Experiences of Young Motherhood and Youth in Mexico: Medical Discourses and the Definition of Women as ‘Too Young to Care’.

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Abstract

In Mexico, as in many other countries, ‘early’ motherhood is defined as a social problem and in some cases as a social epidemic. Looking at the experiences of young mothers and using health promotion materials and policy documents from youth pregnancy prevention programmes, this article explores discourses around youth and sexuality in Mexico. It argues that discourses that define young mothers and fathers as a social problem are closely linked to those that understand youth as a transition, where certain social rituals are expected to mark the entrance into adulthood. The article suggests that pregnancy prevention programmes reproduce chronological expectations regarding women’s reproductive experiences and gendered stereotypes of youth sexuality and parenting experiences. The article looks into the bio-power mechanisms that are displayed to normalize youth sexual behavior at the expense of pathologizing young mothers and fathers. Discourses that define youth sexuality as an individual and as a social risk tend to compromise the provision of effective contraceptive information that would ultimately aid in the prevention of unwanted pregnancies.

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