You Would Be Ten

Topics: Regret

The presence of toxic masculinity in the twenty-first century is persistent, advancing the stigma around men showing emotion or behaving in a way that is deemed “weak.” Undoubtedly, the social expectations for men to be strong, unshakable figures contribute to this prolonged practice of stifling natural emotional responses in any general circumstance in favor of fulfilling these expectations. However, when that circumstance itself is considered to be only a women’s issue, a man’s emotional health becomes more than just disregarded: it becomes political weaponry, crude propaganda, or even a distasteful joke in a social media comment section.

When a woman is affected by an abortion, she is either supported or shunned by politically motivated organizations for making her decision. 21% of abortion patients will experience some type of emotional trauma following the procedure, and resources are already limited for women in this situation due to perceived ulterior motives behind sharing their stories. (Major, et al) However, when a man is affected by an abortion, he is ignored by the world.

The need then arises for contemporary materials to draw attention to these men whose emotions cannot be receptively brought forth due to perceived exclusivity to women. The song “Ten,” written and performed by the band Yellowcard, recognizes men who have been silenced after an emotional experience with abortion through the appeal to a specific audience, criticism of commonplaces surrounding abortion patients, and personal influence within the lyrical content and overall tone.

“Ten” takes a bold leap towards raising awareness about the men who have been silenced after an emotional experience with abortion.

Get quality help now

Proficient in: Regret

4.7 (657)

“ Really polite, and a great writer! Task done as described and better, responded to all my questions promptly too! ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

Although the exact nature of the song is kept vague, it has been interpreted across platforms as the story of Yellowcard vocalist and songwriter Ryan Key’s experience following his girlfriend’s decision to have an abortion ten years ago. There is no explicit interpretation of “Ten” by Key or Yellowcard published online; the closest explanation is an interview with Key in which he reportedly stated, “People are going to ask me a lot about [“Ten”] when it comes out… it was hard enough to write it, I don’t want to talk about it.”(Lamb) With the sensitivity of the piece in mind, Key can hardly be blamed for neglecting to elaborate upon the very private tale behind the work. “Ten” is a somber acoustic piece, focusing on simple lyrical content. With minimal use of elaborate literary devices, Yellowcard concentrates on telling a powerful story as it is: straightforward and raw. The gentle guitar work and Key’s forlorn vocals establish the tone as wistful, dreamlike, and even a bit regretful. This tone is especially notable in that Key does not express anger towards the woman who chose to have an abortion, nor does he place blame on her. More than anything, Key seems to be wishing that he could have met his child under a different set of circumstances. Although there are many musical works both in favor of and denouncing the issue of abortion, Yellowcard stands out with “Ten” as coming from the perspective of a man rather than a woman or child.

Given the 2012 release of “Ten,” its exigence potentially arises from the political climate at the time. With Planned Parenthood making headlines during the election year under a liberal-leaning administration, the story behind “Ten” has doubtlessly resonated with men and women on a national scale as discussing abortion publicly became more acceptable. However, it is the demographics of Yellowcard’s fanbase that make the kairotic dimension of the audience behind this piece so effective in prompting an emotionally charged response. As with most punk bands, Yellowcard’s primary targeted audience is young men between the ages of about 15 and 30. Men within this demographic are rarely, if ever, the intended audience of abortion literature or activism- while their political opinions might be demonstrated through voting, men are not frequently involved in the discussion of the emotional or social impacts of abortion. However, in a 2018 survey by Gallup Polls, surprising statistics suggest that abortion should not be limited to just a women’s issue. Men and women hold remarkably similar views on abortion; interestingly, 53% of men versus only 48% of women support legal abortion in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s life. (Newport) This moderate stance is critical to making or maintaining legal changes in regards to reproductive health issues, but men remain isolated from activist movements or round table conversations about abortion. Yellowcard prompts this traditionally moderate demographic to consider both the political and emotional components of the subject by immersing themselves in the role of a young man in the painful situation that Key describes in “Ten.”

