Tag Archives: feminism

Let’s analyze the comments on an abortion story. Fun!

Gila Lyons recently wrote a piece for Salon entitled Abortion, A Love Story. In the piece, Gila recalls how she met a man, started a relationship with him, after several months became pregnant, then had an abortion. She doesn’t spend a lot of time discussing how she arrived at her decision to abort, as it only gets a brief mention, nor does the abortion itself get more than a few paragraphs. 

As you’ll see, the comments are full of complaints that this piece celebrates abortion, encourages abortion, and brags about abortion. All Gila does is write about how a decision she made was the right one for her. But because she isn’t full of guilty, shame, regret and because she isn’t begging her audience to forgive her for being just another irresponsible whore who took the easy way out, people are disgusted. 

But onto the fun stuff. Let’s take a look at some of the comments, shall we?

Chilling, twisted and sick.

That’s the very first comment. The commenter clearly has issues with unmarried women being sexual beings and making decisions regarding their own bodies. Perhaps this comment would be more honest if it read: An unmarried woman had sex. I am uncomfortable!!!

The same commenter comes back to say:

What makes me uncomfortable are those people who seek to rationalize away barbarism by assuaging their dysfunctional consciences with reassurances from like-minded, self-absorbed individuals.

I’m unclear what part of the story this person finds dysfunctional, but I’ll bet a lot of money it involves Gila daring to have sex with a man she wasn’t ready to start a life with. How dare women express their sexuality with anyone they aren’t ready to marry and reproduce with! The nerve. And if you think removing a cluster of cells the size of a lentil is barbaric, but forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy to term and give birth isn’t, your opinion should not be taken seriously. 

JerseyGirl973 has this to add to the conversation:

i just gave my child up for adoption. i had way more reasons and excuses than the lame one she had, and i still think it is appalling. i think there are a lot of good reasons and that abortion should be legal. i still think a great deal of women do it because they are misguided misled and selfish.

This woman thinks Gila’s decision to have an abortion was a “lame” one. This feeds into the anti-choice dialogue that says women have abortions because they want to go out clubbing the next night, or they still want their cute clothes to fit them, or they change their minds when they are 8 months, despite the fact that there is zero evidence for any of these claims. This woman is trying to position her choice to give birth and adopt the baby out as a better choice than aborting, therein suggesting that every woman who is faced with an unplanned pregnancy should carry to term, whether they want to or not. She goes on to say that women abort because they’re selfish. This is another common anti-choice sentiment, and anti-choicers want us to envision large groups of women who take abortion lightly, and skip on down to the closest clinic for an abortion, then throw a party afterwards. The only reason a woman needs to have an abortion is that she doesn’t want to be pregnant. Making decisions that benefit your own best interests, be it mentally, emotionally or financially isn’t selfish, it’s responsible. 

Then we have this gem:

People like you will never understand this kind of love. All you understand is love of yourself and your wants. I mean, look at the anger with which you write. You have no shortage of socio-economic and medical excuses for seeking an abortion, but that’s all they are – excuses. You want to make it seem as though you see abortion as a right of compassion so as to comfort your ailing conscience for speaking out on behalf of a brutal act.

Firstly, I didn’t feel Gila’s piece was angry at all. Secondly, I’m sick of men (the person who left this comment is a man) accusing women who have abortions of being selfish. It’s up to us and only us to make medical decisions about our bodies. It doesn’t matter if we are rich and never have to work a day in our lives, or broke and living paycheck to paycheck – if we don’t want to be pregnant, we don’t want to be pregnant. He also takes a swipe at her position as an employed person to suggest that because she can afford to be pregnant and raise a child, she therefore must. But Gila never speaks about her socio-economic status in this story, so this commenter is assuming things about her that he cannot say with certainty. His final magnum opus, calling abortion a “brutal act.” Brutal is being forced to let a parasite use your body as a host for 9 months. Brutal is risking your life and your health in order give birth when you never wanted to in the first place. Brutal is expecting every woman who gets pregnant to immediately rearrange their existence because you demand they relinquish their right to undergo a legal medical procedure. 

I shouldn’t even be including this comment since it’s so trite, but just for shits and giggles:

Who the hell kills her baby, then writes about it. Hey, Gila, use birth control or keep your legs together!

Assuming the person who left that comment is American, it really speaks to America’s lack of science education that so many people adamantly exclaim that an embryo is a baby.

Liberals are OK with ripping to shreds in the womb a human being capable emotions, and with a keen sense of physical pain.

Both camps show different sides of human depravity, but don’t pretend that abortion — especially the abortion of fully-developed fetuses — is anything less than depraved and barbaric. It’s one step removed from infanticide.

I have a feeling I’ll be repeating this a lot: an embryo the size of a lentil is not a human being. But this commenter not only feels it is a human being, he feels that he knows it has “a keen sense of physical pain.” I’ll assume it’s from his field experience speaking extensively with embryos. Also, a “fully-developed fetus” is not the size of a lentil, regardless of the fact that the term fully-developed fetus means nothing. If a woman chooses to keep the embryo, barring a miscarriage or other complications, it will be a human being once it’s born. But “will” and “is” are drastically different things. I will be a corpse. Am I a corpse right now? No.

