When I was in sixth grade, I was part of what you might call a de facto do-it-yourself lending library. The entire literary collection consisted of a book: “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret” by Judy Blume. Any woman who has ever been a girl and has not yet had her period knows this book and can remember all the emotions triggered by this teenage girl’s diary entries from the mid to late 20th century.
The thing I remember most about the book is not so much what was inside the covers, but what I had to go through to get the copy. Apparently, the sixth graders at Merion Mercy Academy were pretty cheap, because when I say “get the copy” that’s exactly what I mean. There was only one book floating around in the classroom, and you had to put your name on a list to get access to Blum’s words of wisdom. I was so far down this list that there was a possibility I was going through menopause before I read what would happen when I got my period. It apparently never occurred to the girls in Ms. Osertag’s class to just buy another copy.
But I digress. The fact that we had to sign our names on a list and then share the book surreptitiously in the locker or in the dining room gives an idea of the culture of children’s literature in 1972. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have had it. to do it. mark a copy of “Wilder: or” Anne of Green Gables “by Laura Ingalls on the corner of a guy named” Fang “, but we treated” Are You There God It’s Me Margaret “as if it were contraband . And that’s because we were (1) in a Catholic school, (2) a bit prudish, and (3) our parents really loved us.
The first two statements are indisputable. When you spend almost seven hours a day in uniform and have crucifixes staring at you from all walls in the classroom, you are not going to talk openly about feminine hygiene and sexual reproduction, especially if you are 11 and your parents pay good money to guarantee, as Billy Joel wrote, that you start way too late.
Then we have the part about our parents who love us. We had mothers and fathers, as well as aunts, uncles, and grandparents, who were concerned about what we got into our little heads. It wasn’t that they wanted to censor the things we read, or turn us into miniature / single / unmarried Stepford women. They had entrusted us to the care of the nuns of Mercy, for the love of God, the most annoying and the most gloriously independent religious order in the universe.
But they weren’t going to expose us, excuse the pun, to things inappropriate for our collective age. “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret,” was actually appropriate and became a classic of the coming-of-age genre. I remember reading it with admiration and gratitude. I bought my own copy, and it sits in a closet with all of my beloved childhood treasures, stored away but not forgotten.
I thought of the subversive Blum Trafficking Network when I heard about the mother from Fairfax County, Va. Who stood up at a school board meeting and read a book she was able to check out at the local high school library which included passages on pedophilia, sodomy and other delicious childhood activities.
Stacy Langlon said she was motivated to investigate books offered at her school after hearing about sexual content in other school libraries. One of the books was a graphic novel called “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe, and the other was “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison. The latter included passages of a man having sex with a boy and another character masturbating.
When she continued to talk about the content at the public meeting, one of the school officials attempted to interrupt her, stating that there were children in the audience and her comments were inappropriate.
Imagine that talking about masturbation, pedophilia and sodomy is inappropriate for the age. Clearly, there is a lack of irony among school officials in Fairfax County, Virginia.
Faced with this mother’s concerns and the events of this school board meeting during the recent Virginia gubernatorial debate, Democratic candidate (and former governor) Terry McAuliffe said this:
“I’m not going to let parents go into schools and actually take out books and make their own decisions. I don’t think parents should tell schools what to teach.
In addition to handing his Republican challenger a perfect campaign attack ad, McAuliffe accidentally showed the true face of progressives in this society. Hillary Clinton started it innocently enough when she made her famous quote “It Takes A Village”, and it is no coincidence that McAuliffe is a longtime friend and supporter of the former First Lady / Senator / Candidate for the Presidency / Secretary of State / Candidate for the Presidency.
But what McAuliffe suggests is even more sinister than what Hillary proposed. I agree that it takes a village to keep a kid from getting into trouble, as anyone who grew up in Delco or South Philly or West Philly or North Philly would attest. Memories of the old lady next door slamming your ass if you were acting, and your parents giving her that right, are common.
But McAuliffe channels the philosophy of people who think they are the ones who should decide what your kids should wear on their faces, what should be planted in their arms and, more importantly, what should be poured into their malleable, wonderful. , open and extremely vulnerable young brains. It is no longer “the hand that cradles the cradle reigns over the world”. It’s more like “cut off the hand that cradles the cradle, unless it cradles it the way we want.”
I remember a few years ago when the Haverford Township Library had “Drag Queen Story Time”. I wrote about this, and there was considerable reluctance from awakened people who thought my opposition to what made-up and dressed men tell fairy tales to toddlers was fanatic, homophobic, and every other word was all the rage on Twitter that day. To be honest, I’d rather see glittery guys reading healthy stories to little kids than teachers providing heartwarming textbooks on sexual deviance under the guise of ‘research’, ‘diversity’ and ‘tolerance’.
Rethinking how Judy Blume’s book finally arrived in my pre-pubescent hands brings a smile to me now, as well as a realization that things were so much more innocent in 1972.
And it makes me immensely grateful to this mother from Fairfax County, Virginia, who had the courage to remind us that the village does not own our children.
Christine Flowers is a lawyer. His column appears Sunday and Thursday. Email him at [email protected]