Moral Tyranny and Female Tragedy

A teenage girl finds herself pregnant after her first car date with a boy. The boy’s parents are prominent Republicans in their community, and the girl’s mom and dad are conservative evangelicals.

Given their backgrounds, neither young person was ever exposed to appropriate sex education.

And, because of who their parents are and what they believe, neither can even begin to consider telling them what’s happened.

The boy just shrinks away and leaves the girl to deal with her “problem” alone.

Having attended church with her family, she’s guilt-ridden by what she’s repeatedly heard about the “irresponsibility” of females (all unmarried women) who allow themselves to become pregnant.

She contemplates abortion, but has been effectively propagandized into thinking that even when a child terminates a pregnancy to prevent having a child — regardless whether the abortion is performed early — it constitutes “murder” in a supposedly nefarious “hidden holocaust.”

Then she ponders running away, giving birth, and keeping the baby. But where would she go, what about her education and future plans, how could she support herself and take care of a constantly demanding infant?

The girl grows increasingly morose. Friends at school notice the change and wonder why, but she’s not forthcoming. Her parents figure she’s going through a phase.

Then, on a Friday night, during her town’s biggest football game of the season, she leaves the filled, brightly-lit, clamoring stadium and walks alone to the darkness of the river just a few blocks away.

Upon reaching its bank, she doesn’t stop walking. She splashes forward, into deeper water, until only her head is above the surface.

The last thing she hears is cheers from the nearby game, then her own gasp, as she vanishes beneath the surging current…

The foregoing is just one variation of a massive human tragedy that’s befallen countless girls and women in America, over decades.

It’s a tragedy that needn’t exist, but does, because we live in a male- dominated society fraught with sexist assumptions and religious absurdities that crash down upon our female populace like a ton of falling bricks.

Quite wrongly and cruelly, many of us place much greater value on the well-being of first-trimester embryos, or even initial zygotes, than on the living, breathing, already born, socially functioning females in whose wombs they reside.

Women’s health — their reproductive rights and choice — are being demonized and obviated, supplanted by almost primitive fetus fetishism, which sees the “baby” as “innocent” against the implied (and sometimes openly stated) view that women who get pregnant contrary to their wishes are sinfully just the opposite… and therefore not worthy of comparable, or greater, consideration

Incredibly, not only is abortion equated with murder, but an overarching conservative failure to accept or deal with human sexuality erects obstacles to the comprehensive sex education and ready contraceptive availability that would vastly diminish the need for abortions, if implemented.

“Abstinence Only” is promoted instead, and commonly forgotten in the heat of passion. It’s also a veritable conduit for the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Those who think that hoped-for iron will alone can stop peer- abetted temptation should note that many of the worst drug offenders we have were enrolled in the “Project D.A.R.E.” anti-drug program as kids.

Yes, abortion remains legal, but decreasingly so. It’s becoming harder and harder to obtain, particularly for poor women and those residing in rural areas. Moreover, we’re just one conservative Supreme Court appointment away from a probable reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Then we’d revert to the bloody, back-alley days of terrible female deaths — in staggering quantity — that we should ask our older female relatives to talk about.

Especially if they were former hospital nurses, they’ll tell us of the real “holocaust” that took desperate lives in a fearful era when female reproductive health wasn’t recognized and choice was outlawed.

Even today — somewhere, somehow — some woman or young girl who yielded to the physical and emotional pressure of a man or boy with just one thing on his mind… is likely involved in dire circumstances at this moment because outmoded attitudes born in a backward, benighted, biased age left her with no options.

Maybe it’s a suicide rope instead of a one-way walk into the water. Maybe her car crashed for no apparent reason. Or perhaps it’s a too-late arrival at an emergency room, following hemorrhaging caused by an ill-advised wire hanger “solution.”

In any case, it’s a loss of hope, and lives, that we can’t morally or practically sustain.

At federal, state, and local levels, please be sure to vote for candidates who advance women’s health and shield female reproductive rights.

It’s the correct, necessary thing to do.

Dennis Rahkonen, from Superior, Wisconsin, has been writing progressive commentary with a Heartland perspective for various outlets since the '60s. Read other articles by Dennis.

28 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. siamdave said on August 25th, 2008 at 7:16am #

    This is something else we sort out on Green Island – for a positive, achievable vision of the future (and a little American regime-change ass kicking, that is, when the Americans try to ‘restore democracy’ to Green Island they get an ass-kicking) – Green Island .

