Monday, February 02, 2009

Sewing the Scarlet Letter on my blog...

I have to admit I'm a little nervous about this endeavor. A lot of people who know me, know I'm vehemently pro-choice, and I don't usually back down from a discussion on the topic if the topic presents itself, but I censor myself more than I should.

Most of my friends are peeps from church. Once, birth control came up when one of my church friends and I were in the parking lot of a karaoke bar. Let me make sure the picture is painted clearly here: 2:00 am. At a bar. Where there was drinking (okay -- we're Lutherans, so the drinking thing is not that huge a "Wow!"). And smoking (on her part). So, we were already doing lots of things that generally are not "approved" by church-types. And we were talking about birth control.

She approved of birth control, and used it (so, yes, we can add "pre-marital sex" to the list). But she, like many people, said she was not pro-choice, because she did not "believe" in abortion. (I'm not going to go off on this tangent today, but I will tomorrow or the next day. Trying to stay on task here...)

It's perfectly socially acceptable to say you're against abortion. But it's not perfectly acceptable to say that you support a woman's right to choose. And it's DEFINITELY not okay to say you have actually had an abortion. (Even though one in three women has! But, again, trying to stay on topic here...)

This was my best friend. She was one of my bridesmaids at my wedding. But I couldn't bring myself to tell her that I did support a woman's right to choose, and that I had had to make that choice myself.

If you're "pro-life," you're a "good" person. That's the "nice" thing to do. If you're pro-choice, you're a baby-killer. (Which is ridiculous: babies are extra-uterine beings.)

No one would bat an eye if I had an anti-choice bumper sticker on my car. But my "You can't trust me with a choice, but you can trust me with a child?" bumper sticker is up on my refrigerator (help there with a "2 teach is 2 touch lives 4ever" magnet. Quaint, huh?), nice and inconspicuous. I really wanted to put it on my last car, but do you think I could have gotten away with that, driving into the teacher parking lot of an elementary school every day?

Maybe it's all in my head.

But I don't think so.

There's a double-standard that really bugs me. And it really bugs me that I cave into it.

The only reason I told my family I'd had an abortion was because that was pretty much the central theme of my first NaNoWriMo novel. I made such a big brouhaha about NaNoing that they all wanted to read my novel... so I sent out an email confessing my transgression. And now they know.

I've written about abortion on this blog before, and mentioned that I've had one. So it's not like I'm hiding it... but I still bite my tongue more than I wish I did.

Part of the reason why I bite my tongue is because of my mother-in-law. She had a stillborn child, WHICH IS A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THING THAN WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT, but the way she sees it (according to Freddy), a fetus is a "child" so abortion is bad. (I will address this issue in future posts as well... steady the course!)

A post here and there alluding to the fact is different than dedicating an entire month, posting every single day, to the topic, and openly confessing that I wear this scarlet letter on my chest.

What will friends (those who don't already know) think? What will Freddy's mom and sister think? What will prospective employers think? What will prospective publishers think (while LIFE CHOICES is adult, my other novels are YA)? Will publishing LIFE CHOICES hurt my chances of publishing YA? (Yes, I know I'm getting a wee bit ahead of myself here... but still.)

Maybe the times, they are a'changing, and people will not care. Maybe the more of us who stand up and speak out, the less this will be a taboo. The more we will be able to talk about the issues, all levels and facets of them, and fully understand the issues as well.

I'm still scared. I'm still worried. But I'm still going to do it.


  1. first, your central premise: a formal unabashed "coming out" as it were. i think that you are understanding the risks correctly but i think you are overplaying the general public's backlash. the freedom to have abortions is indeed quite mainstream. i think there are many effective propaganda efforts to make as many people as possible believe that it isn't mainstream - working on you somewhat too, judging by your stated fears.

    still, presuming a widespread "ho-hum" from the overwhelming current and future public, it will be the ones refusing to put their toes in that stream that you will hear from mostly in number and volume. i would ask you to consider, when that happens, that you do not equate their vim with their predominance.

    this again comes back to the giving inches thing. let the screecher that employs the perfect pressing of your personal buttons to have her inch -- as violently as you do not want to do so. save your energy for the battles where miles are at stake instead.

    second, i think you are misunderstanding or misrepresenting the one in three thing. your post infers that one in three women out and about have had an abortion. assuming we agree on the statistics we've reviewed before the published conclusion is not your inference. rather, the conclusion is that if abortion rates were always what they are now, then one in three would be the case. that ratio is meant to give scale to the current mainstream course we are on with the rates of abortion. of course, today's rates have not always been. prior to the 70s that rate was significantly lower.