One of the most critical rhetorical components to the success of “Ten” is its challenge towards the commonplaces surrounding the anticipated figures involved in an abortion procedure. Traditionally, society views the affected parties in an abortion procedure as limited to the mother and child; in some circles, the party may be limited only to the mother. This commonplace in conjunction with the interpretation of women’s emotional repercussions as politically motivated has led to already limited resources available to abortion patients following a negative experience with the procedure; these resources are almost nonexistent for their partners. Yellowcard refutes the commonplace that women alone are impacted by abortion procedures, and shares the voices of men who have no outlet to express their emotions. In the limited research that dares to tread on such thin political ice, psychologists from Oxford University conducted a study in 1999 regarding the emotional states of seventy-five men following their partner’s abortion procedure. The study found that between 40% and 50% of men surveyed experienced emotions such as anxiety and grief after the abortion procedure of their partner. (Lalos, et al) Notably, more men reported feeling the emotion of guilt than relief, suggesting that Key’s story of regret for the past decision expressed in “Ten” may not be an isolated instance. Regret is a complicated emotion, especially when the regrettable incident is outside the scope of one’s control. Key seeks to reach out to men in similar situations to his own by portraying the common feeling of regret and ignoring the precedent that men should not demonstrate these difficult emotions.

Key’s personal experience with an abortion procedure serves to develop his appeal to the audience’s sense of ethos, most effectively through the utilization of a first-person perspective throughout the entirety of “Ten.” He describes his own emotions and the sequence of events that led him to compose the song a decade after the procedure, and perhaps most powerful are the rhetorical questions he asks of the child he can never meet. Questions like, “Would you have had my eyes?” and “Don’t you think we would’ve been best friends?” suggest a paternal connection Key and other potential fathers like Key feel to a child that they were never able to meet. (Yellowcard) These questions are even more impactful with the weighted knowledge that they will never be answered. Additionally, Key spends very little time addressing the events surrounding the actual procedure; he focuses more on the dream world he imagines himself and his child in now, and the mundane activities he wishes he could have participated in. This is especially evident in the chorus when he describes his unborn child as “watching Star Wars with your PJs on” or, with an even greater level of personal attachment, “playing tunes on your first guitar, you would be harmony to every single part of me.” (Yellowcard) These lyrics appeal strongly to pathos as the audience recognizes that Key views the activities that are so often taken for granted as a luxury that he will never experience with this child. Key establishes himself as a credible source of the trauma that some men do undergo as a result of a decision, and he implicitly explains that these men have no control over that oftentimes painful choice.

Key’s feelings of loss and regret in lines like, “Since then I’ve often wondered what you might have been like, how it would have felt to hold you” are potentially correlational to the legal precedents in the United States regarding a man’s role concerning an abortion decision. (Yellowcard) In Supreme Court cases Planned Parenthood v. Danforth and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Court found that the father figure has no legal right to provide or deny abortion consent, nor does he have the right to be notified about an abortion procedure. (Berber) “Ten” describes the bond of fatherhood that is rarely supported in the courts, and Key boldly uses his own experience as evidence that men are affected by abortion decisions despite not influencing the decision. In both courts of law and social circles, men like Key are regarded as an accessory to pregnancy rather than involved figures in the life of a woman and her unborn child. “Ten” addresses the long-term emotional impacts that these views can have on anyone involved with the procedure, even over ten years later.

The overall tone of “Ten” is somber with its soulful acoustic guitar, gentle vocals, and heavy emotional appeals within the lyrics. It would be a challenge for anyone, especially a young man within the Yellowcard fanbase who may someday find himself in a similar position, to hear Key so painfully express remorse for the choice of his partner by telling his unborn child, “Now I live in a dream where I am holding your little hands.” (Yellowcard) These wistful proclamations appeal directly to an audience that rarely has to consider their opinions on abortion and prompt that audience to take a moment and consider the trauma that men and women can both undergo following such a procedure. Yellowcard rejects the commonplace that only women are affected by the issue of abortion by validating the experiences of Key and other men who have no legal right to act against, or even be notified of the procedure. Finally, Key bares his long-lasting grief to raise awareness about the lack of support for men who have had negative experiences with abortion procedures. Through “Ten,” the audience finds themselves thrust into a simple reality where a young man takes his ten-year-old child to school, teaches him the guitar, and gives him a love that only a father can. This imagined concept becomes heartbreaking with the recurring word “would” in the refrain line, “You would be ten,” because the listener and Key alike know that this potential reality was extinguished a decade ago.

Cite this page

You Would Be Ten. (2022, Apr 23). Retrieved from

Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7