Domestic Violence on MTV’s ‘Teen Mom’

I’ve praised MTV’s show Teen Mom, in conversations and on Twitter, for being a really groundbreaking show. Last year, they aired 16 and Pregnant, which followed four pregnant teens on their journey through pregnancy. Teen Mom picks up where 16 and Pregnant left off. The show is real, raw, heartbreaking, and really, really important. It’s rare to see the reality of teen motherhood so accurately depicted. It’s so much more effective than sex ed alone, and it gives a glimpse into how hard it really is to be a kid raising a kid. It examines their financial struggle, the collapse of these young relationships, the battle to be a mom while still need their mom themselves. Is it perfect? No. But it’s a step in the right direction, and it’s good to see some semblance of reality on ‘reality’ TV.

But this last week’s episode had a scene that caused my heart to catch in my throat (3rd clip in link). Amber got in an argument with her boyfriend, Gary, which somehow involved Amber’s father, too. It resulted in her shoving Gary into a wall, slapping him across his face, getting in his face and verbally assaulting him, and grabbing him by his throat. You can watch the scene below, if you want, but I’ll warn that it could be triggering for some.

It was domestic violence (or is it teen dating violence, since they’re teens? Though it fits the legal definition of DV (at least in Florida) since they have a kid together…), plain and simple. And it was shocking. However, I have mixed feelings about MTV deciding to air this scene.
On the one hand, I’m glad that they did. Female on male violence is hardly ever spoken about, and many people don’t believe it really happens. Not only is Amber clearly the perpetrator in this instance, but she’s attacking a man that is a very big guy. I’m talking 6-foot-something, 250+ pounds big. Amber is no small girl, either, but there’s so often this misconception that a man can’t be the victim of physical abuse from a woman because they’re so often physically larger than them. This clearly shows that to be false. The look on his face, of confusion, hurt, and fear is really, really sad.
On the other hand, I’m kind of shocked that MTV chose to air this. I have to wonder if Amber had been a male and Gary had been a female, if they would have aired this clip. Or if, instead, he would have been arrested for assault. I can’t imagine a network choosing to air a clip in which a male throws his girlfriend into a wall, hits her in the face, and then proceeds to choke her. Especially after MTV decided not to air the incident on Jersey Shore in which Snooki is punched in the face by a man at the club, due to public reaction and outrage. Why is it okay to show a woman hit a man in the face on TV, but it’s not okay to show a man hit a woman? It seems that violence perpetrated from female to male is not taken as seriously as that from male to female, and people shrug or laugh it off as not that severe.
Amber has been dealing with what seems to be pretty bad postpartum depression. In no way is Amber’s postpartum depression an excuse for her violence; that is inexcusable. But clearly, she is a girl that is going through a hard time, and could really use some help and guidance. Watching the show, it’s clear that her family will not be the ones to give that to her. It’s a sad situation all around, and further drives home the point that pregnancy is NOT easy, and raising a child is NOT easy, especially at such a young age.
But back to my initial conflict when I set out to write this post, I’m left wondering if MTV should have aired this clip. Is the demonstration of female to male DV significant enough to warrant an applause for exposure? Would MTV have aired this clip if the gender of the perpetrator and victim had been reversed? What do you guys think?
This entry was posted in Caterwauling About The Patriarchy, Culture Goes Pop, It Felt Like A Kiss. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Kivrin
    Posted December 24, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    And doing it in front of their child, too. That's just great.

    I think it's absolutely a double standard, and they shouldn't have aired it (unless they were prepared to air similar footage of male-on-female DV). And that guy should press charges. I fear that the baby would be better off in foster care, anyway. :(

    (Granted, I am making these statements based on the single clip alone—haven't seen the rest of the show. The young dad might be an abusive jerk, too, for all I know.)

