Well… It’s been quite the week, hasn’t it? Part of me wanted to do yet another article on the garbage fire that is the Trump administration, and the very real threat he presents to basically everyone on the planet, including the white people who voted for him. The rest of me reminded that part of me that I’m already having trouble sleeping at night. So I’m turning my attention to other things for a moment, in an attempt to not scream into the void forever. Don’t worry, I’m sure he will be the topic of many, many future Feminist Friday posts. So instead, this week I’m turning to an interesting little corner of the internet: teen pregnancy in The Sims.
Gita Jackson has a fascinating article over at Kotaku about the young women who mod The Sims in order to overcome its usual restrictions against teen pregnancy, and then present narratives about these teen pregnancies on various platforms. After modding their sims to allow for teen pregnancy, players create edited videos, Instagram posts, and playthroughs about their sims’ experiences with teen pregnancy. And in the process, they show an incredible amount of creativity.
The players essentially use The Sims as a medium for storytelling. They create rich lives for their sims that are full of drama and additional mods that allow them to personalize their sims’ world. The young women write dialogue to accompany their videos or short narratives to accompany their pictures, and even provide “ultrasounds.” The players take incredible creative control and find an outlet to tell the types of stories they want to tell.
Above that, the modding suggests that teenagers and young women are probably not as dumb as people like to imagine, and hey, maybe talking about pregnancy and sharing narratives about pregnancy won’t make girls want to be pregnant. Rather than being the lemmings the popular media would like to believe teenagers are, more and more stories suggest that access to more narratives increases teens’ knowledge, not their desires to procreate. Jackson points out how fears that shows like 16 and Pregnant would glamorize teen pregnancy were unfounded, and that teen pregnancy rates actually dropped when the show was on. It’s almost as if increasing education has a beneficial effect compared to trying to “protect” teens through things like say, abstinence-only education and sheltered living. Weird, right?
In fact, teens are showing themselves to be more responsible across the board—teen pregnancy rates have dropped nationwide. Apparently that whole thing where a liberal president was going to turn our children into sex-crazed monsters didn’t happen, huh? However, these rates have dropped much less in rural areas than in urban ones, likely as a result of stronger restrictions on sexual education and drastically reduced access to contraception. Which shows, again, the importance of education and access at an early age.
Hopefully in our brave new world we won’t be forced to rely on teenagers with a video game and Instagram to provide narratives and context for teen pregnancy.
Elle Irise is a regular contributor to This Week In Tomorrow. When she’s not writing about people modding The Sims for teenage pregnancy, she studies gender in popular culture.
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