I confess that as a serious film buff I really liked “Juno” while understanding that the situation of many, probably most, teens in the title character’s position have it a lot harder and certainly do often experience emotional upheaval after electing to abort or giving up a newborn. But what was good about “Juno,” apart from first-rate acting, was the warmth and acceptance of Juno’s parents and the loving support of her best friend, Leah (by the way Olivia Thirlby who played Leah is a young actress to keep an eye on. Like Emily Blunt, she’s a scene-stealer). My teenage son and his friends, male and female, really liked “Juno” which surprised me because he’s rarely into movies with any kind of family warmth, much preferring mayhem. But this flick clicked in his small universe as it has elsewhere. Don’t be surprised if Ellen Page walks off with the Best Actress Oscar.
In today’s New York Times, Caitlin Flanagan has an op-ed entitled “Sex and the Teenage Girl:”
[S]urrendering a baby whom you will never know comes with a steep and lifelong cost. Nor is an abortion psychologically or physically simple. It is an invasive and frightening procedure, and for some adolescent girls it constitutes part of their first gynecological exam. I know grown women who’ve wept bitterly after abortions, no matter how sound their decisions were. How much harder are these procedures for girls, whose moral and emotional universe is just taking shape? ***
Even the much-discussed pregnancy of 16-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears reveals the rudely unfair toll that a few minutes of pleasure can exact on a girl. The very fact that the gossip magazines are still debating the identity of the father proves again that the burden of sex is the woman’s to bear. He has a chance to maintain his privacy, but if she becomes pregnant by mistake, soon all the world will know.
Pregnancy robs a teenager of her girlhood. *** Does the full enfranchisement of girls depend on their being sexually liberated? And if it does, can we somehow change or diminish among the very young the trauma of pregnancy, the occasional result of even safe sex?
Flanagan’s full op-ed is here.
-Ralph Michael Stein