Tag Archives: Anti-choice

Words and Women: bell hooks



If feminism is a movement to end sexist oppression, and depriving females of reproductive rights is a form of sexist oppression, then one cannot be anti-choice and be feminist. A woman can insist she would never choose to have an abortion while affirming her support of the right of women to choose and still be an advocate of feminist politics. She cannot be anti-abortion and an advocate of feminism.



bell-hooks-1988
bell hooks, 1988 | image from autostraddle

bell hooks (b. 1952) is an American feminist activist, writer and educator. Born Gloria Jean Watkins, she’s best known by her pen name which she borrowed from her maternal great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks. hooks’ writing primarily focuses on the intersections of race, class, and gender, in history, art, education, social activism and much more.

This quotation is taken from chapter 1 of her concise, straightforward feminist handbook Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics (2000), which she says she wrote because she “kept waiting for it to appear, and it did not.” Other influential works (there are 30 in total!) include:

Ain’t I a Woman?: Black Women and Feminism (1981), Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center (1984), All About Love: New Visions (2000), and We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity (2004).

 


Words and Women is a regular feature that spotlights short quotations from influential women activists, artists, and authors.

Sarah Silverman’s recommendation to Lenny: Lady Parts Justice

I’m a Lenny subscriber. So I’m treated to intelligent, witty, Feminist writing at the end of every week, when I need it most. Lenny’s weekly letter picks me up just as my Friday evening is setting in (I’m 13 hours ahead of NYC). On the way home on the Beijing subway after 7 hours of teaching last Friday, I scrolled through my emails with one hand, the other gripping the bar overhead and my bag sat on the floor as I overheated in the crush of people.

I was sufficiently distracted from the morass of warm bodies around me that I almost missed my stop.

The first piece last week was Sarah Silverman’s interview for Lenny, by Lena Dunham. Silverman is awesome. As is Lena (I’m going to call her Lena because I want to be her Bee-Eff-Eff. Lena’s the reason I signed up for Lenny, but I’ve stayed for the content). Silverman’s comment, “I lead with my thighs” has stuck with me for days as I strutted around feeling powerful in tall leather boots this weekend.

The big recommendation I took from Silverman was a mention of Lady Parts Justice:

L: What is a moment of overcoming the patriarchy that you have witnessed or taken part in this week?

SS: Lizz Winstead, who started Lady Parts Justice (and the Lady Parts Justice League), made an app called Hinder that looks like Tinder but presents/exposes politicians who are anti-choice. It’s satirical and informative and brilliant. She is an unsung hero of feminism who works tirelessly, and I love her.

I immediately looked up Lady Parts Justice and immediately enjoyed what I found there.

Yes, these interviews are parodies (just listen to the names of the businesses), but that doesn’t mean this kind of thing isn’t actually happening in employee healthcare plans across America. Women’s reproductive rights have long been under fire, but since the Hobby Lobby decision, a woman’s body is all too often subject to her employer’s religious beliefs. The combination of humour and political issues simply makes it even more potent.

The front page gives you 5 reasons to join Lady Parts Justice (LPJ):

  1. Because women decide elections and if we get together, blow this shit up in a smart and funny way, we just may be able to get folks to sit up, take action and reverse this erosion of rights.

  2. Because neanderthal politicians are spending all their time making laws that put YOUR body squarely into THEIR hands.

  3. Because extremist goon squads exist in EVERY statehouse in America and are sneaking in tons of creepy legislation. We’re staying on top of this shit so you can stay on top this shit.

  4. Because you use birth control.

  5. Because you like sex and it’s not all about having babies. Think about it, if it were there would be no room to stand.

If that’s not enough to convince you, try this:

Sarah Silverman’s got it down! Again, humour and politics combined with just a hint of satire. I genuinely think LPJ could make a huge difference to the lives of American women, and, later, women around the world.

As Silverman mentioned in interview with Lenny, Lizz Winstead and LPJ have just released Hinder – an app that looks like Tinder that exposes American politicians who are anti-choice. Check it out:

So, of course, I immediately downloaded Hinder. Unsurprisingly, Hinder hasn’t branched out into Chinese politics just yet… but if I weren’t already excited about my first trip to the US this summer, this has got me bouncing in my seat. I can’t wait to use it.

Read on

In reaction to Hobby Lobby: On Choice, Contraception and Woman Power

In reaction to media sensationalism surrounding abortion: ‘If you got a bit ol’ butt? Shake it’ Nicki Minaj’s abortion

‘If You Got a Big Ol’ Butt? Shake It!’ Nicki Minaj’s abortion

‘If You Got a Big Ol’ Butt? Shake It!’… But You’ll Be Damned for Taking Charge of Your Own Body

News of Nicki Minaj’s abortion was used by the media as anti-choice propaganda

lyrics-nicki-minaj-superbass-1Nicki Minaj had a massive year in 2014. With everyone talking about her big ol’ butt (her words), which was in full view – literally – across the media, it was pretty hard to ignore her.

