Please sign my Guestbook.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Sometimes what I write is not what I meant

Blogging Baby Entry

This was a post on Blogging Baby today about intolerance and the movie version of "Rent". Naturally, I had to throw in my fifty cents worth and I wasn't as clear as I should have been. You who know me are used to that.

Part of what I said involved teenagers and unplanned pregnancy although the original subject matter was the attitude of the religious right toward homosexuality. As you know, I have a few opinions on that as well.

You can read the whole exchange (as of this writing) by clicking on the BB link at the top. Instead of staying directly on topic, I mentioned my opinion that many of the extremists were more concerned about punishing girls than they were about the sanctity of life. I can be a little extreme myself. My point was if we want to lower the abortion rate, we should provide comprehensive sex education in the schools (including but not limited to abstinence) and affordable, readily accessible birth control. From my experience with the Planned Parenthood battle here, the same people who vehemently oppose a woman's right to choose also oppose a teen's access to sex education and birth control. Letters to the paper bear me out. The same names appear with great regularity on any discussion of homosexuality as well. (You already know my views on that subject.) Naturally, that doesn't apply across the board but that doesn't make what I say untrue in many cases.

"you made your bed - now lie in it" seems to be a prevailing theme. I mentioned it on BB because to me the attitude of the extreme religious right toward homosexuals is similar to their stand on teenagers and sex. It's a rigid view that isn't a part of my faith. Maybe I should have skipped that part but it's too late now.

The next commenter wanted me to defend my position which I couldn't do adequately without describing my own experience. Some things have changed for the better since 1952/1953 but not everything. The attitudes of the Letters to the Editor echo much of what I heard back then.

I was a victim of what is now called "date rape" in the fall of 1952. Accepted a ride I shouldn't have and was too scared to fight and afraid to tell my morally upright parents. I knew very little, including what missing one period and then another meant.

When I finally told them, they were supportive in their fashion. Many girls in that era fared far worse than I. I wasn't barefoot in the snow. My dad even tried to press charges but the boy brought in several friends who claimed they'd been there first. The boy's father was a member of the same social club as the local d.a. which didn't help. The boy was expelled from school and joined the service. My family and I were left to deal with the consequences.

Long story - I''ll try to shorten it. My folks presented options (including termination) and left the final decision to me - radical behavior for the 50's. I decided to have the baby and surrender it for adoption. I lived with my aunt and uncle for a short time and then in a "home" until after my little girl was born in 1953. She came back from the hospital with me for five days. I saw her once after that - a final opportunity to change my mind.

It was unbelievably hard but going back to school at 15 in that same small town was harder. Everyone knew of course. The principal, a kind man who had believed me, tried to discourage my return for my sake but I was stubborn. I repeated my sophomore year and crammed enough credits together along with summer school to graduate as a junior. I couldn't have taken one more year of the cruelty and I never returned to full time education.

I've pushed a lot of it to the back of my mind while remembering the acts of kindness from a few brave kids who ignored their parents' instructions to avoid me and from some, not all, of the teachers. Time heals eventually.

The worst act of intolerance for me was being excluded from the school choir. I guess the music teacher thought pregnancy and childbirth had altered my singing voice and my ability to read music. I had been accepted the year before. We couldn't prove intolerance or hatred but it was there.

I had no proof but I was sure parents didn't want their kids contaminated by my presence and spoke to the teacher who didn't need much additional encouragement. I cried over that. The choir was special. The same teacher gave me a 99 instead of 100 on a final test. (one of the easy courses I took for fast credits and could have taught) Said I wrote a note below instead of on the line. No, I didn't - he just couldn't stand giving me a perfect grade on anything.

Enough - this is turning into a whine. We've gotten me up to age seventeen in September 1955 - more will be revealed maybe sometime. Short version - I started running and kept running for years.

I invited the commenter over here to continue the discussion rather than tie up someone else's post with an unrelated subject. I don't know if he'll show up or not.

I mentioned this part of my lfe in passing when I first began the blog back in September but never got back to it. This seemed as good a time as any.

I'd like to think my idea of pregnancy as punishment is hopelessly out of date along with me. Unfortunately, many people long to return to a sanitized, idealized, and for them much safer Donna Reed and June Cleaver version of that time. This, for me, is what much of the 50's was really like and I have no desire to return.

I want better for my girls who, by the way, have returned from the movie and loved it. One (Elcie) already asleep and the other two almost. They brought me movie popcorn.

More tomorrow - this was harder work than I thought and I'm not sure how coherent I was.

13 comments:

ipodmomma said...

it's amazing how in the past 50 years how many things have changed for the better...

but intolerace, hatred, fear and cruelty are just a few things that seem to find their way into any decade...

just the object of hatred changes... a new tenth hen.

glad you didn't delete...

life its hard, there's no doubting that. there are things we are sometimes forced to undergo, especially when we are young, that just seem wrong and unfair and the indignities we have to endure are so without cause or reason, one can wonder just why is life this way, why so full of conflict and harrassment, bigotry and meanness...

I have no good answer.

but, I do know this: when we are hurting, and feeling so alone, if we remain open and loving, then in the future, we are able to be offer that love and understanding to one in great need...

and that is what you are doing, in spades...

much love to you this day Granny!!

