Monday, July 19, 2010

Secret Feminism of Our Youth: Degrassi

Some people may be shocked when I declare that Degrassi: The Next Generation is actually kinda feminist. Others might be wondering what Degrassi even is.

Well, this Canadian super long running series is based on junior high and high school students that attend the Degrassi community school, and the constant stream of drama that ensues. Americans can watch this show on a cable network called The N, which plays a bunch of "hip" shows for kids. One summer I got hooked to the show when they did a marathon of every episode EVER, but there was one important episode missing that I think deserves a little feminist shout-out.

In Season 3, trouble brews in Degrassi as Craig cheats on his girlfriend Ashley with a younger girl named Manny. In the episode "Accident Will Happen", Manny discovers that she's pregnant...and decides to get an abortion. She says to Craig, "Someday, you'll make a great dad. And hopefully someday, I'll be a mom. But now... now isn't someday yet."

WOW. How amazing is that?! On a lot of other shows, like "16 and Pregnant" or "The Secret Life of American Teens", abortion is either completely not mentioned as an option or quickly ruled out. But this is a piece of pop culture we can reference with a young girl making a decision that reflects her maturity and her acknowledgment of her immaturity. I think that's a really important example for young girls to see.

Unfortunately, this episode was not originally aired in the U.S.! The N was not going to air it, but then fans of the show made a 6,000 signature petition to get it shown (more info here).

I really recommend that everyone watch this two part episode, even if you've never seen Degrassi before. On so many shows that deal with teen pregnancy, the option of abortion is quickly ruled out. On Degrassi, a main character has an abortion and afterwords does not feel overcome with regret or remorse; she is confident that this was the right decision for her (and another character who was on the original series and had a baby in high school tells Manny how much she regretted NOT having an abortion!).

So yeah, way to go Degrassi, paving the way for the secret feminism of our youth.

If anyone knows of a site that hosts this episode, please comment with the link!

1 comment:

Amanda L said...

Oh man, I was a Degrassi FIEND. So many good life lessons from that show!