Prompted by the epic love of Levi and Bristol, liberal media giant New York Times examines the realities of teen marriage from a sociological perspective.
Its actually a good article about the abysmal chances of teen marriage with some solid insight on intersection of age, class and ethnicity.
Both Dr. Sternheimer and Dr. Wilcox said that the debate over whether teenagers are prepared for marriage was being framed through the lens of a middle-class, well-educated demographic, for whom marrying before being able to drink legally now may look alien, or hillbillyish. In fact, they said, 18-year-olds in working-class and immigrant families in particular already shoulder a lot of adult responsibilities, including fighting the war in Iraq, supporting their families and raising children.
“We like to infantilize teens, or focus on their bad behavior, even though some of them are functioning as adults,” Dr. Sternheimer said. “We have this image, and it’s popular in the press. It’s the Montel Williams, ‘Help, my daughter is a slut! What can I do? My teen daughter wants to get pregnant on purpose.’
As Marx points out in the post below, the ruling ideas of an era are those of the dominant class. At one point, the elites (which I begrudgingly count myself as one of) would have not only have condoned Levi and Bristol’s union, but seen it as the only viable action. If you really want to go back in history, most Puritan women were pregnant on their wedding day. This was not seen as something to be ashamed of so long as it was clear who the father was and they made good in the eyes of God and the community before the birth (this is why Hester Prynne got into so much trouble).
The criticism of how this reflects on Sarah Palin’s attitudes about sex education are more than fair, but the gleeful dismissal of the whole clan as backwards hillbillies is classism (and one can easily argue racism, i.e. lower class whiteness as “other”; demonstrating deviant values that are unacceptable by the dominant class of whites ) of the all-too-common sort. Whatever prejudices I have against the folkways of white evangelicals, I at least try to temper with good sociological detachment.