As the pregnancy rates amongst teens and young adults rise, parents and society as a whole have formed a stigma that young teens are irresponsible, unprepared, and promiscuous. It is gossip like this that tears apart teenage relationships and potential families. Stereotypes result in prejudice against all teen mothers, regardless of the individualsâ€™ situation, whether it be in the work force, schooling, or just on the streets. Seeing a pregnant teenager evokes dirty looks, condescending remarks, and judgmental opinions. It is not only women that have to deal with these rumors, judgments, and biased opinions, but fathers have to go through this as well. Gossip negatively affects both the mother and the fathers in many different ways today. There are many articles, news, and general information available on teen pregnancy today that center entirely around teen mothers and how they are coping with their pregnancy. Very rarely do we find information about the affects of the pregnancy on the father and how he is dealing with the stereotypes and gender that they are faced with due to their teen pregnancy. Men are challenged with very different stereotypes than women when it comes to teen pregnancy. They are often depicted as uncaring, absent, irresponsible, and selfish. One teen that was interviewed by the Denver Post described his experience dealing with stereotypes from his peers as something like this: "When I'd talk to people, even family and friends, they'd judge me with stereotypes," Stevens said. "They thought I was just going to leave her, that I'd have nothing to do with it. I wasn't even given an opportunity to be part of it." Stereotypes like this often times crop young boys who have good intentions
out of the picture altogether before they even are given the chance to do right by their new family. (Simpson) Only one out of four teen fathers live with their child’s mother at the time of the birth of their child. More than half of teen fathers live with their child when the baby is born and only eight percent of teen parents are actually married. (MTV) These statistics support the idea that teen fathers are often times not even given a chance to prove their worth or that they are good men willing to help and try to support their newly growing family as best that they can. Both teen mothers and teen fathers are charged with negotiating the judgments of society that come along with having a child at a young age and without being married. They both strive to reestablish their reputations as a good girl or a good guy. Men, however, are seen as supposed to be masculine and breadwinners when it comes to their family. The stereotype of masculine men allows for their sole responsibility to care for the child and the family to be denied. The main issue that arises with men being seen as breadwinners for their family is that this idea is practically impossible for a man to live up to as such a young age. (Weber) Young men pay an average of less than eight hundred dollars annually in child support because they are quite poor themselves and cannot afford to pay more. (Too Young) The idea that men are supposed to provide as the “breadwinners” for their family is ultimately unrealistic for parents at this age. Due to the stigmas of masculinity on fathers who are having a baby at a young age, men use three gendered discourses to deny responsibility for the pregnancy. They blamed male sexual desire adopting a “boys will be boys” mindset. Many men stated that males are not as capable of controlling their sexuality as
women are. Ultimately meaning that men are sexual beings with raging hormones. They second excuse that women are more in charge of preventing pregnancy than women. The third claimed that they were in love with the woman and not using contraceptives makes the intercourse less intimate. To women, if there is a willingness to make things more intimate and romantic (by having unprotected sex), then women are put in a precarious position, often times not making the right decisions. Consequently, the decision to have unprotected sex becomes more mired in gendered assumptions surrounding love and romance. (Weber) One major stereotype that stands out in teen pregnancy cases is that when men hook up with girls, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. But when a girl hooks up with multiple boys, it is looked upon as worse. If a man has children with three different women it is viewed very differently than if a woman has children with multiple men. Marlin, a 16 year old with one daughter, a baby on the way, and another child that may or not be his openly claimed that: “You know how they say it looks (worse) for a girl than for a boy? Yeah, that’s how I think about it. With a boy, there ain’t too much wrong with it, really. But like a girl… that’s just nasty.” (Weber) This double standard is part of the reason that makes the stereotypes and gossip so much more impactful for women than for men. Though it does affect both parties, women suffer much more psychologically and emotionally due to gossip than men do. This may be due to the fact that men often times are more able to escape the realms and the burden of having a baby much easier than women can. Women also occasionally are deprived of the advantages of having that emotional
support system of a man by her side. The obvious reason that women suffer more negative social stigma than men that are having a child at a young age is because women cannot hide the fact that they are pregnant. No matter what, people will always eventually find out and learn about the pregnancy. Socially, teen moms suffer greatly. As stated above, women are depicted as a lot worse than men when it comes to teen pregnancy. Women are seen as nasty and offensive for being sexually active, where as men are high fived for the amount of girls they hook up with. (Jerry) Teen mothers are seven times more likely than their peers to commit suicide. This is due to not only parenting difficulties, leaving home, or social isolation. (Medical Billing and Coding) Teen mothers have not developed as many coping skills or the emotional maturity that mothers in their twenties and older have. Motherhood can be a really difficult experience due to social stigmas and the pressures that arise from teen mothers peers. (Experience Project) Teen mother become such social outcasts that many of them reach out to different websites and other teen moms for support. In one blog by a seventeen-year-old teen mother she wrote about her experience of being shunned by her peers. She said that people threw condoms at her at school and she got awful looks from her teachers. (Experience Project) There were many replies to this post from moms with similar stories and giving this particular individual advice such as, “ “I wouldn’t really rely on my friends, I learned that the hard way.” It’s sad to think that when teens need support the most, they lose more people and feel more alone than ever before. A pregnant girl cannot walk up and
down the halls of her school without looks and judgments from everyone in the school of all ages, including their teachers. The main reason that teen moms are isolated is because they can no longer relate to the normalcies of teenage life. Issues such as the due date for a project or the test to study for become minor problems compared to their new worries such as prenatal care and doctors appointments. Aside from health, the mom also does a lot of worrying about financial problems and emotional things such as telling her parents and dealing with the babyâ€™s father. Gossip in teenage pregnancy tears apart relationships of all kinds. This is ranging from parent to teen, teen mother to teen father, and the teens to their friends and peers. Gossip negatively affects the female and the males in a relationship in many different ways and oftentimes tears up the two when they need each other the most. Not only do the teen parents need each other, but more importantly the baby needs to be born into a healthy family relationship and environment more than anything else.
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