Cells that constitute an individual unique human being who will never have a chance to exist again because his or her mother decided to pretend he or she was a clump of cells and nothing more.

Funny. This comment starts off saying “cells” yet ends with criticizing people for pretending the embryo is “a clump of cells.” Basically, how dare you pretend the cells are just cells!?!? Also, “constitute an individual unique human being” …. *sigh* We’ve been over this before. A human being, no.

It’s a vulgar attempt to present abortion as a morally neutral proposition, but the only people who adopt that view are those who have already lost their soul and humanity. They feel compelled to encourage others to do the same because in their warped minds, if enough accept it, then it becomes right instead of what it is, depraved.

I’d hope that all logical people would be in favor of giving a woman control of her own body. That doesn’t seem like a moral issue to me, rather a rational and humane one. Further, women who decide that pregnancy and motherhood aren’t for them have “lost their soul and humanity,” because, you know, women exist to breed regardless of their careers, education and personal feelings. I guess that’s just our cross to bear as women, and we should relegate ourselves to a lifetime of no sex unless we are absolutely certain we are ready to be pregnant. If not wanting to be a mother means losing your humanity, then I never had any to begin with, as I never want children. You don’t have to scratch far below the surface to find where the real anger lies: a woman had consensual sex with a man she didn’t want to make a life with. The shame cycle continues. 

What part of this is beautiful? Please share. I’m as liberal as the day is long, but celebrating an abortion story rubs me the wrong way.

Because Gila isn’t filled with shame, regret and longing for her embryo, this story is read as celebrating an abortion. I personally feel she should celebrate her decision, but I don’t think this piece has a celebratory tone at all. 

She wasn’t careful with her birth control because she was crazy about him, thus got pregnant on purpose. When he wasn’t into it, she just terminated the pregnancy like la dee da.

Isn’t the real problem being irresponsible and conniving? Ten bucks says if he has been supportive of the news she would have kept the baby. Where is the part where she takes responsibility for her mistake?

A gleeful abortion of a planned, healthy pregnancy: downer. Sure, it probably happens every day but it’s nothing to applaud.

Hello projections and fantasy. This commenter must have been right there along with Gila and her partner in order to provide such detailed insight and analysis. As for “Where is the part where she takes responsibility for her mistake?”, I can only assume this person didn’t finish the piece, because there they will find it. 

In sum: Gila fell in love with a man and conceived a child with him, but then she decided he was wrong for her, so she found a doctor to lie to her and destroy their inconvenient baby.

It was all going so well, until the words that follow “doctor.” 

In summation, the anti-choice crowd wants to grant rights to embryos, zygotes and fetuses that no human being has. Human beings cannot be forced to donate blood, organs or any other body parts. Even after death, your body parts cannot be used for anything without your previous written consent. If you are driving your car and crash into someone, you are not required to accompany them to the hospital and be hooked up to their body in order for the person to survive, even though you are responsible for the condition they are in. But because women – poor women, rich women, young women, middle-aged women, mothers, childfree women – are allowed to have sex, anti-choicers want to force them to carry a pregnancy to term, as punishment, for the non-crime of being sexually active. 


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On the Pill? You Dirty, Filthy Whore.

I was on the bus early this morning seated next to a young woman who looked about my age, mid-twenties. When she got up to get off at her stop, she accidentally kicked her bag over, spilling some of the contents onto the floor. The contents included a pack of birth control pills and she scooped them up quickly, looked at me and stammered, “It’s…. it’s to make my periods regular.”

I’m fairly certain I was the only person in close enough proximity to see the pills — not that this matters. When confronted with the mere suggestion that they might be having sex, some women immediately go on the defensive by insisting that their birth control pills were prescribed to them for any reason other than that they want to have sex and not get pregnant. A woman’s decision to take birth control pills should be lauded as a responsible one; instead, thanks to constant shaming and an intensely misogynistic world view towards women’s sexuality, I’ve heard women blurt out things like, “I’m on the pill ….. FOR MY CRAMPS!”

I am not blaming this woman. It isn’t her fault. Women who are open about having sex are routinely subjected to slut shaming, judgment, nasty rumors, and may open themselves up to men who think they “want it.” And it hurts me that this woman, who is a complete stranger to me, felt the need to rationalize the fact that she takes birth control pills, lest I judge her for being a filthy, slutty slut. Like I said, I can’t blame her for her rapid-fire statement. Ask any woman how misogynistic some of our fellow women can be towards one another, and I’m sure you’ll get an earful of unsavory stories.

In my imagination, every woman and girl who meets me automatically knows that I am on their side, that I don’t require any justification for any choices they want to make. I want them all to know that I don’t believe in the concept of a slut. I want them to know that the decision to take birth control pills is a decision that should be praised, no matter the reason for taking them. I want this woman to know that in a world where so many young women get pregnant because they are too embarrassed or too ashamed to talk to someone about birth control, I commend her for being responsible. Even if the pills are for her cramps.

