What are they thinking?
I don’t blame Bristol Palin one bit for flaunting her status as an unwed mother. She’s just a kid. And besides, there’s certainly no evidence that her genes or family culture would discourage her from seeking the limelight. But what about the adults involved in this ill-conceived (pardon the pun) public spectacle?
As someone who has more than a passing knowledge of teenage logic, I can tell you two things: 1) they crave role models, and 2) they tend to be very concrete in their thinking. What you see is what you get.
So we take an attractive, unmarried girl who got pregnant by her handsome, athletic high school sweet heart, and what are the consequences? First, she and the sweetheart appear on national television at the Republican National Convention. The girl’s mother shares her joy at the prospect of being a grandmother. The presidential hopeful beams with pride as though he were the expectant grandfather. The crowd roars approval. The girl’s name is suddenly a household word all over America. I wondered at the time how many girls in good Republican homes watched all that and got a very different message than their parents might have expected.
Take Two. The child is born in December and, the media being what it is, celebrated like an heir apparent. The baby is, of course, adorable—clean, quiet, and cuddly. Mother and child are getting lots of attention.
Take Three. Bristol Palin—to all appearances, unencumbered and not the least bit inconvenienced by having a baby—is launched on a celebrity tour, palling around (to borrow her mother’s favorite expression) with teen idols like Hayden Panetierre, and obviously having a wonderful time.
All this is going to discourage young women from having sex?