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Voluntary Sterilization: Why I Did It

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It would be challenging to find a more appropriate symbol for the state of things, right now, than bloated governor Engler on the front page of the Detroit Free Press, holding the fertility-drug-spawned triplets in his arms. This macabre charade is what constitutes a human interest story here in the razor-sharp clarity ofthe1990s. Yes there's something gruesome about it. The governor's re-election was predicted many months ago when Mrs. Engler was diagnosed as containing three replications with his bar code upon them. This was in all seriousness considered to be a reason to cast votes for the man. Apparently the ruse worked; the electorate completely ignored what the bastard 's been up to and we're stuck for another stretch. What adds to the horror is the headline next to the photo of the Engler clones: GOP PLANS TO CUT AID TO CITIES. Yes he's a family man and those who have money had better nvest in suburban condos. He's pro-life and the cities can simply die. The entire question of life is a prickly one when Republicans are involved. The very word "life" has been made to appear as the opposite of "choice" even though the two should be seen as nearly synonymous. Some individuals have become so enthralled with the issue as to declare open, bloody warfare upon the people who work in family planning clinics. This is a decade of mind-boggling inanities. USA Today, the video-inspired periodical, ran a cheerful report explaining how Angry White Men had decided the elections across the country. Now what, you might ask, do White Men have to be Angry about? Why, their nvestments, of course. That's what war is for; protecting nvestments by squandering lives on a mass scale. But listen here. Tve got a suggestion for any Angry White Men who might be looking for something useful to do for their country. Remember the Bicentennial of 1976? I had my own special way of celebrating that overadvertised occasion. Having gotten married and reached the worldly age of nineteen, I walked into Planned Parenthood and announced that I wanted a vasectomy because I didn't want to make any more white people. They showed me the exit and all but booted me through it. Voluntary sterilization was for those who already had at least one if not two children already on the raster. But the possibility of procreation was for me a terrible one, and I undertook a series of appointments with a urologist, who tried his damndest to talk me out of it. In the end he had to perform the operation, as I had every right to it and said so. And with all that has happened in my life since then, I have neverregretted my seemingly brash decisión. Not for a minute. l'll discuss just why I have no regrets in a minute. First let's examine my reasons foracting as I did. First and foremost was a graph I saw in a magazine which showed population growth for the twentieth century. 1 957, my year of inception, was the peak year of baby boomage; there were more people born in '57 than ever. This gave me the willies, even though the phrase "exponential growth" was not yet part of my vocabulary. All I knew was that some of us simply had better not replicate. Then there was my memory from childhood, of returning from a long vacation with my family and finding that the pet mice had undergone some sort of population explosión while we were gone. What greeted us was a cage full of dead baby mice, stacks of them, some partially eaten. A clearand concise image which served me weli when it carne time to consider the subject of adding to the population graph. Having paid close attention to the problems of contraception which plagued my wife, I began to think t would be better f she didn't have to ram that horrible little trampoline up against her cervix. The spermicides were corrosive. And birth control pills are a sure-fire way for a woman to have complications later in life. Part of my inspiration for sterilization was knowing that I could rid her of the dangers, hassles and ndignitiesof birth control. She had possibly even less desire for babies than I did. Men seldom seem to care about what faces a woman after sexual intercourse. (The State cares even less!) Once a pregnancy occurs, the man and the woman have completely different experiences. I think it would be a good thing f more men took the initiative. Whattaya say, guys? Act as if you're responsible for your actions. My operation was simple outpatient surgery. In fact I feit so feisty upon getting home that I hopped over a short fence and played croquet with the neighbors. Unfortunately, during the operation a vessel was nicked and my jumping around caused a rupture which resulted in internal bleeding. I lay in bed an extra week, drinking red wine and listening to Fats Waller records. For days the right side of my scrotum was grossly distorted and I could hardly move. But it was well worth the discomfiture. Nine years later, when we got a divorce, there were no kids to try and explain t to. People asked me if a vasectomy wasn't a bit drastic. My retort was: How drastic is the making of a baby? And how mperative is it that each and e very one of us passes ourselves along genetically? My gene pool is going strong. Each of my two sisters has three children apiece. These include a nephew who builds houses and a niece who shows great promise as a cellist. If I fathered a child l'm sure that l'd be an excellent papa, but would I be able to provide a decent environment? I show movies and host radio programs for a living. There's a constant schedule of poetry readings and live musical events which make me scarce enough for the adults in my life, let alone children. l've done a lot to enrich the lives of young people who already exist. Spent a lot of time teaching and inspiring, smashing boredom wherever it starts to accumulate. Particulariy in Ann Arbor I see many really wonderful people having kids and that's beautiful. If I have made a sacrif ice for the sake of the planet and so that I may do what I do without neglecting my own child, then imagine how good it feels to affect young people with creative and thought provoking radio - to show them that life doesn't have to be tedious or ugly. We do what we can to make the world beautiful. Or maybe I should say the world is a beautiful place and I believe we should take steps not to make it otherwise. My choice is my own. Reality is the bottom line. A woman's choice is hers and nobody else's. To choose is as sacred as life itself. Long ago we evolved beyond the need to have sex solely in order to make offspring. We are the species blessed with a potential for a higher awareness of sexuality. Shared ecstasy is a forcé which heals. Christianity, the basis of our government, states that knowledge is evil, sex is dirty, and women are inferior. Result? Rape culture, with ignoranceasthepredominanttrait. I think we can do better than this. I truly believe that we can continue to evolve. And that's why I shifted my energies to inf luencing those people who already exist, ratherthan following Jehovah's dictum to fill up the world. In case you haven't noticed, it's f uil up. Would somebody please inf orm the pope? We're going to start running out of food very soon.


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