I had the privilege of growing up with a second wave feminist/reformed hippy mother. Before I sprouted my first pubic hair she handed me a mirror and a flashlight and told me to get to know my vagina. I was raised to believe that my body was mine to share with whoever I chose, whether that was one man, a couple of women, or a whole bunch of people over the course of my life. My mom home schooled me for most of my childhood, and the parts of history that most excited her were the struggles for social change. When I was in 4th grade we drove down to Atlanta and took a tour of an old plantation. Afterwards we stood on the giant lawn and my mother’s bright green eyes turned an unsettling shade of yellow from emotional overstimulation as she educated me about the history of -isms in America and how important freedom and tolerance are.
A year or so later we found this book, ‘The Movers and Shakers,’ in a used bookstore outside of Charlotte. It was about activists in the sixties. The black cover with orange and yellow writing made the contents seem urgent but the dust and used book smell made it seem old and historical, like something important had happened in the distant past. This book prompted my mother to share her own experiences of being a young adult in the early seventies. She’d fought for civil rights, she’d celebrated when Roe vs. Wade was decided in favor of reproductive rights, and she’d been the only woman working in the engineering department at a nuclear plant when she got pregnant with me. I was ten or eleven when I first heard these stories. I thought my mom was positively ancient and I had little contact with other kids or the outside world. I believed she’d helped make the world a better place a very long time ago and thought that everyone was accepting of everyone else now. I thought that all the battles for human rights had been won already and I imagined prejudice as a relic of the past; if it still existed it must have been decaying next to a gramophone or ice box in a junkyard somewhere. I saw the effects of the sexual revolution and the right to abortion as gifts that my mother’s generation had given mine.
The first time someone tried to shame me for sexual activities, I thought they were the cultural equivalent of the missing link. It took me years to really understand that there are at least as many anti-equality, anti-sex work, anti-homosexual, and anti-all sorts of other things people in the world as there are people who think like me. Sometimes I still forget. For instance, when I said in my first article for Vice that “I’ve been pretty successful at avoiding pregnancy.” I was surprised when people assumed that meant I’d never had an abortion. What I should have said was that given the amount of sex I’ve had (and without doing the actual math) three abortions seems statistically low. In the same way I feel entitled to have the kind of sex I want to have, purchase condoms, leave the kitchen, wear shoes, and put my body through attempts to find a hormonal birth control method that works for me, I feel entitled to have an abortion when necessary. They’re a last resort and I do try to avoid them, but an abortion is still a better option in my opinion than an unwanted child. All three of my abortions were medication induced. Taking RU-486 to end a pregnancy is more painful than my worst period but less painful than a burst ovarian cyst.
Just like I prefer to avoid getting pregnant at all, I’d prefer to always catch unwanted pregnancies as early as possible and avoid the more invasive aspiration or dilation and evacuation procedures. I will take a pregnancy test if I don’t see my period for 29 days or if it’s suspiciously light. I’ve been on Loestrin 24Fe (a kind of hormonal birth control) since January 7th. I take my pill every single day between 7 and 9 am. I missed one of the placebo/iron supplement pills about a month ago and took a double dose the next day. I’ve heard that this pill occasionally causes women to stop menstruating entirely, but I haven’t seen anything resembling full-on menstruation for a suspiciously long time and I have actually taken pregnancy tests when I haven’t even touched a penis for months just to see the little minus sign or the “not pregnant” and be happy that there’s at least one thing that isn’t currently a problem if I’m having a bad week. So I went to the drugstore a couple of days ago and got a pregnancy test from the family planning aisle.
The phrase family planning hanging on a sign above the pregnancy tests and condoms irritates me because it implies that everyone plans to have a family at some point. As the cashier was ringing me up another woman behind the counter asked me how my day was going. I told her that I was on birth control, pointed out that I was purchasing a pregnancy test and a bottle of Aleve, and said she probably didn’t want to hear the actual answer. She chuckled awkwardly and wandered off. I usually go for EPT or Clearblue, but this time I went with First Response. When I pulled out the test and instructions, a cardboard gizmo fell out. First Response has taken the presumption that everyone wants to have a baby one step further by including a congratulatory contraption that tracks one’s due date and has a helpful form on the back for “Moments & Milestones” including possible baby names, birth time, and weight. I’d hoped that the asterisk next to “A general guide for your enjoyment.” would lead to a footnote saying “You know, if you’re interested in having a baby.” but it was a disclaimer stating that only a physician can determine due dates. I grumbled while I waited three minutes for the results and seethed when both tests came up with error messages.
