One critic states, for instance, that for the liberal nature of the film, the work does not actually promote the 'pro-choice' message that is so important to many women. This critic is Gloria Feldt, who is an author, activist, and is the former president of Planned Parenthood. She knows the experiences portrayed in the move well, in fact, firsthand, since she was a teenage mother once. Feldt states,
"The dialogue [in the film] is adorable - snappy, smart, funny, captivating - and who wouldn't enjoy that? But I was Juno once - that sixteen-year-old pregnant girl, and life isn't like that at all. It delivers messages to young women that aren't' realistic. Juno is an adorable fantasy […] the narrative implies that carrying a pregnancy to term and relinquishing the baby - giving it up for adoption - is nothing. But we know that it isn't so for a pregnant woman. That's totally unrealistic." (Lowen, 2012)
In responding to how Juno portrays gender and sexuality Feldt also states, and rightly so, that
"…an adolescent girl doesn't have a lot of power, but one of the ways that she can demonstrate her power is through her sexuality […] I've been astonished how many older teens and women in their twenties thought the film was wonderful. Some of the messages that are so negative went right over their heads. They grow up today in a different context. They've never lived in a country without choice. They don't know that before abortion was legalized, unintended pregnancy was essentially the end of your life as you have known it, regardless of the option you choose. They're also very judgmental of their friends who become pregnant. Many see Juno as heroic for carrying out of her pregnancy. The real issues surrounding pregnancy [aren't] discussed…" (Lowen, 2012)
In stating these facts, Feldt criticizes what films fail to take into account; namely, a central flaw of totally failing to portray the topic of unwanted pregnancy and subsequent adoption issues realistically. Because of her experience with girls, Feldt is in a position to not only impart advice, but to be mature and realistic about such experiences.
A New York Times contributor agrees with some of the facts stated here: "Pregnancy robs a teenager of her girlhood. This stark fact is one reason girls used to be so carefully guarded and protected -- in a system that at once limited their horizons and safeguarded them from devastating consequences. The feminist historian Joan Jacobs Brumberg has written that "however prudish and 'uptight' the Victorians were, our ancestors had a deep commitment to girls." (Flanagan, 2008)
Yet even in this article, no discussion is carried out on just how Juno, the film, was unable to portray such acts. The pregnancy in the film did not rob Juno, the character, of her girlhood; if anything, the character was pretty static and despite her seeming strong demeanor, evidenced through much sarcasm, Juno, the girl, is the same in the beginning of the film as she is after her baby is adopted.
A Different Scenario
In this scenario, one cannot help but ask a very obvious question: if Juno is a shallow product of gender and sexuality discussions, how does it involve race? The answer is simple: it does not. There is no mention of race in the film at all, or rather no analysis of this facet. Juno is White; she lives in a predominantly white neighborhood in Minnesota. Her baby's father is also white and from the same age group and class, a situation which is often not the case in reality. Clearly, her life is middle to upper middle class, and her parents are supportive of her giving her child away for adoption. The reason for this mention is to offer the supposition of, just for one moment, taking the neighborhood and the characters elsewhere -- such as an inner city, where the race is predominantly African-American. One cannot help but ask, how would things change if such a subject were to be undertaken? (Black Women's Health, 2012)
In order to answer this question, one must see how race is perceived in the country, as well as how unwanted pregnancies and adoptions are perceived in this community. The question of race is not a new one for America. The African-American race has long-been the subject of much discussion, yet the White race, as a victimized and struggling social class is something relatively novel. Such ideas come from the various social policies passed in the United States, such as Affirmative Action, which helped some races, and hurt others, yet some still say that it is White people who profit from this separation of races, no matter what the viewpoint. (Lipsitz, 1998) Such 'white ideas' or is what some individual espouse, yet many, again, believe that there is still a type of 'white privilege' and a way in which to overcome ideas of unfairness is to see all layers of society, no matter how tough or impermeable. Furthermore, paradoxically, some sociologists claim that although this privilege exists, there is still a sort of 'new racism' that must be discussed, and state, "to redesign social systems we need first to acknowledge their colossal unseen dimensions." (McIntosh, 1990)
Needless to say, according to some studies, "many Whites began to identify with the "new racism" epitomized by right-wing" talk show hosts, such as Rush Limbaugh in the late 1980's and early 1990's, and the movie, in a way evidences these preconceptions by stating very superficially that teen pregnancy not only transcends race, but also is a problem in White communities. (Giroux, 1997) Though this may be somewhat true, teen pregnancy is still a problem in many African-American communities, and this is important to examine, as well as the reason why this problem still exists to such an extent in this community.
Thus, as to the second subject, teen pregnancy is a growing problem in the United States, especially in the African-American community. Poverty is a contributing factor to young mothers. According to blackwomenshealth.com, 60 to 80% of the approximately 500,000 teenage pregnancies are to those in poverty. Because these young parents often cannot continue to achieve a college diploma, they perpetuate the cycle of families living in poverty. Those born to parents in poverty suffer from worse health, perform poorly in school, are often neglected and/or mistreated, and may engage in anti-social behavior. They are also more likely to commit crimes later on in adulthood.
There are other problems with teenage sexual behavior. Each year approximately 3 million teenagers are infected with a sexually transmitted disease. In fact, as many as one in four teenagers will be infected by gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, or AIDS in their teens. Teenagers are less likely to use condoms while engaging in sexual activity compared to those in their 20s or 30s, and are often less educated in sexual health in general. Teenage mothers often neglect important aspects of pregnancy, such as regular doctors visits. For all of these reasons teenage mothers are at a much greater risk of contracting various sexually transmitted diseases and putting themselves, their partners, and their children in harm's way. To make it worse, many parents do not offer their children the kind of support they need in difficult times such as teenage pregnancy. Many young mothers are forced apart from their parents' supportive grip, and then are expected to undertake a grueling nine months if they do indeed choose to keep their child. (Unwanted Pregnancy, 2012)
In order to overcome the negative aspects of teenage pregnancy, especially those that affect African-American teens in larger numbers, is to expand public school teaching of health and sex. Information on these subject fields is extremely important to curbing teenage pregnancies, so that mothers are able to pursue higher education, achieve their life goals, and ultimately make a better informed choice in their own childbearing decisions. Teenagers need to be well informed about contraceptive products that may be available to them, including condoms, pills, and even abstinence all before they become sexually active. Doctors recommend approaching children about the idea of sex as early as 8 or 9 years old. It is by this age that children are able to understand the reproductive cycle as a source of new life. African-American children need the same quality of health education, as well as the same availability of contraceptive devices as any children in America.
In conclusion, the movie Juno presents an accurate portrayal of one possible outcome of teenage pregnancy and adoption, but leaves the most controversial aspects of this process out. The movie is created to present Juno as a middle-class girl living a normal middle-class life, who is giving her child to an upper-class woman who has had difficulty in having children. This entire process runs fairly smoothly, and the movie concludes with a happy note, and a successful pregnancy and adoption.…