Ladies, how much longer are we supposed to sit around pretending that men are doing a good job running the majority of the world? Seriously, look around. Crime, pollution, drug abuse, corruption, war, genocide and diseases have plagued our societies for centuries. Lately, we cannot even expect elected officials to be civil to one another. It’s past time for the fairer sex to get involved in governing our lands. Okay, here’s the situation…
After graduating high school, I moved to upstate New York. I was married with a toddler when I found out that my birth control pills had failed. I did not think I was emotionally ready to handle being a mother of two young children. My daughter, as sweet as she was, took up all of my free time. I couldn’t imagine adding more responsibility to my overwhelmed schedule. Besides, I still had hopes of enrolling in college when she went to preschool. Adding another baby would push that date back at least three more years.
I sought the counsel of Christian women who had lived my predicament. I joined a support group of mothers with several children. Did I say several? I meant armies. They had armies of kids.
Mary was a 38 year old mother of 21 kiddos. Yes, you read that correctly. She had given birth NINETEEN times in twenty years. Her oldest was nearly 21 and her youngest was 10 months old when I met her. Mary and her husband, Dave, owned the horse ranch where the group congregated. Colleen was in her late twenties and had 9 children under the age of ten. Chastity was very soft spoken, and I do not recall whether or not she offered her age. However, I do remember that she had 14 children. Finally, Lorelei was closest in age to me (early 20s). She had two babies and was very pregnant with her third.
Lorelei and I became fast friends. I found out that she’d had many complications with her second child and eventually had to have a cesarean section to take him early. She feared that she would not survive her third pregnancy, so she joined the church affiliated group for moral support. Lorelei was married to Peter, a farmer twice her age, who would not allow her access to birth control (he went to all of her doctor’s appointments) and refused to use condoms. Regardless of the fact that her life was at stake, Peter thought that a wife’s duty was to bear her husband as many children as he could support. If she died as a result, it was “God’s will”.
As expected, Lorelei’s labor had to be induced, and she nearly lost her uterus. Peter would not allow the doctors to perform the life-saving hysterectomy even though his wife was losing blood faster than they could replace it. After several hours, they were able to stabilize her and save her uterus, but she had a lengthy recovery as a result. Her miraculous survival gave Peter proof (by his words) that the doctors were lying about the hysterectomy in order to stop them from repopulating America with white babies. Yeah.
By the time Lorelei and her son were released, I was in my third trimester. She surprised me with a trip to Syracuse about two months after she came home from the hospital. She wanted to take me and my daughter with her and her kids to a children’s museum before I gave birth. At least that’s the story she told me and Peter. Even though Peter didn’t like me, he allowed her to go as repayment for my frequent hospital visits and babysitting favors.
During the 45 minute drive from my Watertown apartment, Lorelei confessed that we were going to an abortion clinic. She was pregnant for the fourth time and terrified for her life. After hearing her doctor explain what had occurred while she was unconscious and bleeding out, she knew that her well-being was not her husband’s priority. Between apologies and sobs, Lorelei confided that Peter callously teased that he planned to marry their 17 year-old neighbor if she died during childbirth. Lorelei secretly thought that he was trying to kill her in order to enact his plan. The worst part of this story was that I had known her for six months, and I was the only person she believed would advocate for her.
Lorelei is the reason I changed my views on abortion. When faced with an actual case in which terminating a pregnancy saved my friend’s life, I chose to drive her home in her van and hold her hand while she cried. I chose to keep her secret and comfort her through her shame. I chose to advocate for her right to live to see her three children grow into adults. I chose her life.
It is easy for people who don’t know Lorelei to judge her. They do not understand the helplessness she felt when her mother signed her over to Peter at the age of 16. They do not know the isolation of being on a rural farm with the closest neighbors a mile apart and no telephone (in the 1990s!). They cannot fathom the courage she had to muster to have that abortion and arrange for a hysterectomy without her husband’s knowledge. Yes, I was complicit in her deceit, and I’d do it all over again.
I love my sisters. I champion them and fight for their rights. I try not to judge my other sisters who support misogyny and the institutions, which subjugate women. I do not know their stories and have not walked their paths. They may have been enculturated to believe in the unchallenged superiority of the man and innate inferiority of the woman. It is possible that, like my friend Mary, they are completely happy being subservient to their loving husbands who provide handsomely for their wellbeing. It is also possible that, like my friend Lorelei, they are deathly afraid of the repercussions they’d face if they questioned the authority of the men in their lives.
The latter group is the reason those of us women who are in a position to speak out, must do so. We must defend the rights of our sisters who feel defenseless. We must support new laws and policies that encourage female growth and development in our society. We must patronize women-owned businesses, music, art, and seek female professionals when we need their services. We must become leaders in our communities and campaign for other women who have the courage to represent us in our government.
We no longer have the luxury of bickering amongst ourselves and tearing competent women down. We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to all of the policies these men are trying to push into law, which bolster their power at our detriment, simply because they support a single issue. We must join our sisters, regardless of political affiliation, and devise proposals that will serve the majority rather than minority. We can do this ladies! The fate of our world depends on us.