Put a Ring On It!

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 undoubtebly 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 begin 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 (see previous post), 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.

4 thoughts on “Put a Ring On It!

  1. La Cumbiambera says:

    Not to mention the overt racism (More black babies!). If only rich people have the right to have babies and most wealth is held by withe people, then we are headed back toward the forced sterilizations of poor women of color.

  2. Earnest Stern says:

    I think that we give Beyonce a little too much credit or responsibility when it comes to being a role model for our teen girls. This would be the fault of the parents. Being a teacher of the youth, it saddens me to see the decline in our youth’s morality. Nothing ceases to amaze me anymore. Bey is married, not that she is the only entertainer that waited to have a child. We have grown with her through her ups and downs and the changes that she went through from being a fairly chaste entertainer, into becoming the “compromising” artist that supposedly made a stand against “the naughty-nasty” girl of her time…I pray that motherhood suits her well and that the young women of today would stop awarding such highly stated responsibilities to our entertainers. Congratulations BEY! May motherhood be a great experience for you. TO say that Bey could be influencing teen pregnancy, HOW? to wait until you have been married a while? Parents, step back in and raise your children. Don’t give our entertainers the responsibility of teaching morality to our children.

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