that [sort-of] awkward moment when you meet someone in real life who IS someone from your fandom, but they’ve never seen the show, so whenever you’re around them you’re just like “THAT WAS SO X AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT”.
A catcall is entirely about reminding you that you are not yours. The purity myth is entirely about reminding you that you are not yours. The fetishization of female purity in a world where catcalls are an acceptable form of communication telegraphs one thing very clearly:
“Women, stop sexualizing yourselves—that’s our job, and you’re taking all the fun out of it.”
The sexualization of women is only appealing if it’s nonconsensual. Otherwise it’s “sluttiness,” and sluttiness is agency and agency is threatening.”
When I was in junior high, I asked my mum something about abortion, I can’t remember what. But I remember her telling me women having a choice about whether or not to get pregnant, or whether or not to stay pregnant, was one of the most important advances for women’s rights, and that choice should not be forbidden or illegal. That stuck with me, and for quite a few years after I lived with the cognitive dissonance of “abortion is bad, but women having the choice is very important”. My mum also instilled in me the importance of contraception access, and when I got engaged in my early twenties she mad sure I had a meeting with a nurse to talk about my contraceptive options, where I learned about the NuvaRing and IUDs for the first time. I still lived fairly comfortably with contradictions: abortion is bad, women should be able to have a choice, people should use contraceptives if they don’t want to have children. I am still very grateful for my mum, as without her my only other sex education would have been the abstinence-only class I was in in grade ten, where we learned that if you take the Pill there’s a good chance it will kill you, and that condoms don’t work. So I am glad that my mother had already given me a much better and much more accurate education.
I did my undergrad at a fairly conservative evangelical school, and no one really talked about reproductive rights, except maybe to add “abortion” to the list of “Evils We Need To Fight”. I also remember one evening, I was chatting to a friend who’d recently got engaged and was starting to plan her wedding, and I asked what kind of contraception she was thinking of using (yes, I went to a school where everyone assumes that the time to start thinking about those things is after engagement since you’re getting married, which means s-e-x!). And she was really offended, not because she thought it was too personal a question, but because birth control was bad. I was in a really strange position at school, because I still, theoretically thought abortion was bad just like my classmates, but I was still very sure that the choice was important even though I still couldn’t articulate anything beyond that statement, and that contraception wasn’t embarrassing or offensive or sinful. So that, like a lot of other things I thought (like women should be allowed to be pastors, or that it’s okay/good to accept evolution as fact), made me definitely “a liberal”, probably a heretic, and maybe not even a Christian!
So I graduated, and I started delving further into feminist literature and blog spaces, and learned a lot about why this choice is so important and how groundbreaking the Pill and abortion rights have been. I was also becoming “liberal-er and liberal-er” the more I read and the more I studied. I was becoming less evangelical and a lot more pragmatic. I was happy to continue practicing my Christian faith, but I was very aware that living in a free and pluralistic country means that other people get to continue practicing their faith or lack thereof too, and we should all try and figure out a way to live next to each other and take care of each other and not try to force everyone to think the exact same way. So, since I was no longer struggling with the cognitive dissonance I’d dealt with for so many years, without really realizing it I’d become entirely pro-choice.
That was a couple of years ago and this is the first I’m really writing about it. I’ve generally kept my pro-choice-ness fairly close to my chest. I know a lot of people who think being pro-choice is incompatible with Christianity, and I know that it can be a very sensitive topic and I’m generally not interested in starting fights. But I also know I can’t be super secretive about it forever. I’m pro-choice and pro-contraception-access because I think all children should be deeply loved and cared for and appreciated, and I think all mothers should be willing and enthusiastic about caring for their children. I don’t think it’s my position to dictate how other people make sexual and reproductive choices; I know what I think about sex for myself, and maybe sometime I’ll tell you if you’re curious. I’m all for lowering the abortion rate but only in the same way that I’m for lowering the rates of other medical procedures through adequate prevention and care, and I know that the countries with the lowest abortion rates are also the ones with comprehensive sex ed and widespread contraception access. And I know that being pro-choice means supporting whatever choice is being made. One of my dearest friends recently gave birth at home to her third child, and since the midwife wasn’t there yet she caught her son herself. I think she’s Superwoman! And I am happy that she is free to choose motherhood on her own terms, just like I am happy for my friends who are waiting for a while to have kids.
I’m also a theology student, and the more I study (or the more heretical I become, depending on who you’re talking to), the more I’m not sure the Bible really has much to say about reproductive rights, beyond an Ancient Near East understanding of the importance of children and the cultural shame of a barren wife, and there is something in Exodus 21 about paying a woman restitution if you cause her to miscarry. But what stands out to me most is the story of the Annunciation in Luke’s gospel, where the angel appears to Mary and tells her about how she’s going to bear the Messiah. But the announcement also includes Mary’s consent, and she says, “Yes” to the pregnancy. I was thinking about that the other day, and I thought, “What if she said no? Maybe there were other women who said no to the offer, so they’re not mentioned and we just get the Mary story because she’s the one who said yes, and her consent was important enough to be mentioned in the narrative.” It’s actually a really big deal that she consented, and I can’t see it happening the other way around, her saying, “No thanks, that doesn’t sound like something I’d like to do,” and having to do it anyway. But when it comes to the Bible that’s all I can come up with, a few “glimpses” that maybe suggest the whole thing is a lot more complicated than just saying that abortion is wrong, the end.
So I continue being pro-choice, and continue being more and more comfortable with being “out” about it, which can sometimes be frustrating when people think “I’m pro-choice” translates to “I think everyone should be forced to do x (whether that’s have an abortion, or be sexually active before they want to)”. I believe that I’m supposed to be “making shalom”, or fighting for “ultimate flourishing” and peace and freedom for everyone around me, and I believe that “flourishing” and “peace” include fighting for each woman to be able to take care of her life and her body in the way that’s best for her.
me: "Dan, we could probably have a pretty cool wedding planning business."
Dan: "Sure! But what would we call it?"
Roland: "Two people go in... and one (in the eyes of the Lord) comes out."