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.