But both the exec and the creative forces behind MTV’s new docuseries Virgin Territory (launching July 16) said they believe MTV is doing a public service by examining the young generation’s thoughts on virginity.
Today’s panel included Sarah Brown, CEO of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, and three young people whose lives are explored on the show: Dominique Sullivan, a 22-year-old single virgin; Lisa Youngerman, 23, who saved her virginity for marriage; and Alec Melger, 21, a virgin who says he is doing his best to change that.
“I love to talk about sex, but I’m not having it,” Melger said to laughter. “Abstinence is not for me. Whether you are waiting or you are down to lose it, it’s your choice”. He said he loves Jersey Shore and that as a 4th grader an MTV show exposed him to a “threesome in a bathtub, and I thought that was really cool.”
Daniels, who introduced the panel, defended network programming that depicts people becoming sexually active at an early age — in particular 16 And Pregnant and Teen Mom. “I feel a great deal of responsibility,” Daniels said. She made a point of saying “I didn’t develop Teen Mom, I didn’t put it on the air” and that her first reaction was that she thought the idea “sounded exploitative.”
However, both she and Brown cited a recent study from the respected Brookings Institution that shows that the rate of teen pregnancy has dropped significantly in communities where Teen Mom and 16 And Pregnant have high viewership.
MTV as birth control? It was clear that not all of the audience was buying it. But Brown said the main point of Virgin Territory is to paint a realistic picture of how the young generation views virginity.
Brown said research indicates that “well over 70%” of young adults admire the decision to abstain until marriage even if they make a different choice for themselves. “I’m not taking sides here, I’m just reporting [survey] results,” she said.