Inferior products aside, the thing that makes me angry is the insidious suggestion that all women want children and the subtle shaming of people who exercise their reproductive rights. This is part of the reason women feel the need to say things like “I only had one abortion” or “a baby at that point would have ruined my college prospects.” I resent the way this sneaky societal pressure has wormed itself into my brain enough that I feel the need to explain my mild latex allergies and issues with hormonal birth control or follow the number of pregnancies I’ve terminated with a reminder of how many sexual acts I’ve engaged in when talking about my own abortions. I’m uncomfortable about the way that I’ve allowed these messages to undermine my belief in my rights enough to feel defensive about exercising them. Every time that a woman like Molly Crabapple or Chelsea G. Summers vocally stands behind their decision to abort, it’s a drop in the bucket that maintains balance against people like Todd Akin and Jack Dalrymple. It reminds me that the freedoms we do have are precarious and that a sizable chunk of America sees women, homosexuals, and anyone who is different than they are as lesser beings… and that sucks.
These are the arguments author Corinne Maier uses in her book to persuade readers to just say no to having children. Each reason gets a chapter.
The desire for children: A false aspiration.
Childbirth is torture.
Don’t become a travelling feeding bottle.
Continue to amuse yourself.
Subway-job-kids: No thank you!
Hold onto your friends.
Do not adopt the idiot language we use to address children.
To open the nursery is to close the bedroom.
Child, the killer of desire.
They are the death knell of the couple.
To be or to make: You shouldn’t have to choose.
The child is a kind of vicious dwarf, of an innate cruelty.
It is conformist.
Children are too expensive.
You become an ally of capitalism.
They will destroy your time and your freedom.
The worst drudgery for the parents.
Do not be deceived by the notion of the ideal child.
You will inevitably be disappointed by your child.
To become a merdeuf (soccer mom) - what horror!
Parenting above all else - no thanks.
Block your professional path with children.
Families: They are horror and cruelty.
Don’t fall into an overgrown childhood.
To persist in saying “me first” is a badge of courage.
A child will kill the fond memories of your childhood.
You will not be able to prevent yourself from wanting your child to be happy.
Child care is a set of impossible dilemmas.
School: a prison camp with which you’ll have to make a pact.
To raise a child, but toward what kind of future?
Flee from the benevolent blandness.
Parenting will make you soft.
Motherhood is a trap for women.
To be a mother, or to succeed: You must choose.
When the child appears, the father disappears.
The child of today must be a perfect child: a brave new world.
Your child will be in constant danger from pedophiles and pornographers.
Why contribute to a future of unemployment and social exclusion?
There are too many children in the world.
Turn your back on the ridiculous rules of the “good” parent.
The black people on my dash seem to uniformly despise Django Unchained, but this is something I really noticed on Tumblr - where the white women dream of working and making money, the black women are like “actually, I would quite like to be a princess”.
My dreams remain white woman dreams, but I can see their point and I promise that if/when I write a princess she will look like Alex Wek.
See, and that’s a point that so many fucking Black folks will literally eat Black women alive for.
I’ve been harangued and slandered and cussed out on tumblr for daring to say that as a Black woman, I wanted to be treated with delicacy, that I wanted to see a Black woman be the damsel in distress.
WE NEVER GET TO BE THAT.
And white women can go straight to hell when they try to tell me that for me, that isn’t a feminist achievement.
We don’t get chivalry. We don’t get saved.
We get shit on and told to WORK TILL YOU DIE.
And I don’t give a fuck if it means I’m ‘giving up my spine’ if mothafuckas wanna say that’s what it is.
I’ll be spineless and PAMPERED AND SPOILED in my fantasies.
I have no desire to see the film but I think that’s awesome Kerry was allowed to be able to portray a role that she felt captured that and that means so much to not just her, but many Black women. And yes, source has gotten too much shit just got wanting something we are rarely afforded due to white supremacy.(via strugglingtobeheard)
Could this also be the reason a certain group of feminists are shitting on Michelle Obama? Because she is treated like a queen by the President and she isn’t the mule white supremacy expects her to be.(via preciousdivineenergy)
Nahh my nigga. I’ve been brought in slaves ships,back broken working on the cotton fields,raped by massa,raised massa children,being a mammy,scrubbing toilets while white women burn there bras,stood behind my black man when he abounded us,still working,back still broken.
I’VE BEEN A BITCH WORKING EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE! From day 1! No special treatments.No stay at home momma here,to busy being some white child’s mammy. Never been soft,been working too hard to enjoy that.
So while white women trying to run out of the kitchen,Black women trying to run into it.
We never got to be soft. To be docile. To be a kept woman. BLACK WOMEN WERE THE ONES DOING TO KEEPING! So now,put us up on a pedestal.We’ve been doing the rescuing for 300 years. Now rescue us.(via jello404)