“Written in ink, in German, in a small, hopelessly sincere handwriting, were the words “Dear God, life is hell.” Nothing led up to or away from it. Alone on the page, and in the sickly stillness of the room, the words appeared to have the stature of an uncontestable, even classic indictment. X stared at the page for several minutes, trying, against heavy odds, not to be taken in. Then, with far more zeal than he had done anything in weeks, he picked up a pencil stub and wrote down under the inscription, in English, “Fathers and teachers, I ponder, ‘What is Hell?’ I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.”—J.D. Salinger, For Esme, With Love and Squalor (via foals-)
When I was a teenager abortion was a crime: and the choices that forced on women was another crime. Two of my young friends got pregnant while in high school, one at 14 and one at 16, “A” students both, they were forced to drop out of high school, marry, and face the world with a 9th and 10th grade education. Oh, the 14 year-old was “allowed” to come back and take her freshman finals: very possibly because a 14 year old, 9 months pregnant, was meant to be a frightening and object lesson, and one that successfully prevented me from having sex until I was 19. Which meant that my first love at 17 left me after a year of frustration for both of us.
Another of my friends was sent to Arizona to live with her Aunt for her “asthma” — I now believe to have a baby in a home for unwed mothers. Which was another object lesson in our town, a home for unwed mothers, from which troops of teenage unwed mothers marched to the local mall together.
To a lower-middle class girl like myself, sex was frightening, because it meant I might not escape the fate of my friends” a furnished basement “apartment” in their parents’s home, a new baby, a teenage husband, and no education. When I made it to state college, I began to have sex with another long-term boyfriend, still frightened, watching another friend get pregnant at 19, and drop out of college for another baby and teenage husband.
My fear was only partly relieved by a local campus character we all called “Crazy Charlie” for what-seemed to be tall tales of his exploits. But I was ready to take on face value what Crazy Charlie said one day: that he knew a doctor in Philadelphia, who would perform an abortion for $200. (To give you an idea of how much money that was 35 years ago, it was 1/10 of my yearly tuition and board at state college.)
But if I had gotten pregnant, I would have spent that money, and trusted my health and fate to a Crazy Charlie, and the man he claimed was a doctor, who could have been a nurse, mid-wife, or have no medical training whatsoever, all because I wanted to have a future. I would have risked my life for my future, at a time when the New York Daily News printed photographs of women who had died in a pool of blood, after illegal abortions.
My sister, four years younger than I, also had a friend who got pregnant at 16, while abortion was still a crime. But she lucked upon an underground railroad of authority figures that included ministers and doctors, who found doctors to perform abortions for women in need, the forerunners of the doctors, ministers and others who pressured the courts for Roe vs. Wade, because they were sick unto death, of dealing with the ugly aftermath of illegal abortion: the suicides of pregnant women, the botched abortions that killed or maimed thousands of women a year in the United States.
Because they were also aware of another dirty secret: that upper middle class and wealthy women were routinely and discretely given D&Cs at the clean and safe hospitals of their leafy suburbs, that those with money were also able to send their daughters to Puerto Rico for abortions masked as “vacations.” That only lower middle class and poor women were forced to face murder and maiming through illegal abortions.
Or were denied abortions that were medically needed, by their doctors. One of my older stepsister’s friends was forced to carry to term a baby that had died long before. Was forced to give birth to a dead child, which so poisoned her system, that she was never able to have any other children.
Which is why I find so chilling the restrictions in some states on medical abortions. I’ve ead that in those states, doctors and nurses are appalled that “Abortion Wards” are returning, with women maimed by illegal abortions — and again, damn few are daughters or wives of money.
Today, my sister’s friend who had an abortion at 16 has gone on to marry, have two children, and become a pharmacist (and I doubt that she’s one of those pharmacists who deny patients birth control, or emergency birth control.) None of my friends who got pregnant in high school came to our ten year reunion — I heard that one said she was still “ashamed” that she’d never graduated.
All who would support the elimination of legal abortion, keep in mind the tragedies you’d guarantee: maimed and murdered women, lives stopped short, more unwanted children in the world.
There are 500,000 children in the foster care in the United States — how many million more do you want? Many of those children are adoptable, but will not be adopted — why don’t “pro-life” advocates step forward to adopt them now? Do you want the forced return to warehouse orphanages for still more unwanted children? Do you want women sent to prison for seeking an abortion, and doctors also jailed, when we already have a shortage of doctors in this country? And nurses jailed, when we have a shortage of nurses in this country? How much damage and destruction of life will you support to force the rest of us to subscribe to your so-called “religous” views?
I’ve never heard a so-called “pro-life” advocate answer those questions honestly. Making abortion illegal will not stop abortions, it will just stop safe abortions, as is the reality in the few civilized countries in which abortion isn’t legal, but have their own “abortion wards” with maimed women, doctors who refuse to treat ectopic pregnancies for fear of being prosecuted, and whose morgues are stocked with the dead women that illegal abortion create.
I’ve lived in that world already, and I don’t want to return to it.
