MTV’s VMA awards, in all their freakish glory, have been a favorite of the pop-culture crowd long before Kanye snatched the mic from the unsuspecting Taylor Swift… What’s changed, in the last few years, is the heightened use of social networking by viewers which creates a storm of instant discussion and play-by-play feedback as the circus unfolds before our eyes.
This year, Beyonce’s surprise pregnancy announcement was undoubtably the ’bump’ heard round the world, as her fans have long-awaited the news of a little Bay-Z. The web indeed went wild, with tweeters predicting gender, names, and due dates within minutes of the announcement–but it was one commentary that particularly caught my eye.
Tony Anderson of BET quickly responded with a piece entitled, “Will Beyonce’s Pregnancy Cause Black Teens To Get Pregnant As Well?” in which he contemplates the possibility that Beyonce’s fans may purposely get pregnant in their effort to imitate their favorite “big sister.” He also goes on to say that Beyonce, who is one of Hollywood’s 10 highest earning women, has “EARNED the right to be a mother. She has the money, she has the husband and now she will bring a child into the world…”
Okay, timeout. There are so many problematic assumptions here that I can’t even began to tackle them in this space—But let’s start with the simplistic statement that black teen birth rates may see an increase due to Beyonce’s baby bump. I had the pleasure of attending a Beyonce concert in 2009 , and one of the coolest things I remember about it was the heterogeneous nature of the crowd; it was like attending a United Nations gathering. Beyonce’s fan base is pretty darned diverse, so to suggest her pregnancy announcement would possibly cause a spike in the black teen birth rate is to 1) overlook a large portion of Beyonce’s followers, or 2) suggest that only her black fans are thoughtlessly impressionable enough to run out and get impregnated so that they may emulate their idol.
Secondly, Mr. Anderson claims that Beyonce earned her right to parent, based on the fact that she makes an insane amount of money and is married. Newsflash: Britney Spears made crazy cash as well, and had a husband before giving birth to two children…and well, we all remember how THAT turned out.
Sorry, I don’t mean to get into the blame game, but the whole “earned motherhood” discussion makes me uneasy. It reminds me of the parenting license debate… that is, deciding who is ‘fit’ to be a parent, and who is not. Sounds like a good idea on the surface, right? That is until you realize that no two people could ever agree upon what makes a person a “good” parent— throw the government into that debate, and you’ve entered some really dangerous territory. Remember eugenics? Yeah. Me too. And I don’t care to revisit that era anytime soon…
Give our youth a little more credit, please. If you want to discuss factors in teen pregnancy increase, such as access to affordable health care and birth control, rising poverty rates (60% of teens who give birth fall in this category), or the problem of sexual abuse/molestation (a whopping 70% of teen mothers have been victims)- then I’m interested…but a teen pregnancy trend fueled by Beyonce? I’m skeptical.
This post originally appeared on Christina’s blog Not Another Teen Mommy.