Memoirs of Not Getting Girls Pregnant

One issue that’s crying out for moderate voices is that of abortion. One of the evils of Wade vs Roe is to have made debate on abortion seem superfluous for fifty years, unlike what happened in Western Europe for example during that period.

I am trying to avoid adding mine to the many voices arguing the same, often metaphysical points that are unlikely to lend themselves to compromise. I want to give here a bit of fairly recent history, of personal history, that has everything to do – though in a roundabout way – with abortion and that possesses no metaphysical depth whatsoever.

Reel back a few dozen years. I am a twelve-year-old French boy. As was the case in preceding years, my family is going to spend most of this summer in a small resort town on the north coast of Brittany. (I have written about that lovely place several times before. See my blog: factsmatter.wordpress.com) The location is familiar but something is different this year. I am old enough to join the large group of teenagers, up to eighteen, who gather on the second beach, the one away from parents and young children. And, incidentally, at that point, I like girls and I have a fairly clear idea of what I would like to do with them – if they are agreeable.

I am not completely clear-headed about the last point though. Girls have often smiled at me engagingly; several have expressed a lively interest in sitting next to me at the movies. Soon, some of my sister’s girlfriends will spring up at my house more often than is necessary. She is two years younger than me so, it has not obviously happened yet. I am still not good at reading signals but I am eager to improve.

I am retrospectively embarrassed, that is, my American self is embarrassed, to admit how little those French kids did on vacation. We did swim in the cold Channel and that’s about it. Mostly, we lied in the sun trying to get one another’s attention. When we succeeded, during the day, we could always try edging away toward the tall rocks that delimited the beach on one side. You could fool around there out of sight. But footsteps don’t make noise on the rocks so, you never knew when you might be caught red-handed (so to speak). Plus, it was difficult for a boy wearing a tiny bathing suit to rejoin the group without his emotions blatantly showing.

In late afternoon, when people started leaving the beach, it was fairly easy to slink away to the very near old Customs path that followed the cliff line. It had many recesses with tall grass and giant ferns for a couple to sort of hide. If a girl was a bit forward, she would agree directly to go somewhere I hesitate to name. It was an abandoned apple orchard close to the beach, behind a wall and also with tall grass, in the summer. Honestly, the kids knew it as “le champs de la Marie Cul-Cul.” As you may already know, “cul” as in “cul-de-sac,” means “bottom,” or “ass,” so, “ass Mary’s field.” I am afraid I was sixteen before I realized there wasn’t and had never been such a person as Marie.

In any case, on the Customs path and in Marie’s field both, some clothing was shed quickly. Yet, not all clothing came off and that’s much of the story. And, remember, this took place in France where, as per stereotype, neither boys nor girls were prudish (nor their parents). And it was too far North for a cult of virginity to exist. I even remember quite vividly very young girls as kind of openly avid in those days. There was not much timidity.

Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, there was dancing to live music at the municipal casino. Pretty much all of the beach young people and many of their parents attended. That was in the days before rock stupidly made close dancing pretty much illegal. The young sat on one side of the ballroom and the parents on the other. Yet, they all commingled on the dance floor and, of course, parents could not refrain from watching their offspring. Right there, for three hours, prodigious feats of eroticism were performed in full view of the same parents. There was no regulation pelvic distance as I discovered in an American high school a few years later. I still remember the name of a girl who was known to make muffled sounds while dancing close as a testimony to her happiness. Yet, the parents gave no sign of worrying. In truth, they had little reason to worry.

Right outside of the casino were several rows of beach tents stood up in the sand for the duration of the season. A town security guard was supposed to patrol that area of the beach late into the night. Fortunately, he was old, he limped, and his breathing was belabored and noisy. So, as you would expect, there was much action in the tents every Saturday night, a little less on weekdays.

I spent that summer and the next five in the resort town, largely with the same group of young people. We grew together. Young ones came in as older ones left to go on vacation on their own. We learned the ropes and the bathing suit strings together. So, we thus had multiple chances at one another. You might say that whatever was bound to happen between randy adolescents did happen over those six summers, except that one thing. And that’s my main point.

In the France of the fifties, no contraceptives were allowed and prescribing anything for contraceptive purposes was illegal. Those who procured abortions risked many years in jail. Condoms were available in principle because they might be used to prevent disease transmission. I believe that none of the young middle-class teenagers I knew on that beach would have known how to get one. So, was there a miracle, many miracles?

I asked a friend of mine from those days with whom I have remained in touch. She is an MD, a psychiatrist who always struck me, even then, as possessing a keen sense of observation. She is also a friendly soul; she was back then. (Personalities don’t change much.) She would have been in most of the girls’ confidence. She would have known any important secret. She confirmed my impression. In the six years of interest here, she says there was not a single pregnancy alert in our group. And, out-of wedlock pregnancy was not much of an exotic or unrecognizable event. Among the farm folks living nearby – with whom we shared a Catholic church – it even came close to being one of the normal kinds of betrothal.

