A Celebration of Choice
An older friend of mine told me a story about what it was like to grow up female in the 1950s. I got the impression that during these days — if you were a young woman — you either dressed fashionably demure and acted accordingly, or you wore black leather and had sex with bikers. No middle ground; just virgin angel or devilish whore.
You had to keep yourself chaste for your future husband, because the goal of being a woman — back then — was to get married, have children and become June Cleaver. Boys became men and could do whatever they wanted, but you — the woman — had to maintain your image as the dainty virgin that would one day become the respectable matron.
But, before you got married — you dated. And although society frowned upon females who relished the idea of getting laid, on occasion, you might find a woman who would say yes to her own lust — despite the fact that she didn’t think of herself as a ‘bad girl’.
One of the reasons it was so hard to be a sexually active girl back in the 50s was because — not only was the world just waiting around to condemn you — but the choices for birth control were so archaic and limited that sex often ended up in pregnancy, and that was the biggest reputation-killer of them all.
It must have been somewhat disheartening for a woman to go from experiencing the thrill of her own body’s sexual response to having that perfect moment destroyed by a nameless crowd that labeled her ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ — simply because she did what came naturally.
And this is why so many women of the day had to scramble to get secret abortions — they had to protect their reputations. After all, nobody wanted to marry a ‘slut’, right?
This is exactly what happened to my friend. She was neither virgin angel or devilish whore, but she found herself single, pregnant and in the wrong era. A woman’s gynecological needs were not a part of the social consciousness, so there was no thought given to improving upon birth control methods — and abortion was illegal and would stay that way until 1973. So, my pregnant and very scared friend — who was simply not able to raise a kid on her own as a single parent in the intolerant 1950s — found herself someone who would do the abortion, illegally.
And, he did it with — you guessed it — a wire hanger.
My friend’s womb was accidentally destroyed, leaving her unable to bear children ever again. She was 16 at the time.
Flash forward and we find ourselves in 2012, with a rich history of liberation behind us — one that unfortunately began roughly ten years after my friend had to submit to a botched abortion. Women fought long and hard to get to this grand platform that we stand upon today.
Health centers like ours exist because of all the warrior women who endured botched abortions and damaged reputations; women who stood up to the zeitgeist and demanded more than shoddy attention and little care. As corny as it sounds — we really have come a long way, baby. And now, thanks to all those who fought the good fight, we finally have what we once had so little of: Options.
So, when male politicians and moronic radio personalities who have no idea what it’s like to have a vagina, menstruate, get pregnant, bear a child or need to have an abortion — when they tell us what they think we’re supposed to do with our female bodies… I just say, “Walk a mile in my shoes, buddy. Walk a mile in my shoes.”
I doubt they’ll be able to keep up, poor things.
For more information on the care that real women need, please visit us at: The Manhattan Center for Gynecology.