Everyday Feminism: What Our Dominant Narratives Say About Abortion

From the article:

What Can We Do?

1. Create Safe Spaces

We can work to create safe spaces where people feel encouraged to share their own stories – and not just those who have had an abortion but all those who have had an abortion experience: parents, partners, friends.

In creating these safe spaces, we can work to make these stories heard, making it safer and easier for others to speak and to feel more supported if they choose to have an abortion.

More and more, campuses and communities around the country are organizing abortion speak-outs and similar events meant to encourage and empower folks to tell their stories.

Advocates for Youth’s 1 in 3 Campaign helps to share these stories through video and social media, and has toolkits for promoting supportive spaces and abortion access.

2. Promote Realistic Portrayals in Media

Because media shape our perceptions of experiences, we must also work to create more realistic and sympathetic portrayals of abortion stories in American media.

Comedian Jenny Slate and friends are doing just that in their movie Obvious Child, set to release sometime this year.

By sharing honest, accurate, and relatable stories about abortion in television and movies, we can work to counter the dominant narrative that villianizes, victimizes, and oversimplifies abortion experiences.

3. De-Stigmatize the Word

Despite major forward steps in the abortion rights movement in numbers, reach, and inclusivity, there seems to be a backward motion in regards to the word ‘abortion.’

Following the anti-abortion movement’s lead in stigmatizing the procedure as well as the word, more and more abortion rights advocacy groups are sticking strictly to the word ‘choice.’

NARAL, for example, whose acronym originally stood for National Abortion Rights Action League, changed its name in 2003 to NARAL Pro-Choice America as a marketing move, a new brand that many organizations, as well as political campaigns and grassroots activists, have followed. Who can say no to “choice,” right?

This is a political strategy, and one can that can be effective at achieving certain short-term goals. But in the long run, when we shy away from the word abortion, it only serves to further stigmatize it and hurt our cause.

If abortion rights advocates aren’t willing to use the word abortion, who will?

4. Share Our Stories

Have you had an abortion? Share your story with your friends, if you’re comfortable doing so.

When I began talking about my abortion to my friends, I learned that many of them had also had one. Sometimes it just takes one person sharing their story to make others feel comfortable to share their stories as well.

When there is such a limited space to talk about abortion in society, the fictional stories we see and the dominant political discourses we hear and participate in become what we think we know about abortion, and this not only affects how we as a culture perceive it, but how the political landscape reacts and blocks access to reproductive rights.

When abortion is portrayed and perceived as unsafe, it is much easier for legislators to gain public support for measures that make abortions more difficult to get.

When we share our stories, we not only show how common and complex abortion experiences are, we also serve to highlight the realities of abortion – who gets abortions, what they’re actually like, and the issues we face in gaining full abortion access.

When we tell our stories, we put names, faces and real lives to this “mythical procedure,”basing it in reality and working to de-stigmatize abortion as a part of a growing effort to make abortion experiences emotionally healthy, supportive and fully accessible to all.”


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