But I didn’t have nearly enough time to say all that as she rushed to get off of the bus.

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Rebecca Solnit has a really great piece in Mother Jones entitled The Problem With Men Explaining Things. In it she recalls various exchanges she’s had with men who are certain that they are smarter and more informed than her, even when it comes to her own novels. Every woman on earth can probably recall many personal examples of being in this situation, known as mansplaining. Men who are just positive that what you aren’t saying isn’t right, and it’s up to them to explain it clearly and correctly.

I just want to point out a comment that someone called Shocktroop left on Rebecca’s article.

when you are assertive and loud and unwavering, you make enemies. doesn’t matter if you’re male or female. you have to expect to have people hate you and expect to have people question you and try to talk over you and silence you. I think men in general grasp this better than women. Understanding that not everybody is going to be nice to you all the time. Men embrace making enemies, we embrace confrontation more. You are not going to get anywhere in life without realizing that you are going to step on some toes and ruffle some feathers. you have to be prepared to handle that.

Mansplaining on an article about mainsplaining. I don’t know if it’s some kind of performance art or just someone who really isn’t getting the point. Shocktroop is quick to point out that women just don’t get it! Gosh, we really need to pull ourselves together and humor the arrogant men who talk down to us, patronize us and interpret everything we do and say as irrational and crazy.

Shocktroop also seems to think that a woman who is, to quote him, “assertive and loud and unwavering” will be perceived and treated the exact same way as a man who exhibits the same traits, proving he has no insight into basic gender inequalities and society’s attitudes towards women. This lovely commenter also doesn’t realize that the “Oh, that’s just the way it is, suck it up!” attitude is what women have been told time and time again regarding not entering the workforce, not being able to seek an education, childbirth and child rearing, sexual harassment, sexual violence and sexism in general, to name a few.

Thank you for proving Rebecca’s point, Shocktroop. Cheers.

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Why Pro-Life is a Misnomer

It’s time to be honest about the vocabulary used to describe the “pro-life” movement. I put the term “pro-life” in quotes because I prefer to use the term that describes what it actually is: anti-choice. Many anti-choicers fervently cling to the notion that their views advocate for life, but to whose life are they referring? Certainly not the life of the living woman whose body is needed as a host by the fetus in order to survive. Anti-choicers claim to defend life, but human life and human beings are two very different things. A skin cell, as well as a tumor, both qualify as human life. Are these things equal to human beings? Do they deserve equal, or even more rights than a human being? Rationale tells us no. Anti-choicers can do all the mental gymnastics they want, but the fact remains that a fertilized egg is not a human being, nor should its rights trump that of a living woman.

Thanks to years of religious-inspired misogynist zealotry, anti-choicers have been successful in persuading lawmakers and the general public that God thinks abortion is murder. This belief is largely rooted in the idea that women who have sex and become pregnant deserve what they get, even if it means dying due to pregnancy-related complications — so pro-life, right?

Many anti-choicers go even further and are adamant in preventing women and girls who have been raped or victims of incest from having an abortion. Any compassionate person would agree that women and girls who have been through the trauma of rape and/or incest deserve comprehensive medical treatment and any other services in order to help them heal. But should they find themselves pregnant, too bad. A story involving a 10-year old mentally ill Kansas girl who became pregnant after being raped by her uncle recently garnered international attention, because anti-choicers who want the doctor who performed her abortion, Dr. Ann Neuhaus, to lose her license. That’s right, they’re upset because a 10-year old incest AND rape victim was not forced to give birth. The zygote inside of her is more important to them.

Anti-choice zealots have even gone so far as to prosecute women who have miscarried. Personhood activist Ed Hanks, who is based in Colorado, wrote on the Mississippi Personhood Facebook page that, “society will understand why women need to be punished just as surely as they understand why there can be no exceptions for rape/incest.” In a moment of rare honesty, an anti-choicer let the veil slip and said exactly what the “pro-life” movement is really all about: punishing women. You can read his quote and more from anti-choice activists in this article by Irin Carmon of Salon.

More honest options for the re-branding of the “pro-life” movement include:

1. Anti-choice

2. Pro-forced birth

3. Pro-fetus

4. Pro-zygote

5. Pro-embryo

6. Pro-fertilized egg

7. Anti-woman

8. Anti-sex

9. Pro-punish women

What happens if the entire United States goes the way of Mississippi, where a tractor salesman drafted anti-abortion legislation that got onto the ballot? Oh, I should also mention that he embarked on a state-wide anti-choice tour to promote his extreme anti-choice legislation entitled “Conceived in Rape Tour.” Yeah. Instead of campaigning to, oh I don’t know, help women who were raped, this “pro-life” man instead chose to campaign for eggs fertilized via rape.

Don’t let anti-choicers get away with calling themselves “pro-life.” Refer to them as what they really are: anything but.


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