Jay Smooth on making pro-choice activism even more virtuous

Jay Smooth has a few words to say about “Until Abortion Ends,” a site where anti-choicers pledge to give up something they love until abortion becomes illegal all over America.  And by “something they love,” it seems they mostly mean “junk food.”

Because nothing says “solidarity with unborn children whom I believe to have souls and full Constitutional rights” like giving up sour Skittles or Diet Coke. I’m sure those unborn children with souls and full Constitutional rights are totally touched by your wrenching sacrifice, guys. If you really think abortion is murder, if you really think it is an abomination, if you really think that fetuses are unborn children with souls and full Constitutional rights, then, yeah, giving up Diet Coke seems like a proportional reaction to the fact that abortion is still legal. After all, this is Diet Coke we’re talking about here. It is fizzy and sweet and delicious, and abstaining from it until the murder stops does not cheapen the pro-life cause at all.

So go ahead and pledge to give up that sweet, fizzy deliciousness until it’s no longer legal to kill babies. Every day, when you walk past the vending machine and just keep on walking – or stop and get a Fresca or a Vitamin Water instead of a Diet Coke – remember that you’re doing it for the fetuses. You have made a bold and brave choice, not to raise money for anti-choice causes, not to spend time calling your congressional representative, not to volunteer to take in foster children or provide free childcare, not even to brave the winter cold harassing whores outside of Planned Parenthood on Saturday morning, but to give up Diet Coke. You are a hero.

Snark aside (who am I kidding, snark front and center!) Jay has realized that as long as these people keep making ridiculous pledges about the noble sacrifices they’ll be making, our efforts to keep abortion safe, legal and accessible will be even more valuable than they already are:

I’m not personally a fan of diets, and I wouldn’t define dieting as a uniformly healthy thing to do, as Jay does, but his point is well taken. Jay was also reminded, and acknowledges, that reproductive rights aren’t just ciswomen’s rights, and framing them as such excludes trans people.

Transcript below the jump.

So a lot of people on my tumblr have been posting about this website called Until Abortion Ends. It’s this website where young anti-abortion people vow to give up one of their favorite things, they vow to sacrifice one of their most precious things in the world and never do it again until abortion ends. Or at least until safe, legal access to abortion ends, which is what they’re really saying, since the reality is that people will still need to seek it out no matter what the laws are, as one of my tumblr friends pointed out. So basically, they’re vowing to sacrifice something that they love until access to safe legal abortion is taken away.

But the thing about this website is that if you scan through and look at what everyone is sacrificing, almost everyone is giving something up that you really should be giving up anyway, because it’s bad for you. They’re all promising to sacrifice something that’s really crappy and you should be cutting down on it just for health purposes. Like seriously, go to the site and look at what everyone says they’re giving up. “I’m giving up Coke,” “I’m giving up Pepsi,” “alcohol,” “I’m giving up tobacco products,” “Ice cream,” “French Fries,” “I’m giving up sour Skittles,” “I’m giving up junk food,” “I’m giving up carbs and saturated fat.” That’s not really a protest. That’s not really a sacrifice. That’s just, like, a diet. You’re just taking another shot at your New Year’s resolution and calling it a protest this time. No, that doesn’t count, no.

The only thing that’s good about this, the only thing that I like is that for those of us who are pro-choice, from now on, whenever we fight for our side, we will also be bestowing an act of kindness upon our enemies. From now on, we won’t just be fighting to protect safe, legal, affordable access to abortion, we’ll also be helping all of these people stick to their diet plans! How great is that? We’re doing two great things at once from now on!

So I would like to thank everyone at that website for achieving the impossible, and making pro-choice activism even more virtuous than it was before. And I’m going to make my own vow today, that as long as you keep up your side of it, as long as you keep up your noble sacrifice of eating a Whopper instead of a double Whopper or whatever it is you’re doing, as long as you keep doing that, I am going to support you on that by making sure that women’s reproductive rights never come to an end.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at chloesangyal.com

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/jsmooth995/ Jay Smooth

    Oh I def didn’t mean “diet” in the sense of dieting for weight loss, I had different phrasing in mind that made that clearer but didn’t notice until afterwards that I’d strayed from my (mental) script.

    • http://feministing.com/members/toongrrl/ toongrrl

      Don’tworry Jay, I gotcha. You mean practicing a healthy diet that limits junk food in order to have well-functiong organs and bones.

      • http://feministing.com/members/sarahbee/ Sarah

        I second toongrrl – I got the drift, too.

  • http://cabaretic.blogspot.com nazza

    This is like giving up something for Lent, but first assuming that Lent never ends. The whole point of that practice is to recognize that things can replace God in a person’s life.

    I can see giving up soft drinks for Lent. I fail to see the logic if you vow to self-deny until abortion is illegal. Without a larger, moralistic point, it becomes a twisted kind of fashion statement.

  • http://feministing.com/members/franziakafka/ Franzia Kafka

    While I agree it’s somewhat silly, I don’t know that I really agree with the effectiveness of mocking people for the forms of protest they choose to make on the basis that “they’re not a big enough sacrifice” or the “right” sacrifice. One could easily turn this around to claim that things like hunger strikes and Occupy Wall Street are silly and “unrelated sacrifices,” since starving oneself traditionally hasn’t been directly related to the thing being protested, nor is blocking traffic really related to economic policy, etc. And it’s more likely than not that many of the people doing this give-up-candy campaign are also “rais[ing] money for anti-choice causes” and “spend[ing] time calling [their] congressional representative,” which is, to me, far more disturbing, since many of these wingnuts and “Conceived in Rape” supporters have conservative legislators’ ears.

    And, just FYI, having lost 40 pounds over the past 6 months after finding out my mother has had untreated type 2 diabetes for the past 2 years and probably already suffered nerve damage: For many people, especially those who are deeply psychologically affected by junk food and binge eating, cutting out junk food really *is* like a sacrifice until your palate has been cleansed well enough for you to resist it and/or not crave it. But that’s a discussion for another time and place.

  • http://feministing.com/members/kattykit/ Kathryn Boehne

    I would agree there are better ways they could make a real difference.

    BUT, giving up something that you enjoy CAN be a daily reminder of what you have pledged to fight against and that can be positive motivation.

    Regarding the words “our efforts to keep abortion safe, legal and accessible” in the above post by Chloe.

    Certainly not safe for the baby is it?

  • http://feministing.com/members/limelightqueen/ Zoe

    My “favorite” “sacrifice” is that of the person who vowed to stop getting haircuts (except for trims!). Not only is the obvious loophole making it eye rolling-ly bad, but this person also says that when and only when abortion is made illegal in all fifty states during all nine months of pregnancy, they will they cut their hair and donate it to Locks of Love.

    Yeah, it’s not bad enough to try and screw over women’s reproductive freedoms. This one wants us to know he’s also going to screw over cancer patients!

  • http://feministing.com/members/azure156/ Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

    Yeah, they could be doing more effective things, but…they’re anti-choice. Do we really WANT them being more effective???

    As Jay’s already seen me post elsewhere, I’d rather them pretend their refusal to eat Big Macs or whatever is a protest, than standing outside a clinic harassing women going in.