As an example of what I mean, I believe that women who have had abortions should "come out" to overcome stereotypes and the terrorizing misinformation of anti-abortion zealots, to help inform their neighbors and peers about the alternatives that are available to them. And, like coming out as a queer, I understand just how painful and humiliating such scenes of disclosure can be, how heroic, if unsung, the effort will often actually be, how risky it can be to the terms on which one is living one's everyday life in especially those socially conservative spaces where the impact of such personal stories can do the most good.
I believe that television shows like "Will and Grace" and "Ellen" and "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" (a short lived and easily forgotten show appearing at a crucial moment in which the bodies of straight guys were actually touched and assessed by gay guys in ways that crucially modeled and normalized a non-threatened masculinity that invited the queer eye as a sign of its masculinity rather than needing to respond to this eye and touch with violence) contributed to the rapid emergence of a space accommodating many hitherto abjectifying queer lifeways -- to be sure in a blandly commodified mode far from capacious enough to support and respond to the range of actually existing and actually possible queer lifeways in the world, but one on which so many recent institutional success depended on, and from which nearly all queerfolks take some measure of benefit, and within the terms of which the still urgently necessary multicultural work of recognition and support can continue on with gathered strength. Just so, I also believe that millions of women and girls would benefit if the many abstract allies of choice and women's healthcare in the entertainment industry would make a point to multiply narratives that inform people about family planning and their reproductive healthcare choices, that help overcome the shaming and deceptive religious conservative narratives proliferating in the emptiness of our silence and from the apparent sanction of our discomfort, that multiply the normalizing and sympathetic portrayals of women who benefit from safe and routine abortions and provide human faces for those everyday heroes who are providing these vital health care services in the face of unreasoning hostility and relentless violence and patriarchal propaganda.
I believe that the absurdity of so many anti-abortionist assumptions and aspirations should be exposed with ridicule, parody, and satire, instead of the pre-emptive surrender and timorous so-called bridge building with fulminating fundamentalists and patriarchal pricks that has presided over a generational eclipse of choice and healthcare decline and sexist demonization of women and girls -- and I believe that the hyperbolic satire and ferocious irony of queer discourse and street theater and AIDS and other queer activism provides an incomparably rich archive of substantial theatricality and subversive parody from which choice activism and women's healthcare advocacy can draw. Hell, I would hope it is needless to say this, so much of this archive draws from the work and lives and imaginations of queer women and riot grrrls and feminists indispensably, always, everywhere, already!
And, yes, I also believe in "outing" those political and public figures who are struggling to diminish women's access to healthcare while benefiting from the actual or possible resource to it themselves, or for their wives and daughters, from a position of comparative wealth, privilege, authority, and secrecy. No doubt such "outing" would be as genuinely controversial as queer outing also was, but also no doubt it would provide the extreme countervailing force against the background of which the "moderate" position would become one in which abortion was absolutely legal, always safe, universally accessible, widely understood, perfectly non shameful, and a matter for women to discuss with family and doctor on terms she determines for herself. Until that sensible status quo prevails, however, the personal here, as elsewhere, must be actively politicized.
Anyway, the specific occasion for this repetition of familiar arguments of mine is that I just learned of the website thisismyabortion.com, which seems to me to be taking up the queer strategy of "coming out," just as a recent rash of satirical amendments that women representatives have been forcing mostly old straight men to debate as they go on to pass their pet anti-abortion laws at the level of State legislatures seems to me to be taking up queer strategies of ridicule and satire to expose the reactionary nonsense of the anti-abortion movement. From This Is My Abortion:
Recently, I had an abortion. Lining the street in front of the clinic were a dozen or so protesters. They held up large banners with anti-abortion slogans, religious iconography, and images of dead babies. Just past the bulletproof security doors, the graphic nature of that imagery haunted me in the waiting room. What would my abortion look like? I decided to secretly document my abortion with my cell phone. My intention in documenting and sharing my abortion is to demystify the sensationalist images propagated by the religious and political right on this matter. The use of lifeless fetus photographs are a propaganda tool in the anti-choice/pro-choice debate in which women and their bodies are used as pawns to push a cultural, political, and religious agenda in the United States. At 6 weeks of pregnancy, my abortion looked very different than the images I saw when I entered the clinic that day. This is my abortion… This is my experience. I am not a medical expert. I encourage everyone to educate themselves on abortion with as much diverse information as is accessible. Through education, you can make an informed decision about what is best for your body.Follow the link for more images and information.