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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Misrepresenting Amy Tan and Misrepresenting Choice

I'm doing some research for an essay that is taking me to some strange places, like Andrea Mrozek's ProWomanProLife blog. I couldn't help noticing that Mrozek listed a quote from the wonderful writer Amy Tan on mothering. This is the content of the post for May 29:

"Amy Tan is the author of The Joy Luck Club among other books. I found this quote by her and rather liked it:
I love my daughter. She and I have shared my body. There is a part of her mind that is part of mine. But when she was born, she sprang from me like a slippery fish, and has been swimming away ever since.
'She and I have shared my body' is a lovely sentiment and a far cry from 'my body, my choice.'"

What Mrozek doesn't seem to know is Tan is pro-choice. Vehemently. I looked a round a little more and found this content from Tan's facebook page that couldn't be a much clearer pro-choice post. Tan wrote this after she was criticized for name calling some GOP candidates (and who among us hasn't done that?):

"To those who criticize my perversion of the GOP candidates' names, please know that name-calling is not my usual standard of response. Nor do I normally use expletives. But I make exceptions. Never in my lifetime have I seen such a line-up of candidates who want to pervert the lives of women, who want to f**k them over every which way they can think of. These perverts are men, and variously they are telling us that single women should not have sex, should not use contraceptives, should consider a baby conceived from a rape to be a blessing, and to leave all matters concerning their uterus to them. They say that contraceptives for women make it too easy for them to "do things." They do not offer the same opinions on men and their tendencies to "do things." Their rhetoric makes it sound like women are wanton spirits who must be controlled. I am a writer because I have strong opinions. Those opinions on women's rights come from my grandmother, who was raped, and my mother, who was raped at gunpoint by her husband, and who was jailed when she ran away from him. My mother told me as a child and a grownup, that no one should ever tell me whether I should have a baby. How could I be any other kind of writer, any other kind of person? How could I not protest the perversion of women's rights espouses by these candidates? The twisted names I give them may sound "hurtful" --as name-calling is. But the hurt they would give us would not be temporary slights, but permanent scars. This country is not divided because of Obama. It has been divided for a long time by the Republican Right who vote down the line on personal moral beliefs. They are out of touch with the the actual governance of this country and its relation to the larger world. Would these candidates cut off relations with China until China abolishes the one-child policy? I was born the daughter of a Baptist minister. I know how intractable religious beliefs are supposed to be, how by faith, you must carry those beliefs into the world, into all walks of life, without compromise, without listening to any other opinions. By that faith, you save who you can and smite who you can't. To these GOP candidates who want to rule government by the divine guidance of their cocks, study the pages of history on the Inquisition and the Holocaust, and keep your hands off me, my nieces, my sisters, my women friends, their daughters and their daughters to come."

Holy tirade. Go Ms. Tan.

In this case, Mrozek demonstrates one of the fundamental misunderstandings that anti-choicers have of the pro-choice movement. We in the pro-choice movement support a woman's right to control her own fertility AND we love our children, think poetically and beautifully about them, and still say, "My body, My choice." In fact, I mean it even more (if that is possible) when I think about my daughter's body and how important it is for me that her body be her choice. I can be pro-choice, and love my family all at once.

The word "shared" in the Tan quote used by Mrozek is an important one. Share, as a verb, means to allow someone to use or enjoy something that one possesses. Sharing is done willingly. If not, it's not sharing. If I'm forced to give something of mine to someone else, it means someone who has power over me has oppressed me. If by body is not given willingly and voluntarily, it is appropriated, conquered, seized or stolen. You can only share your body if you do it by choice.

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