Wow. This is so perfect and heartbreakingly true. Making abortions illegal won’t stop women from needing abortions, nor will it stop them from finding them. It will only mean that the places we find them won’t be safe.
If you mean what you say, Coke Talk should have a companion reading list. What books do you read? Tell us your favorites already!
Okay. Here are some of my favorite books in no particular order:
Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens The first book I ever read.
Matilda, Roald Dahl The second book I ever read. J.K Rowling can’t hold a candle to Roald Dahl’s magic.
A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole It’s a shame Toole checked out early. I would have loved to read his third novel.
A Moveable Feast, Earnest Hemingway People who think nothing happens in A Moveable Feast totally miss the fucking point. If we could all make nothing happen so beautifully, the world would be a better place.
The Road to Los Angeles, John Fante I’m a sucker for all of Arturo Bandini’s adventures, but this one is my favorite.
Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov Duh.
Veronika Decides to Die, Paulo Cuehlo Sure, I love The Alchemist too, but I consider it one of his lesser works.
Play It as It Lays, Joan Didion Ventilated yet dense, Joan Didion will always have a special place in my heart.
Lithium for Medea, Kate Braverman Heartbreakingly beautiful.
Women, Charles Bukowski Oh, Chinaski. I fucking love you.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera I’ve read this dozens of times, and with each turn I always find something new.
American Psycho, Brett Easton Ellis Brett Easton Ellis is the Tom Ford of modern literature.
The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand I give Rand a ton of shit, but Howard Roark is an important character.
The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoyevsky It took me a while to read this one, but every hour was worth it.
Le Petit Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry It’s technically a novella, but whatever. I love this little book.
The Great Shark Hunt, Hunter S. Thompson Gonzo is a way of life.
A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn This ten pounder taught me more than every American history class combined.
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald Californication made a noble attempt in season two, but I’m still waiting for this to be made into a movie that doesn’t totally fucking suck.
The Art of War, Sun Tzu You want me to sum up Sun Tzu in a single word? Strategery.
Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut I practice boku-maru regularly.
Part of what makes Skins feel so authentic (when it succeeds) is, obviously, the one-character episode format. We see them not only in their private lives but we see them literally alone. No other show spends that much time alone with kids in their rooms — the part we don’t even see of our friends’ lives — of anyone’s lives. We see, sometimes excessively, how they feel about sex — Mini trying the positions she sees in magazines to be ready for her first time with Nick, Sid jerking off to shitty magazines or a picture of Michelle or Alo with his multi-screen porn-viewing set-up. We see their crazy families and the things they don’t tell their friends — like there’s so much on both ends when you’re a teenager, so much family to hide from your friends and so much friends to hide from your family and so much heart and sex to hide from everyone.
And then we see them in the context of everyone else’s world, and it’s really hard to dislike a person once you know where they’re coming from.
“I didn’t know what hate felt like, not the hate that comes after love. It’s huge and desperate and it longs to be proved wrong. And every day it’s proved right it grows a little more monstrous. If the love was passion, the hate will be obsession. A need to see the once-loved weak and cowed beneath pity. Disgust is close and dignity is far away. The hate is not the only for the once loved, it’s for yourself too; how could you have loved this?”—The Passion by Jeanette Winterson (via savetheempire)
“Christmas was coming. One morning in mid-December, Hogwarts woke to find itself covered in several feet of snow. The lake froze solid and the Weasley twins were punished for bewitching several snowballs so that they followed Quirrell around, bouncing off the back of his turban.” - SS/PS, CH. 12
Oh my god, this is funnier than it should be.
lol oh god I never realized that
HAH! JK Rowling, I love you for these special moments <3
“The hate mail was of a much higher caliber back before email. I honestly believe the whole draft-hate-mail-find-envelope-insert-hate-mail-address-envelope-stamp-envelope-leave-house-drop-letter-in-mailbox routine set the hater bar just a bit higher. (Particularly the leave-the-house part.)”—Good To Know | Slog (via thesunshinekate)
“I do want men and women to be the same. But that doesn’t mean I want people to be the same. If men and women were the same, there would still be tall and short people, shy and flamboyant people, cold and nurturing people, people who want to do it on the first date and people who’re waiting for a ring, people who work as nurses and people who work as pilots, people who wear short skirts in the winter and people who wear long sweaters in the summer, people in pink and blue and red and black and purple. They just wouldn’t have it decided for them randomly at birth.”—The Pervocracy: Gray coveralls. (via sexisnottheenemy)
“Things - even people have a way of leaking into each other, like flavours when you cook. (…) Likewise, the past has dripped into me… So we cannot ignore it.”—Saleem Sinai; Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
When you cover a case which involves the gang rape of girls as young as 12, you leave us in no doubt what you think of the outcome when you publish a story containing the following:
“Reading Crown Court heard how the soccer players were encouraged by the schoolgirl ‘Lolitas’
Why is this NY Times trying to justify the actions of those men?
Fuck. This is not journalism.
This is bullshit.
Just so everybody knows… Lolita was a victim of rape and child abuse. There are references to her tears in the night, every night, as soon as Humbert seemed to asleep…. “You see, she had no where else to go.”