What Are We Letting Go Of?

As we move from infant, to toddler, to student; from teen to young adult and through the various stages of what’s called “maturity” – we continue to learn the necessity and art of “letting go” (which includes knowing what to hold on to).

Meeting with some of our teens at their movie night a couple of weeks ago gave me a new appreciation for how much young women carry around with them these days.   And how much is thrust upon them.  And how hard it can be to figure out “what to let go of”, in order to either preserve what’s most important or to leave room for something new (something, hopefully, better than what social scientists predict for those NOW coming of age).

In honor of this being women’s history month, I’ve recently been reading some of the poetry and prose and research of older women.  I’ve been thinking about the generation that came of age when Planned Parenthood was founded (in 1942), and those who fought for and witnessed the innovation of the birth control pill (in 1960), and those whose lives, whose “options”, changed radically as a result of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Before these reforms women were forced to carry fear and flesh and shame through unwanted pregnancies.  They were forced to carry an unjust burden of responsibility for “consequences” arising out of the actions of TWO people!

Putting down that burden involved letting go of shame and picking up outrage!  It involved letting go of fear and picking up facts about human physiology and the functioning of our legal system.

That generation fought to LET GO of archaic hierarchical perspectives about gender and sexuality and the biblically inspired reproductive imperative – for both itself and future generations.   For me, and for my daughter!  And I am so grateful for that.

And yet here we are, LETTING GO of those “hard won rights”;  letting go of reproductive health education and services.   And this baffles me no end.  How did that happen?  How and why did we, as a society, LET GO of advances that allowed us to come that much closer to actually BEING the enlightened, democratic, society we claim to be?

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