It seems appropriate to sit down and write a little teeny tiny, not-nearly-good-enough appreciation of a friend of mine. I’ll call her Q. I’ve written about her before on the blog using her name, but suddenly I want to shield her. My love for her is so intense. I can’t risk anything.
Q works as an abortion counselor, talking women (and their men!) through the abortion process. In spite—no, not in spite, because— of this, she is a passionate mother and political mothering activist. She’s an advocate for safe pregnancies for all women, and for all children to be loved, appropriately cared for, and wanted.
Here’s what I’ve written about her in the past:
Q’s entire life is devoted to remaking motherhood and baby-raising – she works as an abortion counselor, where she walks past protesters daily in her “business casual” vintage dresses on her way to empowering women to take control of their reproductive lives. She helps to run an amazing group that “provides pregnancy, labor, and post partum doula services…to women incarcerated in Washington State,” works as a doula-for-hire, volunteers for an abortion-support hotline, fixes up her brand new house, and, of course, is a great co-parent to her [now 2-year-old!] baby, little E.
When I met Q in college she was passionate about the injustices inherent in the prison-industrial complex, and it constantly amazes me how she managed to combine her two passions—prison abolishment and feminist ways of having children—so neatly. The knowledge that Q exists is one of those necessary hand holds I grope for on the days when I feel myself sliding off the thin edge of sanity I’ve worked so hard to build up.
The other night we were talking about The Horribleness, and she mentioned to me that as part of her job she sometimes talks to women who are about to have, are in the middle of, or just had abortions who tell her they are still “pro-life.”
“Well,” she said she says to them, “do you understand now why choice is so important?” And she said they mostly tell her the standard anti-choice line about how it’s a sin, and oh my, it just broke my heart. These women who know in their hearts that they can’t have babies right now (or ever, or maybe they were raped, or any of the million other reasons they need an abortion), but who must torture themselves thinking that they committed a “sin.”
Our government is still holding prisoners without any proof of their guilt, there are sweatshops in downtown NYC where people work in slave-like conditions, sex trafficking around the globe continues to buy and sell women’s bodies without their consent, slaughterhouse workers continue to commit suicide because of the sickening nature of their jobs, military men continue to come home from war and beat and kill their spouses in dizzying numbers, cosmetics companies continue to blind, torture and kill animals for no reason whatsoever, our rapacious consumption of useless cheap trash continues to create an economy in which workers are paid and treated horribly because no one will pay a real price for anything, children are still being trained as soldiers in Africa and around the world, human slaves continue to pick our tomatoes and citrus in Florida, and, of course, billions of people continue to eat death on a daily basis, pretending that it is food.
Pro-life. It’s an interesting concept, isn’t it? Whose life? The obsession with babies, their purity and value above almost all else in our culture, continues to sicken me. Of course, I do not believe babies should be murdered or anything. But a fetus, a collection of cells, is simply not a baby, and the belief that it is is a certain sort of willful ignorance and childish stupidity that infuriates me. Belief in god is the only other topic that makes me so instantly furious. Meat eaters make me angry because they are intellectually incurious, misinformed, and unintelligent. God people and anti-choicers make me FURIOUS—because they are childish. I’ve never been a child. I don’t understand this kind of thinking.
Somehow, I started reading the blog of this Mormon woman who almost died in a plane crash last year. The pictures are pretty, and it’s poetic in a silly, grade-school way. I take a peek every once in a while when I’m goofing off from work. I can’t really explain why. Prettiness, I guess.
And also because I look down on this woman so very, very much. That’s the truth of the matter. She practically died in this plane crash and I’m glad she didn’t. (I’m pro-life: I don’t want anyone to die.) She’s sweet, and loving, and she wants to do what’s right in the world. But she’s just…not smart. And it irritates me to no end that all her energy could be used on so much other than popping out kid after kid (she currently has four). All she wants to do is get well enough to have another baby. She lives in that weird moronic (pun intended) world of women being valued above all else for their love and sweetness—for their ability to bear children and raise them capably. And, by the looks of the blog, she is doing a perfect job of it. She’s an intellectual child, and that’s fine. In her world she doesn’t need to be anything more. If I were to ask her, she would say, and so would her sister and her cousins and her mother and every other woman in her world, that she “chose” to have children. She would probably also throw in something about god. She most likely believes it is a choice, but she doesn’t see that she lives in a patriarchal bell jar where the idea of “choice” is so tightly defined that she can’t imagine other ways of living, except to shudder at what they must be like.
Q and I, we’re pro-choice. Motherfucking wide-eyed anarchistic thinking living breathing pro-CHOICE. All choices, for all women, for everyone, about everything. You get a choice. What you do with it, your one wild life and all that, that’s up to you. That’s what being pro-choice, and, for that matter, being an anarchist, means to me.
So, on the phone the other night we were talking about how we came to our views on abortion. We were both raised pro-choice (actually, I’m assuming you were, Q, correct me if I’m wrong), but the murder of Dr. Slepian motivated her to understand how the right to have an abortion is always under attack, and she began to develop a more radical pro-choice politic.
In contrast, I started out on the way far left and used to proudly proclaim myself as “pro-abortion” because I was an old-school Zero Population Growth advocate. These days I’ve calmed down a little and have moved just a bit towards the middle, and I’m mature enough to admit something I wouldn’t have copped to five or ten years ago: abortions aren’t an ideal situation, and one reason I am pro-choice is so there will be less of them.
My hardcore “pro-abortion” stance was partly borne (!) out of the fact that I’ve never felt a biological imperative or impulse. I’ve never understood why anyone would want to have children, so in high school and college I felt women who had children were, well—traitors. (I was into Shulamith Firestone for a while.) They were giving up the radical work of reweaving the world for the oldest and least revolutionary “job” of all, or so I thought.
I’ve grown. I still can’t imagine having children (I know I’ve pointed it out before, but this Onion article is the perfect description of my feelings about handing my body over to a baby). On the other hand, having children in my life is an experience I am cautiously enjoying more and more, and I recognize that for that to happen I need to stay friends with good, political parents.
The great thing about Q is that she is honest about the nuanced world of pregnancy. She is currently pregnant with her second child, and a few weeks ago when we talked she was suffering with horrible daylong “morning” sickness and told me, “this is not a baby inside me. It’s a creature poisoning my entire body and it’s making me crazy.” All pregnant women must feel like that at some point, right? I love Q for being so open about it.
In response, I recently told her my secret shame: that sometimes I think about the fact that if Jacob and I had popped one out when we first got together (um, when I was 18), that baby would be 13 now and could be doing some serious yardwork. I’d probably never have to change the cat boxes again if we had a 13-year-old around! Once I mentioned this hilarious thought to Jacob, and he confided that he pretty much thought the same thing. And we decided for the millionth time that having children so you can use them as slaves isn’t a great idea, and since we can’t think of a better reason, we’d rather just be Lagusta & Jacob, plus Noodle, Cleo, and Sula, of course.
And someday, hopefully someday soon, when the stars align and we don’t live near a main road and have more time and a bigger house and cats that aren’t so crabby: a dog.
Oh! A girl can dream, can’t she?