She’s been on my radar for several years now (that brilliant voice, those insane lyrics, y’know?), but until last year, I hadn’t given Minaj herself much thought – as a person, a woman, and an icon.

My younger brother (who admires Minaj but is too young to recognise the Sir Mix-a-lot sample she uses in Anaconda) watched our sister and I watch the Anaconda video, insisting he wanted our opinions. I wasn’t sure how to react. Should I be shocked? Why shouldn’t she show off her mindbendingly awesome (mostly plastic) body? Finally we agreed she’s pretty awesome – to feel able to rap about her sexual relationships in a way society normally associates with male artists is pretty out-there.

Thus began my ever-growing admiration for Nicki Minaj. She is honest, hilarious and bloody-minded. Where other celebrities are defensive about their appearance (particularly when it comes to plastic surgery), she is relentlessly loud and proud. Her laughter is infectious. Her songs are bold, unique and articulate.

“I stand for girls wanting to be sexy and dance, but also having a strong sense of themselves. If you got a big ol’ butt? Shake it! Who cares? That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be graduating from college.” (Minaj in Rolling Stone interview)

lyrics-nicki-minaj-3

Her self-awareness and ownership of her mind and body makes her an inspirational role model for young women – she reassures us that we can be sexy and smart. She appears to have no guilt, no regrets, and no second thoughts.

That’s why I was shocked when the headlines reported Minaj was ‘haunted’ by a teenage abortion.

“Whaaaat?!”

Actually reading the Rolling Stone article, I soon discovered Minaj wasn’t ‘haunted’ by her abortion – she didn’t regret terminating the baby. She was 100% open about the difficulty of a teenage pregnancy for any young woman: “I thought I was going to die,” she stated. “I was a teenager. It was the hardest thing I’d ever gone through.” But that doesn’t mean she’s torn up about the abortion – not by far. Knowing she “didn’t have anything to offer a child”, Minaj still fully supports the decision she made then, and is still pro-choice.

She was – as always – refreshingly honest about her abortion. Despite – or perhaps because of – her honesty (it’s not like anyone need go looking for revealing images of her), her private life has not come into the public sphere very much before – which is absolutely her prerogative. Now though, with the recent break-up of her long-term relationship, her private life is becoming more and more public.

On the album she built up to for the entirety of 2014, The Pinkprint, her personal life is taking the main stage: “One of my goals was to give people a glimpse into my personal life, because it’s something I’ve kept very private,” she told Rolling Stone.

In line with her usual bolshy personality, she is unashamedly upfront about it all: “I struggled with ‘Do I express these feelings?’ And I decided there’s no reason for me to hide. I’m a vulnerable woman, and I’m proud of that.” Minaj is ever more the multi-faceted, open woman she has been to date.

-nicki-minaj-Even more admirable? She’s aware of the role she plays as a female icon, knows her influence and isn’t afraid to use it for greater good. She knows how much her records will get played, she’s aware of every move, every word: “Millions of people are gonna hear it. And you gotta watch everything you say — people find an issue with every fucking thing.”

Which is why she should be applauded for speaking out about her abortion, both in interview and in a song on The Pinkprint:

“It’d be contradictory if I said I wasn’t pro-choice. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have anything to offer a child.”

But how did the media react to Minaj’s open, honest admittance of having an abortion (and knowing it was the right decision for her)? ‘Nope, we can’t cope with that. We’ll have to make out like she wishes she’d chosen the delights of teen motherhood over her insanely successful career as Hip-Hop’s Killer Diva.’ Instead of Minaj’s statements being let alone to stand for themselves (as they well should), the headlines took all the autonomy out of her statements and twisted her words into anti-choice propaganda. Now, why would they want to do that?

The anti-choice movement will use any means possible to prove abortion is bad for women.

Minaj’s case, like many others, has been taken up by the anti-choice movement – with the mainstream media along for the ride – to demonstrate that women will not only feel reticent about the circumstances of their unwanted or accidental pregnancy (eg. Minaj was a teenage girl with an older boyfriend), but that they will feel genuine regret about aborting the baby and wish they had kept it.

I can’t say it any better than Ms. writer Amanda Marcotte already has:

The anti-choice movement’s relentless propaganda about “abortion regret” has done some real damage when it comes to women being able to tell their abortion stories in the public sphere… In this current political climate, talking about reproductive decisions in a nuanced, personal fashion seems impossible to do without feeding the machine that suggests that any feelings of regret whatsoever means that abortion is bad for women.

Too right. So, what can we do to stop this?

More:

On Choice, Contraception and Woman Power

Sources:

Amanda Marcotte for Ms Magazine: Nicki Minaj and the Inevitable Politicization of Celebrity Abortions

Rolling Stone: Nicki Minaj Is Hip-Hop’s Killer Diva: Inside Rolling Stone’s New Issue

(Originally published on Aliljoy.com on 12 January 2015)