  2. bozhidar balkas said on August 25th, 2008 at 7:49am #

    as the bible cynically states: those that don’t have, will get even less.
    in other words, the weaker/meaker a person is, the more punishment for her/him from the wickedest among us. thank u

  3. bozhidar balkas said on August 25th, 2008 at 8:18am #

    let us espy the fact that in US, its governance began a long time ago to be privatized/individualized. than k u

  4. Brian Koontz said on August 25th, 2008 at 9:38am #

    “It’s a tragedy that needn’t exist, but does, because we live in a male- dominated society fraught with sexist assumptions and religious absurdities that crash down upon our female populace like a ton of falling bricks.”

    It’s a lot more nefarious than that – these “sexist assumptions and religious absurdities” are not based on ignorance, but based on war.

    It’s exactly analogous to racial discrimination – demonization and dehumanization of the other. It’s not an accident and it’s not random.

    The idea, as always in any war, is control. Control of bodies, control of behavior. Calling these monsters “conservatives” is a kind of apology for them, calling them “ignorant” is itself a tragic form of ignorance.

    Humans are beholden to religion not because they are ignorant, but because they are self-serving. For “conservatives”, religion serves their needs to dominate and control the vast majority of humans on the planet, including “their own” women.

    We need to recognize and stop ALL forms of war. Another verbal monstrosity is calling war crimes such as race-inspired murder “hate crimes”. That’s utter nonsense. Hate is an *outcome* of the desire to dominate, steal from, and control. Hate doesn’t cause anything, desire for domination and exploitation does.

    And most of all, we need to stop explaining away or apologizing for human garbage.

  5. bozhidar balkas said on August 25th, 2008 at 4:37pm #

    good point about hate. i also think that greed, lust for control are the two most dominant emotions that control people.
    nature is infinitely valued; we are part of that nature; thus we also are infinitely valued.
    i hope that that doesn’t mean that we cannot lessen human destructiveness.
    it seems we can do it collectively. as for thieving, i think we all are potentially thiefs.
    but under the right condition we can do much less of it. if we learn to govern ourselves (

  6. Deadbeat said on August 25th, 2008 at 5:28pm #

    At federal, state, and local levels, please be sure to vote for candidates who advance women’s health and shield female reproductive rights.

    I agree with the author regarding women’s rights. However I think that sex education needs to be taught to men/boys as well so that they can act “responsibly” by using birth control (condoms) in order to prevent pregnancies. Essentially what is needed in the U.S. is universal welfare but unfortunately that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

    bozhidar writes…
    but under the right condition we can do much less [thief]. if we learn to govern ourselves

    I think that “we” can govern ourselves if we had the weapons to fight back when the ruling power attempts to destroy such efforts. It is not just ignorance but it is the lack of solidarity that is really missing. Solidarity however cannot be achieved with trust and adherence to principles.

  7. Deadbeat said on August 25th, 2008 at 5:29pm #


    Solidarity however cannot be achieved without trust and adherence to principles.

  8. Giorgio said on August 25th, 2008 at 6:25pm #

    The question of abortion is a cesspool rankling with religious and self-righteous hypocrisy. A pregnant woman should have the sole right to choose to abort or not. It should be her decision. It’s her body, her health, her conscience, her life and her future that is here at stake, and she should have available the medical support and psychological counselling needed to go about it. PERIOD.

    If men were the ones who had to carry a foetus in their womb it would have been millennia ago their right to abort and would be carved in that notable biblical stone as the 11th commandment:
    Thou shalt, if inconvenienced in any way, have the right to ABORT!

    And so thundered He, GOD, The ALMIGHTY!

    Hypocrisy is the necessary burden of villainy. –Rambler.
    Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue. –La Rochefoucauld (Trans. ).

  9. cg said on August 25th, 2008 at 7:59pm #

    So then by the same reasoning I should be able to sell my kidney, or an eye?

