I get emails and comments about this sign on a fairly regular basis, and none of them are positive. So, with the resigned spirit of someone educating people on purposeful shock-humor, I’m going to take this opportunity to explain myself.
If you’ve ever been vilified for something over and over again, cruelly and mercilessly, you might be familiar with a unique feeling of such desperation and hopelessness that occasionally gives you the sudden and intense desire to shove it–whatever it is that people are mocking–straight back into everyone’s face.
If it’s your speech impediment, you might want to do it more often, purposefully; if it’s your flashy clothes, you might want to dress to the nines; if it’s your sexual orientation, you might want to come out and flaunt it; if it’s the fact that you’ve had an abortion, you’ll eventually want to scream it to the fucking heavens and beyond, or wear a dress that announces it to everyone at your party–or make a sign that juxtaposes said medical procedure with an extremely common, affordable, and universally-beloved food.
Me, the godless heathen, holding the most infamous work of art I will probably ever make
Look, sometimes people who’ve had abortions have lots of strong and/or complicated feelings about it all, or they regret it. Sometimes people who’ve had abortions don’t feel much at all about it. Sometimes people who’ve had abortions are generally cool with it and feel relieved afterwards. Sometimes people who’ve had abortions don’t want to think about it at all, ever again. All of those thoughts and feelings are valid, and they should be understood, sympathized with, and normalized.
To NOT normalize abortion, to NOT be okay with a sign that has both words ‘pizza’ and ‘abortion’ in the same sentence, to NOT agree with the idea that this procedure can be commonplace and okay–is to completely play into the anti-abortion/anti-choice narrative that the procedure is always horrible, scary, difficult, blah blah blah, and everyone who has it done should be ashamed.
If you have a problem with my sign, it is a good indicator that you need to examine yourself and what your true thoughts are about abortion. And if you call yourself pro-choice but don’t agree with normalization of abortion… Dude, all I can say is, rethink stuff. Rethink it hard.
I believe that it is our right and responsibility to normalize the heck out of abortion. If you love pizza and you also happen to love abortion, you love that people have and hopefully will continue to have (increased) access to it, you want abortion for everyone on demand and without apology–honk your horn next time you see this sign.
I’m not going anywhere, and neither is it.
UPDATE 5/4/17: This sign and article have sparked lots of (mostly) productive conversations. Let me address a few additional concerns that have come up as a result.
Q: This sign will fuel anti-abortion advocates’ misinformation campaign(s) about how “bad” pro-choice advocates are.
A: The bottom line is that the extremist right and pro-life/anti-abortion proponents will run in circles trying to make abortion seem like the worst thing in the world. It doesn’t matter what my sign says. Trust me: they’re looking for reasons to vilify us anyway. We need to march on and not cater to their squeamishness. Trying to fight within their parameters not only makes us look weak and noncommittal to the cause, but also allows them the upper hand and the power to make the rules. We do not owe them comfort, we do not owe them authority, we do not owe them anything.
Q: You’re too young to know anything. Why, you look like a teenager, and you’re trying to tell ME what to believe?!
A: That’s a bullshit argument and you know it. (I bet you hit that ‘like’ button on Facebook when you saw that video of the 16-year-old girl schooling a senator for voting to defund Planned Parenthood, you filthy hypocrite.)
Q: If you would just change the sign to say “Honk if you love abortion ACCESS”, I would be comfortable with it. Why can’t it say that instead?
A: My short answer to this is that I’m not going to change my sign just to make you less squeamish.
My much longer explanation is this: I’ll be honest with you–originally, this sign was made to piss off pro-lifers, and add shock value to an argument for reproductive rights that so often shies away from the nitty-gritty. Of course it’s going to make a lot of people uncomfortable. I’m not an idiot; I chose the wording very purposefully. (I guess I thought it was kind of funny, too, but that seems to be lost in the chaos these days.)
What I mean by all of this is that, as advocates for reproductive health, knowledge, and rights, we often take great pains to focus on the “softer” side of things. (For example, lots of people like to point out that Planned Parenthood does so many other things than abortion! Abortion is only 3% of their services! So they can’t be that bad! …Who cares? We’re fighting about abortion access, here.)
Abortion rights advocates are so often on the defensive, putting emphasis on how abortion should be as rare as possible, how we don’t like it but we guess it’s gotta be available, yadda yadda yadda. Don’t get me wrong–those are very valid arguments that should still be used. But they shouldn’t be all we’re saying. The downside to these arguments is that they tend to paint abortion as a “necessary evil,” rather than a medical procedure that should not only be legal, accessible, and safe, but also normalized in our culture and society.
Defensive arguments like the above should be a part of a larger, more diverse group of arguments for abortion access. We need to stop being on the defensive all the time and go on the offensive. We need to stop being afraid to ruffle feathers. Sure, a confrontational, brash, proud-to-say-it kind of approach isn’t for everyone–but it is another valid way to fight back, and fight back hard.
I love abortion access, and I also love the specific procedure called abortion. I love it because it frees people from pregnancy when they don’t want to be pregnant; I love it because it prevents babies from being born only to suffer intensely and then die; I love it because it prevents abusers from keeping hold on their victims; I love it because when it is freely chosen, it is always a tool for freedom and opportunity and agency.
Stop being ashamed of supporting abortion. It’s time to be brave, and I’m giving you a reason to be. So get out there and fight.