The images are flashed across our television screens many times a day. It is graphically recreated in books and movies. You can walk into an adult book store and buy just about any kind of perversion that suits your fancy. And yet, we are more uptight and prudish about it than any other nation in the world. Yep, it's the "S" word.
I'm not talking about gender inequality, here, although it plays a large part in the picture of attitudes toward sexuality in our society. I am talking about the obsession with sex that prurient, Puritanical America seems to have. Although children are raised with constant references to the act of procreation around them, we feel that sexuality is something from which we must protect them which has to be confusing. Pulpits are pounded as fundie ministers expound on the glories and rewards of sexual abstinence while slipping away, later, to a motel, to make the beast with two backs with an admiring parishioner or the church secretary.
Priests prey on children, teenage boys have "cherry picking" contests and single, pregnant women are still seen as sinners who brought their fate upon themselves. The unspoken attitude during the EMS was "she deserves to have her baby taken by more worthy people because she had (*GASP!) sex without a marriage license." There is also the specious phrase, "She went and got herself pregnant." Are we that ignorant and blindsided by patriarchal, Puritanical shame that we cannot admit that the male contribution to pregnancy makes him just as responsible?
It seems that the unwed pregnancies of the EMS were not seen as a new life created, but as shameful proof that a daughter was no longer "pure." I think that our strict, inhibited fore bearers were as obsessed by sex as any porn addict and that addiction still lingers in the minds of many. I once had a minister friend tell me that the person who saw something sexually dirty in a woman nursing a child was someone who had a dirty mind. I think these Puritan people had sexually obsessed, "dirty" minds. I know that being seen as shameful and perverse by my own loved ones caused me to be quite inhibited in my love life for a very long time. I couldn't enjoy sex because I felt guilty and if I did manage to get some pleasure from it, I felt even guiltier and this was after I was married. My hubby and I thank God/dess that I got over that.
We have a curious set of priorities in this nation where we will set out to impeach a leader who lies about having sexual encounters but refuse to do the same to a leader who tells lies that get thousands of young Americans killed. It seems that we would rather have a President who is sexually "pure" but inept, greedy and dishonest about something as tremendous as war, than a President who is effective and savvy but has a sexual peccadillo. Internationally, our national attitude during the Clinton mess was a joke.
Many people see the era of the Senior Mother as a time of "sex, drugs and rock and roll," but that was the big cities and, in particular, LA. Middle and southeastern America were still in the "Leave It To Beaver" stage, for the most part. I never rode in a psychedelic-painted van, never wore flowers in my hair and never danced naked to Jimi Hendrix. Love beads meant nothing more than a fashion accessory and peasant dresses were ironed, clean and neat when we wore them. Our contemporaries could go at it like bunnies and were still considered "the good girls" if they didn't get pregnant. Shades of that hypocrisy still linger, I am sad to say.
It is the collective "dirty mind" of this society that caused us to be shamed, shunned and, now, treated as a questionable entity. Many want to see us as "reformed sluts and crack whores" rather than the basically decent, normal women we, for the most part, are and the basically decent, normal girls the majority of us were.
This is just my personal take on things. I know all about the ideas of social engineering and the "great solution" that adoption was supposed to be for the unmarried mother and the childless couple. But I think that one of the main engines that ran this horrific machine was, and is, that obsession with all things sexual that was in the minds of dirty old men and became part of the landscape of social mores.
I, for one, refuse to be defined by whether or not I was married, the existence or absence of a tiny piece of flesh and the fact that I was swept up in someone else's perfect solution to what should have been a non-problem. I wasn't a slut or a crack whore. I was a normal teen, neither very, very good or very, very bad.....just normal.
Society, adopters and, painfully, some of our children, still want to stamp that scarlet letter on our foreheads. It must get their goat when many of us refuse to allow it.