whores or sluts or any of the other terms being thrown around. […]

Yes, the deal with the magazine to announce the pregnancy, plus letting the boyfriend stay at their L.A. home for months at a time, are poor decisions on JL’s mother’s part. And I have a strong suspicion she never sat her daughters down and had a real discussion about sex and consequences. But let’s not act like this is some heretofore unknown phenomenon in American culture.

Velvet thinks “We clearly need a do-over on our celebrities.”

16 years old. Pregnant. Stab me in the eye with a fork, have you learned nothing from your older sister? It’s a short walk from cute pop star to white trash ex-wife living off Mickie Dee’s with a snowball’s chance in hell that you’ll ever see your kids again because your debauchery enabled K Fed to make it as Dad of the Year. Yikes.

Sarah doesn’t approve of all the attention given to these girls.

I am really shocked by the slutiness and backwardness of Hollywood and how accepting the average person seems to be by all of it. […]

And now, Jamie Lynn Spears is pregnant at 16. Really? Plenty of “shocked” and “scared for her” and “wow” reactions but the only ones I can come up with are “wow, I am shocked that you are so slutty” and “boy, I am scared for your future child,” not to mention: “where are your role models?” or “do you have parents?” […]

Personally, I love how Christina Aguilera and J. Lo handled their pregnancies — you know, with class, and simple press releases, and MARRIAGE.

What do you guys think?

Related links:

A recent Newsweek article on single women who decide to conceive or adopt a child without a partner.

Dana reviews Louise Sloan’s book, Knock Yourself Up: No Man? No Problem: A Tell-All Guide to Becoming a Single Mom.

Nordette Adams wrote a BlogHer post from a mother’s perspective.

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