Eighteen

January 6, 2010 § 12 Comments

I turned eighteen today. I can now vote, buy cigarettes, porn, sex toys, and lottery tickets, and join the military. (Still can’t drink, though.)

I can now get an abortion or purchase emergency contraception anywhere in this country without my parents’ notification or consent. And GOSH, am I glad I couldn’t do either of those things yesterday!!! I was just a child then. That one day, the one magical day where I transformed from a naive and agency-deprived baby girl into a strong, full-grown woman really made a difference.

Seriously?

What changes when you turn eighteen? Something in your brain clicks, and then you can be absolutely sure you’ll make the right reproductive health decisions for yourself? Bullshit.

Teenage women have the right to make decisions about their own fucking bodies. We don’t take these decisions lightly, and we don’t make these difficult choices just for funsies — we go behind our parents’ backs when our lives depend on doing so.

It feels good to be eighteen — but I can’t say I feel any stronger or wiser than I did 24 hours ago.

§ 12 Responses to Eighteen

  • Putu says:

    But Miranda, I’m a seventeen year old slut, irresponsible and sneaky, and shouldn’t have the right to experience pleasure!

    First you tell me I should have rights as a legal child. What’s next? What are you aiming for with all of this nonsense? General human equality? Sacrelige!

  • Chally says:

    Congratulations, Miranda, happy birthday!! Well, one of the big things that changed for me when I turned eighteen was the sense that I had so much more legal control over my own life, rather than actually feeling different in myself. It’s a weird disconnect.

  • Dehka says:

    Very concise and well thought out. I, and multitudes of other young women I’m sure, are of the exact same standpoint.

    There really is no defintive moment when you can suddenly make decisions for yourself. It’s a developing thing.

    Great work

  • Melissa says:

    Happy birthday! And you’re absolutely right. I find it especially funny because, as a general rule (not for everyone, but for most), 16 and 17-year-olds in this country are a lot more mature than 18 and 19-year-olds. People tend to get this illusion of their own maturity and importance once they finish high school that makes them act like…well…children. I bet a lot of it has to do with hitting this arbitrary boundary that supposedly makes everyone an automatic grown-up. Are the 16 and 17-year-olds mature enough to handle this stuff? Of course. But keep it away and then tell them that they’re automatically ready on the day of their 18th birthday and the entitlement of “I can do whatever I want” sets in. Which, in turn, makes people less capable of handling responsibility. Funny how that works.
    (Oh, and please don’t take this personally…you sound like someone who will be perfectly able to handle the privileges of being 18 without getting entitled or ridiculous.)

  • Glauke says:

    Happy birthday!

    Also: yes. Very much so!

  • Artemis says:

    There’s also the annoying fact that if you’re a 17 year old without parental consent for birth control or an abortion, you will have to deal with the consequences of unprotected sex for the rest of your life. It’s ridiculous that girls, no matter what age, can’t make life-defining decisions for themselves.

  • Marle says:

    I think there has to be an age for certain things, and it’s always going to be somewhat arbitrary because no one is ever more mature on their birthday than they were before. but it’s kinda how it is.

    However, for reproductive health care, I think it should be obvious that as soon as someone can become pregnant that they need the access to control that. Some people argue that a teenage girl isn’t mature enough to decide to have an abortion, but then how could she be mature enough to give birth and raise a child? Teenage pregnancies are not ideal (many pregnancies are not ideal) but when it happens we need to give girls the options so she can make the best decision for herself.

  • B. says:

    The difference is that you were legally under your parent’s protection and it was up to them to raise you. You might think a teen is mature, and that is something that will dissappear as you get older.

    I honestly don’t even consider most people in college adults (18-20). These people are capable of deep thoughts, but there’s something missing that only comes with either a lot of misery, or supporting yourself.

    • Artemis says:

      You might not think of teens as mature, and I’ll be the first to admit that teens do immature things often, but as someone who is LONG past her teen years, I can tell you that I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I did not want to be a mother even back then, an opinion that has not changed, even all these years later. No one should have been allowed to make that decision other than myself.

  • B. says:

    Some of this might be redundant. But its pretty obvious that those are things your parents don’t want you to do. It has nothing to do with your maturity, but your parents losing control of you. And teen’s parents has a right because teens are still children, even if you didn’t feel like one.

  • ginger lady says:

    B., what things are obviously “things your parents don’t want you to do”? Many parents are okay with their kids having protected, consensual sex before they’re 18 (and why shouldn’t they be?) Yes- parents should get a say in what their kids are up to. But that kind of open, trusting dynamic within a family should come from, well, WITHIN a family. Kids should feel comfortable talking to their parents about their sexual and reproductive health and choices. And if for some reason their parents are not responding positively or are limiting their childrens’ rights (or even violating their rights- think incest here), we as a society need a way to make sure that those same teens have options in the face of the unexpected. Consent laws are just not the answer.

  • Azalea says:

    Gosh I feel like I am rehashing an old post but here goes:

    I am a new mother of a son but the thought that he can make me a grandmother while I am still legally responsible for him scares me. How could he be legally responsible for someone else (his child) if he can’t even be legally responsible for himself. I couldn’t imagine why someone would not support their teenaged dependant child getting an abortion.

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