  10. polack in idaho said on August 25th, 2008 at 10:12pm #

    what troubles me in the argument about abortion, is that arguments for sensible policy are often based on a totally faulty logic, to put it mildly. Like the argument, that a pregnant woman is entitled to a decision about life and death of a fetus, because it is “her body”.
    1) The fetus IS NOT a part of mother’s body, or it is as much a part of her as a penis inserted into vagina is a part of a woman’s body. It is not. A woman is not entitled to cut man’s penis off, just because it is within confines of her body.
    2) People are not entitled to do what they please with their bodies, so even if we accept this bogus argument on face value, it is a complete nonsense to say, that a woman (or anybody else) can have a complete uninhibited freedom to harm, disfigure, or cause a willful damage in any other fashion. In US, and many other countries, self-damage may be actually penalized; insurance may not cover treatment for it, and life insurance may be forfeited in a suicide.
    3) It is EXTREMELY unhealthy for people to play god and decide whether someone should live or not. Even bigger problem is that abortion on demand changes a relationship between a woman and her surviving children, from organic association into an association by accident. People do not want to think about it, but the problem bears heavily on a psyche, even if unacknowledged.
    4) Something is very wrong, if disposing of a unwanted fetus is considered on par with getting rid of a mole.
    5) All things considered, it is probably better to allow women to have abortions if they want, after some counseling and consideration of alternatives. But she, and the father, should both feel guilty as hell; and most likely, they will anyway, some years down the road.

    I would submit, that people in US mostly have a good instinct about it; as long as the left treats abortion as a cosmetic procedure, the “progressives” will not get squat of political impact. And justifiably so.

  11. Giorgio said on August 26th, 2008 at 4:18am #

    Abortion is NOT a problem of logic or faulty logic. It’s reality!
    Between the time of my last post and this one, there must have occurred thousands of abortions in this world, whether by willful intent , miscarriage or whatever…

    As for the “EXTREMELY unhealthiness for people to play god and decide whether someone should live or not”, this is a question that should be more pertinently addressed to the likes of GW Bush and his cabal of warmongering perverts who kill randomly live, thinking, seeing, feeling children and adults with the blinking of an eye.


  12. bozhidar balkas said on August 26th, 2008 at 5:52am #

    if we lived in a more or much more compassionate and just society many abortions wld not be carried out.
    at our present development, girls/women shld be allowed to have abortions.
    am i mistaken when i say that most religious people approbate most or all wars; particularly the wars by US which has killed since end of WW2 some 6mn and seemingly dispair over loss of a fetus?
    and US is just at the begining of slaughter.

  13. Bob said on August 26th, 2008 at 2:06pm #

    How about the boy keeps his pants zipped, and the girl keeps her legs crossed! Then the ridiculous article, and all the silly comments are unnecessary!

  14. bozhidar balkas said on August 26th, 2008 at 2:16pm #

    you must be a stoic or a person that has no feelings to have said what you just have said.
    human feelings are extremely powerful. try losing some weight. and in the evening comes mighty hunger.
    at least 95% of the time its is the hunger that prevails. how about wars?
    it is the greed, lust for control, hatred, anger that wins out.
    these feelings were causes for the invasion of palestine, afghanistan, korea, vietnam, iraq.
    addictions to alcohol, cigarettes, heroin, cocain are but feelings but extremely difficult to get rid of. thank u

  15. Giorgio said on August 26th, 2008 at 9:11pm #

    Pants zipped, legs crossed?
    You’re an inveterate Party spoiler!

  16. AJ Nasreddin said on August 27th, 2008 at 2:02am #

    Times like this I’m glad I’m not living in America. As Bob says, there ought to be more responsibility and we wouldn’t have to discuss this. America loves sex and sexuality so much – why isn’t there any comment on the degradation of women in relation to that. If American media glorifies sex, what message are you sending to people? What outcome can you logically expect?

    First, I’d like to say that not all religions are against abortion. My religion does not oppose abortion, but it does place limits.

    Secondly, in my experience a “church-going” girl who is willing to have sex outside of marriage is generally open to having an abortion – much more than committing suicide. But this is a literary critique of Dennis’ story. At the very least, the girl need only go to the mother of her Republican boyfriend to get help for the abortion – as, in my experience, Republicans are keen on taking care of things to cover up past mistakes.

    Bozhidar, doesn’t the Bible say that the meek shall inherit the Earth?

