Fuck that, it’s not a dichotomy. Let’s not act like mascara glues girls eyes so shut that they can’t read a word of Dickens or solve a trig problem. Let’s talk about how no boy has ever been asked if he’d rather get his Bachelor’s or get married; no boy has ever been told that he’s too handsome to run for office. So why cover up my tits so you can take me seriously?
imagine if women could be popular lets players or video game reviewers on reviewers. imagine if women could do that and not be relentlessly harassed. imagine if the gaming community wasnt still a sausage fest in 2014. imagine
I was 21 when a routine physical showed that I was pregnant. I fainted when I found out. I was on the Depo-Provera shot and in a committed relationship. I was also going to college, working full time and decided to end the pregnancy. I wasn’t ready physically, emotionally or financially to be a parent. I spoke to a woman at the clinic who asked if I needed an escort from my car on the day of my appointment. My aunt and best friend were accompanying me, so I said no. But then she told me to call if I was having trouble. I asked, “Why?” She paused and said, “Just please call if you are having any issues.”
I was the first appointment that day and noticed a few men, all in their 50s or 60s, milling around the parking lot when we pulled in. Once we got out of the car, one made a beeline for us with a fistful of pamphlets. My aunt said, “Thanks, but no thanks,” and he got irate, screaming, “How can you do this? You’re killing your baby to continue on your whore lifestyle, you jezebel!’ Suddenly we were surrounded by five other men — that’s when the baby-doll parts starting hitting us.
They had a box filled with torn apart baby dolls covered with red paint. All three of us were hit — in the head, chest, torso. As they were pelting us, they yelled, “This is what you’re doing to your baby! Look at the street! It’s strewn with the blood of your baby. That’s your baby scattered across the street!” It was surreal and terrifying at once. And we still had to cross a wide street to enter the clinic. Then they shouted at my aunt, “Grandma, why are you letting her do this? Tell her to give her baby up for adoption!” My aunt responded, “First of all, I’m not old enough to be a grandma. Second, come talk to me when you have a uterus and a vagina.”
I thought I’d feel better once inside the clinic. But as I sat in the waiting area, I could hear every single girl get out of her car and do that walk of shame. That was the worst part of the day. When the doctor pulled up later that morning, there was such a frenzy the building almost shook. I heard them shouting, “Murderer!” and “Butcher!” and my heart started racing all over again.
I was the first to see the doctor. After he went over the procedure with me, he asked, “Do you have any questions?” I said, “Are they going to be there when I leave? — not, “Is there any pain?” or “How long will it take to recover?” He said, “No. After I arrive, they disperse.” That was true, and I was grateful. I would have stayed until they left. I couldn’t go through that again.
But there was one good thing the protesters did that morning: They convinced me I was making the right decision. I bet every single woman inside that waiting room felt the same way, even though none of us spoke. We’d all just been through the most heinous experience, but there was a feeling of quiet satisfaction among this group of women amidst the horror. I thought, “If I can make it through that, I can make it through the rest of this day.”
I have not needed an abortion in my lifetime. But I have friends who have chosen to have them, and I have spoken to women from my mother’s generation, from my grandmother’s generation, who made the same choice. And no one, ever, out of all the women I have ever met, has called it an easy decision, or said “Gosh, I wish someone had been there to call me a murderer and a whore before I made this choice.”
This isn’t about “saving babies,” or saving souls, or anything like that. If it were, they would be out there with people who needed babies, playing make-a-match with potential adoptive parents. They would be out there with boxes of condoms and spermicides, to make sure this didn’t happen again. And they would be out there with respect, because if you disrespect my choices when they will define my entire life, there’s no way you’re ever going to respect them later.
A friend and I were out with our kids when another family’s two-year-old came up. She began hugging my friend’s 18-month-old, following her around and smiling at her. My friend’s little girl looked like she wasn’t so sure she liked this, and at that moment the other little girl’s mom came up and got down on her little girl’s level to talk to her.
“Honey, can you listen to me for a moment? I’m glad you’ve found a new friend, but you need to make sure to look at her face to see if she likes it when you hug her. And if she doesn’t like it, you need to give her space. Okay?”
Two years old, and already her mother was teaching her about consent.
My daughter Sally likes to color on herself with markers. I tell her it’s her body, so it’s her choice. Sometimes she writes her name, sometimes she draws flowers or patterns. The other day I heard her talking to her brother, a marker in her hand.
“Bobby, do you mind if I color on your leg?”
Bobby smiled and moved himself closer to his sister. She began drawing a pattern on his leg with a marker while he watched, fascinated. Later, she began coloring on the sole of his foot. After each stoke, he pulled his foot back, laughing. I looked over to see what was causing the commotion, and Sally turned to me.
“He doesn’t mind if I do this,” she explained, “he is only moving his foot because it tickles. He thinks its funny.” And she was right. Already Bobby had extended his foot to her again, smiling as he did so.
What I find really fascinating about these two anecdotes is that they both deal with the consent of children not yet old enough to communicate verbally. In both stories, the older child must read the consent of the younger child through nonverbal cues. And even then, consent is not this ambiguous thing that is difficult to understand.
Teaching consent is ongoing, but it starts when children are very young. It involves both teaching children to pay attention to and respect others’ consent (or lack thereof) and teaching children that they should expect their own bodies and their own space to be respected—even by their parents and other relatives.
And if children of two or four can be expected to read the nonverbal cues and expressions of children not yet old enough to talk in order to assess whether there is consent, what excuse do full grown adults have?
I try to do this every day I go to nursery and gosh it makes me so happy to see it done elsewhere.