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Britney Spears, Pro-Life Icon????

It's Friday and I couldn't resist posting this. I am not at all opposed to using pop culture as a vehicle to consider more profound questions about the meaning of life. But everybyody has their limits. I have to say, that I think this is past mine. May God forgive me, if this is actually doing some good. It may just be that I'm getting old. I actually think Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach (I'm gonna keep my baby") did do some good.

About the Author

Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.



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I have trouble believing this is for real, especially in Williamburg, the epicenter of hipster irony, but the opening is about 15 minutes from my house, so I'll try to check it out and report back.

Cathleen I agree, this is a bit much. Capala's self serving claim that "A superstar at Britney's young age having a child is rare in today's celebrity culture." is pure P.R. hokum. Has anyone looked at the covers of supermarket tabloids lately? Pregnant starlets, bellies bared, are "in" and have been for some months now. Perhaps it just shows how desperate some pro-life groups are to ride on America's fascination with the rich and famous. Seems, hypocritical to me.

The following is from a March 30, 2006 posting at "Lifesite" a Canadian based pro-life webnews site.Nude Britney Spears Statue is Anything But Pro-Life Commentary by John-Henry'As provocative as possible,' seems an apt moniker for Britney Spears and for the recently unveiled statue of the pop star giving birth in the nude. The sculpture by Daniel Edwards depicts Spears in the highly unlikely birthing - but highly sexually provocative - position of crouching on all fours.The rub is that Edwards called his work 'Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston'. Edwards sounds sincere in his proclamation that the sculpture is pro-life. "Britney provides inspiration for those struggling with the 'right choice'," he said in a press release touting the statue. "She was number one with Google last year, with good reason --- people are inspired by the beauty of a pregnant woman," said Edwards.Sure, people are inspired by the beauty of a pregnant woman, but they are not thinking of the beauty of woman or of pregnancy when they view porn, even if it is 'pregnancy porn' popularized in 1991 by Demi Moore. Pornography, which is the best description of Edwards' sculpture, is never art. As my friend, famed Canadian artist Michael O'Brien (" tells me, "In a pornographic society the degradation of woman in the name of freedom is a symptom of the degradation of all human beings." Nudes depicted in art are done with respect. "The most intimate and vulnerable moments in human life such as birth and the love between a man and a woman are usually expressed in healthy societies in a way that respects the dignity of persons," he said.O'Brien added, "This statue is thus an assault on the dignity and privacy of the two people (Spears and her unborn child) it depicts." He called it "the reduction of woman to the level of animal."Whether or not Spears chooses to degrade herself by her sexualized presentations, it is not right for Edwards to do it to her. And to do it in the name of the 'pro-life' shows a fundamental ignorance of what it means to be 'pro-life'.A genuine pro-life attitude respects the dignity of mother and child. Pregnancies still occur through sex, and the unexpected pregnancies which occur out of wedlock and often lead to abortions are fuelled by a pornographic culture.While he may not have intended it, Edwards' sculpture adds to the culture of death rather than the culture of life by degrading women rather than exalting them. He has managed though to create a firestorm of attention for his 'artwork', and that seems the best explanation of his motivation. When the Associated Press asked if he was against abortion, Edwards replied, "You nailed me. I'm not saying that I am. I wouldn't march with either pro-life or pro-choice advocates. This is not meant to be political . . . I don't judge anybody for the decision they make."Britney Spears gave birth by caesarean section.

I'm waiting for Grant Gallicho to check in. That bear skin rug is just too over-the-top to be serious.But, then, Cathleen Kaveny seems serious in suggesting that "Papa Don't Preach" has done some good. With all due respect, if little girls kept their babies because they listened to Madonna, mightn't they have got those babies in the first place by buying into Madonna's contributions to our "have it all" culture--the Playboy pics, snow-cone bras, "Truth or Dare" confessionals, and "Sex" coffee table book?Madonna can well afford to sing glib and hopeful songs about teenage pregnancy, marriage and parenthood. She was in her 30s and a millionaire when her daughter was born out of wedlock. The reality is far different for "Papa's" girls.

Jean, I was serious about Madonna's "Papa Dont Preach." The song came out in 1986, before she turned to some of the more outrageous behavior you outline. And I don't think the lyrics of the song deny the difficulties of teen pregnancy. The video is very powerful. It shows the conversation between Madonna and her working class father, with yelling tears, and finally, reconcilliation. Precisely because the lyrics are powerful, and realistic, I don't think it encourages teen pregnancy--it encourages talking to your parents when you're in trouble.Here, by the way are the lyrics:Papa I know youre going to be upsetcause I was always your little girlBut you should know by nowIm not a babyYou always taught me right from wrongI need your help, daddy please be strongI may be young at heartBut I know what Im sayingThe one you warned me all aboutThe one you said I could do withoutWere in an awful mess, and I dont mean maybe - pleaseChorus:Papa dont preach, Im in trouble deepPapa dont preach, Ive been losing sleepBut I made up my mind, Im keeping my baby, ohIm gonna keep my baby, mmm...He says that hes going to marry meWe can raise a little familyMaybe well be all rightIts a sacrificeBut my friends keep telling me to give it upSaying Im too young, I ought to live it upWhat I need right now is some good advice, please(chorus)Daddy, daddy if you could only seeJust how good hes been treating meYoud give us your blessing right nowcause we are in love, we are in love, so please(chorus)Papa dont preach, Im in trouble deepPapa dont preach, Ive been losing sleep(repeat)Oh, Im gonna keep my baby, oohDont you stop loving me daddyI know, Im keeping my baby