  17. bozhidar balkas said on August 27th, 2008 at 4:28am #

    yes, jesus is quoted as saying: The meek shall inherit the earth.
    to me, the utterance is meaningful/meaningless. thus, i do not study it for explicit or silent assumptions that it may contain.
    but jessus, if quoted correctly, also said that he came to uphold the Law and the Prophets.
    so, jesus approbated numerous genocides that mad priests commanded hebrews to perpetrate.
    he also may have said:you shall always have poor amongst you.
    naturally, some individuals rejoice over this prediction.
    but wld any god say such a stupidity? i don’t think so.
    bible/torah, to me, compare in many aspects with mein kampf. thank u

  18. Bob said on August 27th, 2008 at 5:39am #

    Bozhidar: Not stoic, mature! The article is so ridiculous I have trouble deciding where to begin.

    First, it is written by a man who has almost no understanding of women, even young and naive women don’t as a rule have sex in the back of a car on their first date.

    Second, the one thing teenage girls do is talk! Especially to their friends, so if she is pregnant it won’t be very long before everybody knows. I’m sorry but teenage girls are a security risk when it comes to keeping secrets.

    Third, a raging river next to a football stadium? Drowning would not be the means of choice for most teenage girls to commit suicide, they generally choose overdosing on some medication.

    Fourth, “Given their backgrounds, neither young person was ever exposed to appropriate sex education.” Sounds as if they got it right to me. So a young woman who grows up in a christian house, attends church every Sunday, hasn’t ever heard, don’t have sex before marriage?

    The whole article is just pure fantasy, a somewhat well written sexual fantasy of the author. But as most pieces of fiction not really connected to reality.

    Giorgio: Your an immature fool!

  19. blowin in the wind said on August 27th, 2008 at 6:14am #

    Ahh, but surely the point was that young women have reproductive rights and shoudn’t be browbeaten for exercising them. Have I missed something? Perhaps a better point to debate is why is it so devilishy difficult to grow up in late capitalism-indeed it may be impossible, if we take maturity to be a spiritual ideal. In any case, conservative evangelicals do not strike me as particularly worthy of emulation. But I suppose it is really a matter of name your poison. Take as much religious opium as gets you off but get the state of women’s backs!

  20. blowin in the wind said on August 27th, 2008 at 6:20am #

    interesting slip. I mean’t “off” but it could equally be “of”-poor women, bowed down by ignorant savages, all the stupidity of a scene from Breugel, none of the historical interest.

  21. bozhidar balkas said on August 27th, 2008 at 9:01am #

    a war kills mns, thds;maims/destroys souls of bns. yet we are here reading posts that condemn a child for behaving as a child normally does; i.e, wrongly most of the time.
    i am not going to enumerate my wrong deeds; might amount to a mn.
    it is our feelings, i aver, that are first causes for whatever we do or think.
    each and every war, divorce, robbery, etc., had been caused by processes called “feelings”.
    i’m trying to say, that some people expect a girl to withstand one of the most powerful feelings to have a boy, to please him, etc., and the same people will not or can’t (because of own feelings) condemn people who cannot or will not flinch back from waging war and killing mns.
    and solely because they can’t or won’t change hatred/anger/envy/greed to calm/wait feelings.

  22. bozhidar balkas said on August 27th, 2008 at 9:15am #

    i’ve noted that you said there should be more individual responsibility.
    but i like to point out that without collective responsiblity there cannot be much if any individual responsibility.
    now, what actions/doings wld collective responsiblity be? the two responsibilities are mere aspects of the same behavior.
    i do not know which comes first; just as i don’t know whether it’s the egg or chicken that comes first.
    but as we know, one can’t have an egg without a chicken.
    how about collective responsibility? any input? thank u

  23. cg said on August 27th, 2008 at 9:41am #

    Would inheriting the earth be considered a punishment or a reward?

  24. bozhidar balkas said on August 27th, 2008 at 1:39pm #

    a good question by you. if i may say this, we do not know in what sense the word “meek” had been used. would gentle, obedient, weak, do?
    and what do words “inherit”, “earth” mean. to me it is a puzzle.
    what we know is the fact that overwhelming number of people get punished daily let alone thru a lifetime.
    is it because most of us are weak, meak, stupid, gentle? thanx

  25. AJ Nasreddin said on August 28th, 2008 at 1:20am #

    Bozhidar, you’re stepping onto dangerous ground. Should we say that because there is no collective responsibility to stop war we should just go along with it? What about the abuses at Abu Ghaib? Wasn’t there one soldier who should have taken individual responsibility to stop and repot the abuse to his superiors? If there is no collective responsibility, can we just throw morals to the wind and go around doing any stupid thing we want? Are you just sitting around waiting for someone to tell you what to do?

