Womanhood and Family: Challenging Cultural Values in Juno College

Juno (2007), directed by Jason Reitman, is the story of a 16-year-old Minnesotan girl named Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) who discovers that she has become pregnant after a one-time sexual encounter with her best friend, Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). The film, which is divided narratively into four seasons, details the year of Juno’s pregnancy and her relationships with Bleeker, her parents, and the couple whom she chooses to adopt her child. Unfortunately, Juno finds out that the people whom she believes to be the future “perfect parents” have their own relationship and personal flaws, and she must decide who to trust to raise and love her unborn child. In Juno, Reitman challenges the American cultural values of the necessity of women’s purity and the traditional nuclear family.

Barbara Welter’s (1996) article “The Cult of True Womanhood” outlines the “four cardinal virtues” by which women at the time were judged, and these expectations are largely still in place in American society today. One of these virtues is purity, which includes the cultural beliefs that premarital sex is inherently immoral, and that if a woman does get pregnant out of wedlock, she should immediately get married and raise the child. Reitman approaches...

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