I wouldn’t normally rant about Life, the anti-choice organisation. What’s the point? It’s more fun ranting about life. Today, however, I am making an exception. I am feeling particularly incensed by Life’s promotion of #notblinkered, an utterly lame cool and trendy website that briefs anti-choicers on all the crap they need to pretend pro-choicers think.
#notblinkered is a bit like those ads for the Alpha Course you see when you’re on the bus. The ones that say stuff like “Who’s there 4U?” in the hope that you’ll think “cool! They spelled ‘for you’ like in a text! There MUST be a supernatural deity after all!” Life describe #notblinkered as their “biggest social movement to date” (bless!). It would be funny if it wasn’t so arrogant, callous and basically awful.
There are plenty of lies and distortions to pick from on the #notblinkered website, but I’ve listed my top ten here. I’m sure you’ll have your own faves. If I drum up enough support I might start handing out #notnotblinkered / #blinkered wristbands! (No trendy movement is, apparently, complete without them.)
1. Anti-choicers merely have an image problem – it’s nothing to do with their beliefs
Stereotypes. Some are funny and some, well – they’re just not. But almost every community is tarred with one stereotype or another: from blondes, the Irish and people with disabilities to Muslims, Christians, gay men and women – the list is endless. And most of us are guilty of stereotyping sometimes, if we’re honest.
Do you have a stereotype of someone who’s “prolife”? White? Middle-aged? Middle-class? Right-wing? Religious? Anti-women’s rights? Blinkered? At #notblinkered we want to challenge those stereotypes.
Oh, if only it were so easy. If only it was a matter of “I don’t like anti-choicers because they wear funny shoes” or “I don’t trust them because they’re all called Dave”. The thing is, even if that were true, I wouldn’t care. It’s the being opposed to women deciding what to do with their own bodies that’s the problem. Honestly, Dave! Wear whatever shoes you like!
It’s not even the case that pro-choicers don’t like anti-choicers. My mum’s anti-choice and I love her. She’s ace. I just don’t agree with her beliefs on abortion. That’s not stereotyping. It’s disagreeing.
2. Anti-choicers are victims of prejudice
Anyone who casually compares other people disagreeing with them to the concrete structural discrimination suffered by genuinely marginalised groups needs to take a good look at themselves. Moreover, anyone complaining about prejudice and stereotyping should be careful when setting up a whole website based around the presumed beliefs of a group they don’t like. I mean, as a pro-choicer I’m not going to claim the #notblinkered website makes me feel oppressed. It just makes me feel annoyed. These are different things.
3. If pro-choicers knew you could be a feminist AND anti-abortion, their minds would be blown!
“I know some people are surprised when I say I’m a feminist and prolife,” says the severe-looking actress/feminist lady. I guess it’s kind of cute. You almost hate to break it to her that no, they’re not really surprised. Not even mildly taken aback. They’re just disappointed. Yes, that’s the word.
Saying “I’m feminist and prolife” is a bit like saying “I’m a turkey and pro-Christmas”. Except, since you’re obviously not a feminist experiencing an unwanted pregnancy or supporting someone who is, you’d be a turkey who wasn’t going to get slaughtered (perhaps you’re someone’s pet). You’d be there at the slaughterhouse, helping the others along the conveyor belt. “Look, guys!” you’d say. “I’m not anti-turkey, I’m just pro the festive season! See, I even brought some crackers!” But your friends wouldn’t answer because they’d be dead.
A bit like the 78,000 women who die every year due to unsafe abortions, mainly in countries with severe restrictions on legal abortion. Only they’re real people and they’re really dead.
4. Choosing to have an abortion isn’t really a choice
For me, feminism is pro-women, not pro-abortion. A woman facing an unwanted pregnancy often won’t experience abortion as a choice, but as the only option made available to her, by her partner, her financial situation, employer, landlord, parents, friends, school, you name it.
