Let me preface this post with one thing. I think Lena Dunham is talented in what she created with Girls, and I am both incredibly envious and inspired by what she has accomplished.
Now, with that out of the way, after reading about how Dunham spoke about wishing she “had an abortion” in order to alleviate the stigma around them, I think I speak for everyone when I say… for Christ’s sake girl, shut the fuck up already. JESUS.
I am unquestionably pro-choice. And that comes not from being a hardcore feminist, or being a hardcore liberal, or wanting to piss off my conservative friends and family. It comes from something basic and selfish. It comes from being a sexually active woman who is terrified of pregnancy. It comes from the simple logic of understanding no one, especially some random dude from Kentucky involved in the government, has any right to tell me (or any woman) that I need to spend nine months of my life allowing something else to live in my body without my consent. It comes from compassion, it comes from self preservation, it comes from simple observation.
I myself have never had an abortion. I have thankfully never had to make that choice. The closest I’ve come was when I was 29 and living in LA, took Plan B because I was drunk and stupid and didn’t use a condom and had missed a birth control pill, and I was scared. 15 hours later, I popped the sixty dollar pill, and then got on a plane to Charleston for vacation.
The entire plane ride, I wondered if the pill had worked. And for five shitty as fuck hours, I thought about what my other option was had it not.
I am utterly grateful for the fact that I had the ability to think about my options. That I have options to think about. Choices that can be made. But it doesn’t mean thinking about the choices, thinking about the situation I found myself in, was fun. It didn’t make me feel brave, it didn’t make me feel faminist, or trendy, or cool. The thoughts were mixed. Relief. Fear. Worry. Gratitude. I didn’t sit on that plane going, “fuck yeah, now I can say I REALLY know what it’s like to be a woman/feminist/brave person/leader/destigmatizer. I sat on the plane going, “fuck, please let this sixty dollar pill work”. Why? So I wouldn’t have to go to the next step. Because I didn’t WANT to have to make the choice to have an abortion. Shit, I’m super glad chemotherapy exists if I ever need to have it, but I’m not like, “yeah man, I WISH I had cancer so I could utilize the medical advances that have been made to combat it so I can be more in touch with people who have cancer”. Call me a prude, but I don’t want to get cancer just so I can HAVE chemo because it exists. CRAZY, I know.
A week later, I found out that either the pill had worked, or I had never been pregnant at all. Either way, it was a relief I can’t describe. I did not want to be pregnant. I did not want to have to make that next choice if I were. But I knew in my heart, I would have made the choice to have an abortion had it come to that. The overwhelming sense of relief that it didn’t come to that is what Dunham is missing. And that comes, I think, from just an utter lack of understanding due to privilege.
No woman should ever be shamed for making the choice to have an abortion. No woman should ever be shamed for making the choice to NOT have an abortion (except Hitler’s mom, she blows). But abortion is a right – and one that is terrifyingly limited in parts of the country right now – that women (and men) should respect. Not envy, not idolize, not desire. Going to get an abortion can be traumatizing for some women. Scary. Hard. It can also be a welcomed relief, a light at the end of the tunnel, a saving grace and a medical necessity. The pure ignorance of saying she “wished she had one” shows her complete lack of understanding of the complexity for which many women – myself included – feel about the situation. It shows that she is out of touch with the reality of the situation.
Having an abortion is not some cub scout badge of honor you earn for being a super feminist. It is not some fun, feminist outing to show how much you empathize with other women. It’s not some stupid fucking hipster tool that should be casually used to piss off conservatives. It’s so much more than a trending topic on Twitter. Getting an abortion is not going to yoga or a craft brewery in Williamsburg. It’s a personal choice for women, a right that should never be taken away from us, but that should be respected for what it is and not glorified for what it certainly isn’t. If Dunham wants to help remove the stigma from abortion, then treating it like it’s some fucking novel, quirky, anti-establishment field trip is not the way to do it. All she did was highlight her lack of understanding of the reality of the world. Her utter desire to be relevant by clinging in a fucked up way to a topic that is incredibly important and unfortunately, very fragile at the moment and making it about her.
Most women who have had abortions in this country probably don’t know who Lena Dunham is. And most likely, they don’t give a fuck. They do not need her to have one in order to remove stigma from the personal choice they made. And that’s what she just doesn’t fucking get. All she’s done is trivialize the choice those women have made, insulted those who chose to keep a pregnancy instead of aborting one, and completely missed the mark on how to show those who are anti-choice why it is imperative for women to have access to safe, medical abortions. All she has done is made the right to choose look as though it’s as meaningful as the right to choose whether or not to buy the iPhone 7.
No one WANTS to have an unwanted pregnancy (thus, the obvious phrasing). No one, not even the staunchest of pro-choice people, WANTS to have an abortion. But everyone NEEDS the right to have that choice. And that’s the biggest miss for Dunham. She conflates want and need because she has no idea what the difference is. In the real world, abortions are much more than a two episode arc, a taboo storyline, a talking point. They are real choices women make every day, hard choices, scary choices, impossible choices. But those choices need to be made. And Dunham is doing women no favors by trivializing those choices as nothing more than the choice between splenda or equal in her coffee.
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