Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch
Seriously, if you view children as a “consequence” or a punishment for having sex, don’t have any: Sex or Children. Period. I’m serious. The world will be a better place without your fucked up DNA propagating further. I promise.
This is something I hear from both the Anti-Choice side, as well as from some ostensibly Pro-Choice people. That they might support a woman’s right to choose, but if their OWN DAUGHTER got knocked up, they’d make her “face the consequences of her actions” if she got pregnant “through her own carelessness.” Because you know, a teenager who wasn’t mature or responsible enough to obtain and use birth control is a GREAT candidate for motherhood.*
If you believe this, never have children. If you already have, declare yourself an unfit parent and find someone reasonable to raise them from here on out, because this is some of the most fucked up bullshit I have ever heard in my entire life. I’m serious. If you think it’s perfectly reasonable to force a teenager to have a baby because she decided to have sex, then the words “perfectly reasonable” are not a descriptor that can be applied to you.
Bullshit like this is why I am vehemently Pro-Choice. Because I believe that every child should be a wanted child. Period. Full stop. And I don’t believe that “Grandma wanted your mother to pay for her dirty whore ways,” is anything like a child being wanted. Birth control, accurate sex education and accessible abortion are what it takes to make sure that every child born is a wanted child.
Seriously, do you assholes not realize what pregnancy does to a woman’s body at any age? Look, go find a group of mothers in their 40’s to 50’s, and ask them about childbirth and pregnancy. I guarantee that the stories they tell will make an experienced Special Forces dude throw up in his hat. Get them talking about stretch marks, labor pains, preeclampsia, premature births, gestational diabetes, the permanent back and foot conditions that pregnancy can cause, varicose veins, gestational hypertension… Believe me, I could fill this website with the things that even a normal, healthy pregnancy does to change your body forever.
Children should not be “borne” out of a sense of punishment or obligation. Children should be planned for, eagerly anticipated, and loved. They should have, if nothing else, at least one parent who wanted them. Resented children often wind up abused children. As I have repeated ad nauseum on this site, the earlier a woman has her first child is a very good indicator that she will remain below the poverty line for the rest of her life. So why would you consign your own child to that fate?
And I always notice that the fathers of these children rarely get mentioned in these lovely little hypotheticals. They always talk about girls and women “understanding consequences” but do they ever mentioned the other half of the horizontal mambo? Rarely, if ever.
So, why are you so set on punishing your daughters? Think about this. Why do you want not only to punish your daughters, but your grandchildren? Why? Is it because you “love children so much” that the thought of them spending a lifetime in poverty gets you wet?
Do you hate your own children so much that you don’t understand why this attitude sucks?
Think it through, just a little. Please, for the sake of girls everywhere.
*I am not slamming all teen moms. I’ve known some who were awesome moms, but they’re sadly a minority. Let’s face it, most 20 somethings are not ready for all that parenthood entails. I know I sure as shit wasn’t ready in my teens or 20s.
I absolutely agree with the substance of this post.
For instance, as an adopted child, I find it galling that my life history is often used by the anti-choice movement to justify their position; I have even been told by anti-choice activists that I should not be in favour of abortion rights because “what if (I) was aborted?”
My response is the same, always: I am grateful to know that my mother had a choice. I am grateful to know that, as you highlight so firmly here, I was a wanted birth, and a wanted child.
That said, despite your disclaimer, I would hope you would reconsider using the experiences of young women to draw a judgment on how children “should” be brought into the world.
“Children should be planned for, eagerly anticipated, and loved.”
I think we can all agree that children should absolutely be loved and well cared-for. However, the other two parts are both trickier, and less relevant towards the child’s quality of life.
As an adopted child, I was neither planned for, nor eagerly anticipated — and that’s okay. And of course, many non-adopted children are not planned for or eagerly anticipated either, but nonetheless grow up in loving homes. (Many of my friends were a result of an initially devastating unplanned pregnancy; their parents, like so many do, overcame the initial challenges and built wonderful families.)
Similarly, as soon as we frame this debate with language like:
“Because you know, a teenager who wasn’t mature or responsible enough to obtain and use birth control is a GREAT candidate for motherhood.*”
We are unintentionally giving validity into classist, anti-woman and oppressive cultural tropes about whose reproductive choices are valid, and about who “deserves” to become parents. In reality, if we support choice, then we must wholeheartedly support the reproductive choice of a teen woman who chooses to become a parent as well — and support starts by not judging whether or not she is fit for parenthood.
Using language like that also links the use of birth control to “maturity” and “being responsible,” while ignoring the real financial, geographic and resource barriers many teen women face in order to access contraception and even sex education.
If we want to discuss the challenges faced by young women who become pregnant, instead of judging their fitness for parenthood, let’s instead talk about how we can better support young women in their sexual, reproductive AND parenting choices.
That includes everything from improving access to contraception and reproductive health care, to improving young women’s sexual self-esteem and body image, to improving social supports to teens who do become parents and to their children.
Again, I agree with the central point of your post, 100%. I just hope that going forward, you will consider making the same argument without unintentionally validating oppressive dialogues about who is worthy and non-worthy of parenthood. To me, that is the definition of pro-choice — withdrawing judgment from women’s reproductive choices always, and extending instead the commitment to support women of all ages in making choices that are right for their own lives.
You’re right, I don’t address those things well, or at all here. Please bear in mind this is a rant on a very specific argument about people who would deny their teen girls choice. At no point do I advocate NOT letting them choose, regardless of what they choose. I just don’t think children are a consequence or a punishment, nor do I think any other person should get to choose for the woman (regardless of age).
I don’t know if you’ve read any of the rest of my stuff here, or elsewhere, but if you had, I think you’d find that I’m pretty much entirely in agreement with you on a lot.
And I agree that some people who were unplanned pregnancies have had excellent lives, outcomes and relationships with parents, adopted or not. However, many people who were unplanned pregnancies do not have happy outcomes, adopted or not.
I’ve tackled the class thing before, loads because I suffer from being a lower class liberal. Again, tons of stuff on this site about that. Not all of it is tagged yet, because I just haven’t had the time. Hopefully I’ll get those tagged soon for easier navigation of the site.
I’ve also tackled barriers to birth control, poor sex ed, etc…
tl;dr version: This specific rant is not representative of all the aspects of this very nuanced subject.
You know, I waffled on that line with the asterix, and I should have left it out. But what I was attempting (however badly) to address was the attitude of the people who would use a pregnancy to punish a teen girl. What exactly are they punising her for? And I did not make myself clear at all. Total clusterfuck on my part.
I’m sorry for that.
“Children should be planned for, eagerly anticipated, and loved.”
I can’t say : Yes, THIS! enough.
Just because some cases where children were not planned and anticipated turned out fabulously for all involved, does not mean I would ever wish those circumstances on another human being ever. Why would you?
I’m sure that some pregnancies that resulted from rape turned out ok too, but that isn’t what you would want for someone- either the mother or the child.
Arguing that every child should be wanted because it’s a *Good Thing* doesn’t invalidate the experiences of those who weren’t, but it also doesn’t make it any less true.
I also maintain, that as an ideal, every child should be planned and eagerly awaited. This does not mean that unexpected children can’t be loved and have a great childhood and relationship with their families… Honestly BEING planned is no guarantee of that either.
But as something we should strive for so no one is blind-sided by a HUGELY life-altering event, I think every child planned and wanted is a worthwhile goal.