What do Madonna and Tupac have in common? Other than, being legends and two individuals who inspired a generation........Well, they both wrote songs that dealt with teen pregnancy in America, but through completely different lenses:
Madonna with the 1986 song,Papa Don't Preach, a song that dealt with teen pregnancy and highlighted the issue of abortion in America. Tupac? Well, his hit Brenda's Got A Baby, not only highlighted teen pregnancy but the plight of the single black woman and issues facing the black community.
Fact: U.S. teen pregnancy rate is substantially higher than in other western industrialized nations, and racial/ethnic and geographic disparities in teen birth rates persist.
Now, this might just be me, but until Teen Mom, America made it seem like(at least through the media) teen pregnancy does not affect White American households , or if they do, because they have education and money, they have "easier" access to abortion or some form of help. Just going to say it: On the other end, because of stereotypes in the Black and Hispanic communities, no one really bats an eyelash when the pregnant teen is from the other side. Yes, in 2014, national non-Hispanic black and Hispanic teen birth rates were still more than two times higher than the rate for non-Hispanic white teens, and yes, less favorable socioeconomic conditions, such as low education and low-income levels of a teen's family, may contribute to high teen birth rates; but our view of teen pregnancy changes depending on the race and socioeconomic status of the teen. Our view of teen pregnancy looks at stats instead of the actual issue i.e problems and pressures teen face today. Our view of teen pregnancy doesn't see that the lack of sexual education in school may play a role as well as, the mix sexual messages society sends to boys and girls.
This is why I love when musicians, tv shows, movies, books, and films, essentially, "air out societies dirty laundry." Tupac and Madonna's singles explain the situations facing teens even today, family issues, and what happens when you find yourself pregnant.
Tupac's, Brenda's Having A Baby- Explains how a 12-year-old girl was basically molested by a family member, how because of her family situation she was afraid to tell anyone she was pregnant and tries to be a "normal kid, how everyone in the community knew she was pregnant that pretended not to (because it's better not to get involved when it's not your issue), how her family is preoccupied with trying to stay alive and parents were addicts who died (explaining how drugs affect the black community and families general) and no one seems to want to help Brenda, so in the end, she has a baby alone, throws the baby away, but how does this story end?
So now what's next, there ain't nothing left to sell
So she sees sex as a way of leaving hell
It's paying the rent, so she really can't complain
Prostitute found slain, and Brenda's her name, she's got a baby
Madonna's, Papa Don't Preach- Explains what happens when a teen, and in this case, a White teen, from lower socioeconomic situation becomes pregnant, when she has no one to talk to, when she's being told by her friends to give up the baby ( first people we ask for advice is our friends) , what happens when you want to keep the baby? Though the song does not explain or say anything about this: We can assume that the main character's from a single parent household and in this case, single father (issue rarely addressed), asking for advice from the only adult in her life, being afraid that she will be ostracized.
Both songs also shed light on teen father's or lack thereof, showing that teen pregnancy is not a "we" issue, it's a girl issue. Brenda is left alone after it is revealed she is pregnant, Madonna says's:
He says that he's going to marry me
We can raise a little family
Maybe we'll be all right
She's not only trying to convince her father but herself. When a teen girl becomes pregnant the fault is placed on her and her alone, the blame and stigma of teen pregnancy is not placed on the man but the woman-66% of teen boys who become fathers are 18 or 19 years old. Only 1 in 3 teen dads are younger than 18 when their child is born. But we seem to focus the blame on girls and have this "boys will be boys" attitude when it comes to men and boys. Though both songs deal with economic issues and even Brenda touches on the older male younger girl issue as well as, issues of rape; both songs bring up access to education: We Lack Access: while listening to both songs you realize, teens lack known access to sexual health resources. There are teen hotlines and other forms of resources but many teens, aren't informed about where to access affordable birth control or other family planning support, and even though my school provided us with counselors and I was lucky enough to have Sex Ed, I wasn't informed about sex, pregnancy, STD's, and etc who do you talk to? What do you do when you don't know what to do or where to go? Though there's been a decline in teen pregnancy, the songs still make me wonder, what do girls and boys do when they find themselves pregnant?
The National Campaign:http://thenationalcampaign.org/
This piece is part of our September series, A Collective Effort, lessons TV, Film, and Literature teach us about sex, and how each one plays a part on how we view sex (sex-related taboos) and sometimes reflect society's view of sex.