Feminist issues in teenage parenting

Child Welfare. May-Jun 1985;64(3):225-34.


PIP: The focus of this article is on unmarried teenage parents. It is argued that sexism particularly afflicts programs and policies for these young people as well as the behaviors that lead up to their becoming unmarried parents, namely, nonmarital coitus, failure to use effective contraceptives consistently, nonuse of abortion, decision not to place the child for adoption, and decision not to marry. Sexism is defined and the origins of sexist attitudes outlined. Sexism is examined in the context of sexuality education; of research about adolescent sex behavior and in that of programs and policies. It is argued that the availability of more systematic information about female adolescent sexuality than male adolescent sexuality perpetuates the assumption that birth control, pregnancy, childbearing and child rearing are the concern of females to to a far greater extent than for males. These assumptions play into the storong tendency for adoescent sexuality-related services to be developed almost exclusively for young women. Some negative effects of sexism are discussed with respect ot attitudes toward sexual relationships, consequences of teenage parenthood, contraception and abortion. Sexism in these attitudes places unfair burdens on young women and dehumanizes young men. It is important to recognize that both young men and young women tend to have equal needs, feelings and responsibilities with respect ot their relationships with each other and with respect to the families they may or may not found.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Attitude
  • Contraception
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents* / psychology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence
  • Prejudice*
  • Sex Education
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Single Person* / psychology
  • Social Work