Defending the family name

It's been amusing to watch the Jamie Lynn Spears saga unfold from a distance. I'd like to say that I'm only interested because of the shared name and other coincidental similarities between my family and hers, but that's only what got me in the door. Now I'm hooked because this is a perfect example of watching reporters and editorial writers not know what to do with an entertainment type who doesn't follow expectations.

Jamie Lynn is certainly not the first teen actress to wind up pregnant, but she is the first in recent memory to come out publicly with the pregnancy. (Of course, I don't follow these things, so there could be another one right now and I wouldn't know it, but hey...) Atrios has pointed out that there's some considerable slut-shaming going on as a result of Jamie Lynn's decision to carry the pregnancy publicly. I wish it were a surprise that it's happening, but it isn't. After all, her older sister's stock-in-trade was the teen virgin/whore act, and when it came out that Britney wasn't as pure as her publicists had made her out to be, it was greeted with a giant "meh," largely because Britney was well into her meltdown by then.

But when this has happened before--and it surely has--then either the actress must have disappeared from public view for a while, her career effectively over, or had a quiet abortion and soldiered on with her career. That's what's expected, right? She's only 16, after all, which makes this borderline illegal, depending on the age of her partner, and there's no career upside in taking this public.

And yet she has, which means that the entertainment news is confused. And I like it that way.

And some public good could come out of this. After all, it's not like she's the only teenager having sex--this might spark a good public discussion about teen sexuality, and how someone with all the advantages, with no reason to engage in risky sexual behavior, would still do so. I doubt we'll have that discussion, because it's not salacious enough, but it would be a nice one to have.

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