As a woman one of the most annoying things I can think of is the social expectation that women pretend to be guilty about something that we may not feel a bit guilty about. Off the things that are that list, abortion is the most important. A woman who gets an abortion should not behave in a manner that says “I’m fine with this”.
This was brought into the limelight on Alternet earlier this week by Courtney Martin about the alleged complexities of abortion. In her article Martin talks about a woman she saw at a Planned Parenthood on “abortion day”:
Planned Parenthood was packed on a Thursday in the frigid Colorado dead of winter. I remember giving up my seat to a woman who looked to be in her thirties and totally unfazed by the crowded lobby on abortion day. She alternated between gabbing on her phone and yelling at her toddler. I flipped through a magazine without really looking at the pages and hated her a little.
It wasn’t that I thought she was an evil person. I am not, nor ever was, a conservative Christian — despite having grown up just miles away from Focus on the Family. In fact, I was at that Planned Parenthood, in order to support a pregnant neighbor. After a condom-break and twist of fate, she was too scared to tell her parents, but too determined to protect her own future. We marched past the pro-lifers with their gruesome placards and went inside, arm in arm.
I was unequivocally pro-choice, but I hated that woman in her 30s because she seemed (I didn’t ask) to have such an uncomplicated relationship with abortion. I was jealous. Past my conviction that abortion should be legal and safe, my own feelings were a mess.
This is just wrong. For starters, who knows what the woman was there for (PP does more than provide abortions) and even if she was there for an abortion – why should she have felt guilty about it? Some people treat going to the dentist as, well, a trip to the dentist.
I hate dentists and practically hyperventilate while in the waiting room. Seriously – I was put on Prozac to handle having my wisdom teeth pulled. I do not “hate” the people who do not share my anxiety and most would think I was being foolish if I did.
Yet, with abortion it’s considered okay to “hate” women who aren’t anxious about it. How dare they talk on the phone, yell at their kid and otherwise behave in a manner that doesn’t say “guilt” or “shame”.
It’s not that we non-anxious women deny other women the right to their own thoughts or opinions on what abortion means to them. I think most of us are well aware that other women find abortion to be a complicated issue that each of us has to deal with as individuals.
But this expectation that we pretend that it’s complicated for us personally really rubs me the wrong way. If we’re all entitled to our own personal thoughts about abortion as it relates to ourselves, then we’ve got a right to say, in deed or word, “this doesn’t bother me”.
For me, abortion is not “bad” by default. It’s bad when the women who seek them feel compelled to abort for whatever reason. Even then, abortion is only bad because it causes mental harm for the woman.
Why should I pretend to be guilty about that opinion? I’m not.
It seems to me that this is just another sign that the anti-choice activists have so screwed society up that we can’t even be honest to ourselves about it anymore. We have to pretend that “abortion is a tragedy”, forgetting that the opponents think we mean “for the pretend human“.