Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A 40th Post Treat

I worked inside again today, on reception. Don't worry, next week I will be back on the front lines. It was actually a bit crazier today inside than out; I think the weather makes people a bit buggy. It certainly restricted some traffic from Saint John, because the numbers of protesters were way down. Hoorah!

So since I don't really have anything much to write about, I thought I would post a little reflection I was writing in my journal earlier. I was thinking about how I need to write more, but all I can ever think to write about is abortion. Is abortion all I think about?? I mean I know I work in (and volunteer at) a clinic, and also troll a lot of abortion blogs and Facebook message boards like a coke addict in the bathroom at boom!, but it's just weird that abortion takes up so much space in my brain. Especially since I've never had one. So here's what I came up with; enjoy.

Feminism is my curse. It prevents me from watching commercials without cringing, reading magazines without violently flipping through pages of perfumed advertisements, and watching movies without decrying the lack of a strong leading female who does not dress like a crack whore playing beach volleyball. It disrupts my daily life, and yet I love it, I cling to it with the hopeless embrace and vacant stare of an addict. I love you, feminism. You give me life.

Feminism informs my other views. It shapes my socialism, powers my empathy and inspires my quest for social justice. It even contributes, in the sweetest and smallest way, to my vegetarianism. Feminism is not just an “ism” to me. It is who I am.

There is nothing more dangerous than such passion focused on one tiny aspect of our culture. But there is one such aspect where the majority of my feminist energy goes; one area of our society that holds such a deep fascination for me that every time I get on the internet, I am drawn, as if by magic, towards more blogs and message boards whose focus it is. I love it, I am appalled by it and intrigued by it, it is the air I live and breathe. It is the abortion debate.

It is strange that I would hold such stakes in a topic that really should not concern me (except of course in my womanhood and my feminism). I have never had an abortion, nor have I ever been in the situation where I would have to consider it. Neither my mother nor my sister, as far as I know, has had one. None of my close friends have had one, although a few acquaintances have (not that we have ever talked about it). Anyone I know who is directly involved in the abortion debate is someone I met after becoming involved myself. What could attract me to such a divisive, and often explosive (sometimes literally!), debate?

I suppose it is the polar opposition that does it. Once you begin to consider the debate, it is impossible to be on the fence. Either you are for legalized abortion, or you oppose it. There is no middle ground.

How can a debate have no middle ground? How can there be no shades of grey, no room for compromise? Absurd! And yet…I know that some will argue that the two sides do have common goals, but really, in general – have you ever met somebody who was in between pro-choice and pro-life? What would that opinion look like?

And thus I am drawn to my sweet, elusive abortion debate like a vulture to carrion. I love the polarity of it. I love the vitriol that spews from either side, the way that none can convert the other. I love that it incorporates all our favourite vices: sex, religion, politics, death, control, and of course, feminism. I love Dr. Morgentaler; but equally I love the middle-aged men who protest outside our clinic. I love these sweet, ridiculous players in the ongoing play, the battle that will never be won. Because there will always be someone on the other side. We are never going away, and neither are they.

It is silly, this thing that, at first glance, seems so serious. There are so many terrible things going on in the world, and here we are, still struggling to retain this one thing that we thought we had won. Why won’t they let us be complacent? Why can’t we concentrate on more pressing feminist emergencies? Because we live in a silly, topsy-turvy world where the things that should be unimportant are the things that consume our lives. And so I am consumed by this debate, because I have to be. Now that I am directly involved, my feminism won’t let me escape. Damn you, abortion debate! You will never end, and I am stuck in you forever, doomed to reflect upon my own part in this absurdity until the end of time.

Seriously, people. Some days the blog is the only thing keeping me sane.


Anonymous said...

has anyone brought http://nothingbutred.wordpress.com/ to your attention?

The Pedgehog said...

No, they had not. Thanks, anonymous stranger! This definitely looks like something I could do. :)

Anonymous said...

You may be interested in this. You are cordially invited to attend a program to mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action of Violence Against Women and children, Homelessness and World AIDS Day. Presented by the Women’s Inter-Church Council of Fredericton and Area. This event provides a forum for those agencies that provide assistance to those affected by violence, homeless, AIDS to assist us in developing a deeper awareness, knowledge, understanding and appreciation of their efforts.

Place: The Legislature Building
Time: Saturday Dec. 1st 2007 at 7:30pm
* Please arrive close to 7:10

Co-Anchoring the Program is Dr. Lanette Ruff of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation and Jo Lang, Executive Director of AIDS New Brunswick. A member of the RCMP will lead the invited guests to their reserved seats in procession in the order according to accepted protocol procedure.

Please respond to Mary Ryan, Project Coordinator, on or before November 20th in order to have your place reserved.
marynjim@nbnet.nb.ca or (506) 454-3008

With every good wish,

Florence Joy Clement, President
Women’s Inter-Church Council of Fredericton and Area

Amy O said...

I loved it. Peggy you rule. Your writing skills are awesome. I liked this word: vitriol. I don't know what it means but I liked it.

Keep on keepin on.


I didn't know that protesters drove from Saint John? OR did I read it wrong?

The Pedgehog said...

Thanks Amy. You did read it right; a van load of them come up from Saint John every week. However, most of the key players (Father Grim, Crazy Legs, Peter Ryan, etc.) are from here.

Vitriol is a poison they used in old-timey times. It's the murder weapon in a lot of Sherlock Holmes stories.

Anonymous said...

True, vitriol is a poison but when used in the context of your latest entry, refers to something meant to resemble vitriol in caustic quailty as it applies to feeling or speech.

E said...

Interesting. The abortion issue fascinates me because it is such a symbolic issue, such a stand-in for so many other things, too -- but I don't see the debate as eternal, as unwinnable. I see anti-choicers as having a fundamental lack of respect and consideration for women, our right to our own bodies, our health, our lives.

I am in this personally because, although I've never had or needed an abortion, I'm a young woman -- a young straight woman. I believe about one in four North American women has an abortion at some time in her life. I might be that one in four. I can easily imagine circumstances in which I would need to be that one.

Not that I think this debate will ever fully go away. But the intimidation, the shaming, the attempts at legal coercion -- I like to think those will stop. I like to think Father Grim and his like will become increasingly marginal. I like to think it won't always be so contentious for me, as a woman, to assert that my body is mine, my sexuality is mine, my reproductive capacity is mine. I like to hope that.

daev said...

Pedge, I admire your pluck and grace when it comes to dealing with the wingnuttery elements of our society. I can't seem to give them the same kind of quarter. I will mercilessly mock, denounce, and snidely sneer at them until I draw my last breath, but that's just how I roll. Sure, the debate will probably never completely go away, but we can at least hope that the anti-aborts will fade into irrelevance.

Love the blog, though. I'ma linky to it on mine.

Anonymous said...

Your journal entry was really touching, it's so good for someone to say that feminism is not a thing it is what they are. We need more of that