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Sons of Anarchy Pokes Fun at Sarah Palin

I’ve never watched the TV series Sons of Anarchy and had to rely on good ol’ Wikipedia to find out that it’s a fictional show about a motorcycle club in California of the same name. It appeared on my radar yesterday via Twitter after seeing numerous anti-choice users getting salty about the show’s coverage of abortion. What got their blood boiling was that the porn star character, Lyla, goes to an abortion clinic to have the procedure and gives the nurse an alias: Sarah Palin. Bwhahahahahaha!

What’s interesting is that I’ve only seen this covered on anti-choice blogs…and they are pissed! It’s more fodder for their “Hollywood is so liberal” rhetoric and claims that us libs are so insensitive. Really, tho?

You know what’s insensitive? The horrific ads from DC Congressional Candidate Missy Reilly Smith which feature dismembered fetuses and other imagery so egregious that it got banned from Youtube. I saw the clips and just thinking about it makes me shudder. Those graphic images are aired on local DC network television during the day when children are watching because the FCC legally cannot censor or reject the ads. In contrast, Sons of Anarchy airs on FX, a cable channel, at 10 at night. And from my understanding, there are no bloody fetal body parts that are central to the show’s plot whether or not they are discussing abortion.

I don’t know how the entire episode covered abortion but this one-minute clip is more progressive than many TV shows. Most TV shows won’t even present abortion as a viable option and if they do, it’s usually stigmatized and quickly discarded in favor of adoption or keeping the unintended pregnancy. Friday Night Lights was one of the few examples of programming that has dared to address the spectrum of emotions that accompany a woman’s decision.

The double standards of the anti-choice community continue to boggle my mind. I would be angry if it wasn’t so predictable, pathetic and almost laughable. But really, I’d rather these fools write angry blog posts blaming liberal Hollywood than taking their ire violently to the streets.

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  • Ruth Osorio

    OHMYGOD! A television show mentioned a common, legal procedure! Call out the Guard!

    (I’ll never really understand anti-choicers either…)

  • Ruth Osorio

    Oh, and my comment was making fun of anti-choicers, not this post, because abortion on television is a big deal to the pro-choice community because the narrative is so often silenced. But it shouldn’t be a big deal because abortion is a common, legal procedure, and it certainly shouldn’t be censored. (My MA Thesis: “Spectacular Abortion: The Tension Between the Narrative and the Commodity.”)

    I clicked submit too soon to clarify my stance… And I’m a first time poster… Not embarrassed at all…

  • Elizabeth

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s not common practice to distribute images of dead bodies over television waves, is it? If a woman is brutally murdered, do they usually show images of her mangled corpse on the 6:00 news? I don’t think I’ve ever seen this– I’m not sure if it’s a regional thing, or if I just haven’t noticed it, etc. It seems we usually don’t show these images, in most cases, out of respect for the dead.

    If a pro-life argument consists of that fetus being a person, why don’t we afford that tiny “person” the same post-mortem respect that we do other “murder victims”? (Note, I’m playing devil’s advocate in a way, here, I don’t agree with the fetus-personhood argument. Just trying to figure out the thought process.) It just doesn’t make sense to me, how it’s respectful to show mangled fetuses in pro-choice ads, if they’re asserting that the aborted fetuses are little people.

  • Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

    That’s hilarious! Also, glad to see they portrayed this-it seems like tv shows and movies where characters seek an abortion (or even DISCUSS abortion as a possibility) are few and far between.

  • thomas-macaulay-millar

    The show was created by one of the creative team from The Shield, which I watched, and I’ve followed SOA from its premiere. Katey Sagal, who is married to creator Kurt Sutter, both plays a major character and co-produces — you may remember her as Peggy Bundy on Married With Children, but she’s come a long way.

    It’s not perfect pop culture, but there are a lot of things to like. There was a gang rape by Sagal’s character last season, and her process of dealing with it, what to reveal and what not to with each person in her life, was one of major arcs of the season. Her choices are just one character’s choices and can’t stand for every woman, but it got kind of nuanced attention that it rarely does.

    This season and last, one of the major story elements is the club’s involvement with a porn company, and one club member’s relationship with a porn star. The show has made several of the women in the business at least somewhat fleshed out characters, and also has treated the biker’s emotional and inappropriate reactions to his girlfriend’s job as problematic and not the natural result of her line of work. It’s interesting to see a show that neither presents women doing sex work at pity objects, nor as evil or irresponsible, nor as monoliths, but (and there is a bit of the literary whore-with-a-heart-of-gold archetype) as complex characters. There may be folks who disagree or really dislike the way the show has handled the porn studio, but I think it shows nuance often lacking in mainstream television portrayals.

    It’s also a show for an assumed male audience with a lot of strong female characters. Sagal’s character really busts the madonna-whore dichotomy still so common in film and television by being both the clam matriarch and a sexual person with a great deal of agency. The show dealt straight-up with her struggle with menopause and vaginal dryness in the context of her relationship with the club President, for example. That’s not something I’m used to seeing on TV.

  • thomas-macaulay-millar

    Sorry, I mistyped. There was a gang rape _of_ Sagal’s character, _by_ Henry Rollins’s character and his henchmen — he played a recurring villain character later killed off.

  • Mariel

    Ha, I’ve watched Sons of Anarchy from the beginning. It’s not top quality TV, but the lead female is played by the same actress who played Rachel Menken on Mad Men, and she has a good tract record of choosing roles that are believable, strong-willed and intelligent. She plays a doctor who’s involved with a motorcycle gang heir, she’s one of the only reasons I still watch the show. I’m actually not shocked at this scene, because it fits perfectly into the SoA universe. The women of SoA aren’t expected to hold themselves up to some false standard of purity, and a lot of the time they rely on their sexuality for security or income with no judgment from the male characters.

  • dark_morgaine_le_fey

    It seems that more and more shows are depicting women getting abortions in a positive light. Which isn’t to say that everyone should get an abortion every time they get pregnant. Only that I’m very tired of it only coming up as the option the girl takes when she’s desperate before her friends convince her that it’s not the right thing to do. I’d like to think that scenes like in The Secret Life of the American Teenager when the girl from Amy’s school, not even her friend, I don’t think, stalked her to the clinic and yelled down the hall, when the receptionist would let her in, that Amy was making the wrong choice and God was watching, or whatever. I haven’t seen this episode in forever, since I don’t watch the show regularly, so my description probably isn’t good. My point is, abortion is changing in the media depictions, even within the last few years. This is a good first step.

  • unequalitykills

    i absolutely love this show. and my love for it grew even bigger when this scene happened. however, thus far their coverage of abortion is handled, i think, rather well. Here you have a porn star getting an abortion, and then at the end of the scene a doctor is scheduling hers, representing two ends of the spectrum. not to mention the dialogue that goes on between the characters justifying why the one is getting the procedure done.