Texas Valedictorian

Completely outside of the abortion debate – in which I no longer participate due to my age – this child’s parents have done a piss-poor job.

They have led her to believe that getting pregnant at 18 is an absolute end of the world. That isn’t choice. That’s the exact opposite of choice.

Any parent who has an ounce of love for their daughter would give her a real choice. They would say, “whenever you decide to give birth, I will be there for you, I will help, we’ll figure it out.”

Again, this isn’t about abortion rights, especially since you can get abortion pills through telemedicine at any time in any place. It’s about shitty parents who need their daughter to engage in this kind of performance to reassure them she won’t foist a grandkid on them.

If this were my child who felt the need to do this performance, I’d do a lot of soul-searching about what I’ve taught her about being a woman and what nefarious purpose I was pursuing by making it so dark.

30 thoughts on “Texas Valedictorian

  1. My sister, in college, visited a classmate’s very large, very Catholic family for the holidays. She knew the guy’s youngest sibling was adopted, and was like “wow, he looks so much like the rest of you guys!” She was mortally embarrassed about it ever after. Turns out, youngest sib was adopted after one of the older sisters got pregnant while still in school, in a situation that was never going to result in marriage. They were like: “eh, after eight kids, what’s one more? And oh, BTW you will finish your degree.” She barely interrupted her college career. Extra kid was no big deal, and had eight doting siblings and not even a noticeable age gap between them. This apparently used to be the normal way to deal with such things– seems like a reasonably good system.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for saying it.

    Also, if a valedictorian had taken the opportunity to use her speech AGAINST abortion, she would have been roasted.

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    1. Indeed. But for taking the totally mainstream, extremely non-controversial stance, she is BRAVE and A HERO!! (eye rolling) Do people even know what those terms mean anymore?

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      1. ” for taking the totally mainstream, extremely non-controversial stance, she is BRAVE and A HERO!”

        Very Soviet…. Seeing what happened to the Soviet Union (collapsed under its own weight) and what followed (economic implosion, mass theft of national resources and mafia wars and a return to despotism in many/most ex-Soviet countries) you’d think that this wouldn’t be the model that American….. consensus makers would want to pursue with such weird devotion – unless they’re planning the same thing in the US.

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      2. It would be really easy to express the same political sentiment but in a healthy way. A young woman could think that any pregnancy of hers is a great gift to the world and she wants to decide when and how to bestow that gift.

        And here we see a poor child engaging in a public rape fantasy and almost collapsing with rage at the thought of the functioning of the female body. None of this is healthy.

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        1. IMO it’s pretty stunning how commonplace it’s become to regard fertility as pathological, dangerous, and life-ruining, while at the same time, childbirth has become safer than at any other time in history, and also easier to avoid. There’s a serious disconnect there, and I can’t help trying to relate it to the larger biophobia of modern culture. At her age, I too was completely terrified by the idea of pregnancy and childbirth (though to me the solution was dead simple and the easiest thing in the world: celibacy!)– we have a bad habit, at least in the US, of telling each other childbirth horror stories and scaring the crap out of teenage girls about it, as well as giving very poor information about female biology.

          In modern America, sex is great, but fertility is a catastrophe. How dysfunctional is that?

          At some point I ran across a copy of the hippie-childbirth classic Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin, and it rocked my world… sometime later I devoured The Garden of Fertility, and Toni Weschler’s ever-popular Taking Charge of Your Fertility and now… it’s like living in a whole different biological universe. People are scared by what they don’t understand. Now whenever I see brittle-looking young women like that, going all panic-mode on reproductive issues… I want to leave that stack of books on all their doorsteps. They were so helpful to me…

          But also… parenting issues on full and embarrassing display in that vid, yes. That girl seems like she’d rather have cancer than have a baby.

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          1. The whole part about “if I get raped” was really creepy, too. That’s just not a normal thing to think about on a happy day when you are graduating.

            On the subject of a crazy reaction to pregnancy, the Spanish writer I’ve been talking about recently gave an interview. The first question she got was “you are so young, yet you are already pregnant. Don’t you think it’s a little too early?” The woman is 29. She was clearly thrown off by the question but it betrays a really weird, unhealthy attitude. I mean, 29? When is she going to be not too young? It’s ridiculous.

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            1. “I mean, 29? When is she going to be not too young?”

              For real! Do we really want all the smart, successful women out there to wait until the very end of their productive careers to try to have children? The underlying message there is “reproducing is for ghetto trash”.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. As a result, Spain’s fertility is in the toilet and the government has adopted a huge program to boost fertility that includes giving everybody a solar panel and a wifi connection. Because as science has demonstrated, nobody can procreate without solar panels and wifi. It’s a mystery how humanity survived until now without all that stuff.

