I finished reading this post by Lidia Yuknavitch at Rumpus on “Explicit Violence,” (trigger warning for sexual assault) and before you click on it, let me just say, yes, I think it is an incredible essay. It is compellingly written and it gets to the core of many of the intersections of violence we experience between poverty and gender and sex and sexual orientation. But it is brutal. It is explicit. And it contains images of rape and violence I am going to try and drink away tonight.
I wanted to tell everyone who felt like they could handle it to read it, but then I got to the end, where the author says:
I carry deep shame in my body for the zygotes. I don’t know a single woman alive who is “happy” to have had an abortion. Or two. Or four. And it’s not just me. Other women. Republicans. Democrats. Unaffiliated women. Atheists. Christians. Muslims. Buddhists. Armies of us walking around carrying our body secrets. Our shame over the zygotes. Or maybe there’s something deeper than shame—maybe there’s a second self I had to kill in order to live. The Lidia who believed she deserved it. Could take it. Should. It was a choice.
This needs to be addressed – again.
I know women who are happy about their abortions. Happy. Glad they had one. Maybe not glad that they had to have one, that they found themselves at those intersections of life and sex and often poverty that lead to abortions, but I know people who had abortions because they were giving birth to long-cherished dreams instead of children, or who would have stayed with a man they shouldn’t have and are now very, very glad they had an abortion instead of making a series of mistakes, one of which might – might not, but might – have been a child brought into a home where it wasn’t wanted with parents who did not want to parent.
I know more than a single woman who is “happy” to have had an abortion. And if you read this blog, you do too.
No single experience is the only experience, and we are all products of our own historical moment. The author is, very explicitly, a product of a great deal of shame and violence and a generation of “safe, legal, and rare,” a communications strategy designed to keep women from making their own healthy reproductive choices through deep-seeded invented patriarchal morals right before our generation where they figured out they could keep us from making our own choices by making our options inaccessible.
Some women mourn either their abortion or the fact that their circumstances meant that they had to have an abortion. Some women do not mourn their abortion or their circumstances. Some women experience deep gratitude for their abortion, and even a gratitude to the child they didn’t have for never being born. And some people who have abortions are not women.
There are strategic narratives deployed over which a multitude of gorgeous, fractured, layered, desperate, joyous and despairing real lived experiences cannot be easily laid. People are still reaching for them, because they are accessible to us; these narratives tell us how to tell our own stories. “When you tell about your abortion, tell them you are so sorry it had to happen.” Yes, if you feel that way, do. Tell me everything. I am listening to you with all of my heart. But don’t make your story everyone’s story. So few of us have a platform from which we can be heard, please be generous and say, “Here is my story, now tell me yours.” Allow us to belong to one another.