L. said...

I`m glad you posted this, too. The more things change, the more they stay the same....
What a horrible thing for a young woman to endure! Well, they say what doesn`t kill you makes you stronger -- no wonder you`re so tough.

Mother Damnable said...

(((((((Granny)))))))

When I remember my own traumas I do not see that little girl all alone, I see my grown up self holding and comforting and loving her.

When I see a beautiful flower, a rainbow or smell a wonderful aroma I send it back to little Sharon.

I am sending all my love to the child within you.

Blessed Be, sweetheart

Lindsay Lobe said...

When a person feels they have no choice, then the idea of morality becomes clouded.

If the decision to abort is made because of helplessness in terms of a perception of an inability to cope, with no prospect of any help, the question of any immorality I think reverts to that community, for their lack of support. I think the idea of the right to abort becomes even more critical where a pregnancy arises as a consequence of rape, where the “offended one” is a result of societal misconceptions feels they have no choices.

Many rape victims have has their experiences “suppressed ” by a society that has not only lacking in support, but shows remarkable indifference and sensitivity to those who have suffered. Hopefully this is changing both in the court system and in society in general.

I think your experience tell the story of fundamentalism as a caricature of true religion, as in its naivety it turns a “blind eye”, becomes judgemental and lacking in any creditability, becomes a supporter of injustice.

An interesting posting and thakyou for sharing it with us,it must have been quite hard for you I suspoect!!

ipodmomma said...

cyhtogap

compassionate yearnings hold treasures of great abundant providence...

well, something along those lines... sent your way!

Gawdessness said...

Bearing witness, for yourself or anyone else is not whining.

So often the debates about sexuality and education and unplanned pregnancy and termination are really all about who has the power and who wants to weild it.

That is what sexual assault is all about.

It is hard to even read the words "accepted a ride that I shouldn't have". No Dear, you didn't. A young man forced himself on an unwilling young woman. He is the only one who did what he shouldn't have.

I know you know that it just can't be said enough. It wasn't your fault. IT isn't your fault.

It was his and it was the community who allowed, both through action and inaction, him to not only go unpunished but protected.

I don't truly understand why that is. When communities rally around their young men who have committed sexual assault. It disturbs me so much more than terminating a pregnancy.

Thank you for sharing this. Your experiences are so important.

We tell our stories and it doesn't help change things, even if it is only one mind at a time.

You are inspirational.
Not just today, but it is a good time to tell you so!

VMC said...

Ann, hugs from the desert, pal. This was a heartbreaking and courageous post.

Observations: It wasn't date rape, whatever in the hell that is. It was rape. I wonder how many other girls that guy assaulted over the years?

Times where it would be possible to defend oneself on a rape charge by enlisting others to lie that they'd "been there first" can only be described as medieval.

It is instructive to note that at every turn, it was you who paid the cruel price of this. Every turn.

People who want to go back to such times have no idea, do they?

granny p said...

Brave lady - brave for going through it and brave for writing this. Girls still have bad experiences (2 at least in my family have had them) and the worst thing is they blame themselves; the last thing they need are Moral Majority prigs who don't know NOTHING. We have them here too. Lately a judge stopped a rape trial, claiming because the girl was drunk she could be said to have consented. Outrage followed, fortunately, But same attitude was echoed in recent survey, Even without such a horror, I spent my youth like most of my friends. terrified of being pregnant. I was lucky but not because contraceptive advice - let alone contraception -was available from anyone. Better now in some respects, but not enough/

Alice said...

Oh God, Ann.

There are no words I can say that will sound right, that won't sound hollow or corny, so I apologise in advance, and hope that you can grasp or sense how I feel about it, what I mean.

It was NOT your fault. It was his and the community's fault.

I wish I had that man here with me right now. I really do. And those people.

I've mentioned before (regarding another topic) my feelings about the way society regards and treats women as a whole, and this case, as well as others like it, only serves to prove my point.

Unless things radically change in the future, there is always going to be a reason the woman is to blame. Accepted a ride she shouldn't, had one drink too many, was 'wasted', meant 'yes', didn't fight, flirted, dressed provocatively, sent out 'signals'... It is always, in some way, deep down, going to be 'her fault'. She will have 'asked for it'.

I hate it. I hate it and I will do everything within my power to change it.

I promise.

Marigoldie said...

Granny, it was so good of you to share this painful experience. I wonder how many readers went through something similar. I personally was sexually abused as a young child. I grew up very confused about what sex was all about, and my parents, who knew of the abuse, never once talked to me about it. This is another way we have let our children down--by sweeping everything under the rug and hoping it can all just go away. But of course people can't be swept under rugs.

Thanks again for sharing your story. I'm sorry that happened to you, and I hope and pray that the tide is turning.

Uncle Roger said...

Sometimes I am so freaking embarassed to be human.

I can't undo what happened, but I can teach my son to value others as much as he values himself. I can't change the impact its had on you, but I can teach my daughter to believe in herself as an equal of everyone around her. I can't change the community that was an accomplice, but I can work to make sure my kids are surrounded by supportive people who will believe in them.

You are an amazing person.

Angel said...

((((Granny))))))

Merle said...

Dear Ann ~~ I had not read this far back
and was so sorry to hear that you had these horrible experiences. Did you ever have any contact with that daughter? No wonder you are such a strong lady, and a marvellous "mother"
to your great grand-daughters.
You are an inspiration Ann.
Love, Merle.