August 10, 2009
Why I Hate Dr. Drew
MTV recently ran a show called Sixteen and Pregnant, which as you can guess from the title, is a Juno-inspired documentary series about how different teen mothers deal with unplanned pregnancies (and SATs! and prom!). Now I don't want to praise MTV too much, because basically everything else on that network is trash, but I found this show (which you can watch on their website for free) totally captivating. Of course there were some unbelievable moments of ignorance and irresponsibility (ahem, Farrah in Episode 2) but more often than not, I was pleasantly surprised at the maturity of the young women and men featured. The season finale, which documented the show's only instance in which the birth parents chose adoption, was especially moving. Coming from someone who has watched a lot of Bringing Home Baby, Adoption Stories and similar baby-themed documentary shows, I found this adoption episode to be one of the most honest and inspiring perspectives out there.
But remember how I said I don't want to praise MTV too much? Well here's why. The season wrapped up with a reunion episode, hosted by who else but Dr. Drew. Also known as the biggest, misogynistic jerk ever. I'm sure MTV was worried of being accused that Sixteen and Pregnant was promoting teenage sex (gasp!). This resulted in Dr. Drew berating each of the couples for not practicing safe sex in an incredibly condescending way. After one young father admitted he wouldn't be with his girlfriend if she hadn't gotten pregnant (not so classy, but totally true) Dr. Drew pressured him to get serious and get married. But then when he was talking to one young couple who were clearly in love, engaged to be married and doing their very best to make their new life as a young family work, Dr. Drew made fun of the guy for buying the engagement ring at Wal-Mart. So Dr. Drew is also a meanie.
But here's what really put me over the edge about Dr. Drew's reunion episode. One issue that a lot of the young women discussed on the show was breastfeeding. If I remember correctly, all but one breastfed her baby for a very short (one to two week) amount of time, if at all. I was glad the show itself had featured doctors and midwives advising the mothers to breastfeed as long as possible, so imagine my dismay when Dr. Drew totally trash talked breastfeeding! He was all, what you viewers may not know is that breastfeeding can be painful! It's not easy! Actually, what teenage viewers may not know is how important breastfeeding is for the baby, whether that baby is planned or not. I was so insulted that he used breastfeeding as some sort of aversion technique, like, if you don't use a condom you might have to breastfeed!
So, I had meant for this post to provide some fun pop culture commentary, but then I got all worked up and it accidentally turned political. I'm by no means an expert on teenage parenting or breastfeeding or anything, but then again neither is Dr. Drew. If you want the best information on the subject or to make a donation to people who know what they're talking about La Leche League is the place to go. And let's remember, the messed up message of MTV and Dr. Drew is just part of a larger problem in how our culture views adolsecent sexuality and how the US handles sex education in general. If you're feeling annoyed too, NARAL is a great organization to support.