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Melina Verdugo Ms. Caruso Eng 1103 Oct 20th 2012 MTV Reality Shows: Gender Roles and Teen Pregnancy Teens can be easily influenced by the media and violence that is portrayed today on television. According to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, teens age 15-18 spend nearly 8 hours with media every day(The National Campaign 8). Specifically, MTV reality shows have increased in popularity over the years and have rapidly become a favorite viewing choice among young audiences. At a minimum, television informs society of what is believed to be important and what behaviors society should be considered appropriate. Along with the growing popularity of reality television is the continual blurring between true reality and edited versions of reality. This blurring can affect the way teens think about themselves and the opposite sex. Also, this affects teens in a negative away by portraying casual sex and teen pregnancy as things that are common and considered acceptable in society. Many adolescents also use the media to help them conform to their gender roles. The sexual content of a reality show can blur the reality of how one should come about sexual acts or feelings. The media can portray each gender role to the extreme and may give bad examples of how a male or female should really act. While many reality shows contain heavy use of relationship themes and risky behaviors, the success of these shows depend on the outrageousness of the content. Thus, more drama and

Comment [BC1]: See the handout on Moodle for the correct version of MLA format.

Comment [BC2]: Separate this run-on.

sex equals more ratings. Concerns about reality TV show also include the sexual content in popular media and the influence these images and messages might have on young peoples sexual behavior, thoughts on themselves, and the opposite sex. The popularity of reality television has increased within the years. In the 2007-2008 seasons, reality programming captured 77% of the total audience viewing the top ten programs (Reality on MTV 10). The four MTV shows ranked as the most-watched during the 2011 television season were: The Jersey Shore, Real World, Teen Mom 2, and 16 & Pregnant (Reality on MTV 8). This is considered important because the four top ranked shows are from MTV. MTV reality shows obviously portray something that captures a large television audience. Most of these shows have a large amount of drama and have many scenes that involve violence or sexual content. The economy would rise, everyone would be tan and all the radios would play house music.(Snookie, Jersey Shore, Why Snookie Matters 1). Jersey shore has shown much popularity since its airing on MTV. This reality show focuses on partying, and promiscuity and also portrays the reality of partying and how females and males interact. Unfortunately, reality shows arent always exactly real. How much of the show should we let teenagers believe? Times have changed and things like casual sex and substance abuse amongst teens are becoming more common, but do we want our youth to continue to think this way? The show has been watched by at least once by every teenager and it glamorizes the clubbing and sex lives of seven cast members (Why Snookie is Important 1). The show portrays constant partying amongst the roommates and focuses on their everyday lives as party goers. Snookie is the definition of a guidette and isnt the only one who likes tanning. The shows stereotype women as promiscuous and men as pimps or players. Most of the time the show consists of vulgar
Comment [BC5]: Work on strengthening the wording of your sentences and eliminate short, choppy sentences by combining them. Comment [BC4]: What source is this? Comment [BC3]: Consider why this is important to your reader and show them.

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content that one cannot gain any educational knowledge from. The women of this show portray themselves as sexual objects, which deepens the affect of gender roles that MTV reality shows portray. According to the Parent Television Council, Jersey Shore made up 47% of disparaging remarks out of all the four MTV reality TV shows that were listed earlier (Parent Television Council 16) What kind of messages are shows like Jersey Shore trying to send out? Shows like this can negatively affect the way teens think about themselves and peers. Parent Television Council did a study on reality shows to address questions like What messages are being communicated to young viewers? This study focuses on what reality TV shows are teaching young girls regarding to how they talk to males, how males talk to females, how do females and males talk about affection, and how do females and males talk about themselves(Reality on MTV 6). This study mainly focuses on gender; it relates back to how the vulgar content of shows like Jersey Shore can affect the teen television audience. This study is also an example of how television, especially reality TV, can influence the way a teenager thinks about a certain gender. Some major findings were that only 24% of what females said about themselves was positive across all show combined (Reality on MTV 6). Also, overall, women were more disparaging than men when speaking of themselves or someone of their own gender. Much of the positive dialogue between females focused on their appearance. Positive dialogue from female to female would include words like: pretty, proud, and strong, while positive dialogue from male to female would include words like: nice, cool, hot. Males that referred to females as cool, considered the females cool because they were male-like when it came to sexual intercourse (Reality on MTV 6). Females talked about sex more than guys and talked about it more graphically than guys also. Also, 59% of all sexual references across all shows came from Jersey