With all this, it’s possible that an illegal clandestine abortion or even two escaped both my friend’s attention and mine over those six years of observation. It’s possible but quite unlikely because gossip is always rife in large groups of idle young people. My friend the doctor herself was attractive and popular, vigorously, enthusiastically heterosexual, and not shy at all. I think that if she had needed an abortion during hat period, she wold have told me, more than fifty years later. (We became close in our maturity.)

So, here we are: Pro-choice groups tell us that abortion is completely necessary in 21st century USA because adult American women and men are unable to replicate the self-control, the bounded behavior that was routine among French teenagers in the 1950s. There lies a mystery. Just to be clear, let me say it: Not introducing live sperms into the vagina is a sure way to avoid unwanted pregnancy. Abstaining in this manner makes abortion unnecessary. No other form of abstaining is needed.

I ask myself what’s different in terms of self-control and respect of boundaries between French teenagers of the fifties and contemporary American adults. The answer is pretty obvious though its validity is difficult to demonstrate. My teenage group used little alcohol and seldom to excess. Though a Paris sophisticate, I did not encounter any other drug, including cannabis, until the last year of the period under consideration. Today’s America, by contrast is awash in drugs of all kinds. Excessive drinking was still common in this country during the first half of the Roe vs Wade interlude.

I note with hope in my heart that Americans have greatly reduced their alcoholic consumption in the past forty years or so. It appears to me that this was achieved in two simple ways. One was the stiffening and more certain enforcement of drunk driving laws. The other was simply ordinary, rational but formerly self-indulgent and mindless citizens – like me – desisting voluntarily from the irrational conduct of drunk driving. Americans’ self-reform with respect to driving might be followed by similar behavioral change…. regarding copulation, with the same beneficial results. Then, American adults of the beginning of the 21st century might just become as mature as French teenagers of the 1950s!

I am not going to describe here the many roads to fulfillment we young people walked then because I don’t intend to do pornography here, even of the soft core kind. That’s although it seems that many pro-abortion people, women and men both, could use a few practical lessons, a couple of pointers. Let’s just say there are ways. I will add that remembering those days at my advanced age, from the height of a little experience, I am convinced that many teenage girls of my acquaintance then were joyously multi-orgasmic. But then, I am only a man so, what do I know? All I can say is that they sometimes displayed the uncontrolled convulsions the French call, “s’envoyer en l’air” (to throw oneself up in the air).

Many of the rioters against the recent Supreme Court decision would no doubt describe themselves as feminists. So would many deeply embittered free-choicers who did not riot. Yet, by their actions and, especially by their partial inaction, those feminists end up denying agency to women in general. It seems to me they are in effect infantilizing women even by failing to mention paths to bliss that imply zero chance of unwanted pregnancy. Women should be able to choose, not only from legal standpoint but also from that of unobserved everyday life, I think. Everything else is undignified.

One more thing: I know, in the end, there will be women who have children they can’t rear, or shouldn’t rear. And there will be women who are brutalized by the men with whom they are intimate. It almost makes me wonder why American pro-choice organizations have not challenged their pro-life adversaries: Will you promise to ensure that unwanted children are taken care of? Will you give shelter and sustenance to women hoping to escape from a brutalizing relationship?

Or, are they actually attached to abortion? Yes, I know, this is a nearly obscene question. It needs asking.

P.S. On the evening of the day I finish this little narrative, I listen as two women on NPR discuss some of the horrible, cruel lengths to which anti-abortion legislation goes in some states. These would include denying therapeutic abortions to women at the possible cost of their own lives. I have not caught the credentials of either of the discussants but they are persuasive, for a while. Then, I realize they keep referring to “people” who need abortions. At that point, I don’t care about credentials. They are just not credible, as far as I am concerned. By the time I come out of the shower, a few minutes later, they have moved on to arguing in favor of universal public financing of abortion. They seriously want the minority who are convinced that abortion is murder plain and simple to contribute some bullets. Seems to me, we are not close to closing in on a rational compromise, after all. More later if there is a reason.

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About Jacques Delacroix

I write short stories, current events comments, and sociopolitical essays, mostly in English, some in French. There are other people with the same first name and same last name on the Internet. I am the one who put up on Amazon in 2014: "I Used to Be French: an Immature Autobiography" and also: "Les pumas de grande-banlieue." To my knowledge, I am the only Jacques Delacroix with American and English scholarly publications. In a previous life, I was a teacher and a scholar in Organizational Theory and in the Sociology of Economic Development. (Go ahead, Google me!) I live in the People’s Green Socialist Republic of Santa Cruz, California.
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