Word Choice: “Impregnate,” a Disney Star, and Fox News

For some reason which I have since forgotten, I was googling that girl from The Social Network and a variety of Disney Channel media properties.  Turns out her name is Brenda Song. This news item came up first in my google search:

Something’s weird about that headline, right? I think it’s the word “impregnate,” which is almost never used to describe celebrities procreating.  Note that the USA Today headline below it is the more benign “Trace Cyrus and Brenda Song are expecting a baby.” There’s a difference there. In the first headline, “rocker” Trace did something to Disney star Brenda. In the second, two adults (he is 22, she is 23) collectively accomplished the miracle of life.

It’s a Fox News headline, so my gut instinct is to assume all sorts of insidious things. On second thought, this is probably just an example of what Jon Stewart pointed out as media bias towards laziness and sensationalism. The Fox title conjures up images of a bad-boy rock star knocking up a Disney tween princess. Sensationalist indeed. In reality, two twenty-somethings who run in the same Disney-graduate circles (who are or at least were a couple) got pregnant. Snooooooooze.

I’m probably making too big a deal over what is a pretty simple word choice, but the language wigged me out and I’m trying to parse out why. It has something to do with this post from Hugo Schwyzer about word choice and sex (“penetrate” vs. “engulf”, who is the actor, who is the recipient). Linguistically, being impregnated makes one an object. I’m pretty sure that if and when I’m ever pregnant, I won’t be telling people that my partner impregnated me; it makes it sound like he did all the work and I was a passive receptor. Instead, “we’re expecting a baby,” makes us both agents in the sentence as, presumably, we were in conception (Where’s Barney Stinson when I need a high five?)

Related Post: Jezebel’s coverage of JBiebz’ commentary on abortion was not my favorite thing of all time.

Related Post: At what age does a woman in Hollywood stop getting referred to as a “starlet?”



Filed under Gender, Hollywood, Media, Sex

4 responses to “Word Choice: “Impregnate,” a Disney Star, and Fox News

  1. It got your attention though, right?

  2. Sara

    Barney Stinson does not high five for pregnancy

  3. Pingback: Protesting Chicks are HAWT | rosiesaysblog

  4. Pingback: Is a coat hanger just a coat hanger? | rosiesaysblog

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