What is happening in our world? Who is doing what? what is going on now? These are questions that will be answered. Enjoy.
Forced Sterilization in Season 3, Episode 5
Since the early days of Yellowstone, two things have been abundantly clear: 1) Beth Dutton’s (Kelly Reilly) hair has more volume than a heavy metal concert and 2) Beth Dutton hates her brother Jamie (Wes Bentley) for reasons that have remained largely unknown. In the first few minutes of Episode Five of Season Three, “Cowboys and Dreamers,” that dark backstory is finally revealed. While Yellowstone loves an absurd plot device (see: a farmhand losing his virginity in a hospital bed last week), this week’s move is decidedly much more somber.
In Beth’s teenage years, she became pregnant and sought help from her older brother Jamie. His response was to take her to an abortion clinic outside of town, but the issue with the free clinic (which, note: Yellowstone makes it clear that the clinic serves primarily indigenous people) is that when a patient receives an abortion, they are required to undergo sterilization. When the receptionist reminds Jamie of that, he agrees, goes and gets Beth out of the truck, and doesn’t tell her.
I, personally, did not have Yellowstone tackling the complex and dark history of forced sterilization in America on my 2020 mood board. Nor did I consider that in doing so, they’d highlight how forced sterilization disproportionately affects indigenous people and people of color. Yellowstone remains the most surprising series on cable.
If this plot point seems like an invention too inhumane for real life, a brief history lesson: Throughout the 20th century, federally-funded coerced sterilizations were common, happening in 32 states across the country. Primarily, the tactic was used to control “undesirable” populations, including unmarried women, people of color, poor people, and mentally ill. Actually, it was a Supreme Court decision in the early 20th century that led to the justification for tens of thousands of forced sterilizations.
This content is imported from YouTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.
In Beth’s case, the sterilization is a particularly politically charged one—while that Supreme Court decision focused on the “feeble-minded” (which, for the record, equally grotesque to use that as justification), it also allowed for a “breeding out” of “undesirable qualities.” Make no mistake, that oftentimes reflected in the sterilization of BIPOC communities more than others. While most states abandoned the tactics in the States following World War II, the practice of sterilization was still common throughout the ’70s. For global reference, this was also a tactic used by Nazis. It’s still happening in developing countries.
This episode is the first time that we get a flashback into Beth and Jamie’s complex history with abortion and sterilization, and that opening scene is the only insight we get. That suggests that Yellowstone is going to take its time unraveling the ramifications of what appears to be Beth’s abortion and subsequent sterilization.
Justin Kirkland is a writer for Esquire, where he focuses on entertainment, television, and pop culture.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io
This commenting section is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page. You may be able to find more information on their web site.