"Babies Havin' Babies": Examining Visual Representations of Teenage Pregnancy, 1960-1996 Open Access

Merritt, Candice Janelle (2009)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/7p88ch12b?locale=en
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Abstract

This thesis addresses the gap in feminist historiography and policy studies on teenage pregnancy by engaging in a visual investigation of this social phenomenon since its emergence as an "epidemic" located in white middle class communities beginning in the 1960s, until its shifting articulation as a problem predominantly impacting low income African American locales starting in the 1980s. Drawing on feminist discourse analysis and social histories, this thesis examines the visual treatment of teenage girls, paying particular attention to the race and class dynamics that informed the construction of images arising out of their particular sociopolitical moment. In doing so, this thesis explores how these images incited sympathetic treatment and the passage of entitlement policies for pregnant and parenting white middle class teenage girls and solicited punitive treatment for girls of color
as seen in the welfare reform provisions of 1996.

Table of Contents

Introduction

................................................................... 1

Significance of Thesis
...................................................... 7

I.
Look! Our Girls are in Trouble: Constructing and Treating the
"Epidemic" of Teenage Pregnancy, 1960-1979

i.
Birthing an "Epidemic" ................................................. 10

ii.
11 Million Teenagers: Defining the "Epidemic" of "Our Girls ......... 22

iii.
"Our Girls": Creating Sympathetic and Entitled Subjects through
Photographic Representations ............................................. 30

iv.
Policy Implications for "Our Girls" .......................................... 46

II.
See! They're a Burden: Redefining and Punishing the "Epidemic" of
Teenage Pregnancy, 1980-1996

i.
Shifting Locales Teenage Pregnancy as a `Brown' "Epidemic"........... 51

ii.
Becoming a Moral and Economic Problem: The Rise of the New Right... 53

iii.
Focusing on Urban "Brown" Girls .............................................. 59

iv.
Constructing New Subjects: Innocence and Welfare in Journalistic
Representations of Teenage Motherhood ................................... 61

v.
Policy Implications: Punitive Welfare Policy as Solutions for Urban `Brown'
Girls ............................................................................. 86

III.
Conclusion ................................................................... 89

Bibliography ................................................................ 90


Appendix A: Alan Guttmacher Institute Report 1976



List of Illustrations

Figure 1: Jamie Lynn Spears Ok! Weekly (July 21, 2008 )................................................. 4
Figure 2: Bristol Palin Washington Post Online (February 17, 2009).................................... 4
Figure 3: Juno, Film Poster (2007) ................................................................................ 4
Figure 4: Pregnant Teenage Girl Pregnant Teen Help Online (2005) ................................... 5
Figure 5: Pregnant Teenage Girl Family Education Online (2008)....................................... 5
Figure 6: Pregnant Teenage Girl Teen Issues Online (2008) .............................................. 5
Figure 7: Pregnant Teenage Girl Darkness to Light (2008) ................................................ 5
Figure 8: Pregnant Teenage Girl Kids Having Kids by Rebecca Maynard (2008).................... 5
Figure 9: Korean Comic Monnara Iunnara (2007) ............................................................ 6
Figure 10: 15-year-old Unwed Mother American Pictures 1970-1975 by Jacob Holdt .............6
Figure 11: Teenage Mother (AGI Report 1976) .............................................................. 33
Figure 12: Teenage Mother (AGI Report 1976) .............................................................. 33
Figure 13: Pregnant Teenage Girl (AGI Report 1976) .................................................... 36
Figure 14: Pregnant Teenage Girl (AGI Report 1976) .................................................... 36
Figure 15: Pregnant Teenage Girl (AGI Report 1976) .................................................... 39
Figure 16: Pregnant Teenage Girl (AGI Report 1976) .................................................... 39
Figure 17: Service Recipient (AGI Report 1976) ........................................................... 42
Figure 18: Service Recipient (AGI Report 1976) ........................................................... 42
Figure 19: Teenage Girls (AGI Report 1976).................................................................. 45
Figure 20: Teenage Girls (AGI Report 1976).................................................................. 45
Figure 21: Children Having Children Time (December 9, 1985) ....................................... 64
Figure 22: White Teenage Mother Time (December 9, 1985)........................................... 65
Figure 23: Black Single Mother Time (December 9, 1985).............................................. 68
Figure 24: Latina Teenage Mother Time (December 9, 1985) ......................................... 68
Figure 25: Four Generations Time (December 9, 1985) .................................................. 70
Figure 26: The Charette Family Time (December 9, 1985).............................................. 71
Figure 27: Three Generations U.S. News & World Report ( March 17, 1986)...................... 71
Figure 28: Welfare Mother U.S. News & World Report (January 16, 1995)........................ 78
Figure 29: Welfare Teenage Mother U.S. News ( January 16, 1995) ................................. 78
Figure 30: War on Welfare Mothers Time (June 20, 1994)............................................... 79

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