I do see your point, Cathleen, but I guess my opinions are colored by the fact that I grew up 15 miles from Madonna, in the same working class milieu she mined for this song.The Jills and Janets I grew up with, who got pregnant before they were out of high school, could have been Madonna's older sisters.Their Papas didn't preach. They got drunk, broke your nose and forced you to marry the boy "who did it," who was just as scared as you and trying to lie his way out of the situation any which way he could. Those weren't happy marriages.Or Papa sent you to an out-of-town home for wayward girls where you delivered your baby under anesthesia so you wouldn't ever see it. The atmosphere was penitential rather than supportive, but at least you got to finish school.Or Papa told everyone you were helping your sick aunt in another town where you delivered. Then he and Mama adopted the baby and forced you to say it was your sister or brother.A pop tune isn't going to help a girl do the right thing with a Papa like that. You need a priest, preferably a big one with a lot of black coffee, who'll go talk to Papa with you. Some do now, and God bless them.

Yes, I see your point more clearly now. Obviously, it is incomparably better to avoid getting pregnant in the first place than to face a situation like that. But unless you have hope about getting out of a situation like that in the first place, are you really likely to refrain from sleeping with the one that Papa "warned [ you] all about?" How, if at all, did people escape that kind of life? Who got out? Did ;the Church help? Did the schools help?

Several girls in my graduating class had abortions.Of the five who did not, two turned out okay because their mothers finally intervened and helped them take care of the kids so they could get their GED's and a job. One married the father and divorced him. The other never married. .Two other girls ran away and another committed suicide. It was scary how quickly all these girls became non-entitites. Pregnant girls were forced to leave both public and Catholic school. They could attend the public alternative school, but most opted not to because that's where the juvenile delinquent boys went, and the girls were subject to all sorts of ugly comments.Our two local parishes talked in general terms against abortion--this was the late 60s/early 70s, when states were considering legalization--but actual support for unwed mothers was still pretty far down the road.I think it was the Catholic lay mothers who finally figured out how to make the parishes "walk the walk" as far as unwed mothers were concerned. Now you have dresser programs, layette trees, special collections, and parent mentoring programs.

My God. "Non-entities." So many people are tempted to romanticize the past --the 60s, or even the 50s. But we shouldn't want to go back, we should want to make the present better.Thank goodness for those lay Catholic mothers.

wow. im not really sure what to say, i think this got a little off track. was this not about the britney statue?i believe all that cathy was saying, was that its great when someone in the public eye takes a stand for what is right. so many dont. im not sure how someone growing up a few miles from madona changes that point... ??"Their Papas didn't preach. They got drunk, broke your nose and forced you to marry the boy "who did it," who was just as scared as you and trying to lie his way out of the situation any which way he could. Those weren't happy marriages."-compleatly invalid. okay, so you knew 5 or 6 girls who had horrid parents. and you wonder why the got pregnant at a young age?? maybe if they didn't have abusive fathers they wouldnt go running into some teenaged boys arms. & im not sure you are to decide weather or not they had happy relationships or not... were you best friends with each of these girls?? thats how you know so much about their home life?? i think not. you dont know every detail, so stop using these poor women to try and prove someone wrong...its not right to twist other people's unfortunite stories around to prove a point. i'm not sure if you took any psycology classes in college... but maybe you should apply some of those theorys to this situation. might make a bit more sence.i happen to know a handfull of girls who were pregnant at a young age [ 14 17 18 ect.] from my church group. and you know what. almost all of them eventually married the men, by their own decision, and are happy, and doing well. in school, graduated, in college. one of my very best friends,who i've know for years, had her daughter at 16. her and her husband [the father] now own their own company, they live next door to two dallas cowboys players[needless to say, are very wealthy], have 3 children, 2 of which are married with their own children.the story can go either way. therefore, really isn't a valid point.this is a whole new day and age. the fact is, teens get pregnant. its now totally normal for a 20 year old to be married and a mother. this isnt 40 years ago. things have changed. there isn't a thing anyone can do about that. so why not, make a statue with britney giving birth. maybe the next 14 year old pop diva who gets pregnant will look at that and think, maybe i wont abort. if we could now get back to the subject, which was pro life, NOT teen pregnancy...

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