To hear some of our more under-informed friends from Real America tell it, if you don’t have an abortion punchcard from Planned Parenthood, then you’re not allowed to be a feminist. All that rhetoric about valuing women’s right to make choices about their bodies is just a smoke screen, and when you get down to it, the cool girls with septum piercings and Rosie the Riveter tattoos won’t let you brunch with them unless you have an abortion story to go along with your bottomless Bellinis.
This is, of course, bullshit. There’s no minimum abortion requirement to be a feminist, and having an abortion does not bestow one with feminist street cred. It’s a personal decision, and you’re not obligated to tell anyone about that decision either way. Controversial soundbite expert Lena Dunham isn’t completely sold on this point, though, and has unleashed yet another round of Twitter backlash after making some comments about abortion on the most recent episode of her podcast, Women Of The Hour.
“One day, when I was visiting a Planned Parenthood in Texas a few years ago, a young girl walked up to me and asked me if I’d like to be a part of her project in which women share their stories of abortions,” she says. “I sort of jumped. ‘I haven’t had an abortion,’ I told her. I wanted to make it really clear to her that as much as I was going out and fighting for other women’s options, I myself had never had an abortion. And I realized then that even I was carrying within myself stigma around this issue. Even I, the woman who cares as much as anybody about a woman’s right to choose, felt it was important that people know I was unblemished in this department.”
That all kind of makes sense. She wants to remove stigma around abortion, and recognizes her own internalized shame around the topic. Cool. But here’s the kicker: At the end of the segment, Dunham says, “Now I can say that I still haven’t had an abortion, but I wish I had.” Okay, Lena, if we’re playing True Confessions, I haven’t had an abortion, either. I’m grateful that the option still exists if I ever need it, but I don’t wish that I had had one, because abortions are expensive, and uncomfortable, and scary, and sad, and hard. And you should know that, considering you go on to talk about your mom, and your best friends, and all the people you know who have had abortions, and even include personal stories from women about their abortions on the episode.
If you want to be an abortion activist, Lena, for fuck’s sake, please think before you make an easily-taken-out-of-context statement making a serious, life-changing decision sound like a hip accessory. It’s really not helpful. But it’s too late now, and now that one, easily-taken-out-of-context statement will be used to perpetuate the myth that pro-choice women get abortions about as often as they brush their teeth.
You can hear the words straight from Dunham’s mouth starting at the 13:37 mark.