I feel like I need to put a disclaimer before this post because I haven't done a lot of standing on soap boxes on this blog. Mostly because every time I feel the urge to, I tell myself that that's not really what this blog is about but then I realize that there really isn't anything in particular this blog is about. It started as a place for me to write about crafts and my kitten and other cute things that didn't quite fit on my food blog but has obviously morphed into something completely different. A lot of it is about relationships but a lot of it is just about the general insecurities of being in your early twenties. Sometimes it's really intensely personal and sometimes it's more light-hearted and sometimes it's both at the same time but I really haven't written that much about my personal political or spiritual beliefs in any sort of specific way. Tonight that's going to change a little bit.
It's going to change because I've been wanting to write about these things for a while. It's going to change because of conversations I've had and recent blog posts I've read about women still having to justify not wanting children. It's going to change because tonight Ms. Mae told me she and a friend of mine are going to go egg the people who sit outside Planned Parenthood for all of Lent and I just can't see how that's going to help anyone. It's going to change because of my mother mentioning the possibility of not have grandchildren in her post. It's going to change because of a young mother I saw at the pub the other night. And it's also probably changing because I just started a new relationship and because I'm big on the self reflection, a new relationship always means reevaluation of these sorts of things.
The first part of this post is about abortion.
The second part of this post is about how our ideas of ourselves change, having children and feminism.
So now you know what you're getting in to.
And just to be clear 'cause I feel like this could all be taken in the wrong way, I'm not pregnant. I just think about these things a lot.
(note: for the purpose of brevity and because I'm writing about the possibility of pregnancy, anytime I write "sex" I'm referring to heterosexual vaginal penetration)
When I was younger, there always seemed to be a lot of emphasis on the talks you were supposed to have when you decided to become sexually active with that fella you were going to steady with. You know, the contraceptive talk, the "have you been tested" talk and lastly, the what would you do if you got pregnant talk. Obviously this third talk makes at least a couple of assumptions; you're in a committed relationship with someone, not having a one night stand or just fuck buddies; you're at a point in your relationship where you're comfortable having a frank discussion about possibly deeply personal political and moral beliefs before you start having sex and that you're thinking about your relationship in the long term. Realistically, I'm willing to bet that for most people the assumptions that you will reach that point before having sex only happens in the first relationship in which you become sexually active but then of course, I suspect there are many people for whom those assumptions could/can never be made. As you get older the rules change. Game play gets serious faster. Or instantly. Supposedly my generation has done a lot towards the creation of a "hookup culture". I think part of the reason for this is because at some point we all internalized that third talk to be unnecessary. It's generally assumed that woman belonging to a certain age group raised in a certain socioeconomic environment (that is to say women in their twenties with middle to upper class liberal upbringings, as in this woman right here) have only one belief about what one should do if one has an unplanned pregnancy. Of course, the choice has to be to "take care of it". Which doesn't make it a choice at all.
There a lot of caveats to me having children (which I'll write about in more detail in part two) and most of those requirements would make it seem like me carrying an unintentional pregnancy to term would never ever happen. My personal beliefs in regards to people bringing a child into this world that they are not financially and emotionally prepared for are as strong as my feeling about abortion.
I find them both incredibly morally ambiguous.
At the brewery Tuesday night, there was a young mother, younger than me, drinking, her mohawked toddler on her lap. They weren't there to eat a meal, it was after nine and she nor any of her friends ordered food. They were there for the cheap pints.
The douche (once known as "the boy"), of course it was the douche, turned to me and said "We've both been through a lot of crazy shit in our lives but at least we can say we weren't raised like that," in the most judgmental, condescending tone ever.
If. Looks. Could. Kill. (I would've killed the douche over and over again by now)
"Oh fuck, I just stuck my foot right in my mouth, didn't I?"
"Oh no, not at all, I mean when I was that kid's age I had a shaved head and bangs, not a mohawk so I'm pretty sure my early childhood was totally different"
"Well it's alright, I mean you turned out ok"
This is something about my life the douche could never fully absorb. When he was working at a halfway house as a supervisor for teens transitioning out of Juvenile Hall, we used to have the following conversation on almost a nightly basis once he was a few beers in.
"You know these kids, they were just fucked from the start. Fucking druggie and dealer parents, people that should've never had kids. Scum of the earth, nobody should've let them have children"
"So, like my parents?" I would say acerbically.
"Oh fuck, no, I mean you turned out ok"
And it's true, all things considered, I turned out pretty damn ok. That's not to say I don't have emotional baggage from early childhood that I carry around with me or that I might possibly be a completely different person if I hadn't had a different start to my life and I could go into all the psychological theories around childhood development about why I did turn out ok, but mostly I probably turned out ok because I was lucky enough to have a family that could take me out of that situation and take care of me. And I'm pretty damn ok with the person I've become partially as a result of those experiences. Yeah, there was part of me that was judging that mother, but I don't know her story. Maybe this is the first and only time she takes her kid to a bar, maybe it's the 100th and she'll do it a hundred times more. Maybe, that kid will also turn out ok. I don't know. I know it's probably a bad idea to bring your child with you drinking. I know it's psychologically better for a child if you, as a parent, go into the whole experience prepared and that part of being prepared is willing to give up some of the freedom us young folks have.
But this is where my judgmental middle class liberal beliefs fall apart, because I just don't know at which point a collection of cells becomes a person. That's right, I said it, I am not a militant atheist, please don't revoke my "crazy leftist" membership. I want to be 100%, perfectly clear here; I am absolutely, completely pro-choice. When I say "pro-choice" I mean exactly that, the right to "take care of it" or "to keep it". The point is having the choice. Having the choice to be certain without ever having had the experience or being able to say you just don't know what you would do.
The early suffragists were anti-abortion because they thought it was just another way men could gain control over their wives. I worry that the assumption that a young woman will "take care of it" puts us back in the same place. I worry about it, because I'm in the "I just don't know" camp. I don't believe in God in a JudeoChristian sense, but that doesn't mean I don't have spiritual beliefs and it doesn't mean that I discount the possibility of there being something outside the physical that makes each of us unique. I know I could never kill someone who was clearly a human being*. I don't know if I could make the decision to bring life into this world that I wasn't able to support emotionally and financially, but I just don't know how I could deal with knowing there was possibly something alive in me and I chose to change that. I hope, more than almost anything, this is a decision I will never have to make. I will strive to be less judgmental of those who make what in my peer group is the less acceptable choice because I can't imagine the emotional turmoil they've gone through.
*I feel like I need to justify this, even though I probably don't. I'm not a crazy sensitive compassionate person because I believe in pacifism, I'm a pacifist because I'm painfully empathetic and genuinely don't understand physical violence. Even in a life or death situation, I'm pretty sure I could not actually cause somebody physical harm.
It is now 2 a.m. so I'm afraid I have to say
to be continued...
Part Two coming soon