Teen Mom: Engagement woes, birth fathers, defining ‘whore’

Last night’s episode was one of the most intense yet — Farrah for the first time talked about Sophia’s dad passing away, Amber and Gary had a roller coaster of an argument about getting engaged, Tyler opened up about his guilt after Carly’s adoption, and Maci jumped back into the dating world. Whew!

1. What does “engagement” really mean?

Gary and Amber had a huge fight on Valentine’s Day about whether or not they should be engaged — Gary didn’t think they were ready because Amber hadn’t changed her angry, mean attitude, and Amber felt like Gary needed to show he wasn’t going to abandon their family again by proposing. “If he asked me to marry him, that shows me that he’s completely done with the game,” Amber told her cousin.

But is that what engagement really means? Or better yet, does a lack of a proposal mean that the significant other isn’t “done with the game” so to speak, or isn’t ready to commit to only one person for the rest of his/her life? Amber seems to think that engagement is the only way Gary can show his full commitment and asks him, “Why can’t you be a man and grab my hand and put your whole heart into this relationship?”

Amber forgets that her and Gary were engaged once before, and the mere ring did not keep them together — they fought, they broke up, she dated someone new, she moved out. Amber sees the engagement ring as this lifeboat that will keep their relationship afloat and will cement the future of the family, and sees Gary’s lack of proposal as a sign that he isn’t committed. I think Gary though, surprisingly, has the right idea — why propose when the relationship is unstable, like it was the last time he proposed?

He admits that he wants to be with Amber, but that he also can’t promise anything because wanting a relationship to work and making a relationship work are two completely different things. Amber (I believe) says to Gary at one point that she doesn’t want to be with him if he doesn’t want to be engaged to her — is that fair? Should you not be together if you both don’t want the same things?

If it’s a lifestyle choice — e.g. the other person never wants to get married and you want to get married then yes, that’s a problem. But if there’s a disagreement about being ready to be engaged, why not discuss the reasons behind that hesitation instead of simply throwing down the classic “either we get engaged or we break up” ultimatum? Amber frustrates me in this regard, because she just yells at and degrades Gary without really listening to his point of view.

2. Feeling too guilty to have any fun

An interesting aspect of adoption that I’d never thought of before is the guilt about having fun and enjoying life that comes after the adoption. Tyler’s guilt is overwhelming him, and he finds it impossible to act his age and be a 17 year old. “I would’ve given up my teenage years in a heartbeat to be a dad,” he told his mom, saying it’s hard to be a teenager because he’s been through so much and would rather be spending time with Carly than going to high school football games.

For Valentine’s Day, he took Catelynn ice skating, and he confessed to her afterward that he felt guilty having so much fun. His mindset seems to be that if he couldn’t handle raising his daughter, then he shouldn’t be out having fun — the tradeoff between his love for his daughter and ice skating is obviously unequal, so it’s difficult for him to feel good about his decision when the things replacing time he would spend with her seem so trivial.

Later, he spoke with another biological father who gave up his baby for adoption, and Tyler opened up and showed that it’s not just birth mothers, but also fathers, who deal with a lot of emotional anguish after giving a baby up for adoption. “That’s something I struggle with a lot, that she deserves better than me,” he told the other dad over the phone — it’s extremely painful that he, as her father, wasn’t in the position to raise her, and knowing that makes it feel wrong for him to have fun or get joy at the expense of giving her away.

3. What makes someone a whore?

Farrah went to therapy to deal with a lot of the personal problems she’s been having lately, and she admitted that the problems started with her pregnancy. She admitted that when she got pregnant, her mom would call her a whore, despite the fact that the father of the baby was the first person she ever had sex with. I wonder how Farrah’s mom is defining “whore” here.

Is Farrah a whore because she is having premarital sex? Is she a whore because she got pregnant and therefore her sexual activity is public and for everyone to know? Typically people use “whore” to mean someone who has sex with a lot of different people, which is why her mom calling her a whore simply for having sex — and more so for having a baby, who Farrah said her mom called a “mistake” despite her mom’s current obsession with Sophia — is interesting.

It raises the question of whether beliefs about sex are generational, religious (her family is Catholic and doesn’t believe in birth control), or are simply transforming socially, as the word “whore” is being used more these days as a label for anyone who has sex outside of marriage.

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