If you’re reading this article, you’re like me. No, I do not necessarily mean you, too, are an outspoken proponent of everything pro-choice, rather, we are alike in that we are both dynamic, interesting, multi-faceted human beings with a diversity of interests and causes that create the brilliant kaleidoscope of life. Those interests and causes-experiences, really- shape who we are, how we think, how we judge ourselves and others. As human beings, all have so many experiences, it’s hard to say , “that one experience defines me.” Because our experiences work together creating part of our selves, and help to define our interests and drive the passion that makes us take up a cause.
In my home for much of my childhood, expectations from my parents seemed to fall along the gender binary. My brothers played sports, my sister and I took violin and piano lessons, respectively. Nothing out of the ordinary, really, until I decided that the feminine-labeled gendered activities my parents’ really encouraged me to participate in just didn’t interest me anymore. I was enthralled with baseball, and football, and basketball, and any other sport I could clap my eyes and ears on.
I don’t remember how old I was, only that at some point during my early adolescence, I fell head over heals in love with sports.
While feminism and pro-choice ideology don’t have to go hand-in-hand-in theory- I tend to think the first moment I felt that I was pro-choice was the same moment I asked my mother-at the tender age of 5 and a half- why she stayed home and my dad got to have fun at work. I can’t recall her answer, but knowing my mother, she found a way to paint being a stay-at-home mom as powerful and full of meaning; which it is for some, but for my mother, I know now it was draining and bled from her the very light she drew upon to paint, sing and ultimately, stay sane.
Nevertheless, I was feminist and pro-choice all at the same time, because the moment I started questioning the way of my 5 year old world, was the moment I realized my mother did not have the same life and level of happiness of my father, that there was a distinct void between what expectations of my father were, and what the expectations of my mother. Different, and very unfavorable to my mother, I realized, and immediately began think, “that just isn’t fair.”
That sense of fairness, or rather, that women should be allowed a fair shot in whatever they do, has stayed with me ever since.
So here I have two causes I feel passionately about, that often collide in a big way in my life, usually with awkward, sometimes unfortunate results. Both sports and pro-choice have so long been a part of my life that removing one or the other, in order to avoid conflict, just can’t happen. I’m a blogger on a pro-choice website and run my own network of sports websites and blogs. I embrace, indeed make a living, off of new media. Because the professional sports industry is entrenched in ugly sexism, base-level advertising, and all about machismo maximization, combining these two interests of mine has been difficult, actually, it has been possible.
Visit a sports blog and read the comments, nothing there would lead anyone who wants to have a meaningful discussion about abortion rights to post a comment. Not only is the forum wrong, but the people commenting about sports, seem to be (not that they are) less interested in what is going on in the world outside of sports. Some sports blogs even have strict rules posted: No Politics Talk Allowed. I get the reasoning behind that, for the same reason we here at Abortion Gang would think, “what the heck,” if I were to post, “Go Raiders! Eff Yes Football Sunday” on a post about abortion.
So I try to find ways to combine the two spheres I resided in, and usually, I find more success than failure. Athletes are mothers and fathers, too, why not speak about how family and reproductive law effects them? Like the athlete who disturbingly threatened in a public forum to off a woman for harassing him and his wife. Or when a famous football star allegedly raped and was exonerated not once, not twice, but three times . These type of things force everyone that watches sports to consider the world outside of sports, when stuff like the situations mentioned happen, no sign saying, “No Politics Talk Allowed,” will apply.
When I don’t try and combine the two, but the two causes inevitably collide, controlling my urge not to go off on my sports site in order to set straight a reader who may have spewed some seriously anti-choice nonsense is difficult. Because unintended pregnancy is common, the topic of abortion, women’s rights, notification laws and the like come up. In forums that aren’t intended to house commentary about abortion rights, people , I think, feel more comfortable in saying things like, “If a girl has unprotected sex, she should have to at least pay the consequences for 9 months, because, she did do something wrong.” Yeah, that comment really happened, and of course, I had to go after that guy. The debate was one of my lesser moments, because I was heated, and wanted everyone reading to know the commenter was wrong, and I – and by extent, the entire pro-choice movement- was right.
Finding a middle ground has to be the most cliche grouping of words in the universe. But in this case, I really do think, when navigating the two spheres that largely define my life right now, the key is truly in finding the middle ground. I have the most success when a conversation crops up in my sports’ site live chat about abortion rights, to ask those people what they feel, and why they feel that way. When I learn more about those commenters, I am able to have a civil and informative conversation that doesn’t make a sports blog reader feel bombarded with “politics.” I also feel as if I don’t leave behind my “other” passion when talking sports, which is important; no one wants to feel as if they must lead double lives.
That is what it is all about, for a pro-choice activist passionate about life, sports, and a myriad of other things this world has to offer, pretending I am not pro-choice seems to be the least difficult choice, but it would not be true to me and what I care about. Sports blogging and pro-choice activism don’t have to be completely separate, indeed, they can come together nicely, sometimes, with little fire works, and lots of understanding.