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Poisoned by the myth of innocence

Baby-makers: If I weren’t a Liberal Democrat sup porter, in favour of free speech and opposed to dictatorship, I would ban Disney’s film ‘The Little Mermaid’.

The myth of the beautiful, long-haired, perky-breasted mermaid, unable to have sex thanks to her inconvenient scaly tail, and thereby ‘pure’, is a fairy-tale that carries a crippling message for half the population.

Yet Disney gave us the mermaid Ariel, who, despite being referred to as ‘little’ is depicted as mature enough to feel adult love.

Her Dad, Triton, sets her free to become human so she can have sex with an onshore human Prince. Triton literally bequeaths his daughter Ariel her legs and presumably a functioning vagina so she can marry and belong to another man.

The film ‘Grease’ taught women back in the 1970s that the way to get your bloke was to drag on a fag and tart yourself up.

In the finale, John Travolta may well have sported a nerdy cardigan in a token gesture of compromise, but he shrugged it off within seconds of being faced with Olivia Newton John’s wriggly and black leather-encased bottom.

All a bit of fun? Harmless playing with stereotypes? Maybe. But in the week that all women in America lost their constitutional right to an abortion, it seems urgent to question a culture which continues to idealise and ‘imprison’ women via fairy tales and virgin birth myths.

The joyfully weeping young Americans who oppose all abortion and sang ‘Jesus loves the little children’ outside the supreme court believe that Jesus’s mother Mary had a baby without having had sex.

This, perhaps, is where the innocence myth takes hold. Babies and virgins are, after all, the American evangelical right’s obsession.

Life, however, is not sacred to Americans unless it is judged to be innocent.

A man who murders has no right to life, Republicans say, and should be electrocuted in public.

A clutch of cells, however, has committed no crime.

The zygote is innocent and therefore, says former President Trump and American right-wingers, must be delivered.

All women must be forced to carry a pregnancy to term, risk their own death, risk their mental health, risk homelessness, financial ruin and the gutter.

Because the cold fact is that anti-abortionists only care about the foetus.

If they cared about ex-utero people, they would invest in a welfare state, they would ban guns.

In 1965 in the US, 17 percent of all deaths due to pregnancy and childbirth were the result of illegal abortion (Gold, 1990; NCHS, 1967). What will the figure in 2022 be?

America is rotting, poisoned from within by an innocence myth. Women will die. So, it’s time to act, to support, to campaign.

It’s time not to look the other way. Rise up – the choice is yours!

Gold, Rebecca Benson. (1990). Abortion and Women’s Health: A Turning Point for America? New York: The Alan Guttmacher Institute.

NCHS — National Center for Health Statistics. (1967). Vital Statistics of the United States, 1965: Vol. 11 — Mortality, Part A. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office (GPO).

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