Shore Some popular terms referring to females are the words: B**ch, stupid, and dirty. Some popular terms referring to males are: gansta, player, and scumbag (Reality on MTV 6). The study includes a table that shows a profile comparing sexual language between males and females. According to the table, the data shows that terms used to refer to females are more sexualized and degrading while the terms used to refer to males tend to be viewed as much more complimentary. Females were more graphic in their sexual language by 71% and also talked about intercourse and actions leading to intercourse 53% of the time. Females also used terms like: b**ch, slut, and skank to refer to other females while males used terms like: big man, dawg, and bad a** to refer to other males. Also, males were less graphic in sexual language by 29%. They also spent an equal amount of time as females talking about various forms of sex. (Reality on MTV 7 Page 7 Table 1). This study helps address the impact of the sexualization of females is having on the attitudes and behaviors of boys. As the reader can see, females arent portrayed as respectable figures with dignity and morals. Instead females objectify themselves as sex objects. Every action and verbal comment that is made by a female makes the gender roles for women in MTV reality TV shows portray as negative. Men can speak to women as if theyre inferior but thats only because women portray themselves as if its okay. Girls talk about sex more than men. Researchers have identified adolescence as a period during which there is extreme pressure to conform to traditional gender roles (The Changing Portrayal of Adolescents in the Media since 1950). Shows like Jersey shore can portray women in negative ways. There will always be a battle when it comes to how MTV reality shows portray the gender roles of females and males. Parents need to be more aware of the shows that their children watch or else. These shows give

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such great negative impact to teens, especially those who are still trying to figure out who they are and also the ones that are still trying to figure out how their gender works. The phenomenon on teen pregnancy has increased over the years, especially with the show 16& Pregnant that is now airing on MTV. According to a nationally representative poll by The National Campaign, six in ten teens from the ages 12-19 have watched at least some of 16 and Pregnant. The National Campaign has found that sexual content in the media can influence teens attitudes about sex and contraception. Many believe that shows like Teen Mom and 16 and pregnant fail to reach the goal of causing awareness of teen pregnancy but instead glamorize the idea of it. (The National Campaign 2). The parents of teens need to worry about MTV because of the influence it can make on their own children. College students who watch MTV for one hour start to develop more liberal ideas and socially accept premarital sex. Those who did not watch MTV were influenced in the opposite way; they werent liberal about premarital sex. It also talks about other studies that have shown that greater exposure to and greater involvement with sexual content on TV leads to a stronger endorsement of recreational sex. Teens may be tempted to imitate the behavior that they are exposed to (MTV Smut Peddlers 4). According to the study by the Parents Television Council, only 4% of the time was the topics of virginity, contraceptives, and STDs mentioned (Parent Television Council 3). This again leads back to the acceptable idea of having sex at an early age. Teen pregnancy is the norm of today. According to The National Campaign, 15% of teens believe that the show 16&Pregnant glamorizes teen pregnancy. MTV portrays the lives of pregnant teens in various ways. In the show 16&Pregnant, there are girls who struggle but at the same time their lives seem glamorous.

