WGSS Ph.D. Student Publishes Article
Amanda Rossie's article, "Wrecked and Redeemed: Religio-Political Pedagogy and MTV's 16 and Pregnant," was recently published in an anthology titled, Girls' Sexualities and the Media (Mediated Youth).
Since its start in 2009, MTV’s 16 and Pregnant has been a major player in reality television’s profitable programming centered around women’s pregnancy, birth, and parenting narratives. In this chapter, I examine the series’ aesthetics, its representational choices, its underlying conservative politics, and its contributions to historical and contemporary debates informing sex education policies and practices in the U.S. I contend that 16 and Pregnant communicates conservative ideologies about women’s sexuality and desires, sex education, reproductive choice, and the nuclear family through its use of particular visual and narrative techniques. I show what cultural work these images do as well as how the “liberal” space of MTV veils the placement and reinforcement of conservative ideologies about sexual transgressions while policing often poor, white, feminine youth bodies. I argue that while MTV is ostensibly trying to do the work that abstinence-only education programs fail to do, 16 and Pregnant relies on evangelical discourses that link sex outside of marriage to fear, pain, and social ills. It therefore perpetuates the invisibility of institutional obstacles and prejudices that allow for the conditions conducive to teenage pregnancy—like poverty, single-parent homes, and abstinence-only education programs—to remain untouched and under-theorized. I focus on circulating discourses—about teenage pregnancy, sexuality, “morality,” and citizenship, for instance—while also offering a frame for examining its power, currency, and construction outside of the bounds of genre or viewer demographic.