For a short period in the early days of my pro-choice activism, I had a nemesis. The fact that she didn’t know about it may have lessened the impact. My nemesis was a young woman who was heavily involved in a pro-life organization that did some protesting of the abortion clinic where I worked at the time; I found out her name and used to creep her on Facebook, but truth be told it wasn’t that interesting. She was a standard, young white Christian type, super involved in vanilla stuff like music or Sunday school or whatever, saving herself until marriage with some equally non-threatening young man.
The one thing that was edgy about my nemesis (at least as far as her peer group went) was that she had a tattoo – a Bible quote that could be interpreted as anti-abortion. I remember thinking smugly to myself how silly she was to get such a strong statement tattooed on her so young; what if later she figured out the complexities of the issue and changed her stance? Or what if it just became less of an issue for her?
I know now that I was being kind of an asshole, after a few years of being a woman and having my own permanent choices (including, but not limited to, tattoos) being questioned. It makes me think of the double standard around having children that I have been coming up against lately: folks who don’t ever want to have kids seem to face a lot more questioning and condescending “oh you’ll change your mind someday” bullshit than the people actually having kids, which is kind of ridiculous when you think about it. (Obviously this is based on my own experience and is probably different for folks of different colours/ages/culture backgrounds/sexual identities/etc.).
Anyway this is all coming up because I got a tattoo this week, and unlike my two previous tattoos it is a. political, and b. almost always visible. I have been thinking about this one for almost five years, and when I look at it I feel 100% awesome about it, but I know there’s a chance that won’t always be the case. But it’s the chance you take, just like my nemesis took a chance that she would always be against abortion and a Christian. You can’t really know how things are going to go in life, but it’s too short to hold back, I think.
Next week I am getting my second IUD inserted, a five year placeholder on the road to whenever they finally let me be permanently sterilized. I’ve known I don’t want kids for way longer than I’ve known I wanted this tattoo, but I still hear this junk about maybe changing my mind – more than I’ve ever heard about maybe regretting that tattoo. I know it’s not really the same, but I feel like they’re bound together by the horrible kinship of policing women’s bodies, choices and lives. The only person who gets to give my new tat the side-eye is my mother, and that’s only really because it’s inevitable. And the only person who gets to question my decision to never be pregnant is exactly no one.
I am the expert on my own life. My body is part of that. Trust my decisions, because I’m the one who has to live with them; but more importantly, because it’s none of your damn business.