Monday, November 22, 2004

Teenage Motherhood: Not Just A Good Idea, It's The Law

I was looking forward to reading this piece in The Nation about feminist politics in the South. God knows why I was. Apparently female residents of Tennessee HAVE to be knocked up at age 15.

The basis of a good article is here, but the writer comes off as a liberal Northern anthropologist/spy, slipping into enemy territory with forged papers. She uses the term "religious fanaticism" to refer to people who... I'm not sure, contribute money to the GOP? Buy the Left Behind books? My not-very-rigorous reasoning is that if millions of people do it, it's not fanaticism.

Reporting from a conference on women's issues in the South, Ms. Sayeau writes that "it took one attendee's sister a year to recover from a minor injury because most doctors in her town of 17,000 were incompetent." Wow--I sure wouldn't publish this claim based on an anecdote. It COULD be true. I certainly suspect the quality of health care in small towns is a problem in this country (all regions). But describing the problem as one of incompetent doctors gives short shrift to the systemic nature of the problem, AND it contributes to the unhelpful stereotype of Southerners as ignorant yahoos.

Another thing: My perception is that feminism and women's liberation are tainted terms in our culture, even more so than liberal. Not just in the South, I think young women today live feminism but don't proclaim it. I'm open to being corrected about this, but I think saying "feminist" or "women's libber" without qualification comes off as dated and ivory-towerish.

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