If you pay attention to pro-choice events, walks, rallies, fundraisers, and other activities, you’ll notice that almost all of them take place in big cities like New York City. This makes a lot of sense. I mean, duh! If your event is in a big city, you’ll attract more people and it will probably be a much more progressive area altogether.
Still, as a small town girl, this leaves me feeling a little bit lonely sometimes. I live in an area where I know only a small handful of pro-choicers and no other people who would call themselves activists. I go to whichever pro-choice events which are close by, but there are not many. Many activists, including myself, can’t afford to travel to participate in pro-choice events and can’t afford to take time off of school or work to be able to attend them. It’s not only the pro-choice movement, either. I am also passionate about my veganism. I know no vegans, or even vegetarians, outside of the internet, however, so vegan activism outside of the internet just seems out of the question. Also, abortion is not the only women’s rights issue which is neglected in my area. For example, the only time you hear the word “rape” mentioned in my area is in the context of a joke. Not surprisingly, this leads to me being burned out quite often. It leaves me thinking “Wow, am I fucking useless to this movement?”
Now, I don’t know if I’m alone in my feelings about this or if there are other small town activists out there who feel the same way, but if there are, then I’m writing this for you. It is discouraging to feel outnumbered by anti-choicers and to feel like a lone activist . Not being able to surround yourself with positivity in the wake of anti-choice bullshit totally sucks. I understand that. I refuse, however, to just sit down and call myself useless to the movement. Burn out occurs frequently, but there are things that small town activists can do to help prevent it. For example, you could:
1) Start something
I’m not going to lie, if you live in an uber-conservative area where it seems like you can count the number of pro-choicers on one hand (..as I do), this might not work out. But it’s still worth a shot. You can try to organize something in your town or on your campus which will unite the pro-choicers who are in that area. You can raise awareness and possibly help to uncover a new passion for reproductive justice in your area. You can organize a march or a group. If this works out for you, then you will have created a community, and that is absolutely priceless.
2) Just be vocal
Being vocal about your passion for reproductive justice is not always easy, especially in a very conservative area. It was not easy for me to “come out” as an adamant pro-choicer, but when I did, I had no regrets whatsoever. “Coming out” incited a lot of people to also share their opinions on abortion with me, and with that, I got to find out who the pro-choicers are. Yes, my area is so conservative I feel as if I have to take a bath after being in crowded areas, but I found out that there are more pro-choicers out there than I thought. Not only that, but being very vocal about my pro-choice beliefs ended up scaring away a lot of the anti-choicers in my life. So basically, there are more pro-choicers in my life and less antis. It’s a win-win situation.
3) If you can’t build a real-life community, find one online
Sometimes it’s just not easy to construct a positive, loving, pro-choice climate in an area which is very hostile to women and their rights. Even after trying to create one, you may still end up feeling excluded from the movement. This is where the internet comes in handy. The internet does a great job of uniting small town activists like me and big city activists like many of the writers for the Abortion Gang. It would be great to have more of a pro-choice community in real life, but I love the online pro-choice community with all my heart, and I know that I can be open and honest with them. I may be a small town girl, but that does not mean I can’t be apart of the pro-choice movement. I know I belong, and the rest of you small town activists do, too.