Volume > Issue > An Immodest Proposal

An Immodest Proposal


By Andrea Burman | November 1999
Andrea Burman, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, is a high-school English teacher and a Benedictine Oblate in Northridge, California. Her satirical article on the "Bejesus Seminar" in our March 1998 issue became the basis for a tongue-in-cheek NOR ad called "The Politically-Correct Jesus."

Ed. Note: The satirical writer (and Anglican priest) Jonathan Swift published in 1729 his famous pamphlet entitled A Modest Proposal: For Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public. He argued whimsically that such children could most benefit society by being used for food: The poor could raise and sell them, the rich could fatten and eat them, and everyone would be better off, not least the children, who otherwise would face lives of wretchedness. Swift was a couple of centuries ahead of his time, for we now allow children to be aborted, and we harvest their organs and tissues. It shouldn’t be long before some new law or judicial decision lets us add these tender creatures, in parts or roasted whole, to our menus. “Succulent baby ribs! Step right up!”

Likewise ahead of her time when it comes to the socially beneficial treatment of children (though she may be ahead only by years and not by centuries) is the satirist Andrea Burman, whose article on empowering sexually-gifted children follows forthwith.

What kind of country are we running here, in which a young girl’s dreams for her future can be casually crushed? What kind of society is it that raises a girl’s hopes and then denies her the opportunity to fulfill them? Consider the pretty and charming 12-year-old whose name — because of the puritanical prudery that still lingers in our hypocritical culture — must be given here only as “Sarah.”

Sarah has grown to her present age in a tidy suburb with a well-funded public school, a large public library, nice movie theaters, and clean shopping malls full of bookstores and music stores and video stores. And all her young life, thanks in part to the progress our society has made in this area, she has had a healthy and open attitude about sex. She has sex ed in school, sings along with pop music about sex, reads sexy books and magazines, sees sexy videos, watches sexy shows on TV, reads ads for sex shows on the movie page of her town’s family newspaper, tries the phone-sex numbers, and browses through sexy Internet sites on the computers at home and the library.

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