what I write about
she has fallen and now she is awake
Now, for a slight change of pace, I’m going to talk work.
Well, ONE book.
A ‘realistic’ account of teen pregnancy. A book that seems to review quite well, if you take “made me think twice about possibly getting pregnant” and “good for teenagers to read to know about having a baby”.
Before I start though, I’ve got a shitload of privilege knocking around about this. I wasn’t a teen mother. I wasn’t even close for the most part. I would have had familial support. I’m white, I’m ‘normal’ and I don’t have obvious class-markers (easier with the flat nature of the Australian accent I think). So that’s informed a lot of my discomfort with this particular book.
It opens with a fight between mother and daughter. It includes a fair few monologues about how lovely it would be to have a baby. It includes a 20 year old impregnating a 15 year old who lied about her age. It includes a rich fantasy life. It includes a lot of “abortion or adoption” when she gets pregnant. It includes a terribly, obviously and grotesquely gratuitous ‘low class’ name for the baby. It includes no mention at all of breastfeeding. It includes endless scenes of crying babies, pooping babies, puking babies, upset babies, arsehole friends and douchebag men.
It also includes a scene where she tries to kill her baby who screams all the time.
In other words, nothing at all like my experience with teen mothers. The two I know best are absolutely and totally dedicated mothers. Both breastfed (or are breastfeeding). Both make informed choices. Their stories aren’t mine to tell but at the same time, they are the ones who were in my head while I was flicking through this book. On one side is this media fallacy (that I did actually believe for the longest time) that tries to minimise teen pregnancy by inducing a ridiculous level of fear supported by constant refrains of ‘ruined your life’ and ‘destroyed your future’. On the other are my friends, are people I know who had their children before they were 20, in various situations and relationships and levels of society and they aren’t ruined. They aren’t destroyed.
It seems a little like the drug media – you emphasise the negative to horrifying proportions then wonder why no-one believes you or listens to you. Because they couldn’t possibly have experiences that contradict the party line at all, could they…
Teen pregnancy isn’t evil. Teen mothers aren’t awful. Teen mothers are mothers. They’re women. They’re people. They’re friends. They’re sisters.
They aren’t deserving of books written that end with them attempting to murder their child because they miss their party-life.
That said, it’s got good reviews from teenagers and I’m not in the business of censorship. I am trying to find a counterpoint though. I really wish the new cover weren’t so fucking peppy looking since it was a goddamn dismal book to flick through at 1630 on a friday afternoon.