by Jennifer Johnson
Clash Daily Contributor
A taboo is a subject, word, or activity that is avoided because it is offensive or embarrassing. It seems to me that children who are not raised by their married biological parents are subject to a new kind of taboo. They are not encouraged to discuss what it is like to live in a situation where one or both biological parents were amputated from their lives on purpose. I’m thinking of the following kinds of people:
· Children of divorce
· Children of unmarried parents
· Donor conceived children
· Children in a “single-parent-by-choice” household
· Some adopted children
· Children with falsified birth records
In addition, there are others who live under the Sexual Revolution’s new taboos:
· Men, grandparents, etc., who had a biologically-related child aborted against
· Children with an aborted sibling (or half-sibling)
· Children with frozen embryo-siblings (or half-siblings)
· People divorced against their will
All of these situations have become legitimate due to the Sexual Revolution, which was a cultural shift surrounding marital, sexual and reproductive choices that has transpired over the past 40-50 years.
Not only are these people not allowed to discuss any pain of living in those situations, our language does not describe the experience very well. If they do discuss problems they have, they are labeled as whiners or are diagnosed as having some kind of treatable mental illness. When these kids have problems with depression, for example, they may be said to “have issues.” However, I think it’s very possible that they are responding as a normal person would when living with stress, living with injustice, and living in a social environment that is inhospitable to the unique kind of pain caused by those situations.
The Sexual Revolution’s new taboos mean that we must avoid offending people who believe in the new morality surrounding marital, sexual and reproductive choices. Also, offending those people goes against popular cultural beliefs such as:
· “The kids will be fine if the adults are happy”
· “Babies are blank slates”
· “Kids are resilient”
· “Freedom to choose is a woman’s fundamental right”
Here is an example of what I mean. It’s a message I received a few days ago from a child of divorce, copied here with his approval:
I want to share my testimony online about my family upbringing. I can only do it if it is done anonymously, I don’t think I can really share a very public testimony about the mistakes of my parents without guaranteed anonymity. In their own individual way, my parents are too sensitive to handle that kind of criticism.
This is an example of how the popular cultural belief of “Kids are resilient,” has an unspoken corollary: “Your parents are fragile, so you are duty-bound to keep quiet about their marital, sexual and reproductive choices.”
At the expense of their own feelings, people in those situations become responsible for maintaining their parents’ (or others’) feelings. To object to new kinds of marital, sexual and/or reproductive choices made by others is to break the taboo and to risk sanctions.
The Sexual Revolution did not remove any taboos. It only shifted them from one realm to another. Isn’t it time we broke the Sexual Revolution’s new taboos?
What do you think? Do people in those situations live under a taboo? If you were subject to one of the above situations, do you have complete liberty to talk about any pain you experienced because of it? If not, why not?
Jennifer Johnson is the Associate Director of the Ruth Institute