Mouse rant blog vent mouse.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

But what if you do feel petulant?

   August Pollack is against the T-shirts that say "I had an abortion". 

   I am not against what Planned Parenthood is trying to do. Abortion is a deeply troubling psychological and physical burden for any woman who has to experience it. And there is nothing more important for support in such a decision that comforting and helping women who have to face such a choice. Women should be open about having an abortion and feel they can discuss their experience with other women.
 
   Indeed, I am imagine that it's downright comforting to imagine women gathering over their knitting needles talking about kids and husbands when one suddenly brings up the March for Women's Lives and everyone quietly and abashedly speaks of their own abortions. 
   In the real world, abortion is hard on some women physically and psychologically, but unfortunately for the "I'm pro-choice, but..." crowd I've had the pleasure to get to know so well lately, it's also a big, fat relief for women who would suffer psychologically and physically way more from childbirth.  But women are only allowed to express grief and shame over these things, not pride for taking a difficult situation into their own hands, relief, or any of the other myriad of things women are not allowed to feel generally and certainly not over abortion.
   For a good number of women, when they become pregnant and are considering abortion, they only have a handful of stereotypes of the "kind" of women who get abortions, carefully chosen by the anti-abortion faction for maximum impact--we all got pleasure of examining one stereotype, that of an over-educated, selfish, smarty-pants broad who doesn't listen to men.  Another one got trotted out on Alas, a Blog yesterday--the racial stereotype of the inevitably black welfare queen whose had 9 abortions, most likely all by different men.  The only stereotype of a woman who has had an abortion that is regularly paired with a face to match is the weeping born-again who had hers young, regrets it now, and is out there marching to make sure that other women don't have the choice she exercised.  A woman who is considering one is therefore confronted with a huge problem--women like me, that is good women who like men and are not selfish, don't have abortions.
   And what about the women in her life that have had one that have stories to counteract those stereotypes so that she is better prepared to make her choice?  Well, she probably doesn't know about her friends and relatives who've had that experience.  Why not?  Well, it's not just something you wear on a T-shirt, you know. 
   I saw this T-shirt yesterday when someone sent me that link in my email.  I laughed and deleted it.  I thought it was probably something meant to be worn only at specific times like an abortion rights march when images speak louder than all the words in the world.  It seems that the principle is the same as the shirts that say, "This is what a feminist looks like"--to shock the audience into rethinking the stereotypes that drive women away from a movement that is only there to help them.  For instance, imagine a woman wearing this shirt to a march that has her husband and kids in tow getting on TV, what that would say to the people in the audience who are bombarded with propaganda about how women who have abortions do it because they hate men and they hate children.  Sure, you can argue that she might do better to get up and make a speech about her experience, but since it won't be broadcast, it might not have much effectiveness. 
   The ugly truth is that those of us who have subversive views need to use subversive media or not be heard at all.

Edited to add:  A friend sent me this story about the shirts.  I am actually still ambivalent about whether or not they are going to be effective in combating the racist and sexist stereotypes they are meant to combat, but they did manage to bring the loonies out, for which we should all be grateful.

   A conservative Canadian journalist for the Ottawa Citizen is quoted as saying, “I think it’s a great idea… In fact, I think they should adopt a whole range of slogans. How about, ‘I eat unborn babies for breakfast…Vote John Kerry.’ Now those would really sell.”
 
   And don't forget kids, all contraception is the same thing as abortion! 

   “Contraception, in the form of the birth-control pill, is never able to prevent recourse to abortion because it is a form of abortion itself,” they assert. “Contraception, as a means to reduce abortion, is having dire consequences on our population, particularly our youth.”
Planned Parenthood could not be reached for comment.

 
  The comments section is fun, too.  The anti-abortionists resort to doing exactly what I'm talking about--trot out a bunch of stereotypes about wicked, slutty bitches who schedule their abortions between witchcraft at 3:00 and martinis with the other sluts at 5:00.

14 Comments:

Blogger BlondeSense Liz said...

Very excellent post Amanda as usual. I even went over to that site and got in on the discussion.

There is no stereotype of who's had an abortion so I suppose the shirt would be good but I don't think most women who had an abortion would wear the shirt unless they were in a march of some sort and I suppose then it would be cool if everyone wore them whether or not they had an abortion.

I'd like to see men wear shirts that say "I caused an abortion" heh.

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