The Forgotten Part of Dirty Dancing

I love the movie Dirty Dancing. Yes, even though I’m a straight male. And I love it unironically too (I don’t do irony): the music, the setting, the cars, the coming-of-age story, and yes, the dancing. And like everyone who loves this movie, I break out in a huge grin at the climatic moment when Johnny announces that “nobody puts Baby in a corner.” It’s one of the all-time great cinematic “feelgood” moments, isn’t it?

But people tend forget a very significant subplot of Dirty Dancing, the whole reason Johnny and Baby are thrown together in the first place. The fact is, this “cute” little movie has a rough edge just below the romance… a rough, dirty, damn-near-fatal edge…

Here’s a post I encountered on Facebook the other day, written by a woman named Elissa Gonzales, that I think bears repeating:

When we think about Dirty Dancing, we often picture the bottom image. We forget that the whole reason Baby has to fill in for Penny is because Robby gets Penny pregnant and refuses to take responsibility.

We forget that the abortion is so expensive Penny cannot afford it, even from a questionable practitioner, and when Robby refuses to pay for it, Baby has to get the money for her.

We forget that Penny nearly dies because abortions are illegal. We forget the horrible conditions she is forced to endure in order to get the abortion and the incredible pain she was in afterwards.

We forget her tears.

We forget her shame.

We forget the judgment and condemnation towards her.

We forget Robby’s endorsement for college and smug attitude as his life remained unchanged.

While this is a movie, there have been real life Pennys. We must not return to the time where this is the norm. Abortions have never been an issue for the wealthy. Money affords opportunity and secrecy.

The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate amongst industrialized countries. Banning abortions is not going to help that number.

#DirtyDancing #WarOnWomen #abortion #maternalmortality #womensrights

May be an image of 3 people and text
Banning abortion will not stop abortions. It will only stop safe abortions. Everybody who has been celebrating this nakedly regressive Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade is celebrating a return to the circumstances we see in that “cute” little movie from the 1980s, a period when a woman’s right to choose was so taken for granted that we never thought twice about a subplot in a period-piece summertime crowdpleaser… it was only a movie, after all, and that sort of thing was all long past. But now it’s not just a movie any longer. And soon desperate women will face that same horrific decision that Penny does: whether to risk her literal life to end a pregnancy that will end her quality of life. And a lot of women will be desperate enough to go through with it, and a lot of those women won’t have Baby’s father, a compassionate and skilled doctor, nearby to save the day. They will die.
I’ll say it again: Banning abortions will not stop abortions. It will only stop safe abortions. Think of that the next time you hear “I’ve Had the Time of My Life.”