Originally published February 28, 2016
Hey…long time no see. Honestly, I haven’t been in much of a blogging mood the past few months. Being fired from a company you considered home where you worked with people you considered family takes it out of you. I’m still really not feeling it, as rejection after rejection piles on top of my confidence. I’ve mentioned – not entirely jokingly – to some friends that I’m about one unemployed month away from starting a webcam business. How will THAT look on my resumé, I wonder?
But a news article surfaced yesterday, and the reaction to that article has me just…seething.
I’m not going to sugarcoat this. What this girl did was horrible. She killed her child. She is a murderer. She should absolutely face the consequences for her actions.
There is so much more to this situation – so much that is WRONG with this situation beyond what this girl did.
The most common response to this story has fallen in one of two categories:
1.) She’s an evil, evil bitch and should die. One – I’m assuming Christian – commenter said she should be put in the trash and the compactor would take care of her.
2.) She could have taken the baby to any number of Safe Havens, given it up for adoption, found some way to take care of this problem that didn’t involve killing her child.
I don’t know why I argue with people on the Internet. It never ends with someone “seeing the light” and changing their mind. It generally ends with me giving up because I’m tired of being insulted for DARING to think outside the box for half a second. But, there I was, in the middle of a comment section attempting to appeal to people’s compassion. There I was, being told again and again that this girl was 20 years old, and an adult, and she absolutely knew better. That she had “gotten herself into this situation” and had plenty of time to figure out a solution.
I’m sure we were all making NOTHING but rational, adult decisions at 20. Or, in this girl’s case, 18/19.
Let’s not even start in on how fear affects your decision making abilities.
Let me go back 17 years. My mother had given me some books to read. There was no talk, there was no explanation, no Q&A session. Just some books to read and figure it all out from there. I got those books as hand-me-downs. They had been given to my sister before me, when she started her period. I don’t remember the names of all the books, one of them was “Where Did I Come From?”, one was “What’s Happening to Me?”, and there were a couple of others that were about talking to your friends about what’s happening to THEIR bodies, and how you should feel comfortable doing that and finding solidarity in going through these changes together or some such bullshit. Spoiler: My friends were VERY uncomfortable with this topic and I felt like a total pervert asking them.
My parents – or at least my mother, my Dad didn’t talk about these things – was VERY clear about one thing. We were not to have sex until we were married. It was pretty clear that having sex BEFORE we got married made us sluts. Only sluts did that, and she would be so very, very, ashamed of us if we had sex before we got married. Even the idea of masturbation was completely off the table, as far as I could tell.
I grew up gifted. I’m very smart. I am not naive about most things. But my parents’ approach to sex education was lacking. Severely lacking. And those books did NOTHING to prepare me for the reality of sex. They did NOTHING to prepare me for how I should approach relationships – which I was essentially told were off-limits until I was 16. So from 12-14 I had to figure out what to do with my hormonal, horny self that was DYING to be noticed by a boy and completely unsure of what sex was. When my parents caught me looking at porn, they banned me from all my friends. Period.
I’m trying to illustrate how likely I was to ever talk to my parents about sex. About having sex. About the repercussions of having sex. About any of it.
I’m 30 years old. I have two children. I know my parents know I’ve had sex at least 3 times, but I am STILL not comfortable addressing the topic with my parents. THAT is the kind of lasting effect their attitude about sex had on me.
I DIDN’T KNOW EXACTLY HOW SEX WORKED UNTIL I HAD IT, PEOPLE.
I was in college, completely oblivious as to WHY I couldn’t help feed my former drama teacher’s baby. WTF was breastfeeding? I AM STILL MORTIFIED ABOUT THAT, BY THE WAY.
My parents are VERY smart, I grew up firmly middle class, the schools I went to were very good – all things considered. But, in spite of all that, I was a complete effing moron on the topic of sex.
Now let’s throw Sex Ed in there. Sex Ed took place over the course of a couple of weeks during 7th grade PE and 8th grade PE. What did I learn? I learned quite about about the male and female genitalia – inasmuch as I could name the different parts on a diagram. I could answer questions about what each part did. Different types of birth control were briefly discussed. Abstinence was HEAVILY recommended. I knew sex could lead to STDs and pregnancy, and I watched a terrifying video of a birth. That’s it. There may have been something in there about adoption, but I may be making that up.
Here’s what Sex Ed DID NOT COVER: Abortion, Safe Havens, resources to turn to should you end up with an unwanted pregnancy, where to turn if you were TERRIFIED. Among a great many other things.
Like…how does sex even work? The guy puts his penis in your vagina and it…like…moves up and down or something?
I didn’t find out about Safe Haven laws until I was in my late teens, possibly early 20’s. And I learned about them from an episode of Law and Order: SVU. (Please, for the love of God, if you do nothing else, EDUCATE YOUR CHILD ABOUT SAFE HAVENS IN YOUR STATE. I mean…please do more than that, but as a bare minimum…)
Let’s fast forward to my first actual boyfriend. I was 14, I had just entered high school. I had no friends – because of the aforementioned porn situation – and I was still dealing with all these confusing hormones and incredibly frustrating feelings in places I wasn’t allowed to talk about. So this guy, two years older, shows an interest. He has a girlfriend, but he’s really unhappy. He’s only happy when he’s with me. So he leaves his girlfriend – who, by the way, is quite popular, so work out how that helped my social life – for me.
This guy spends all of our time together convincing me that he is the only one who will ever find me attractive, or worth anything. He becomes increasingly emotionally – and physically – abusive. I cling to this guy, and because my parents – rightfully – hate him, it drives a wedge between us. I stay with this guy until I’m 16, and he moves to New York to become an actor. I…somehow…found the courage to break it off, over the phone.
This guy was my introduction to sex. If I had ended up pregnant with this guy’s baby…what in the hell would I have done? I didn’t have money for an abortion, he sure as hell didn’t have money for an abortion. So…how would we handle this? Actually, the topic came up once, and his solution was going to be to punch me in the stomach as hard as he could. So, that might put things in perspective a bit.
I don’t know how my parents would have reacted to this situation. But I know how I THOUGHT my parents would react.
What would I have done? Let’s assume I managed to hide a pregnancy from my family, ended up giving birth ALONE, and was then faced with what the fuck to do with a newborn. Honestly, I don’t know what my underdeveloped, terrified teenage brain would do.
Now let’s look at this girl. This girl who, at 18/19, managed to get through an entire pregnancy with no one knowing. This girl who, for some reason, after giving birth at home, ALONE, put her baby in a plastic bag and threw her in the trash.
We don’t know how she got pregnant. We don’t know what her family situation looks like. We don’t know her story. What we do know, is that somehow this girl got through an entire pregnancy with NO ONE knowing – and that says a lot.
Can we just…for a minute…think about what this girl might have been going through that led her to make this horrible choice?
And can we just…for a minute…step back, look at the system that probably failed this girl. Can we figure out the flaws? Can we figure out where we could do more, teach more, provide more resources, talk more?
Can we show some compassion for a girl who clearly felt like she had no options?
Can we do better for the next girl who ends up pregnant and is terrified and feels she has nowhere to turn?