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              2. solar panels and wifi… heh. Given the baby booms that result from things like blizzards and power outages… they might have better luck if they randomly shut off the internet for two or three days now and then 😉

                Liked by 1 person

          2. “the larger biophobia of modern culture”

            How much is that related to the need for neoliberalism to commodify everything? Part of the push for trans stuff is the idea that the ‘real’ you can only be achieved through costly medical interventions. Anything natural to such a mindset is inherently defective and has to be replaced by a set of consumer services – including fertility services to medically achieve what would have been far easier if pursued about 15-20 years earlier…
            It’s great that medical technology can improve peoples’ lives (including trans procedures for some people and fertility treatments) but for some time now the tail has been wagging the dog.

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            1. This is absolutely true. We create problems to give somebody a chance to make money by solving them. This is obvious in many different fields. The medicalization of children, the medicalization of emotion and of social skills.

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              1. We’ve seen the same thing with COVID. Instead of promoting the cheap and easily available HCQ, there was a rush to get everybody on an expensive ventilator, which then proved to drive excess mortality. And even now HCQ is not accepted as a great remedy. In part it’s because of Trump-phobia but it’s also because it’s cheap and abundant.

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              2. “…also because it’s cheap and abundant.”

                Yeah, now that I think about it, it fits beautifully into the larger picture of medical exploitation. Right up there with what we do to Type-2 diabetics: “Oh, no, don’t bother about changing your diet– low carb to lower your insulin needs is a myth! Just use enough insulin to cover it.” followed immediately by “Nah, we won’t lift a finger to lower the price of insulin. Suck it up.”

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          3. Interesting, childbirth really is safer and birth control more reliable than any time in history. One just needs to read biographies of people in Medieval times or even the 19th century to see how dangerous childbirth was and how there was no contraception. Unfortunately women love to tell horror stories about childbirth and young women think of birth as a dangerous, painful procedure but childbirth is far safer than any time in history.

            I’m not a psychologist or sociologist, but I’m guessing the girl comes from a high achieving, wealthy family. In such families, having a child at a young age or having a traditional feminine career such as teaching or nursing is seen as a failure. Most likely she’s been told that if she doesn’t have a high status job or gets pregnant at a young age, she’s a failure. This is all conjecture, but it makes sense

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  3. Ma’am, you are a lot more tolerant than my parents. That was exactly their attitude, that having kids as a teen will mess up your life and was totally unacceptable. I was told that I was too smart to have kids as a teen and that only dumb girls got pregnant, those who weren’t going to college or work. In my family, the pretty girls marry young and have lots of kids and the plain ones go to college and work. Since I’m fat and plain, I got the idea that I needed to go to college since guys would not be interested in me. It worked, since I’m a lifelong celibate and going to graduate college in two weeks

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    1. Unfortunately, these parental attitudes last a lifetime. My mother has been telling me my whole life that her life was over once she had me and everything became really bad with my birth. She was married and in her twenties but that made no difference.

      Congratulations on graduating! And please don’t give up on meeting somebody.

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      1. My mom is the same way with saying that kids messed up her life, she was in her twenties when she had my brother but growing up I got the sense that kids mess up your life. And she’s always criticizing her nieces for marrying young and being housewives, that they’re not doing anything worthwhile. So I grew up thinking kids ruin your life and being a housewife is worthless, so one of my brothers will have to give mom grandchildren

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        1. My Mom never implied we messed up her life: she totally blamed that on my Dad 😉

          The one that gets me is all the boomer-aged middle-class women who go through an obvious disgust reaction when you have a third-or-higher kid. What the heck happened to those ladies to traumatize them like that?

          Of course, now it’s almost a sport when my nieces come visit and I take them, plus my kids, on public outings (the family resemblance is strong: one of them looks like my son’s twin). We pretend to be trad Catholics and watch all the shriveled hags furiously telegraphing their disapproval at us, like chihuahuas impotently barking from behind a fence. 😀

          I really don’t think they do that because they care so deeply about my life, and my wasted potential. It looks more like jealousy and repressed regret to me.

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          1. It could be, and the underlying disgust that nice middle class people aren’t supposed to have more than 2 kids. White people who have lots of kids are seen as either poor and trashy or crazed religious fanatics or racists, these ladies see a large family with lots of kids and assume the mom is beaten down or that the family is racist and/or religious fanatics like the family in 19 and Counting, but the Duggars are an exceptional case

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            1. The Duggars are Gothardites.

