For anyone who's sick of hearing about Britney Spears, I have good news for you. You'll now be hearing about her sixteen year old sister, Jamie Lynn, who's twelve weeks pregnant. From what I've seen online, this teen pregnancy thing seems to be a bit of a scandal. I guess there still are some taboos left, but I'm actually wondering why. The getting pregnant out of wedlock thing seems to be totally acceptable nowadays. Who in Hollywood doesn't get pregnant out of wedlock? Jennifer Garner, Katie Holmes, Halle Berry, Angelina Jolie, Nicole Richie, Jessica Alba are just a few examples of "stars" we're supposed to admire, whose growing baby bumps so many of us watch (or watched) with anticipation.
Is it simply a matter of age then? On the same web page that People.com announces Jamie Lynn's "teen pregnancy" we also learn that, 22 year old singer Lily Allen is pregnant from a boyfriend she's been dating for only three months. But this couple is "obviously...thrilled by the news" according to Allen's rep, whereas poor Jamie Lynn's situation is what we Jews call a shanda.
Now I know that 22 is older than 16, but what if Jamie Lynn were 17, 18, or 19? At one point does the situation go from a problem to an unexpected, but wonderful surprise? 70% of People.com readers polled think that Jamie's Nickelodeon show should be canceled since she got herself into this mess and only 18% say they feel any sympathy for her. I'm wondering what percent of these people are OK with a sixteen year old having sex? Probably more than 18%.
So what is the problem then? Is it simply that little Jamie Lynn was "dumb" enough to get knocked-up? Sex after all does lead to pregnancy, some of the time. Her mom, Lynne told OK! "I didn't believe it because Jamie Lynn's always been so conscientious. She's never late for her curfew. I was in shock. I mean, this is my 16-year-old baby." Well, Lynn, did you have any idea what your daughter was up to before she came home for her curfew? And what exactly has Jamie Lynn been conscientous about? Not having pre-marital sex or using contraception properly?
In a world where tweens are sexualized, abstinence is a dirty word in high school sex-ed, and babies are the coolest accessories that stars tote around next to their Prada purses, none of us should be overly shocked by teen pregnancy. If we are, then maybe we need to re-examine the steps we deem acceptable that lead up to it.