Dixie Darr

The Good Old Days

In Books, Church on July 11, 2017 at 7:48 am

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t remember her name, I only remember how stunned I was to learn that my new ninth grade locker mate was married. Fourteen and married.
Let’s call her Ann. She had transferred from a small Christian school run by the fundamentalist Pillar of Fire church. Her parents made her get married when they found out she was having sex with her boyfriend.
I don’t know what happened to her. She was gone by the time we went to high school. Possibly she was pregnant by then. At that time, in the early 1960s, birth control pills were legal for married women (with, I believe, the consent of their husbands), so Ann would have qualified. Teenagers still had to rely on luck, timing, back alley abortions, or the “visit to her aunt” where the baby was given up for adoption. Girls who got pregnant at our school simply disappeared.
The next summer, my friend Debbie told me that a popular boy in our class asked her to come to his house one afternoon and forced himself on her. I was more upset that she might be pregnant than that the sex was, as we now say, not consensual. I don’t know if I even knew the word rape.
Debbie assured me that everything was okay because her aunt (it’s always the aunt) had mafia connections and, if worse came to worst, she could get an abortion. She knew this because her older brother’s girlfriend had gotten pregnant and the aunt took care of things.
I would have thought things might have progressed a bit in fifty years, but no, the religious right wants to take us back to those “good old days.”
Is it any wonder that The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, a dystopian novel about the future suppression of women, has become a #1 bestseller and a wildly popular TV series more than 30 years after it was written? Or that signs at protests admonish that the book was never meant to be an instruction manual?
Earlier this year, former President Jimmy Carter left the Southern Baptist church after more than 60 years. “The truth,” he said, “is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter.”
Who’d have believed we’d still be fighting these battles in 2017?

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