Guest Post by Avital Norman Nathman
…is not reality.
It’s an edited for entertainment version of what teen parenting might look like. But the magazine covers? The sensationalizing and “shockers” they’re trying to sell as the teen parenting narrative? That’s not reality. Between the sensationalism that accompanies most “reality” TV and the stigmatization of many pregnancy prevention campaigns, the public’s perception of teen parenting can become pretty skewed, pretty quickly. The reality for most teen parents doesn’t mimic what’s shown in reality shows. But their story is no less valid.
Thankfully, there are lot of great organizations that have been hard at work, focusing on policy, legislation and advocacy work when it comes to reducing the stigma surrounding teen pregnancy/parenting. Yet there are very few alternatives to the “reality” shows being produced by the handful (two new teen parenting-centric shows just started airing last month on top of the ones already in rotation).
I’ve written about my connection to this topic before, and my desire to help provide another media-driven outlet for young parents. Despite not winning the GOOD Maker grant, we’re still committed to the goal of sharing these stories in a web series format, and have turned to crowd sourcing to ensure it happens. We’ve teamed up with some fabulous folks in order to offer up some amazing contribution perks – including a swag bag full of goodies from Planned Parenthood, a subscription to Bitch Magazine, and a variety of perks from media critic and educator, Jennifer Pozner, including signed copies of her book, Reality Bites Back.
Another amazing perk is a copy of Nautilus II, the anthology of poetry and art edited and produced by the young mothers at The Care Center. So please – check out our Indiegogo Campaign page and consider supporting us today! Every bit helps and we truly appreciate each and every contribution. You can also help by spreading the word about our campaign via your social networks.
I’ll leave you with a poem from this year’s Nautilus II by Samantha Gouvan who lives in Holyoke, MA with her fiancé and daughter. She’s a proud mother working toward her GED. She wants to go to college to be a dental hygienist.
by Samantha Gouvan
Praise the young mother with the short brown hair
and the eyes that see her growing daughter.
Praise the young mother that sacrificed
her childhood early to raise her own.
Praise her for leaving an abusive home to move out
on her own and bring her daughter up the right way.
Praise her for giving her all,
and giving her daughter everything she needs.
Praise her for all those sleepless nights
and staying strong through everything.
Praise her for going to school every day,
trying so hard to get an education.
Praise her for being so mature at 17,
all grown, living for every day.
Praise her for being independent.
Avital Norman Natham writes The Mamafesto. She is on the editorial board of Gender Across Borders and may even write something for them on occasion. I (occasionally) write on the reg for Ms. Magazine’s blog, RH Reality Check and others.
(Images: In Touch Magazine/Avital Norman Natham)