Because I am me, I successfully picked the most conservative, Christian, pro-life, anti-abortion movie of the Heartland Film Festival bunch. Damn it. I’ll admit it is humorously ironic, although I’m still a little bitter at my mom for the sheer glee she got out of knowing I ended up in the middle of THIS.
My choice for movie #6 of my 9 film Heartland Film journey, October Baby, was chosen solely because I am an October baby. I figured it couldn’t be worse of a decision making move than say, a choice based on fictional characters, also known as the Zoe/Peggy debacle.
And while I left feeling like October Baby was an infinitely better made movie than A Buddy Story, I couldn’t help but feel once again women were getting cheated with a drastically one sided view of a woman’s choices.
Let me back up. The movie is the story of a girl, Hannah, who finds out she was adopted, after her birth mother tried to abort her and her brother. The early third trimester abortion failed and the mother went into labor instead, delivering twins. The son was badly hurt as a result of the abortion and died soon after. The baby girl, Hannah, makes it and is now a 19 year old freshman in college.
So Hannah decided to go on a journey to find answers and find her
dirty slut career oriented mother and to hear the tale from a nurse of the failed abortion attempt. In unnecessary character information, we also find out she’s a virgin and refuses to even sleep in the same room as a man. Lovely. Oh. And that she’s baptist.
(Of note- We also find out that the twins and I share a birthday- October 7th. Bizarre coincidence, right?)
Here’s the thing. For the first chunk of the movie I thought it was a well made, compelling tale. While I found Hannah to be a tad pious and the fact that she decides to announce she’s a virgin a little ridiculous, I was tracking. ( But seriously- Can you imagine an innocent conversation with your best friend where they randomly throw in “I’m a virgin”? If you’re bestie’s wouldn’t you know that? I digress.)
Even as we listened to the story of the failed abortion attempt, I thought ok- yes. This is WHY women’s education is important- why a woman’s right, not just to choose but to education and superior health care is NECESSARY. Late term abortion’s are fraught with issues and from what the nurse said, this clinic, from 1990, wasn’t staffing knowledgeable doctors. Women need options, women need a high standard of care as well as the counseling and education to understand decisions. Ok. I’m with you movie director.
And then as we meet the birth mother- I’m expecting answers, an explanation, something. As it turns out, she’s just portrayed as formerly slutty, still bitchy career type, who doesn’t have time for Hannah or her questions.
And I couldn’t help but be frustrated. The movie should have been a call to action. Not just dealing with forgiveness and the past but also, how to prevent things like this from happening in the future. The answer isn’t lifelong chastity for the “good girls” (Hannah’s romantic interest it seems has had sex, presumably with his bitch girlfriend. A real underlying motif here was that bitches are in turn dirty whores. Or maybe that’s just what I got out of it.) but to understand- to make INFORMED choices. In the story, pregnancy resulted from a one night stand, and the birth mother was absolutely blamed, for both the choice and the resulting abortion. What about the dad? Why are we STILL, in 2011, blaming the woman for being a slut, for wanting to terminate the pregnancy to advance her education, and most of all for presumably not having the education or support system to make a better decision than a late term abortion??
In front of me in the theater was a mom with 4 or 5 teenagers in tow. All I could think was that this sort of message was dangerous for 14, 15, year old girls to be getting, especially if it was the only one they were getting. Teenagers have sex. Like it or not, it’s a reality and ignoring the situation, a lack of education for teenage girls is what GOT the birth mother in the position she was in!
In an attempt to counter the stupid- I am posting the below video, in which Rachel Maddow explains birth control, and you know, anatomy, to Mitt Romney. It’s great- watch it. Now.
p.s. Movie #5, entitled Crime after Crime, was a powerful, and surprisingly loving and humorous documentary, telling the story of the fight for justice for a woman who continually got screwed (I can’t think of a more tactful word. Sorry.) by the California justice system. Do some research, if you can. I was incredibly surprised but just how many women in the justice system had been victims of abuse (80%) and just how stacked the system is against these women, without the resources to fight. I have always had a heart for women’s rights (you couldn’t tell right?) and this movie broadened my scope of how difficult that fight sometimes is, for women, and minorities. Crime after Crime? Surprisingly uplifting and so full of heart.