resource review (3): caitlin moran’s how to be a women

you might have heard a review of moran’s book how to be a woman on npr in the last year.  it definitely sounded good and while talking to my housemate mariana baquero, she mentioned that it had a whole section titled “abortion”  and went to grab it from her room.  i read through that section first and am now starting on the whole book.  her story is both narrative and commentary.  she starts out plunking you right in to her experience by telling us how she discovered she was pregnant to begin with (an exam to diagnose polycystic ovaries) and then goes on to say how she knew right away she wouldn’t keep it.  i won’t ruin it for you, it’s a lovely story about motherhood, agency and empowerment.

she speaks directly about how abortion is vilified and how the women who seek them are victimized.  the state makes allowances for abortions because left to their own devices desperate women would get themselves killed in botched back alley abortions.  the more i read, the more i realize that’s its never easy to articulate that systematic victimization of women.  that idea that women should be punished for choosing abortion by a lifetime of guilt and regret.  you can access abortions ladies, but only if you don’t really want it.  it’s so unfair and it was great to read what she had to say about it.

there is something that really touched me.  she talks about how abortion is seen by society as fundamentally wrong, that women could be seen as these endless fountains of selflessness and mothering and that they should prefer to simply trickle away rather than refuse to give life to another potential human (ok, i’m paraphrasing here).  in any case, she’s not down with that.  she proposes that arguing over “is it alive” or “isn’t it” should be abandoned and that the pregnant individual and their “dominion over life” should also have “dominion over not-life”.  “not-life”.  i like it.  i mean, i totally, super agree with her.  she talks about kali, the mother of the whole universe and devourer of all things.  she proposes that motherhood might mean bringing life into the world and it might mean not doing that.

“on a very elemental level, if women are, by biology, commanded to host, shelter, nurture and protect life, why should they not be empowered to end life, too?”

well said.

there are so many things she said so well that i think this post will warrant a pretty hefty rewrite, but for the time being i’ll close with what i think is really pertinent to my thesis topic.  she states that all the accounts she had ever read about abortion before had always foregrounded the”mark” left.  i take that to mean, the regret.  but her story is not on of regret.  it is one of a person who made an easy, right choice and has lived everyday since them knowing she did the right thing.  i’m just glad that she wrote her story down and i’m really excited to collaborate with people in getting more of these stories down and out into the world.

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