MTV’s Influence on Pro-Choice Attitudes

A recent poll from the Public Religion Research Institute revealed some striking attitudes about abortion. The survey of 3,000 adults found that while 56 percent of respondents believed that abortion should be legal in all or most instances, an almost equal number—52 percent—say that abortion is morally wrong. In addition, 70 percent of respondents identified as pro-choice, while almost two-thirds said they were anti-abortion.

What I found most interesting, however, was the influence that pop culture had on some respondents. According to the study:

Americans who have seen MTV’s shows “Teen Mom” or “16 and Pregnant” are significantly more likely than the general public to say that abortion should be legal in all or most cases (65% vs. 56% of the public) and to say that having an abortion is morally acceptable (48% vs. 40% of the public). They are also nearly twice as likely as those who have not seen these shows to say that at least some health care professionals in their communities should provide legal abortions (65% vs. 34% respectively).

“16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” have both drawn a significant amount of flack for ignoring the issue of abortion, and also for glamorizing teen pregnancy. While I’m in the camp that criticized the former, I always found the latter argument a bit ridiculous. The teens profiled on both shows are perpetually stressed out, undereducated, struggling financially, and more often than not raising their children as single parents (with varying degrees of family support). But aside from a stand-alone special aired by the network last December, neither series seemed too eager to address abortion head-on; any discussion of that option was usually dealt with in a brief conversation, if that.  [Read more...]

Virgins Last Longer! Where Has All the Science Gone?

You might have recently read about a study that concluded that couples who wait until they are married to have sex have longer, stronger marriages than those who fornicate before they get hitched. The study was originally published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Family Psychology and has been picked up by Live Science, PsychCentral.com , WebMD , AOL Health, and U.S. News Health Report.

The findings of the study were based on results from an online marital assessment called “RELATE.” Researchers selected a sample of 2,035 married individuals from the database to match the demographics of the married American population. The press release does not indicate which demographic study results they used to match their sample to, nor does it detail whether the demographics of the married population included homosexual couples, common-law marriages or polygamous relationships.

The crux of the study results hinge on the assessment question: “When did you become sexual in this relationship?” Results of the study showed the relationship stability of the abstainers was 22 percent higher than those who had relations before marriage, the abstainers’ relationship satisfaction was rated 20 percent higher, the sexual quality of their relationship was rated 15 percent better, and their communication was rated as 12 percent better than those hussies who shamelessly rolled in the hay before the wedding.

Lead study author Dean Busby, professor at Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life is quoted as saying: “There’s more to a relationship than sex, but we did find that those who waited longer were happier with the sexual aspect of their relationship.”

According to Brigham Young University’s press release: ‘because religious belief often plays a role for couples who choose to wait, Busby and his co-authors controlled for the influence of religious involvement in their analysis.’ Busby also says: “Regardless of religiosity, waiting helps the relationship form better communication processes, and these help improve long-term stability and relationship satisfaction.”

The press release then goes on to quote sociologist Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin, who was not involved with the study, and just happens to be the author of “Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the lives of American Teenagers” and the forthcoming “Premarital Sex in America,” a study of the sexual lives of emerging heterosexual adults. Regnerus teaches courses like The Making of American Christianity and Introduction to Sociology, Judaism and Christianity in Sociological Perspective. Regnerus had this to say: “Couples who hit the honeymoon too early – that is, prioritize sex promptly at the outset of a relationship – often find their relationships underdeveloped when it comes to the qualities that make relationships stable and spouses reliable and trustworthy.”  What those qualities are, exactly, he does not share with the class. [Read more...]