Having taken the summer off from school and all of the required reading it entails, I am knee-deep in books for fun this summer. By far the most poignant and touching to me personally – and I can’t recommend it enough to everyone on, basically, the entire planet – is Sara Marcus’ Girls to the Front, her history of the Riot Grrrl revolution that shook punk and politics in the 90s. I promise, if you read this book, you will be shocked at how little has changed, how 20 years, two decades (and yes, friends in their 20’s and 30’s, that does make me feel old too) after the events took place, we are right back in the same position, with a far-right supreme court in place, a pervasive fear that Roe will be overturned, and women’s rights and very lives under attack. (If you think that’s an overstatement, I fucking beg you to remember Congresswoman Giffords. Every day, please. I do.)
This book makes me angry, and as a very practical girl who has been working in progressive politics in very practical capacities for a very long time, those who know me only from my writing, particularly on this blog, would be shocked at how rarely I get angry. My 18-year-old-self was furious, consumed, driven, with a passion I can barely recall. But that burns out, it eats you up from the inside – you either find a way to live with the anger and bury a lot of it, or, in my experience, you go a little crazy. The kind of anger and passion the Riot Grrrls story inspires within me is invigorating, and I have been thinking about how to incorporate that movement, its history and its meaning, into my work.
At the same time, here in the present, I work in a movement that has roots in both traditional and radical feminism, and I wonder where we will go, what we will do, what we will have the courage to demand, what we will fight for and what we will compromise. With that in mind, a quote from the book struck me particularly in relation to Abortion Gang:
“Riot Grrrl is about destroying boundaries, not creating them.” (198)
What I love about this blog is that I do not agree with everything everyone writes, nor does every writer on this blog always or necessarily even EVER agree with me. That doesn’t mean my posts don’t go up; that means I get edited into a place where my opinions are 1) clear and 2) mine and only mine. We speak from the “I” here at Abortion Gang. We do not, as individuals, speak for the whole movement or often for anyone but ourselves, yet our collection of experiences IS the movement.
Which brings me to the first thing my Riot Grrrl history has given me to move forward with in my work: consider how you speak and where you speak from. Writers on this blog share intensely personal experiences. Don’t judge. Not, “Hey, try not to judge!” or “Be accepting and open!” Fuck that. Don’t judge. Disagree. Share your experiences. Support. Argue from the “I.” But understand that everyone who writes here – everyone being commentors as well as bloggers, THNX – has a valid experience, a personal experience, that they are sharing. YOUR EXPERIENCE IS NOT THE ONLY EXPERIENCE. YOUR EXPERIENCE IS NOT THE RIGHT EXPERIENCE. The prochoice movement is the sum of its parts, and we are, all of us, those moving pieces of which this great and, I believe, extremely powerful thing is made.
For supporters and antis alike, remember that you are not here to persuade – and if you are, you’re in the wrong damn place. Adults write for and into this site, people with more varied and dynamic backgrounds than you can imagine. We are mothers, daughters, sons, husbands, wives, broke-ass kids, kinksters, prudes, trust-fund recipients, students, sexual deviants, queers, and allthecolors. Come here to tell us what you think, come here to argue your point, but don’t come here to proselytize – and if you don’t know the difference, come back and see us when you do. I think our fearless leader Steph summed it up best in a comment recently, and I want to make sure her extremely well-phrased words get their due, so allow me to include them here:
“I want to let you know that I’m the moderator of this blog, and the only reason I don’t approve comments is when they are disrespectful or hateful. If the comment seems borderline offensive, I ask the blogger if they want me to publish it.”
This is a place for civility, openness, and understanding. We want to engage with you, and we want you to engage with each other. In exchange for this space, we ask for your gracious understanding that we spill our guts out on this page, we tell you so many deep things that hurt and heal, and we can’t always go to bat for them relentlessly, day upon day, just because you like to argue or want to persuade. Come here with an open mind and heart and we will give you ours. It’s a good way to live. And I think it’s an amazing way to live a movement.