Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Precious Girls

"I sit in my room. I know too who I'm pregnant for. But I can't change that. Abortion is a sin. I hate bitches who kill they babies. They should kill them, see how they like it! I talk to baby. Boy be nice. Girl might be retarded, like me? But I not retarded.

I bet chu one thing, I bet chu my baby can read. Bet a mutherfucker that! Betcha he ain' gonna have no dumb muver.

I look down my stomach. I'm some big now. I'm only seven months but I know I look nine. I mean I am big. Scale just stop at 200 but I know if it a different scale like hospital scale it just keep going. I'm going to doctor tomorrow. Miz Rain fall out, I mean she fall out! when she find out I ain' been to doctor. PRENATAL! PRENATAL! The whole damn class is screamin' preeeenatal! Whas that! You gotta this, they say, and you gotta that- I don't gotta though. I don't tell them I had first baby on kitchen floor. Muver kicking me, pains whipping me. Who gonna believe some shit like that?"
PUSH by Sapphhire p. 63

PUSH is a fictional novel by Sapphire that was recently made into a movie called Precious, named for the main character. This is a story of a girl who makes her way in the world after a lifetime of abuse of many forms. She gives birth to a child who is the result of rape by her father at age twelve. Her story unfolds as a testament to the role of literacy and knowledge as an instrument of self love and the ability to make personal decisions. Precious' story entails aspects of racism, classism, sizism, sexism, literacy, health care, access, and abuse.

Early on in the story Precious is kicked out of her high school because she is pregnant, she is told she is too old to be in junior high school and asked to leave. She is given information on an alternative Each One, Teach One program by the same teacher some time after being kicked out of school. She is pregnant for the second time by her father at the age of sixteen.

I would venture to say that most people who are strongly against abortion might even be willing to agree that abortion is acceptable in Precious' circumstance. However, Precious makes it clear that for her abortion is not an option, despite her circumstances. If I spoke to Precious I might ask her to seek more extensive counseling but I would tell her not to get an abortion if she doesn't want one. The children Precious gave birth to gave her a sense of purpose and helped her develop a sense of self-love.

The quote above strings together many different issues. Precious knows she is pregnant by her father and she asserts her negative opinion of abortion. She then wrestles with her feelings of self-degradation: if she has a girl it might be retarded like her. Next she hits on the importance of literacy: her baby will be able to read and will not have a dumb mother. Her next thoughts jump to her own body image: "I'm some big now....I mean I am big." In this story it is clear that she has internalized that being big is ugly and gross. Finally she mentions that she has never had prenatal care for either of her pregnancies, and links all of this back to the abuse with her description of the birth of her first child on her mother's kitchen floor.

This trail of thought is so poignant because it is clear that for Precious her access to health care and information is tied to her abuse. All of this is a part of her internalized self-hate. She is fat, black, ugly, and retarded. It is literacy and information that helps Precious escape her abusers and begin to learn her own self value. Her choices are limited and so each decision she makes is limited by access to information and resources. She doesn't think she needs to get prenatal care because she doesn't have the information to know how to take care of herself.

People who should have helped Precious place blame on her. Precious' mother blames her for the abuse from her father and for both pregnancies. The teacher who initially kicks her out of school blames her for being pregnant and assumes Precious has a nasty attitude. All people and systems that should have helped Precious blame her for her predicament, until she meets Miz Rain in the Each One Teach One program. Typically people who are victims of classism, racism, sexism and miseducation are blamed for their circumstance, they are treated as individuals with an individual problem, rather than a product of an abusive, dysfunctional social system.

I may not have spoken to the Precious girls who hate abortion. However, I have spoken to the Perfect, Lovely, Bonita, Faithful, Princess girls, children who have been raped and terrorized by people who are supposed to love them. Precious' story is fictional but it is not fantasy, there are girls all over the world who have stories that parallel this one. Literacy and information are directly linked to access and the ability to make decisions for oneself.

PUSH is a story of survival. It is a story of a girl who survives abuse, hatred, sizism, sexism, racism, classism, lack of health care, and miseducation. Precious believes abortion is a sin. Maybe if she had more information she would feel differently. Regardless, her choice to be a mother should be respected without judgment, just like another precious girl's choice to have an abortion should be respected.

1 comment:

  1. Sad thing is that this movie is an anti's wet dream: a woman not having an abortion. But in reality, this is why choice is so empowering.


This is not a debate forum -- there are hundreds of other sites for that. This is a safe space for abortion care providers and one that respects the full spectrum of reproductive choices; comments that are not in that spirit will either wind up in the spam filter or languish in the moderation queue.