    I would turn your idea and say that without individual responsibility, there cannot be collective responsibility.


    “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew chapter 5, verse 5)

    Jesus never said that “you shall always have poor amongst you.” So where is the stupidity here?

  26. bozhidar balkas said on August 28th, 2008 at 7:08am #

    as far as am able to make out, personal and collective responsibilities are aspects of one entity; one can’t have one in full extent without the fullness of the other.
    in US, it’s private, personal responsibilities such as obedience to gov’ts, corporations, flag, ‘defense’ (in fact offense), constitution, etc.,that are cultivated by far more than anywhere else.
    the responsiblities enumerated above are that of an individual for a number of collections: army generals, clergy, politicians, WH, senate, congress, war planners, educators or rather miseducators.
    how about collective responsibility? what happens in US? a collection of people such as media, generals, politocos, clergy, educators massively lying to individuals and collection of individuals such as working class.
    and AJ says i am on dangerous ground! i am indeed! and i love it!
    “You shall always have poor amongst you” is in the bible. maybe jesus didn’t say it. but the saying is more than stupid; it is vastly antihuman.
    nearly all religions are very antihuman.

  27. polack in idaho said on August 28th, 2008 at 10:15am #

    There is little logic in life, and there is much more to life than logic. Decisions regarding lives (ours and of others) should be made at least with considerate attention to the well being of people and to the impact of decisions on our/their lives. That said, it is plain silly to argue for a policy we consider sensible using faulty logic, and this point seems to be often neglected. It is one thing to argue that it would be good and proper to let all pregnant women have state-paid abortions on demand – one can agree with this or not, and the merits can be discussed. It is quite another thing to use nonsensical arguments in support of what is perceived as a greater good. The argument that a woman can do away with a fetus, because “it is a part of her body” is a total nonsense, and it has nothing to do with the merit of making abortions available.
    The first duty of a person is to take a good care of his/her body and soul, if only because otherwise we can easily become a burden for others. Getting pregnant before reaching a stage in life when having a child can be more pleasure than trouble is not taking a good care of oneself, and this point seems to escape a lot of people. Humans are in a difficult predicament – our bodies mature 10 years before our psyche, and impose natural instincts on us before we are able to deal with the consequences of following them. I don’ t have the answer to this problem; but happily passing condoms around or allowing girls to scratch their first unborns does not strike me as a responsible policy. By having an abortion, a girl can solve a temporary problem for a price of creating a bigger future problem. Is that good? Shouldn’t we at least TRY to do better? We can at least try to teach young people to take care of themselves. All people – young and old – should respect themselves – and for women, that involves not allowing any jerk inside her, before she can handle the possible consequences. It has nothing to do with religion; it is a matter of basic hygiene, mental and physical.
    As to wars – people who value and respect themselves, are less likely to kill other people, and definitely unlikely to enjoy it. Lack of self-respect is in roots of all violent behavior – and abortion is a VERY violent behavior, even if we assume that an embryo has about as much self-awareness as earthworm, or is a “part of woman’s body”. Self-damage is also a violent behavior. We do not do any favors for girls, by totally disregarding the consequences of abortion, whether acknowledged or not.

  28. bozhidar balkas said on August 28th, 2008 at 10:26am #

    about abu ghraib? individuals who tortured prisoners there may have been ordered, or if not ordered to torture/humilate iraqis, then allowed or even urged (non)verbally to harm prisoners.
    we do not know what came first collective neglect of the media, WH, army officers or individual irresponsibility.
    but i do resent your implication that i approbate either collective or personal crimes.
    the rules of how to treat prisoners have been shouted from rooftops; so i don’t need to enumerate them.
    somebody was in charge of that prison and someone was in charge of the prison top dog and both were under supervision of higher echelons.
    yet prisoners were tortured. and the torture went on for some time.
    and not a single higherup knew about nor had approved of it?
    individual crimes at abu ghraib happened because there was no responsibility by thousands upon thousands or even millions of amers who made sure that these and similar crimes occur.
    at gitmo people were tortured. the order for torture came from the WH and had been approbated bt about 95% of US pop.
    in a sea of lies nobody can swim. i shld say, nobody but a liar.
    so the swimmer in sea of lies drowns. and voila, the drowner is at fault.thank u