Friday, February 08, 2008

Are Stigmas All Bad?

Back in the olden days when I was in high school, there was a stigma against unwed mothers. Not that it didn't happen, it did.

These days (around here at least) there seems to be an epidemic of young, unwed women (and girls) becoming pregnant and flaunting it. They have baby showers that are announced in the local paper. They share Title 19 tips. And some continue to procreate without the benefit of a partner to help them nurture their children.

Am I nuts, or are stigmas sometimes a good thing?


goblinbox said...

My brain saw, "Are stigmatas all bad?" I had to read the title twice. Ahem.

Anyway, point is, my gramma and I had this EXACT conversation the other day. She was saying it wasn't fair, though, how when there was stigma that it only affected the girls. "It takes two to tango," she said, "and the fathers should have been kicked out of school too."

If I was convinced that all this rampant acceptance actually meant that people were happier and having much better sex, I'd think it was worth it. But I don't think people are really happier, and I don't think the sex is better than it was 50 years ago.

Gwen said...

But stigmatizing teen moms didn't stop girls from getting pregnant, so I can't see how it was particularly useful. And I suspect girls ARE happier, long-term, when they're allowed to finish school. I dunno. Maybe we need to get teens to stigmatize each other for not using birth control.

pj said...

No, the stigmas didn't stop girls from getting pregnant, but it seems there weren't so darn many unplanned pregnancies. (It could be me looking through the lens of old age.) And the event wasn't celebrated like it is now. Celebration = normal = acceptance = more girls having babies without a way to take care of them.

Goblinbox: I doubt if sex has changed. Gramma was right -- it was only the girls who were stigmatized, and that's just not fair. Like every other aspect of life.

Idea #527 said...

I actually was surprised to hear how many girls at the particular high school that my mom attended has like 5 pregnant girls or something right now. I had a high school of 750 and we had like maybe 1 or 2. Can't figure that one out!! PROTECTION perhaps???

I also think high school girls for some reason nowadays think it's cool to be pregnant and give in a lot easier than said my generation. Girls (and guys) are definitely having sex at much earlier ages on average I think it's 12 or 13 now and when I was that age it was like 15 or 16. So. . . much, MUCH younger.

I blame the media. Things were not as sexually focused as they are now. Children are dressing more like adults. (I guess this could be said vice versa but nonetheless.) We see more sex and kissing on television now. And young girls are looking up to people like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. When I was that age, I was looking up to Cagney and Lacey or the girls in Saved by the Bell. And Madonna was probably the most scandalous person in media.

WOah. . . just massively vented. Sorry. Perhaps I should vent on my own blog! haha!!


Gwen said...

The teen pregnancy rate hasn't actually changed all that much since in a century. It's just that girls don't disappear for a few months now like they used to. Unwed MOTHERHOOD has increased b/c parents are less likely to want their kid to get married just because s/he is pregnant, but I'm telling you, Census data show this isn't new. Girls got pregnant then. They get pregnant now. At about the same rates. There just isn't a hasty marriage or quick trip to visit an aunt in Florida to cover it up.

And one of the main reason girls don't use birth control is they're afraid of being labeled a slut for "planning" to have sex, as opposed to just being "overwhelmed in the moment," which means they didn't "mean" to. So they're already stigmatizing each other, it's just not keeping anyone from getting pregnant.

I wish we could just stigmatize Paris Hilton and Britney Spears as a general policy, though. I don't even care what we stigmatize them about--name your choice, I'm on board.

pj said...

Idea #527 was right about the media influence on sexual attitudes. Idea also plays a part in the Paris / Britney phenomena since she reads the gossip rags. I'm glad she gave them up for Lent.

Gwen is right about Paris & Britney needing to be stigmatized. (I will defer to her statistical knowledge and concede I am biased by my lens of old age.)

goblinbox said...

Izzat really true, that the teen pregnancy rate hasn't increased? Interesting.

What has changed, though, is who takes care of these children. Used to be that girl got married and her new husband and family raised the child (read: paid for it). Now with fewer marriages, the state's paying for all those babies.

I think a healthy stigma was cheaper for the culture, in the overview at least. But I could be wrong; it could be that the costs were the same whether paid for by private individuals or by the government.