Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Recommended Reading

[TRIGGER WARNING: RAPE OF A MINOR, ABORTION, DEATH OF AN INFANT]

I call this recommended reading but I cannot recommend it to anyone who has been sexually assaulted or had a young child die. I don't actually know if I recommend it to anyone other than rape apologists and anti-choicers. Who probably won't ever read this blog, but fuck it, I have some things to say.

I just finished reading this incredible article by the incredible Dina Zirlott.

I Wish I’d Had A ‘Late-Term Abortion’ Instead Of Having My Daughter

I both read and write some brutally honest stuff, but this article made even me go "whoa, damn." And that is exactly why I stopped everything to read it in its entirety. It made me cry. A lot.

The story begins with Zirlott's story of being violently raped at age 17. After reading about how the horrible trauma derailed her young life, made her go from honor student to high school dropout, made her actively suicidal until her mom finally figured it out and got her help, I paused my reading to do something I've done many times before.

I imagined finding out that a friend of mine had been raped. I imagined going out and buying a gun, tracking the rapist down, and unloading it into his body. Then I imagined going outside and waiting for the police to come arrest me. I imagined opening my mouth and unleashing an inhuman scream from the depths of my soul. Screaming in my head over and over and over before collapsing into uncontrollable sobs punctuated by moans and howls.

Back in real life, I cried. I don't know why I imagine these things, but it happens most of the time when I read a story about rape. Sometimes the victim is a friend or other loved one, sometimes it's me. Sometimes the imagined reaction is more violent than simply shooting the imagined rapist to death. But it always ends in silent screaming. And I wonder if I will ever finally open my mouth in real life and unleash all the pain I have stored in the depth of my guts as I have imagined time and time again.

I read the rest of the story crying. And I realized that maybe the reason I don't talk about abortion much is not because I feel it's impossible to change an anti-choicer's mind or because I have nothing new to say on the subject after many years as a feminist. Maybe it's because the thought of such a fundamental attack on bodily autonomy is too horrifying. Because rape is the ultimate violation of bodily autonomy. Denying someone the right to an abortion is not far behind.

I still feel like nothing will change the mind of an anti-choicer, whether it's because they're too wrapped up in the highly emotional idea of "infanticide" or because they really don't give a fuck about anything except how much power and money they can hoard for themselves. But at the very least, if anyone can motivate those who don't care enough or think it's important to defend bodily autonomy, Dina Zirlott can with her incredibly powerful article.

Listen to me when I am talking to you. I am a human being, and I am more than a vessel and I speak for my daughter whom I never heard cry. I speak for that 17-year-old girl bent across a kitchen counter. I speak for the strange woman I have become. And I speak to all of the women like me, the ones who came before, and after, who have been or will be in the same position ― or perhaps your story is completely different and powerful in its own right. 
These are our bodies and our lives, and so rarely do we ask for the circumstances that command the weight of these critical decisions, but these choices are ours. We should not have to beg for permission to decide what is best for ourselves and our children, even the ones who may never be born ― and maybe never should be born.  

As a writer, woman, human being, and attempted truth-teller, I am in awe.

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