Ever since reading feminist techie extraordinaire Deanna Zandt’s fantastic book Share This: How You Will Change the World with Social Networking, I’ve been thinking about the nature of pro-choice activism on social networking sites like Twitter and how it fits into the larger framework of the reproductive justice movement. Zandt’s thesis, with which I heartily agree, is that social networks are revamping both the definition of authority and the nature of power and if we want to be involved in both we have to be out, in force, on these sites.
Out in force, I am. I tweet, a lot, and I follow almost 2000 others who also tweet about feminism, reproductive justice, and politics. One of the most lively and informative streams to follow are those tweets with the #prochoice hashtag – a twitter tradition that marks a tweet as about a certain topic and part of a larger conversation. As in on-the-ground organizing, there are a variety of styles of doing pro-choice activism on Twitter and each one contributes differently to the goal of making abortion safe, legal, and available to all women everywhere.
The Debaters: As in the offline world, anti-choice people are the minority online but make significantly more noise than those who think bodily autonomy is a basic human right. These squeaky wheels also spew the same lies about abortion as their offline counterparts, functioning for the sole purpose of making women scared of and ashamed about abortion. Also as in “real” life, there are a collection of brave pro-choice souls on Twitter who take on these people and their ridiculous arguments head on, day after day, calling out the misinformation, misogyny and hypocrisy. I laughed out loud the other day when @ProChoiceGal noted that being “brown/Arabic” and pro-choice defies the limited, bigoted logic of her anti-choice sparring partners. Abortion Gang contributor @KushielsMoon also makes quick, witty work of the deluge of anti’s who think “baby killer” is an original or effective epithet. These Twitterers do the necessary work of getting into the trenches with the enemy to expose them and surely change undecided minds by dishing out facts in a rational, respectful manner. They serve to remind everyone, women who’ve chosen abortion especially, that there are allies out there who respect and honor their choices.
The Sheroes: Every Saturday morning I log on for the wit and wisdom that is @ClinicEscort’s timeline as she, rain, shine, or blizzard, uses her body to shield women from the terrifying taunts of a cast of anti-choice sidewalk bullies who lurk outside her local clinic. She runs a weekly ‘Start to Godwin,’ chronicling how long it takes for one of the screamers to reference Hitler or Nazis. (@ClinicEscort notes the average time on the clock is 35 to 40 minutes. The record: 6 minutes.) The @abortioneers share similar escorting stories while @40DaysforChoice and a blog of the same name rallies reinforcements for the annual anti-choice harasser festival, 40 Days for Life. @NYCProChoiceMD shares a rare and valuable insider perspective as she tweets about her experiences as an abortion provider. The Abortion Gang’s own @IamDrTiller started her handle to give voice to the stories of clinic workers in the wake of Dr. Tiller’s assassination. These tweeps amplify on-the-ground pro-choice activism, serving as examples and reminders of the varied work people do every day to provide women with reproductive health care.
The Reporters: Recently @RobinMarty tweeted that she watches anti-choice propaganda so others don’t have to and the analysis she does on that dreck is truly invaluable to pro-choice activists. The site for which she writes, @rhrealitycheck, is both a blog and a Twitter handle dedicated to pro-choice news and analysis. Another writer for that site, @AmandaMarcotte, uses her sharp wit and excellent research skills to expose anti-choice myths and tactics. Another fave is @BiancaLaureano, who speaks the truth about Latina women and sexual health, including abortion. These tweeters do the research and write the stories that give the facts about abortion and shine a light on the women’s stories that are the reason we all work for reproductive justice.
Of course, this is just a small sampling of the amazing work being done by pro-choice Twitter activists. Be sure to check out the list of Abortion Gang writers on Twitter. Who are your other favorite #prochoice tweeters? Is there a category you would have added? Enlighten us in the comments!