Ooh, it’s complicated, this one. Choosing to have an abortion isn’t really choosing hence not being able to choose would be choosing because the choice is a not-choice and choosing not to have choice isn’t a theoretical impossibility because … Anyhow, it’d be a real philosophical conundrum if it wasn’t such total bollocks. If you want women to make a particular choice you can’t achieve it by taking that choice away. It’s like saying “I don’t like people having to eat value fish-fingers because they can’t afford caviar, therefore I’ll ban the sale of fish-fingers”. Only abortion and pregnancy are more serious than that. More serious and you can’t get either in Waitrose.
5. Women have abortions because they think they’re “liberating”
“Abortion’s not liberating – in my experience it usually arises from a situation where a woman feels powerless” says our feminist turkey. She’s not wrong there. Usually the “feeling powerless” comes from being pregnant and not wanting to be. Unfortunately, in such a scenario, remaining pregnant isn’t “liberating” either. There’s no liberation either way. Never mind. At least there’s a new Bridget Jones out.
6. If one woman has an abortion and regrets it, no women should be allowed an abortion
“I have lost count of the number of women I know who, many years later, bitterly regret the decision they thought was theirs, but which was, in fact, someone else’s.”
That’s a bit sad, isn’t it? Still, hardly a reason to give the women who regret not being able to make their own decisions the deciding vote in what all other women should do.
The other thing is *whispers* some women regret having children *raises voice again* I don’t, obviously. Even after the disastrous six-year-old birthday party with the poo in soft play I don’t regret having children. But some women do, either because of the impact it’s had on their own or their family’s lives, or because they were forced to give birth to babies who they knew would suffer brief, painful lives in the name of “human dignity”. That is horrendous. It’s not a reason to force every other woman to have an abortion, but it is a reason to allow women to choose.
7. Abortion is about equality and human rights
Ha, gotcha, knee-jerk lefties! Listen to the wise man – counterpoint to grumpy feminist – and hear his words of justice and truth:
It doesn’t matter how you arrive at a prolife position – people with a faith have their own reasons and I have mine. What’s great is that we have common ground rooted in concern for vulnerable children, for women – for society as a whole. After all, the way we treat those most vulnerable of human beings, the unborn, must have a huge bearing on how we all treat one another and on what values we hold dear.
Sod off, wise man. It doesn’t matter how you dress up an anti-choice position – people have abortions for their own reasons and you know nothing about them. What’s great is that we’re not taken in by your patronising crap about “society as a whole”. As long as we are all equal, pregnant people will have the same rights to bodily autonomy as all other human beings. Except they won’t, because in many countries they’re still not granted them. Damn. Now that is an offence against human rights.
8. But the fetus! It’s a person!
“There have been two important moments in my journey towards being prolife,” says the wise man, deluding himself that we’re still interested, “and the first goes way back to a school biology lesson. I think I realised in that classroom, seeing those basic, child-friendly images of the sperm and the egg, that a human life begins at fertilisation and no-one can really argue with that.”
Well, whatever. They don’t really have to. The fetus can be as much of a human as it wants to. No human has the right to occupy the body of another, putting the latter’s life at risk. A pregnant woman is not a special sub-category of human who should not be permitted dominion over the boundaries of her own body. And yes, I know those books you see in classrooms often just show a cross-section of the gravida’s body but believe me – pregnant women are people too! They have skin and heads and everything!
9. But branding! But logos!
I’ll be honest, I am quite wary of staring too long into the freaky, drugtastic eyes of the #notblinkered emoticon. It’s not that I think it will make me anti-choice but it will make me think I’m back in the 1990s and I’ll get confused.
10. Be ostentatiously anti-choice on twitter and you could be in with a chance of winning a Roberts Revival DAB RD60 radio
Actually, sod it. I want one of those. I’m all for bodily autonomy but this is free stuff! Hey, I could always sell it and give the proceeds to BPAS. Or split the proceeds. Yes, split them. I can’t help it. My pro-choice politics make me hopelessly consumerist – or is it the other way round?
Anyhow, that is just a bit of the crapness of the #notblinkered website. Apparently more people are set to accompany feminist turkey and wise man in the weeks to come. You will be surprised and amazed at their ability to be simultaneously cool AND anti-choice! Only kidding. You’ll just be annoyed. But now you can’t say I didn’t warn you.