“Turn Around, Look At Me…” My Fight for Roe V. Wade to be reinstated.
Anyone knows the essence of the 1960s would remember this song. The time piece by the Vogues that floated through my head tonight as I heard this long-forgotten song—along with feelings that have left us over fifty years ago. This song and others of the 1960s played on our home radio when I was a kid. Then the cool transistor radio, hand-held by my older brother played them as well.
We had a huge batch of 45’s and played them on an inclement weathered Saturday afternoon, when no friends were available to play with. We would listen to each 45 single and play Chinese checkers, crazy 8s, other card games and scrabble. Sometimes if it were warm enough, my older brother and I would play in our screened-in back room of our barn-house—unless it was a wind-whipped rain. Then it would be less convenient.
As life is quite different now. Back then, our country wrestled with the ongoing Vietnam War. Most of us wanted to forget that episode in our lives. The Berlin Wall rose becoming an object of our ire and fear. Women had no rights, too neither did many who were not white men. “Boys will be boys”, was still a saying. As crude as it was, to condone bad action by boys and young men, it put women at many levels beneath men in our world.
Women had to hide pregnancies in the workplace, until the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which was an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Women could not own a home or be on the deed if they were married till 1974. Abortions were illegal till January 1973. In the 1960s Birth control pills made women ill. The other contraceptive contraptions were barbaric causing harm at time to the women using them. However, the women’s rights movements had begun to become more at the forefront in the 1960s.
Unwittingly, the drug DES was still given to women considered having issue carrying a pregnancy full term—of which I am a product of. Which was not discontinued till 1971, due to health risks of the child born from a mother who’d been on the drug during that pregnancy. Hence later in 1979 finally DES was removed from being administered to cows and chickens to enhance their size for our consumption.
Girls were disgraced with the word ‘tom-boy’ if they played with the boys or were interested in male dominated sports. It was expected girls and women would begin to look like men if they didn’t remain of a fluffy out of shape nature. Which pretty much left a girl, a woman in a most vulnerable position, and in no way could she defend herself against a boy or man who may be attempting to harm her. As we women were considered to just given in and not fight back. We were told never to talk about anything sexual or with any sexual reference in nature. I was told to never discuss having menses, even if it were to my husband. That was 1960s thinking in a mostly middle-class, white, Christian neighborhood. We were expected to not be interested in anything but provide our parents with becoming grandparents. We girls and women were considered ‘just a vessel’ for others to use, to show, and enhance the family structure. And anything that deviated from that model, would be condemned. And those would be considered sinful girls/women.
Granted back then our parents had total autonomy over us girls and even as young women. Teenaged girls could be given away as brides in some states and parents seemed so pleased to get rid of their female gender offspring. A diamond ring is still the dowry young women believe is the appropriate way of a man showing his love for you. Its not.
When I was nearing age ten, I’d had it. The 1970s was new. I had my hair chopped off like a boy. Of course my dad was upset, my mother acquiesced him by forcing me to get a tight curly permanent within the month. Yes, as a child of the 1960s I had no ruling over my hair ever. However, I would not relent to what was traditional. Instead, I would become a US Marine, remain physically fit in shape. I’d be a maverick in her own right. Everything I decided to do felt right. And as I’ve learned, if it feels right; then it is right.---Jody-Lynn Reicher