Saturday, February 14, 2009

The 13 Year Old Father

I'm not outraged. I'm sure at 12 and 13 nothing would have pleased me more to have had the opportunity for sex - any sex. But I also don't buy into the 'more power to him' mentality - whilst most of the moral outrage currently swirling around Alfie Patten is false (it's hardly a new phenomenon and most certainly doesn't represent 'broken Britain'), it does reflect Britain's schizoid relationship with sex.

What makes me sad is the way in which the story is even treated. A 13 year old who is clearly still a child has a baby and is paraded in front of the TV cameras for all to gawp at. Why? Whose decision was this? And whilst all the newspapers fall over themselves to snipe at the parents' social class, they all ignore their complicity in creating the circumstances for Alfie and Chantelle to even have a child. The Sun says:
What a damning indictment on Britain’s hugely expensive sex education programme in schools.
What a load of bollocks. There's a reason why teenage pregnancies such as this happen, and it isn't because young people are educated about sex. Take a look at The Sun's page 3 - see the breasts? See the casual sexualisation of women? What about the latest boyband - how old are the latest lot? What about all Gap Kids advertising? Young people are sexualised in this country more than ever before, by corporations like The Sun's parent company, eager to eke out ever greater, easier profits by people who are weak to it. And it won't just be consumers who are affected by it - young people will inevitably respond, the more they see themselves in this light.

I don't think it's just early sexualisation which is the problem however. As an increasingly Americanised society, we do things because we can, rather than question whether we should. In a post-religious society, fuelled by the internet's ability to deliver anything we choose at all times, how do we help young people like these two, when we don't really know how to relate to it ourselves? It's telling that someone's made a profit out of their youth already, and I've not seen anyone question how this story should be reported.

Young people need more information, to be treated with greater respect, and should be given a greater voice in society. Alfie and Chantelle had plenty of other options rather than an unprotected sexual encounter. That neither he nor she felt they had the freedom to work it out before a pregnancy occurred is to all our shame. I wish them both well, and hope that they have a significant and supportive circle of family and friends, but their status as media scapegoats didn't come from out of the blue, and doesn't bode well.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Daniel Radcliffe Interview

Why? Because he's so damned cute...

Don't just thank me, enjoy it!