  2. Jess
    Posted December 24, 2009 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    That is truly disgusting. The double standard here is enormous, and MTV would certainly not have shown it if the violence have been male to female.
    I watched the 16 and pregnant episode with these two, and this guy has came off as an ass, no doubt. Buying a several hundred dollar gaming systems instead of paying the bills is one example. But clearly the guy got himself into a situation he wasn't responsible enough to handle. And I can imagine that to be frustrating to her….However. This is a clear example of a person who is totally out of control. Possible PPD, sure. But also, I think she is probably taking out the lack of control of her own life out on the Dad here.
    Very sad.

  3. sarahbear
    Posted December 24, 2009 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    I was shocked when I saw that. I fully believe it needed to be shown, just like the situation that happened to Snooki should have been shown. What irritated me about it was that MTV did not put up a blurb like it usually does about seeking help for domestic violence. There should have not only been an 800 number edited onto the screen during that scene, but also someone at the end of the show talking about domestic violence and how it's not ok and where to get help.

    He looked so hurt and I think that they're problems have a LOT to do with her suffering from some severe form of post partum hormonal issues. She needs some serious help and counseling. He does as well, because he needs to know that it's not his fault that she's acting like that. My heart goes out to all of those young couples and mothers every time I watch the show.

  4. Meg
    Posted December 24, 2009 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    You know, part of me thinks, "Oh, they should NOT air this stuff!" but then I got thinking on it and realized that for some people, this is the only way to prove that DV (man-on-woman and woman-on-man) exsists, and is horrible.

    I hope that local law enforcement sees this and gets on it. Obviously, this is dangerous to the baby.

  5. Welcome to Chicago, Jillinois
    Posted December 25, 2009 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    MTV would air anything that would get them ratings. They were originally going to air Snooky getting punched, and even used it as a promo for the show. It was only after that promo caught the eye of advocacy groups did they decide not to air it. But the publicity for the show already worked. If they used this clip to promo this show, it probably would have received enough attention to get pulled, too.

  6. Joanna Cake
    Posted January 6, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    This is really interesting.

    I think the clip should have been shown because, more than anything, it shows that she's losing control of her life… due to all the factors mentioned. It really isnt easy trying to work on a relationship and bring up a child. Add to the mix her youth and her post natal depression and the poor girl really does need some help.

    I think the reaction of the guy is also very telling. Really, he's just another child in the triumvirate of children who form that little family and without someone mature enough to take proper responsibility for their future, I fear for them.

    But, yes, it should have been shown… even if only to show teenagers just how difficult that life decision can be. There should have been helpline numbers about DV at the end tho.

  7. jeremy
    Posted February 2, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    I was a male victim of domestic violence for years in my marriage. It was a source of intense shame – how could I let a girl beat me up? That day in court when I stood up and pressed assault charges and a judge, in front of the entire courtroom, said "you're saying you got beaten on by this little lady?" and the courtroom burst into laughter…

    Abuse is abuse – but when it's a woman abusing a man, some of the social stigma that can be attached seems even worse.

    I try to speak up whenever I see it or hear about it – to let other men know that it's OKAY to come forward, that the person wrong is the abuser and not the abused, but it's tough. I feel terribly for all the men out there who suffer through this silently.

Post a Reply to sarahbear

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Subscribe without commenting

  • This site contains adult content and is not intended for anyone under the age of 18. Under 18? Click here:


  • Britni TheVadgeWig

    PhotobucketI'm Britni, a snarky bitch and generally awesome person. I write about sex, love, and bullshit. If sex-positivity, discussions about BDSM and kink, queer issues, and topics that are completely inappropriate by society's standards make you uncomfortable, then this blog is not for you.
    Photobucket Photobucket
  • Because I Am a Shameless, Broke-Ass Bitch

    All donations are welcome, of course! You can always buy me something off my wishlist, as well.

  • Get Yourself Off

    Good Vibes PinkCherry Sex Toys Love yourself. Everyday. Tickle. Photobucket ER-150x250-1a_3 / JT's Stockroom
  • Photobucket
  • See My Writing At

    Photobucket Photobucket
  • Watch Them Get Off

    visit Photobucket visit
  • The What

  • The Who

  • Go Back In Time