Scarlet Letter.

By Meredith O’Brien


Joseph Burkett. Casey Aldridge. Gloucester High School boys. Arthur Dimmesdale. Do those names ring any bells? Think . . . where have you heard them before? Perhaps these names will help: Lara Logan, Jamie Lynn Spears, Gloucester High girls and Hester Prynne.


Why are the women on the list better known than the men? The same reason there isn’t a male equivalent for words like whore, jezebel, slut, hussy and bimbo. (And no, Elaine Benes’ term “mimbo” doesn’t even come close to the toxicity of the female terms.) Why is it that when it comes to unmarried or adulterous sex -- particularly sex that results in pregnancy -- it’s the women who are sluts and whores lacking morals, but the guys who impregnated them are essentially ignored or lauded as manly men simply doing what nature intended, spreading their seed? Why is it okay to lionize a playboy who “plays the field” while at the same time women who have sex (playgirls?) are called slurs, even in these post-Sex and the City days? These questions have been foremost in my mind as news events, coupled with the public and media’s response to them, have been, shall we say, dreadfully unequal lately.


CBS/60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan recently told the Washington Post that she’s pregnant. Her current husband, from whom she’s estranged and is currently divorcing, is not the father of her unborn child. Another man, Joseph Burkett, who’s divorcing his wife (the mother of his 3-year-old) got Logan pregnant. After reading about Logan on The Huffington Post, I scrolled down and saw the first comment from a reader. It was one word: Whore. That reader, along with others who chimed in, weren’t talking about Burkett, who’s divorcing the mother of his child and who also presumably knows what happens when you have unprotected sex.


Seventeen-year-old TV actress Jamie Lynn Spears gave birth to a baby earlier this summer and gave her first interview to OK Weekly. When her interview was mentioned by the Boston Herald a reader posted a comment on the paper’s web site calling her “a teenage slut.” No word on whether Casey Aldridge, the baby’s father, is also considered a male of ill repute.



I agree - great article. It's a cruel double standard and does nothing to help young moms who are already so vulnerable, and simply need support.


I agree, that the men/boys need to be held more accountable, but what I think is terrible is how the media fixates on these girls, making them huge news and even though it's bad attention, it's attention nonetheless. Take Jamie Lynn on the cover of US weekly.. she was quoted saying "having a baby is the best feeling in the world" or something close to that. With the buzz on celeb babies, now teenage celebs are getting into it. They still need to be made an example of, but I agree, the boys do, too.