Wednesday night I celebrated the anniversary of Roe v. Wade (the '73 case that legalized abortion) by attending author Jennifer Baumgardner's screening of the documentary she made with Gillian Aldrich entitled, I Had an Abortion, which was released by Women Make Movies. The event was held at Bluestockings, a feminist and activist bookstore on Allen and Stanton st.
I must admit, despite having read and loved her modern guide to feminism Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future (her first book which she co-wrote with Amy Richards), it had been a long day at work and I wasn't sure I was ready to delve into an issue as intense as abortion.
But you see, that very sentiment is the kicker. Abortion has such a rigid stigma as this political issue, and despite all the brouhaha of making the political personal and vice versa, it rarely happens on a larger scale. Baumgardner really connected the two in her project, reminding us that we as women aren't so separate from this issue so as to speak of it in merely abstract terms. Whether or not we have personally had an abortion, someone in a close proximity to us definitely has. The movement, which started in 2004, has a tee shirt that says, "I Had an Abortion."
Anywho, I was pleased to kick back, enjoy a free cup of wine, and listen to a bunch of women tell their personal stories of their own abortions on screen. In fact, minus a few statistics here and there, that was all the movie was. That was all it needed to be.
As I eyed other audience members who were just as hypnotized by the film, I saw many nods and a few tears. After the film, Jennifer answered questions. She noted that one purpose for the project was to create this space for dialogue, where women could be open about abortions so that other women could relate and decrease the overall feeling of shame. In her new book F'em! Goo Goo, GaGa, and some Thoughts on Balls, she writes, "I began to see that to tell one's story is to rebel against that shame." (p.70). She wants to de-mystify abortion, and the film, featuring women of many races, classes, and age, truly succeeds in doing so.
The most empowering moment came when one audience member asked Baumgardner if she thought there would ever be a radically pro-choice presidential candidate in the near future. She reminded us that we as a people are really in charge of this movement, and our voices can collectively be heard.
For more on the I Had an Abortion and Jennifer Baumgardner, click here.