Social experiment of pregnancy ignites slander and insecurity from strangers of all ages
A guest post by Kristie Hsin, Eastern Washington University
Popular shows such as MTV’s ground breaking series of 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom have sparked a diverse amount of speculation, influence and response to its viewers. The young broadcasted individuals who share their pregnant experiences and raising their kids illustrates how common unwanted pregnancies at an extremely young age have become.
In the case of 17-year-old Gaby Rodriguez from Yakima, Wash. who conducted a six month social experiment by pretending she was pregnant, slander spread and secrets difficult and sometimes painful.
In furthering my own social experiment, over the course of three weeks I pretended to be four months pregnant. I wanted to see what sorts of reactions I would get and from what sorts of people–young, old, white, black, pregnant and so forth.
Many teens and young adults dismiss the education and safety precautions of sex, causing a global effect of young pregnancies and the many battles of having to grow up sooner.
Every Tuesdays and Thursdays, I took my experiment on the public bus, eager to see who would give up their seats to me and my fake belly.
Guys, old and young, gave up their seats but females never got up. Walking down the bus ale, pressed by glaring eyes, I felt as if I was walking the plank of death.
Focused on caring for a child, the show doesn’t hone in on how pregnant individuals react and feel in the face of others slandering and glaring at them.
All who know me know that I look extremely young for my age—many estimate my age to be 14-16; I’m 20-years-old. I used this to my advantage by pretending I was an eighth grader. It worked perfectly.
The second time I encountered a bus ride with my fake belly, an old woman with tired eyes that rolled up and down my figure said to me, “You’re so young and already you’ve ruined your life.”
At first, I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how to react. Remembering not to blow my cover, I said, “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into and by the time I found out it was too late.”
Her only response: “Stupid whore.”
I nearly cried. In no way did I expect something like this to happen so quickly. In that moment, I realized one could never fully prepare for the cruelty a stranger could say to another.
Many of the younger passengers, probably 18-23 in age, shot me the stink eye in between their hidden whispers, while the older passengers, probably 30 and older were more aggressive in actually talking to me.
Aside from the constant glaring and sharp stares, there were hurtful comments. “Don’t expect your parents to take care your mistake,” said one old woman, and, “It’s because she’s Asian,” said by one young white female to her young white friend.
It was clear we weren’t going to be Facebook friends anytime soon, given that they didn’t accept me.
People have asked if I’m still with the person who “knocked me up” and/or how far along I am. These questions in particular made me think about what I would actually do if I really was pregnant and going to school.
Two girls attempted to touch my belly—the only two girls that had nothing negative to say to my face. But stepping off the bus, I heard them whisper, “Glad I’m not her.”
Once, a woman who looked to be in her mid-20’s had her young son on the bus with her. She connected to me instantly—telling me about how she got pregnant at a young age and how I should keep my chin up.
The woman also asked if I had considered abortion, adoption and how I was going to provide for the baby. I responded by explaining how I haven’t been saving up money because of school and my concerns about where I was going to live. She didn’t have any more advice for me.
During a trip to Safeway, an old man asked if I went to the local middle school. Curious to see where the conversation would go, I said yes.
He replied, “You’re not even in high school and already you’re damned.”
Before I was able to get in another word, the man went on to stuff five minutes worth of Christian preaching down my throat.
Walking away, the old man continued to follow me, preaching to me until I finally went and paid for my milk and chips.
This irritated me to the point where I really wanted to tell him where he could shove his Christian preaching, but didn’t. Having a stranger judge you the way that man judged and preached to me made me feel inferior and weak because there was little I could do about the situation.
Given that Cheney is a fairly small and uniformed community, results might have varied if I were in a bigger, more diverse city in terms of acceptance and the things said.
Often times, this project made me extremely insecure, nearly prompting me to quit. All the slander and jagged stares hurt; I felt as if I was some disease that people were talking about, but avoiding.
Although my pregnancy was fake, the hurt and insecurity I felt was very real. Having also kept a journal of all that I’ve encountered, I now have a closer feeling of what it might be like in someone else’s shoes; someone young, pregnant and going to school.