Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What Hannibal the Cannibal taught me about abortion

Originally posted on

I was watching The Silence of the Lambs the other day. I do that a lot. It’s one of those movies, like Goodfellas or Ghostbusters or The Bourne Identity, that I have to watch if it’s on TV. Like, I have to.
Anyway, you’ve seen it, I’m sure. Hannibal Lecter is helping Clarice Starling catch the serial killer Buffalo Bill. He’s guiding her through his psychological profile. “First principles, Clarice,” he says. “Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing, ask: what is it in itself?”
I was thinking about abortion (I do that) and decided to apply the same thinking. “What is it in itself?” I asked. The obvious answer was: “Killing. Murder. Ending a human life.”
But then Dr. Lecter’s voice popped into my head (I should talk to someone about that), saying exactly what he said to Clarice in the film: “No. That is incidental. What is the first and principal thing…?”
And I answered: avoiding responsibility. That is the principal thing.
The mother who aborts is not like the serial killer who murders to satisfy a sick, often sexual, urge. She is not like the most common type of murderer: the man who kills in a rage, a fit of passion. She is not even like the hitman who kills for money, the mafioso or drug-dealer who kills for business, or the justice-seeker who kills as a reckoning.
She is not like the abortionist, about whose motives I am unclear. Yes, there’s money, but it has to be something else, too. Some of them may truly be convinced they’re helping. But I think most of them are degenerates, true sickos, and I suspect harboring a God complex as well.
The abortive mother is different. She seeks, first, not to end a life, but to avoid a life.
I know all about avoiding responsibility, okay? I dropped out of college, like, three times. This one collection agency in Florida calls me about four times a day because I still owe money on a medical bill. Hell, today I stopped in the middle of Shark steam-mopping my kitchen to lie on the dining room floor and sing Dresden Dolls songs at the top of my lungs for 45 minutes. If there were a Gold Medal for avoiding responsibility, I’d be Michael Phelps.
The abortive mother is not just annoyed by the responsibility of motherhood, the way I am annoyed by the idea of scrubbing the bathtub. She is dreadful of it, the way I am dreadful of scrubbing the toilets. Seriously, though: she not only resents, but maybe fears motherhood. Often prodded by or frightened of a coercive boyfriend or family, even the promise of loving, adoptive parents for her child is not enough. It’s not just the baby; it’s the pregnancy and the birth. She must avoid it.
It is pain. Responsibility is pain. That’s what it is, to some degree. Whether it’s the pain of waking up early or the pain of squeezing a human being out of our nether-regions, it’s suffering. It may be the pain of losing your Saturday to housework, or the pain of losing your child, in a sense, to adoption, but it’s suffering.
Some women, if they can be convinced that there is a life inside them, will take on the responsibility, the suffering, if not of parenting, at least of carrying and delivering the child. Others, even believing there is a life, will end it to avoid the responsibility, either because it isn’t alive enough and therefore it doesn’t matter, doesn’t count, or because there is no price too high to pay for what she wants: to not be pregnant.
As someone who is trying desperately to be pregnant, this is very difficult for me to understand. I pride myself – always have – on being able to understand almost anything. I wasn’t always the repressed Catholic housewife you see before you. Even now, not condoning doesn’t keep me from understanding. Whatever it is, however insane or sick, I may find it reprehensible, disgusting, vile, or horrifying, but odds are I can understand it. It’s a blessing and a curse, but one I have always prided myself on.
Pride goeth before a fall, I guess, because I’ve finally found the one thing I can’t understand, and that’s killing your baby to not be pregnant.
A Facebook friend of mine posted a photo of her baby the other day, and I was intrigued because, well, her baby is black and she is not. So I was curious to know more about the adoption story. I love adoption stories. I love to listen to my Mamaw talk about adopting my mom and marvel at how close she came to ending up in an orphanage in Nebraska. My brothers and I would never have existed. And what would have become of my smart, strong, beautiful mother?
Anyway, I was stalking my friend’s photos of her chunky, exquisite black baby, and thinking of Marcus Aurelius’s first things, and rejoicing that a woman in Louisiana decided to accept responsibility, accept loss, accept suffering, and give my friend and the world the infinitely valuable gift of little Caleb.

“Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself?” Looking at baby Caleb, first principles are easy: he is God’s handiwork. He is the immortal soul inside the animal body. Miraculous. Perfect.
One human life.
“Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself?” Looking at baby Caleb, first principles are easy: he is God’s handiwork. He is the immortal soul inside the animal body. Miraculous. Perfect.
One human life.

Post by Kristen Walker Hatten

Friday, February 1, 2013

Putting A Face On Fauxminism

C'mon, you'd wanna stay up late messaging this guy too, right?

I knew better, I did. But y'know, sometimes you just take the troll bait because you're lying in bed trying to go to sleep when your phone pings at you. And so I did. Like an idiot. 

It was a message from (what appeared to be) some dude, thanking me for shitting all over the people who are fighting the patriarchy. I replied, "anytime." Mostly because I fight disrespect with disrespect. One of my many human flaws. But he messages me back right away. Of course. They always do. This time it was some long diatribe about fetuses just being a clump of cells and blah, blah, blah, womyn, blah. Nothing new. I write back (and this is where I went wrong) with facts and reason which only engages or rather enrages web warriors such as himself even more. 

And then I went to sleep. 

...Because see, I had been in Austin all day testifying before the state's senate finance committee about how uninsured women in Texas need better healthcare options...or as I like to call it, actually doing something for women other than swearing at people on the internet like a stupid slacktivist. 

So sleep I did. Kinda.

And then of course I woke up to yet another long, rambling message about how the Bible and religion teach people to hate women....not that I ever brought EITHER of those up, but whatev. Guess he couldn't see his screen clearly through all the dumps people like me take on courageous internet patriarchy fighters like himself. Oh well.

Once again, I take full responsibility. I took the bait. 

I politely inform him this is probably not the page for him, thank him for the feedback and bow out. At which point he does something not at all surprising. He hissy-fits in one last "almost a zinger if it wasn't already a bumper sticker AND T-shirt" and tells me, that "this what feminism looks like." Dude, that peeved me in a way that I can only be peeved when someone says something so mouth breather-y I don't even know how to respond to it. Because it was just so cliche...and dumb, and had he even read a single thing I wasted my time explaining to him? I'm not your life coach, fool. It's not my job to break things down for you and get you to think outside of whatever community college box your brain's stuck in. I explained it, you ignored me, and then what? All I get is an Ashley Juddism?

So fine, whatever. I decide to go see what a real feminist looks like. And there it was, in all its glory. Turns out, he's a 20-something androgynous male who likes to take bird flippin' selfies in his mom's bathroom mirror while wearing feminist symbol half shirt tank tops. Suddenly, my annoyance melted into utter delight as I thought "yeah, that is what a feminist looks like." Which is exactly why we're here. 

Next blog: "Dear Gawd What Have We Done To Our Men?!?"