Teenage fertility is an issue that has received and continues to receive substantial attention worldwide. Much of this attention has been focussed primarily on teenage girls and has been concerned with preventing or mitigating the impact of pregnancy. Very little attention has been paid to boys. Similarly, little attention has been paid to the desires of teenagers.
While the concept of teenagehood and its moral values are historically and culturally specific, the term is often used to describe the period from 13 to 19 years old. Perceived as neither children nor adults, teenagers are caught up in a world of contradictions. The teenage years are meant to be the space for sexual début and sexual experimentation, yet the expression of teenage sexuality – particularly for females – is frowned upon. Indeed, stigma surrounds teenagers who give birth during their teenage years.
The theme of this issue of Agenda, teenage fertility and desire, moves us away from overly negative perceptions of teenage sexuality and desire. Contributors, who include teenagers themselves, think about the relationship between desire and fertility, the ways in which desire plays a role in a teenagers sexual decision-making, and about teenage agency in sexuality and fertility choices. As guest editor of this issue Nolwazi Mkhwanazi says in her introduction, contributions selected for this volume discuss the world inhabited by teenagers, and encourages us to develop and expand our ideas about teenage desire and fertility.