  2. I think a lot of the backlash you feel is due to living in such a conservative place. In many places the double standard probably goes the other way, and I think the pro-choice/pro-life debate has been magnified and made to seem worse by how each side tries to go for such extremes, and that polls seem to show that the vast majority of the US population favor legal abortion with some restrictions (like no 3rd trimester abortions, etc). I don't have numbers to back that up, though...

    Crisatunity-- I don't know you or your situation or personal beliefs or anything. But it seems kinda crappy of you to downplay Cristina's expected reaction to her "coming out" since it's clear from her post (and yes, past history that I am familiar with in this situation) that she has had many negative reactions when sharing this news, or for those she hasn't told to know already how strongly they feel against abortion when she's had one. If you'd listened to people that matter so much to you say that X is horrible and could never understand why people did it and those who do are heartless, and you have done X, it's not a far jump to assume that this person will think less of you if you confess. And that's a really, really tough thing to deal with. It is true that a group may be very loud, but not necessarily a significant majority. That doesn't matter as much when that small, vocal minority might be made of people that you really care about.

  3. I admire your bravery for taking on this challenge!

  4. perhaps sounds crappy, but it is meant as legitimate useful advice.

    a common psychological trap when discoursing on topic with passionately held beliefs is to assign a magnitude of meaning to others response based on your own emotional reflex.

    sure your friends and family (rather than strangers) rejecting you in your moments of vulnerability sucks, sucks hard and seems like a most crucial obstacle to overcome. but if their arguments are not sound, if you don't respect the basis of their view, it doesn't matter that they hurt you.

    because Cristina hasn't just talking about her personal role in this issue all along. she's concerned with the larger issues, and she wants to be a soldier in the cause. soldiers, move on. soldiers stay on the battlefield and continue against monsters and don't let sniping pests on their way there defeat them.

    and no, you don't know my situation or beliefs, or anything about me - nor I you. discourse is not about who is writing. it is about what is written.

    my only agenda is to participate and keep the author's spirits up during her daily grind this month.

  5. @crisatuniy: Statistics are generally either lies or thoroughly twisted information. Where did they get the information? How did they compile it? So on and so forth. The way I see it, all statistics are going to be skewed to prove one side's (or the other's) point, so here's a statistic that helps me illustrate my point.

    I agree that I should let the screechers' screeching roll off my back, but, as Marcy said, it's hard to do when those screeching are people whose opinion you value. Or, when it's an employer who has the power to not hire you because of a personal opinion.

    @Marcy: I bet if I lived in Austin I'd feel differently. The funny thing is, going to see the play last weekend helped me see that yes, there are other people out there who think like me (even in Dallas!) Blogging about it brought another pro-choicer out of the woodwork... so it's working! The more we take that first step to talk about it, the more we'll find that others are willing to talk about it as well, and that no, not EVERYONE out there is ready to call me a demon.

  6. When I began blogging, I lived in California, so while I don't often discuss politics on my blog (for various reasons), I don't think there was ever a time when I felt I couldn't address the issue. I've never stitched a "scarlet A" to my sidebar, because I've never felt I've been anything other than "out" about that aspect of my belief system.

    I've done patient escort at "abortion" clinics (which aren't just for such procedures, of course), and put my own body on the line when anti-choice (I'm sorry but there's nothing pro-LIFE about them - and have you noticed that most so-called pro-lifers are also pro-death penalty?) demonstrators were physically accosting patients and doctors. I vote with my dollars and I have my congressppl's phone numbers on speed dial.

    Living here in the same general region you do? I completely understand why your bumper sticker is on your fridge.

    To Crisatunity: I don't think it's so much about freedom of choice being mainstream. I think it's about anti-choice folk being so much louder and more aggressive about their agenda.

  7. if we all agree that anti-choice folk are much louder and more aggressive about their agenda, then I would hope these realizations would follow:

    their existence and style is not a function of choice folks being quieter and less aggressive.

    in fact, choice folks becoming louder and more aggressive will likely amplify the already loud and aggressive anti-choice folks tendencies.

    being better, being smarter and focusing aggression towards tangible matters instead of propaganda is the way to triumph.

    like petulant children, they must be properly ignored. that will take the most wind from their sales.