              That’s a whole weird cult I have no love for: normally I’d just ignore it, but since I homeschool my kids, I can’t. The Gothardite sect is the single largest producer of fanatical anti-homeschool activists in the country. Nearly every time we run across some fire-breathing journalist/commentator insisting that all homeschoolers are child abusers guilty of educational/social neglect and religious brainwashing and it should be illegal etc. etc…. we poke around in their bio, do a little internet searching, and sure enough: they grew up Gothardite (shudders). At that point, you can’t really blame them. Just wish they could stop generalizing their experience to all homeschoolers, and get the psych help they need.

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  4. It seems to me that in most cases there is a significant difference between a) parents helping their child who got pregnant while being non-judgemental about it AND b) parents screening the child from the consequences as much as possible. Methylethyl’s example is very interesting, but a bit extreme – I bet most people, including most conservatives, would not be able to pull it off. Not all of them have large families with stay at home mom for whom after 7 children the 8-th is genuinely not a big deal. And not all of those who have can do something like that without resentments and/or keep it a secret.

    Another interesting question – at what point does the child have agency, in your opinion? Are parents ultimately responsible for all things their 18-year-olds say, or only the things you find objectionable? 🙂 What about 13-year-olds then? 9-year olds? What if a child does something that parent (and parent’s reference group) likes and enjoys – is that coming from the child, or is the child still just the mirror of the parent / white sheet directly or indirectly, but definitely completely, painted by the parent?

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    1. Since when do I find abortion rights objectionable? We all know how I feel. But I also know what kind of a home life creates this intense horror in a young girl. I would have given the same performance at her age. And it wasn’t for good, happy reasons. In these situations, there’s always a mother who is sabotaging the girl’s budding womanhood because she needs to remain the woman of the family. I could go on but there’s no point because there’s nobody here who’s experiencing this situation.

      And yes, of course, a prepubescent child tries to please while a teenager tries to provoke, and it’s all about the relationship with the parents. I was in psychoanalysis into my forties to stop that process and you are asking me about a 9-year-old.

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      1. I did not say that you find abortion rights objectionable (although I will not be surprised if at some point in your conservative evolution you will get there too), I meant you found the behavior of that Valedictorian girl objectionable.

        As for nature versus nurture debate – I think the truth is somewhere in between. It is not just the sign that changes (from pleasing to provoking) but some things emerge pretty early on that are not reducible to what parents say or do not do not do. I am aware of that cultural phenomenon in the US where parents are considered to be not responsible at all for their children’s problems, and it is a taboo and very disrespectful to suggest anything like that. But there is no need to go to either extreme.

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          1. As for the opinions on abortion rights, it’s a lifelong belief of mine that people shouldn’t actively participate in debates that don’t concern them. That’s why I never voted in Canada since I left, for instance. I have aged out of needing to care about abortion. And it happened right when the whole debate was emptied of all meaning by scientific advances.

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    2. “Methylethyl’s example is very interesting, but a bit extreme – I bet most people, including most conservatives, would not be able to pull it off.”

      I cited that example because I found it extraordinary, and very positive. I did not grow up in in a big-family Catholic culture, so that was the first time I’d heard of anyone doing that. I’ve since heard of other examples. That said, I grew up in a conservative evangelical-ish milieu, and by the 90s teen pregnancy was no longer a huge taboo. A few of my age cohort had babies before graduating high school… and it wasn’t any kind of personal apocalypse– just a brief education detour. They all went to college, had tons of family support, and ended up with good jobs. They are boring middle-aged married family people now, not crack-addicted whores. The kids turned out OK too.

      There’s this stereotype about conservative Christian communities casting out sinful women, scarlet-letter stuff… and it just isn’t true anymore, if it ever was. If anything, these days it gives you bonus pro-life street cred if your teenage daughter gets pregnant and you’re seen being extremely supportive (of course, if she gets an abortion, you just pretend it never happened). I certainly never felt that if I got pregnant, abortion was my only option… or even the best option. I knew exactly where I could go to get tactical, emotional, and material support if I wanted to go through with a pregnancy, and also where and how to get connected with a reputable adoption agency if I didn’t want to be a parent. I knew very nice ladies who made a full-time ministry out of helping with that stuff.

      There were plenty of options, none of which would have ended my prospects for education, career, or marriage. I mean, Mom had her first two kids before she was old enough to drink, and then got a master’s degree and a career… so I always knew that was possible. Not a walk in the park… but also not a dead end. More of a speed bump.

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