Even the much-discussed pregnancy of 16-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears reveals the rudely unfair toll that a few minutes of pleasure can exact on a girl. The very fact that the gossip magazines are still debating the identity of the father proves again that the burden of sex is the woman’s to bear. He has a chance to maintain his privacy, but if she becomes pregnant by mistake, soon all the world will know.
How soon the world forgets the virgin image Jamie Lynn's sister once had. Britney's virginity was a large part of what made her a star. She was the "good girl" in the Catholic School Girl costume in Baby One More Time. Her virginity was as fake as her sister's sexual activity is obvious. And there's something almost... (dare I say)... biblical about that.
Britney's "virginity" was nothing but a sales-pitch to young girls. A fallacy used to manipulate little girls into following in her footsteps and we all know where that lead. If Britney's virgin image made her a role model then what harm can her sister's pregnancy really do?
I started having sex in High School, as did the majority of my friends. Some started earlier. Some waited until college. Was I "ready" to have sex? Yes. It wasn't something I stumbled into blindly. I had a boyfriend who I totally dug and he dug me. I wasn't irresponsible or erratic. (Not at first.) I took my sexuality very seriously. I had friends in high school who did get pregnant. Two of whom had babies. Others who did not. All young women exercising their choice. Choices made with their boyfriends. With their parents. The "best" choice for each of them at the time.
Since starting this blog, I have been asked and several times assumed to be "pro-life" because I chose not to have an abortion. Strange, right? Or maybe not. ... Because what young woman in her right mind would actually have the baby?
For the record, just because a woman chooses not to have an abortion doesn't mean she doesn't support a woman's right to have one.
A couple years ago I went with a friend to see Ben Folds play at The Wiltern. I had just given birth to Archer and my friend had recently terminated a very unwanted pregnancy. That night Ben Folds performed "Brick" a poignant song about his experience taking his girlfriend to get an abortion. I'm feeling more alone than I ever have before. The song was played back to back with a song Folds wrote about his son called "Still Fighting It". And I can tell you about today/ And how I picked you up and everything changed.
My friend and I sat side by side in the theater, sobbing for two completely different reasons, and then upon realizing the other one was crying, we proceeded to sob even more heavily for each other. It was one of the most poignant moments of sisterhood I have ever experienced and one I will never forget. Two friends side by side, unplanned pregnancies and the outcomes of choice. We were both glad we made the decisions we did, of course, but that didn't change the monumental difficulty of having to make such choices, the changes in our lives, in ourselves.
Any woman who has been pregnant without planning to be knows what I'm talking about. I've written about it ad nauseam. Mainly because every day another woman or girl finds my blog by searching "unplanned pregnancy" or "i'm pregnant. what do i do" or the most heartbreaking, "thirteen years old. I'm pregnant. Help".... talk about a six-word memoir.
I want to open my arms to every one of them. I want them to know that what they are going through is complicated and personal and life-changing no matter the decision. I want them to know that they're not alone. Not even close.
Many sixteen-year old girls are sexually active. And maybe, there's a pregnant girl out there right now or thousands feeling less alone seeing someone as exposed as Jamie Lynn pregnant. And there's something to be said for that, I think. It can be a relief to know there are people out there wrestling with the same choices.
Pregnancy robs a teenager of her girlhood. This stark fact is one reason girls used to be so carefully guarded and protected — in a system that at once limited their horizons and safeguarded them from devastating consequences.
Could it be that "devastating consequences" aren't always so devastating? There are happy endings contrary to what Caitlin Flanagan had to say.
I didn't make a mistake having my baby. And my friend didn't make a mistake not having hers. The right choice for me may not be the right choice for you and the right choice for you may not be the right choice for me and the right choice for Jamie Lynn Spears may be the wrong choice for you and your family but come on, now. Let's all have some respect for people's procreational choices.
No, I wasn't sixteen when I chose to be a mother but what if I was? Let us not forget that "a woman's right to choose" also means a woman's right to choose to be a mother.
It is of utmost importance for us as a society to hold up our fellow women and girls as they deal with such difficult choices. We have great potential as women to offer support, to tell our stories, to relate. To hold each other's hands across the armrest of the concert hall and not let go.