To get more personal when it comes to teen pregnancy, I interviewed a seventeen year old girl named Amber Estep who got pregnant at the age of sixteen. I wanted the perspective of teen moms and when it comes to shows like 16&Pregnant. The interview consisted of only three solid questions. First: Did becoming pregnant at an early age change your mind about sex in any way? Second: Do shows like 16&Pregnant glamorize teen pregnancy and how? And finally: If you agree, how do shows like 16&Pregnant help prevent teen pregnancy? These arent in-depth questions, but I wanted to capture the general perspective of a teen mom. The interview went very smoothly and many questions really helped to see the perspective of a teen mom. Amber did not think that having an early pregnancy made her change her mind about sex in any way. She wishes that she would have used a condom or at least been on another contraceptive. She looks back and realizes that if she would have simply used a contraceptive then all consequences could have been avoided. Dont get me wrong, I love my daughter but things could have turned out different if I would have actually used something to help prevent being pregnant, says Amber. She also believes that 16&Pregnant does glamorize teen pregnancy because she believes that the girls from the show get help from their families and get paid to be on the show. She also emphasized about the fact that most of the teens on the show continue to go out with their friends even after their babies are born, lacking responsibility for their own children. The show 16&Pregnant didnt make her want to go have a baby but the idea of having one with the person she was dating made her fantasize about pregnancy. Just like many other females, Amber believed that the baby could have kept her relationship going but instead came out with different results. The relationship she was with the babys father isnt strong anymore but instead is pressured by the baby. The baby tore us apart, said Amber.
Comment [BC6]: I would suggest that if you set up the questions in a previous paragraph, you dont need to mention again in the next paragraph that the questions were asked. You can just give an overview of the interview.

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Many studies say that shows like 16&Pregnant help decrease teen pregnancy, but surveys and polls arent always right. Teens may not like the idea of getting pregnant as much but the idea that sex can be practiced at an early age is still accepted. 16&Pregnant still show the acceptance of early teen sex and pregnancy. Either way the show portrays young girls getting pregnant. Why do they get pregnant? They dont tend to use contraceptives or dont want to. Also, now that various MTV reality shows portray sex as something common, teens who watch these reality shows religiously will eventually be influenced by the ideas that the show is trying to portay. The influence MTV reality shows like Jersey Shore and 16&Pregnant make on teens is very negative. Without proper guidance by their parents, teens can use the media as their guide in life. They imitate what they see. If a girl who is still developing her gender role sees a female on television constantly portrayed as a sex object, the same girl can develop the same habits that were portrayed by the female on television. Teen pregnancy is glamorized and the idea of having sex at an early stage is becoming too accepting in our society today. Parents need to be more
Comment [BC7]: Melina,

aware of the content of television that their teens are watching especially those who are still trying to develop their gender role in society.

Your paper contains some great information and examples, but in order to strengthen those, I would suggest that you work on your wording and sentence structure. Your paper contains many short, choppy sentences that call the reader to pause often and interrupt the flow of your paper. Work to change up your sentences. You dont have many grammar issues at all, but when you have similar sentence structures throughout the paper, this can sometimes make people think that the problem is grammar, when its certainly not. Also, I would suggest that you work to give more of a focus in the introduction so your reader knows exactly where you are going in your paper. Please also keep in mind that if you give someone else your paper to read that you read it before your turn it in. Please take a look at the title of the file and see if you think it is appropriate to turn in for class. Im looking forward to seeing the revisions in your portfolio! -Ms. C

Work Cited Interviewed Amber Estep from Newton, NC (Jamieson and Romer) Jamieson, Patrick E and Romer, Daniel. The Changing Portrayal of Adolescents in the Media since 1950. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008 Kelly, Amy. "Why Snooki Matters." Parent Esource. Parent E Source, 15 Apr. 2011. Web. 01 Oct. 2012 "Reality of MTV." Gender portrayals on MTV Reality Programming. Parents Television Council, Dec 2011. Web. 18 Sep 2012 "Science says 45." Evaluating the Impact of MTVs 16 and Pregnant on Teen Viewers Attitudes About Teen Pregnancy. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Oct 2010. Web. 1 Oct 2012 Williams, Casey. "MTV Smut Peddlers." Target kids with sex,drugs, and alcohol. Parents Television Council, March 20 2007. Web. 1 Oct 2012

Comment [BC8]: See the handout on Moodle for the correct version of MLA format.