Sunday, July 26, 2009

TV Review: 16 & Pregnant

This is another post I have up on Jump off the Bridge for the Blogathon. I've been blogging for almost 24 hours now to raise money for READ Foundation.

I have to admit that I had zero interest in watching 16 & Pregnant when I learned about it. MTV is all about reality tv nowadays, and a lot of it is crap, so I just assumed this would be too. But people were posting about the show all over the blogosphere, and I started to get curious. So I set my DVR and decided to watch some of the episodes.

To say that I have mixed feelings about this show is an understatement.

My initial discomfort came from getting the sense that this might glorify teen pregnancy. But, considering the fact that the U.S. has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the industrialized world, I suppose we need to just keep trying things until they work. Still, there is a bit of a sense that everything will turn out okay with these teen parents that might be misleading and not make for much of a deterrent.

I was then bothered by what other bloggers noticed as well, the fact that abortion and adoption were not being considered as practical options. I understand that the sponsors probably wouldn't be too thrilled about portraying abortion as an option for any age, and certainly not for teens. But it's reality. Isn't reality tv supposed to, you know, represent reality? Okay, no, I guess not...

To be fair, I did watch one episode where the teen couple ended up giving their baby up for adoption. It was actually my favorite episode because it showed the struggle over the decision itself, in addition to all of the other aspects of the teen pregnancy. But then I thought, what if it was too negative? Will people forget about adoption as an option because it's too painful? Reactions on twitter while the episode was on mostly commented on how sad the episode was.

It's really a big balancing act, but ultimately I think the series could do a better job. I'm not sure if there is another season planned but if there is, I hope they take it as an opportunity to highlight teens from various backgrounds in the hopes that it provides a richer range of perspectives.

All of that said, I did enjoy watching the show. It wasn't full of the unnecessary drama that often comes with reality shows on MTV. I was sort of expecting Sweet 16 with a bun in the oven, but it seemed much more genuine than that.

(Originally posted at Jump off the Bridge.)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Newsflash: Immigrants Are People Too

I'm currently participating in Blogathon 2009 over at Jump off the Bridge. I'm posting every 30 minutes for 24 hours in order to raise money for READ Foundation by getting great people like you to sponsor me. I've decided to re-post some of the posts here at TheFU, but you can take a look at all of my Blogathon posts here, and sponsor me if you can to encourage me to make it all the way through.

The latest edition of The Cafe at On the Issues Online Magazine has been up for a few weeks now, and I've enjoyed reading some of these posts. One in particular had me thinking a lot, Holding the Line: Defending Feminist Values in Immigration Enforcement.

In this piece, Meghan Rhoad shares what she's learned from interviewing women in immigration detention facilities. She states:
The explosion of immigration detention has undermined two core principles of justice: deny liberty only when necessary, and treat those in custody with dignity. But in the politics of immigration, these core principles have become easily exchanged bargaining chips.
It's all downhill from there, and she lists some of the treatment these women are being put through:
• Women shackled during pregnancy.
• Breasts pumps denied to nursing mothers, resulting in fever and mastitis, and leaving them unable to continue breast-feeding.
• Critical screenings for breast and cervical cancer withheld.
• Contraception and abortion made inaccessible.
• Women humiliated and demoralized because they could not obtain sanitary pads.
• Confidentiality of medical information breached.
• Medical records lost in transfer.
• Requests for medical help ignored while dangerous conditions went untreated.

You should read the whole piece, but I want to say a couple of things.

For starters, I am one of those feminists who cringe when I hear news reports about "the women and children." You know the ones -- it's usually about war or some other horrible but supposedly necessary thing and they let you know that among the victims are countless women and children.

1) Women are not children, and lumping them together in the same sentence pisses me off.
2) All lives have value. I do not need to know that out of 100 victims, x were men, and x were women and children. All I need to know is that there were 100 victims, and my pain and sympathy is already there.

All of that said, I think it's absolutely atrocious to think about what these women are going through. Not to say that whatever the men are going through isn't bad, but seriously, what the hell?? Even women who commit dangerous crimes should not be subjected to this type of treatment. Women who have not committed dangerous crimes? Even less so.

Rhoad states:
the majority of women imprisoned in detention centers have committed no crime. They include asylum seekers, victims of trafficking, survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, the elderly and the seriously ill.

Please think about that for a moment. Survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. Victims of trafficking. Women who have already been through an experience traumatic enough to stay with them for the rest of their lives are now subjected to heinous treatment simply because they are trying to leave that trauma behind.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: immigrants are REAL PEOPLE. They are of flesh and blood. They are not savages. They are not aliens from outer space coming to attack us. They are you or your grandparents or great-great-grandparents. They are ME.

As legislation is introduced that directly affects the experiences of immigrants, please keep this in mind.

(Originally posted at Jump off the Bridge.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Keep Up with the Confirmation

For those of you who don't already know, the confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor started yesterday. You can get a rundown of some of the highlights (and lowlights... is that not a word?) here, here and here.

I haven't actually gotten a chance to see the videos from yesterday, but I did check Twitter from time to time to see what people's reactions were. I want to hold my tongue until the hearings are over, but I'll just say that opponents are not wasting any time in getting into the swing of this.

The hearings continue today, and you can catch live coverage online on several sites including Sotomayor for Justice, C-SPAN, CBS News, and ABC News. You can also see how us regular folk are reacting by searching for the #sotomayor hashtag on Twitter.

For those of you who have been keeping up, what do you all think so far? Are there issues you're concerned about or questions you would really like to have raised? Feel free to discuss what you think about Sotomayor, and your feelings on the hearings in general.